Fringe Festival, Still Crazy After All 10 Years (in a Good Way)
It’s 10th anniversary time for the Capital Fringe Festival, the annual summer performing arts festival that keeps on moving and keeps on staying.
Ever since the Capital Fringe Festival—which runs from July 9 to August 2 -- appeared in and around Washington ten years ago as one of the many offsprings of the Edinburgh, Scotland, Fringe Festival, it has made yearly strides to become something more than a fringe thing. It has become, by now, an imbedded, always fresh, always surprising enterprise, part of the Washington performing arts community, and was so rewarded with a Helen Hayes Award not so long ago.
Every year, sometimes by the skin of its teeth, the Fringe presents its gaudy package of theater and performing arts baubles, the work of a large, eclectic group of theater and performing arts artists and groups from Washington and all over the country. Here are the classics reworked, new one-man and one-woman shows about everything under the sun, bawdy comedy, clowns, new plays with new views done in new styles, music, dance, burlesque and vaudeville.
Surprise is always the key element, but there is a certain spirit involved, too—an almost breath-taking inviting tolerance of the different, the new, the never-heard-of before. In the past, the venues have spread all over the place, downtown, in Southwest, in bars, churches, art spaces, adding another eclectic layer to the proceedings.
Under the leadership of co-founder and president and chief executive officer Julianne Brienza, the festival has moved to at first survive, then branch out, preserve, and moves forward, and the festival has managed to do so with aplomb. This year, it seems almost permanent after the festival purchased a former gallery space as its headquarters in Northeast Washington at 1358 Florida Ave., NE, which serves as the Logan Fringe Art Space, and one of the venues (actually two, since there are two theaters in the space) for the festival.
With that move, the festival—game and big as ever with 129 productions spread out across three areas plus additional venues—has became a part of the locus of where a good chunk of D.C. change is taking place, which might seem perfect for the possible audience of the festival, a younger-skewing audience in search of the irreverent, the informal, the brand new, the amusing and serious, which might speak to the times we lives in and the upcoming weeks as well.
Essentially, the Fringe Festival will be centered around three neighborhoods—Trinidad, Brookland and H Street NE or the H Street Corridor. These are all burgeoning, rapidly changing and culture and restaurant-bustling neighborhoods, in fairly close proximity to each other. Trinidad will haves the Fringe Festival headquarters, including Trinidad Theatre. Other venues include the Tree House Lounge at 1006 Florida Ave., NE, Jenks & Son at 910 Bladensburg Road NE, the Gilbert C. Eastman Studio Theatre at Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave. NE and the Playground also at Gallaudet University.
Brookland venues will include the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Theater at the Dance Place, at 3225 8th St. NE, the Hyman M. Perlo Studio at Dance Place, the Brookland Artspace Lofts Studio at 3305 8th St NE, banished? ARTillery (that's how it is written), at 716 Monroe St. NE and Ward Hall at Catholic University.
H Street NE, where the trolley car is still not operating in a hot neighborhood, Fringe Festival are centered around the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H St. NE, sites of many Fringe performances last year, and at the Argonaut at 1433 H St. NE and Gallery O on H, at 1354 H St. NE.
Other venues around the District include the D.C. Columbia Arts Center in Adams Morgan, the Mead Theatre Lab downtown at Flashpoint, the Japanese American Memorial at New Jersey Avenue, Louisiana Ave and D St. NW, the Anacostia Arts Center at 1231 Good Hope Road SE and the Pinch at 3548 14th St. NW.
According to the festival website, there are 129 performing arts group schedule to do their thing, many of them are from Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland, but not exclusively. Surprise is probably the order of the day, but the name of the groups and some of their offerings might give you a hint of things to come—plus there are musical offerings at Fringe with late night cabaret and a music in the library program.
Here’s a dash of what’s up thoroughly at random:
“Belle and the Beasties” from the Actors Repertory Theatre; “Vanek Unleashed,” Alliance for New Theatre.org; “Sonata: The Naked Project" from Annexus; “Augustus the Sissy” from Dana Galloway; “It’s a Circus Out There,” the Federal Theatre Project; “District of Cara” from Local Yogurt Productions; “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” from the new Molotov Theatre Company; a Shakespeare sendup called “To Err is Falstaff” from Falstaff production and “The Winter’s Tale” from We Happy Few Productions; “The Second Coming of Joan of Arc” from Theatre Prometheus; “The Giant Turnip” from Beech Tree Puppets; “From Seven Layers to a Bikini Top in Less Than Five Hours” from Andrea Schell from California; “Bond, An Unauthorized Parody” from Tasty Monster Productions; “Dancing Ophelia” from Trajectory Dance Project; “Wombat Drool” from Uncle Funsy Productions; “The Last Burlesque” from Pinky Swear Productions of Virginia; “The Life of King John: The Reprisal” from the Rude Mechanicals of Virginia.
That’s just a few from a list of 129. The rest you should be able to find by visiting the Capital Fringe Festival, along with ticket prices—reasonable, more than, times, locations, information about the shows, principals, and so on. And on.