Photograph: Paul Corning Jr.The Cincinnati Fringe Competition enters its 16th iteration on Friday, Might 31 and runs via June 15. Cincy Fringe hosts a variety of recent and established native, nationwide and worldwide productions in a dozen venues throughout Over-the-Rhine, together with onstage at Fringe producer Know Theatre, in addition to The Mini Microcinema, Artwork Academy of Cincinnati, OTR Group Church and Gabriel’s Nook.
As any common Cincinnati theatergoer will let you know, Fringe is a long-established and far beloved extravaganza of recent, extraordinary and downright bizarre theater and humanities productions. Greater than 100 candidates submitted work for consideration; of these, 34 hour-long productions have been chosen by a jury of native theater professionals, educators and journalists to be carried out as a part of Cincy Fringe’s Major Lineup. (Fringe additionally consists of extra visible and movie occasions, bar afterparties, family-friendly reveals and Fringe Subsequent productions written and carried out by highschool college students.)
However for these of you who might not have seen a correct theatrical efficiency since your eighth-grade class journey to Romeo and Juliet, Cincy Fringe gives an accessible and esculent strategy to devour theater in a way you’ve seemingly by no means skilled earlier than.
That sentiment suits with Fringe’s long-standing tagline: “Kinda WEIRD. Like YOU!” And although most of the fest’s reveals dwell as much as the weirdness in a deeply dedicated style, others are typically extra simple tales advised in a easy format.
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionHowever what makes Fringe reveals so palatable for each the lifelong and new-to-the-scene theatergoer? Maybe it’s the 60-minute format? Or possibly it’s the a number of efficiency occasions and venues — there are 220 showtimes in whole — which match round busy schedules and encourage new experiences? Whatever the purpose, Fringe reveals are all about exploration — be it exploration of recent and strange manufacturing varieties or of disciplines, themes, influences and cultural representations. One might argue that, due to this, Fringe gives the right alternative to see theater at its greatest.
However artwork is subjective, and for that purpose, pageant producer Chris Wesselman says Cincy Fringe tries to take a extra nuanced and balanced have a look at the reveals which are submitted. “Our objective is rarely to evaluate on the bottom of high quality,” he says. The largest query they ask when accepting a piece is: “Is that this factor representing itself properly?” This query is on the core of how the Cincy Fringe jury creates a well-balanced line up.
Psychological well being and LGBTQ+ illustration are simply two widespread themes that emerge all through a number of Fringe reveals. Nevertheless, any themes that type all through the fest occur by way of what Wesselman calls “pure darkish magic.”
Although many submissions and chosen works are reveals which have already appeared in different Fringe festivals all through the nation, Cincy Fringe takes cautious steps to make sure that each new and established works are thought-about equal contenders.
“We’d be violating our existence if new works aren’t given equal footing,” Wesselman says.
However what’s it that makes Fringe dwell as much as its personal tagline? Wesselman describes the pageant as “artists unleashed” — a significant contributing issue to its tendency to lean towards the bizarre or the macabre.
The weirdness may merely be because of the nature of the efficiency house and timeline. With over 30 performances in a dozen areas, Fringe reveals are typically extra sparsely staged. That, coupled with the celebration of recent concepts and experimental ideas, can simply rework Fringe into a group of works that deviate sharply from the norm.
Regardless of this, Wesselman presses that there are common parts to tales. “Simply because it is likely to be introduced in an uncommon means, doesn’t imply (a present is) not relatable,” he says.
In truth, it’s fairly the other. “Fringe reveals are sometimes a chance for individuals to burst out of their shells,” he says.
As this 12 months’s Cincy Fringe bursts out of its shell and onto the stage, we provide just a few of the next suggestions to assist optimize your pageant expertise, whether or not you’re new to the artwork type or not. For extra assistance on personalizing your pageant expertise, try the official Cincy Fringe Competition Information, which ran in final week’s subject of CityBeat and is out there on-line (CityBeat is a Fringe media companion) and consists of extra insights and movie-style scores — PG, PG-13, R, and many others. — for language and themes.
For extra data on dates, occasions, tickets and venue places, go to cincyfringe.com.
Fringe by the Numbers
In the case of the Major Lineup performances, the reveals may be tough to categorize. Broadly, Fringe reveals may be sorted into the next classes:
17 solo performances10 plays3 interdisciplinary performances2 dance/bodily theater performances2 musicals
However that’s to not say that numerous reveals received’t play with categorization, and even mix numerous parts like music, puppetry or improv . And though Fringe reveals could also be difficult to categorize, the next sections type this 12 months’s Major Lineup by overarching theme, to assist festgoers get an thought of what to anticipate.
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionTypically, there isn’t a higher strategy to expertise what Fringe is all about than by attending a present that requires your full consideration and participation. In Meatball Séance (John Michael, Chicago) six viewers members are chosen to be a boyfriend, greatest buddy or “a vessel to be possessed by my mom’s spirit.” The objective? To assist John Michael summon his useless mom so she will be able to meet his boyfriend — all whereas whipping up a batch of her meatballs. And Between three and 5 (Pones, Cincinnati) is an immersive, multisensory dance efficiency that experiments with a sequence of interdisciplinary vignettes.
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionAny time a gaggle of actors and writers get collectively, there’s certain to be existential dread in some unspecified time in the future, as within the Greens! (Outdated, Outdated, Very Outdated, Man Productions, Cincinnati), a musical about individuals in a vegetative state. Or uncover what it means to face your adopted persona in entrance of a Grand Jury with Knifeslingin’! (Paper Soul, Minneapolis).
The Vicious Hillbilly or Courting within the Deep South (Daybreak Larsen, Florence, South Carolina) takes a while to giggle at love with a musical in regards to the woes of on-line courting. And in Marriage: a Work in Progress (ED, New York/Los Angeles/Granville, Ohio) two individuals improvise onstage to create new and totally different characters with every efficiency, whereas solely the connection between the 2 stays the identical.
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionIn a singular solo efficiency for Dave Maher Coma Present (Dave Maher, Chicago), comic Dave Maher recounts what occurred when he unexpectedly awoke from a coma after being declared useless and browse all of his Fb eulogies.
There’s additionally Stow Your Baggage (Alexx Rouse, Cincinnati), which describes itself as a “Flight Attendant College Dropout Comedy,” and seXmas Playing cards (Kate Mock Elliott, Cincinnati), during which a Fringe artist and mom of two speaks frankly about need and masturbation.
Or settle into SUFFER Fools (Homegrown Theater, Cincinnati), a darkish comedy that flips the script on the everyday profile of the joyful, unassuming idiot.
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionIf in case you have a propensity for the eerie or the macabre, this 12 months’s Fringe positively has you coated. This Home Will By no means Let Us Go (Gideon Productions, Astoria, New York) is a horror play that follows a housesitter who discovers she is sharing her summer season digs with an eerie roommate. Packing on the scares is The Consciousness (Stage & Key Productions, Columbus, Ohio), a sci-fi drama that follows a musician who steals from the digitally saved consciousness of a little-known, useless composer.
Some Fringe reveals mix the spooky and the humorous collectively. The Satan On the Wall or, That Time I Obtained Kidnapped (Jamie Campbell, Kansas Metropolis, Missouri), weaves the real-life story of a childhood kidnapping right into a stand-up comedy set. Or take ZOINKS! (Queen Metropolis Flash, Cincinnati), a mix of camp and horror within the type of a teen sleuth caper comedy. Little one of Friday (All That Ish Productions, Cincinnati) is a dramedy about an unlucky youngster born on Friday the 13th.
If horror with a musical twist is extra your velocity, try Kill You with My Love (Muwhahaha Productions, Cincinnati), which options skipping data and eerie love tales, or Descent: a Homicide Ballad (Hannah Gregory, Cincinnati), a People musical about marriage, miscarriage and homicide.
‘Battle The Energy’ Fringe
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionAs Wesselman beforehand mentioned, Fringe Competition reveals will be apt to discover new concepts and shed a light-weight on social points like psychological well being, LGBTQ+ illustration and extra.
Strolling Whereas Black in Moscow (The Adventures of Les Kurkendaal, Los Angeles) explores race and sexuality via author and performer Les Kurkendaal-Barrett, who recounts his expertise touring as a black homosexual man in Russia. And Martha (Autumn Kaleidoscope, Cincinnati) tackles environmental points within the type of the final passenger pigeon, who died on the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Backyard in 1914.
Or take Borderline A**gap (Julie Gieseke, San Francisco), which mixes social themes round psychological well being and courting as an LGBTQ+-identifying individual to dig deep into previous relationships to seek out new knowledge and even laughter.
Ladies’s Rights Fringe
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionA number of Fringe reveals this 12 months shed a light-weight on the #MeToo motion, and discover challenges and points near many ladies’s hearts. For instance, take Physique Language 2019: #metoo (True Physique Challenge, Cincinnati), which includes a assortment of tales that search to deepen the collective understanding of sexual assault. The MILF Additionally Rises (Jen Joplin, Cincinnati) additionally tackles the difficulties of navigating a post-#MeToo ambiance via the lens of a middle-aged mom. Or Kumferted (Efficiency Gallery, Cincinnati), an uncomfortable comedy that examines why girls have typically been thought-about creatures meant to supply consolation, however not obtain it in return.
However social commentary doesn’t all the time stem from current occasions. Some Fringe reveals draw upon historic influences as a way to current new concepts. Nellie Bly: A Menace to Propriety (InBocca Efficiency, Cincinnati), for instance, relies on the true story of American journalist Nellie Bly — who was dedicated to an asylum to write down an exposé for the New York World however turned trapped — and provides new voice to girls all through the ages.
Well being Care Fringe
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionOne other main subject of dialogue lately has centered on well being care. Diagnose This! Tales of a Medical Actor (Donna Kay Speaks, Portland, Oregon) blends improv comedy and storytelling to light up a brand new perspective on the American well being care system. My Geriatric Uterus (Aggressive Curl Sample Productions, Cincinnati) is a superb distillation of a Fringe present, mixing unconventional puppetry — one of many characters is a uterus puppet — and music to discuss the expectations round girls and childbearing.
Psychological well being can be an oft-explored subject in theater, notably in Fringe reveals, and this 12 months isn’t any totally different. In a sequence of vignettes, Tales From the Cuckoo Membership (Caldera Studios, Cincinnati) describes itself as a “story about autism” and tells a story of melancholy and hope. And although indirectly associated to psychological well being, The Origins of My Magic (Cody Clark Magic, Louisville) explores the autism spectrum and the way it impacts solo performer and magician Cody Clark.
The Fringiest of the Fringe
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionRounding out the Major Lineup are some reveals that seemingly defy a easy description or distilled theme. Let’s Prank Name Every Different (zach dorn, Los Angeles) christens itself “a darkly humorous and fast-paced live-action comedian e book.” And Puppets Ought to Communicate (Schedule C Productions, Anderson, Indiana) needs you to “get drunk, take a bullet and make candy puppet love.”
For these searching for a mix of tales and songs, 90 Lies an Hour (Paul Strickland, Cincinnati) is the fourth installment of return native Fringe artist Paul Strickland’s Tall-Story Trailer Park trilogy. It guarantees, “new never-before-disbelieved Tall-Tales and songs!”
And if you wish to dive even deeper into the bizarre and indescribable, try Reside Nukes! (The Central Scrutinizers, Chicago), which describes itself as a “transdimensional bodily comedy” about two individuals who by chance launch a nuke and attempt to cease it. Oh, and all of it unfolds with out using any phrases.
If you happen to’re trying to get slightly extra intense, NIGHTMARE FUEL (Sarah Knittel, Philadelphia) guarantees to deliver the sting in a present about teen slumber events and demonic exorcisms. Or discover satire and horror in Dandy Darkly’s All Aboard! (Dandy Darkly, Brooklyn) — a present that assures that “the much less you realize, the higher.”
Fringe Particular Occasions
Photograph: Offered by Cincinnati Fringe CompetitionNOTE: Lots of the particular occasions listed under are ticketed individually from the Fringe Major Lineup; see cincyfringe.com for particulars.)
Fringe doesn’t cease there. The pageant consists of a variety of totally different reveals and occasions that complement the Major Lineup, together with a Bar Collection that provides Fringegoers an opportunity to combine and mingle for nightly afterparties within the Know Theatre house.
There are additionally Fringe Subsequent works, created and carried out by highschool college students, two of that are included within the Major Lineup: Little one of Friday and Tales from the Cuckoo Nest. Fringe Growth consists of workshops, staged readings and artist-led grasp lessons; whereas Visible Fringe highlights visible artwork — from images to portray — in venues throughout the town. Offered by Cindependent Movie Competition, Movie Fringe boasts a sequence of “RiffTrax-inspired” comedy screenings, all of which shall be proven at Cincinnati World Cinema; two different initiatives from native filmmakers shall be screened at The Mini Microcinema. Convey the children to Household-Pleasant Fringe with reveals like Storytime with Sparkle and Alice in Wonderland.
On the finish of Cincy Fringe, six reveals shall be awarded Decide of the Fringe honors. The classes are as follows: Viewers Decide, Critics’ Decide, the Dr. Robert J. Thierauf Producer’s Decide (picked by Cincy Fringe employees), Fringe Subsequent Viewers Decide (awarded to one of many Fringe highschool productions), the Linda Bowen Full Frontal Decide (chosen by Full Frontal passholders) and the David C. Herriman Artists’ Decide (chosen by Fringe artists). These six reveals shall be given particular encore performances and introduced with awards on June 15.
It’s essential to notice that, at its core, the Fringe Competition is a celebration of artwork that pushes boundaries and tries new issues. Not all reveals enchantment completely to all audiencegoers, however that’s a part of the magic! As with all Fringe pageant, one of the best ways to expertise the magic is to see the broadest number of reveals potential. And all the time anticipate the surprising. Typically the reveals that find yourself staying with you’re the ones you least anticipate.
Tickets can be found for single reveals ($15) and passes vary from the Full Frontal All-Entry Move ($250) to the Voyeur Move ($75 for six reveals) and Encore Move ($75); tickets can be found on-line, on the Know Theatre field workplace or on the particular person venues.
The Cincinnati Fringe Competition, produced by Know Theatre, runs Might 31-June 15 at numerous venues throughout Over-the-Rhine. For extra data on particular performances, showtimes and places, go to cincyfringe.com.