2010 Fringe Forecast

Twisted. Thought-provoking. Zany. Visually stimulating. All of these terms—and more—can be used to describe the Minnesota Fringe Festival, which will be held for its 17th year in the Twin Cities. The festival, August 5–15, is a non-juried (all participants are randomly chosen through a lottery), uncensored event. What this means for audiences is the potential for anything (and everything) to happen.

This year’s Fringe features 169 different productions on 19 different stages throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, and no show is longer than 60 minutes. From comedy to drama to spoken word to dance, Minnesota Fringe offers something for everyone.

After purchasing the $4 admission button, single adult tickets are just $12 (a price that hasn’t increased since 2004), and all venues are within four miles of Fringe Central at Bedlam Theatre, the festival’s official hangout on the West Bank in Minneapolis.

Matthew Foster, communications director of Minnesota Fringe, is eagerly anticipating the start of this year’s festivities and looking forward to several shows, but when asked for recommendations, he diplomatically replies, “We love all our children equally.” He will admit, however, that he’s very impressed with the line-up of out-of-town participants, many visiting from other Fringe festivals.

If you are new to the Fringe this year and feeling intimidated by the enormity of options, Foster highly recommends a visit to Fringe Tracks, a new addition to the website where prominent local entertainers, businesspeople, and Fringe fanatics list the shows they’re most excited to see. If you’re looking for a cheat sheet, here are four types (among many) of Fringe shows, and a couple of options for each that sound très intriguing:
 

A Look at the Dark Side

WHO: Colder by the Lake
WHAT: The Jack Chick Plays
WHEN: Aug. 5, 7, 8, 13, 15
WHERE: U of M Rarig Center Arena
ETC.: Colder by the Lake of Duluth, Minn., brings to life cautionary tales featured in those religious tracts often seen in waiting rooms and on diner counters, most of which were written by Jack T. Chick. With a cast of six playing 66 characters, a look at sins like drunkenness, greed, and promiscuity, and your very own set of Chick tracts waiting for you at the door, it could be a performance of revelations.

WHO: Joking Envelope
WHAT: The Damn Audition
WHEN: Aug. 7. 8, 11, 14, 15
WHERE: U of M Rarig Center Thrust
ETC.: Written by Minnesota Fringe regular Joseph Scrimshaw and set in the “audition room of hell,”—also known as L.A.—this show looks at good and evil and the daily choices we make that are one or the other—or both.
 

Minnesota—nice!

WHO: Awkward Moments Productions
WHAT: Entwined
WHEN: Aug. 7. 9, 11, 12, 14
WHERE: U of M Rarig Center Arena
ETC.: Writer/performer Amy Salloway tells her story of love and loss and a Valentine’s-Day breakup on a road trip to the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine—yes, the one right here in Darwin, Minn. Called “brave and original” by The Ottawa Citizen and “utterly fearless” by CURVE Magazine, Salloway’s show should have a lot of twists and turns.

WHO: Mrs. and Mrs. Fallon Productions
WHAT: The Crock Pot
WHEN: Aug. 7. 8, 10, 13, 14
WHERE: Bryant-Lake Bowl
ETC.: Okay, the Fringe has The Crock Pot’s writer, Emily R. Schmidt, listed as being from New York City, but she’s actually a Minnesota native. And with a show named after our state’s most popular cooking vessel, and set at a Scandinavian/German/Lutheran hobby fair, who wouldn’t be able to figure that one out?
 

From our Out-of-Town Guests

WHO: casebolt and smith
WHAT: O(h)
WHEN: Aug. 7. 8, 12, 13, 15
WHERE: Bryant-Lake Bowl Southern Theater
ETC.: From Los Angeles, Liz Casebolt and Joel Smith offer a dance performance that “delivers Ike and Tina, gyrating hips, hand snaps, and a happy ending.” Part dance, part song, part comedy, this show will keep you on your toes. Acceptable for ages 7 and up, but Casebolt and Smith warn that watching this performance just may turn your children gay.

WHO: Mark Shyzer
WHAT: Fishbowl
WHEN: Aug. 6. 8, 9, 13, 15
WHERE: Bryant-Lake Bowl Ritz Theater Studio
ETC.: Toronto native Mark Shyzer “slyly reveals the connections between five wildly different, outrageously hilarious, entirely unforgettable characters,” all played by Shyzer. It sounds very reminiscent of a one-man Kids in the Hall.
 

Something for the Kids

WHO: Snikt! Bamf! Thwip!
WHAT: Story Time Time Bomb
WHEN: Aug. 6. 7, 10, 14, 15
WHERE: U of M Rarig Center Arena
ETC.: An interactive show for ages 2 and up, where children’s book authors Christopher Jones and Tim Wick write and illustrate a new book during the show with suggestions from the audience. “Kids finally get to write their own Fringe show….”

WHO: Big Blue Head
WHAT: Fartosaurus Rex!
WHEN: Aug. 7. 8, 10, 14, 15
WHERE: The Jungle Theater
ETC.: Dinosaurs and flatulence—what more needs to be said? Acceptable for ages 2 and up.

Just a few more things to keep in mind during this year’s Fringe:

• Arrive on time—there is never any late seating.
• In addition to the performances, there are plenty of late-night parties (until 2 a.m. every night of the festival) going on at of Fringe Central at Bedlam Theatre.
• Kids don’t need Fringe badges, but adults accompanying them do.
• Have fun at the Fringe!
 

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