Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fringe Fest!

It's that time of the year again.

In my experience, Fringe Festivals are always hit-or-miss events.
I've left venues sometimes wondering why they don't just call them Cringe Festivals. But ultimately the cringe factor is what makes this kind of thing so fun. It's like watching the Oscars and secretly hoping for something unexpected to happen -- like a stumble on the red carpet, an awkward acceptance speech, or a win for a movie that actually deserves it.

Buying a ticket to these events is akin to playing Russian Roulette -- especially if you're new to town and have no idea who anyone is. The key here is to maintain an open mind! Even if it's bad, it's worth it.

Just glancing over the scheduled acts I can honestly say that this year's lineup looks more polished than previous years. Here are some of my predictions of what to expect:

Bebe Theatre events in the past have run the gamut from comedic, to bawdy, to arty to dull to refreshingly cheese-ball. I love going to Bebe fringe events because I can always expect the unexpected.
Black Mountain College Museum performances look like they will be high quality and appropriately experimental.
You'll get your money's worth but maybe not a fun story to tell your friends later.
•Expect more circus and burlesque acts in the River District's Wedge Building--an intriguing lineup of dance, music, theaterical and interactive performances.
• TONIGHT at the Asheville Art Museum is Pecha Kucha, an entertaining slide presentation to provoke dialogue. $5

Check for the full schedule and info on artists.

While fringe theatre refers to theater that is not mainstream, Fringe Festivals are notable for the unjuried nature of the performances. In general, production expenses are kept low and casts are kept small. The original Fringe Festival took place in Adelaide Scotland in the early 1970's as a reaction to mainstream theatre events. Since then Fringe Festivals have grown in popularity and are produced in cities all over the globe, from Melbourne to Minnesota.

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