Fringe Festival: Shake it up

  • Article by: Graydon Royce and Rohan Preston , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: August 16, 2012 - 6:11 PM

We love the Fringe, it's perfect -- now change it.

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danpinkAug. 19, 12 4:56 PM

Unlike Bryan's essay, this piece is actually about something: The Fringe Festival. Graydon and Ro list what they do and don't like about the Fringe, and propose a solution. It is actually possible to critique this article---thanks, guys! I agree that the Fringe has become somewhat, for lack of a better word, established. As an organization, it's mature, everything runs smoothly, shows are easy to pick on the website, blah, blah. Where's the anarchy? Artistically, it has become the place for a particular kind of work. We just know, as artists, when we have a "fringey" idea. ASH LAND was beautiful and moving, but many of us have seen at least one of their other shows, so we flocked to the thetatre knowing what to expect. The Scrimshaw Brothers, Amy Salloway, Casebolt and Smith (sadly missing this year)--- we know what we're going to get from them, too. This isn't a bad thing. One could even argue that we lose sight of how good some Fringe regulars are because they're always around. WE become complacent, not them. Of course, it's not just the successful Fringe acts that are predictable. There is a certain kind of cheesy, thrown-together show that can be predictably bad in a Fringey way. It can sometimes be charming (and sometimes tedious). The fact that there's good and bad performing art at the Fringe is what keeps it vigorous, but I do sometimes wish that even the bad stuff were riskier. Please! No more parodies of "Twilight!" Why so much predictability? Part of this is inherent in the 60 minute limit. I sure would like to see them bring back a 90 minute slot or venue. I believe we would have a greater variety if we did so. Many festivals do not have the 60 minute time limit. Do all MN Fringe shows have to fit it? I don't see creating a juried show as the solution. You would simply be creating a festival and a fringe festival, exaggerating the gulf between the haves and the have nots rather than raising the level of the festival as a whole. It's an interesting suggestion and I'm glad you raised it, though. I'll be curious to see what others think.

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dstagnerAug. 19, 12 9:19 PM

I think the ideas here are completely misguided and contradictory. You want a "wild and wooly" Fringe with "bold choices", and then you call for a juried selection - a process that relies on insiderism, brown-nosing, and unimaginative formula. You'll get a LESS bold, and even more insular Fringe Festival! Are you thinking this through at all? Now, if someone wants a "high quality" Fringe experience, that's not difficult. Just watch the reviews for the crowd-pleasers. And if you want experiments in venues and time limits, the Fringe staff has done that (and I expect them to keep doing it - I long for a return of BYOV and 90 minute shows myself). Even the selection process has been subject to experimentation in recent years - just not to the point of introducing the sort of elitism you're proposing.

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timurenAug. 20, 1210:23 AM

As an artist, the power of a place that says, “Yes,” sight unseen is incredible. If I fail, there is no one but me to blame. If I do well, there is no one standing by to take credit for my work. This city has no shortage of theatrical gatekeepers, needing to consider and evaluate the worth of a vision before an audience might get accidentally exposed to it. For all the good these gatekeepers do, they also reduce the chance that when I walk into a performance, anything can happen. At Fringe, that is exactly the feeling I have and I never want that to change.

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rex614Aug. 20, 1211:11 AM

As a long-time Fringe Board member and a former theater critic, I emphatically disagree with Graydon and Rohan's call for a semi-curated Fringe. The essence of the Fringe Festival, not only here but worldwide with very few exceptions, can be stated in two principles: no curating and no censorship. The Minnesota festival is open to anyone whose number is drawn in the lottery; what artists do with the opportunity is entirely up to them. The Fringe likewise provides audiences with an opportunity that might be described as the theatrical equivalent of a tapas bar: what they choose to consume is up to them. I saw 23 shows at this year's festival, ranging from the sublime "Ash Land" to one or two that I actively disliked, but I was never bored.

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yoyoma1977Aug. 20, 1211:31 AM

The Fringe sold less tickets, but it also had less shows. The average house per performance was exactly the same as last year. If the Fringe feels tired to you, it's probably because your job is to see as much of it as possible. Of course it's going to feel a little more tired for you. I'd bet that for the average Fringe-goer, the festival is as fun as it ever was. Little tweaks here and there would be great and would help keep the fun going strong, but I would not try to fix something that isn't broken.

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