Navigating the Fringe
From comic book homages to serious dramas, gut-busting comedies to heart-wrought poetry, the 10-day Minneapolis' Fringe Festival -- the largest of its kind in the country -- offers an incredible variety of artistic performances at multiple local venues. Nine hundred performances from 176 companies will be staged at 21 venues, including nine in Southwest, Aug. 6-15.
Every year, and this is the festival's 11th, ambitious performers -- actors, dancers, storytellers, puppeteers, what have you -- carry on the fringe tradition in Minnesota. Fringe artists are not selected through any sort of critique; they must simply race to sign up before all slots are booked (usually by February).
Theatergoers have an astounding diversity of shows to choose from, but there are ways to whittle your Fringe menu into a manageable number of options.
While print schedules will soon be available at coffee shops and other locations, the Fringe Web site, www.fringefestival.org, is an essential tool for deciding what Fringe shows to see. Click on "Search Now!" and you can select shows according to date, genre, venue, age-appropriateness, etc.
Your menu shrinks to 67 shows when you decide to stick to Southwest locales:
– Acadia Caf/, (1931 Nicollet Ave., 11 shows),
– Brave New Workshop Theater, (2605 Hennepin Ave. S., 11 shows),
– CalibanCo Theatre, (610 W. 28th St., 11 shows),
– Minneapolis Theatre Garage, (711 W. Franklin Ave., 11 shows plus visual art exhibits),
– Intermedia Arts, (2822 Lyndale Ave. S., 10 shows),
– Jungle Theater, (2951 Lyndale Ave. S., three shows),
– Via's Vintage Wear, (2405 Hennepin Ave. S., one show),
– Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, (810 W. Lake St., nine shows),
– Caf/ Barbette, (1600 W. Lake St., four shows)
– and Calhoun Square, (3001 Hennepin Ave. S., art exhibits).
Yes, you did see a clothing store on the list. Lowry Hill East's Via's Vintage Wear is reopening and will stage the play "Dressing Room" as part of its reopening celebration Friday, Aug. 6. Via's new owner Kellie Cameron said the play, which runs Aug. 6-15, uses clothes from the store and is set in, of course, the store's dressing room. Cameron bought the store last spring after its founder, Via Vento, died.
The Fringe site warns that "Dressing Room" includes nudity and adult language; the show is not included when you select "Family-Friendly" as a criterion (which yields over 80 other shows). Select the "Kids" criterion and options drop to a manageable six shows, including three at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, 1900 Nicollet Ave.: "Brave Little Tailor," "Frog Prince" and "I Don't Want to Go to Bed."
The site also keeps tabs of which shows are getting the most hits online. During press time, that honor went back and forth between "Look Ma, No Pants: The Last One" and "ASSASINS." In "Look Ma . . ." Southwest's sibling comedy duo the Scrimshaw Brothers take improv fans on one last wild romp together. "ASSASSINS" is a musical exploration of American presidential assassinations wherein both John Wilkes Booth and John Hinkley, Jr. grace the stage. ("Look Ma . . ." will be at The Loring Playhouse, 1635 Hennepin Ave. S., Aug. 6-14, 11:20 p.m. "ASSASSINS" will appear at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage Aug. 7, 9, 10, 12 and 14 at 10 p.m.)
Tickets to Fringe shows are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $5 for children. If you plan to attend more than one Fringe event, consider purchasing the $3 Minnesota Fringe Festival button at a show, it gets you a $2 discount on all Fringe Festival shows.
Uptown Art Fair
'Tis the season for another massive, local art tradition: the Metris Uptown Art Fair.
Local, national and international artists -- more than 385 in all -- will fill the Lake Street & Hennepin Avenue intersection with their wares Friday-Sunday, Aug. 6-8. Whether it's artistic jewelry, traditional landscapes or avant garde sculpture you're after, it's sure to be there. The fair's Uptown Association organizers expect the volunteer-based event to draw a crowd of 450,000 art-lovers.
Unlike the Fringe, this is a juried show. In fact, the Metris Uptown Fair touts its "arduous jurying process." According to its printed program, "to ensure the quality and diversity expected of a top-notch fine arts festival," jurors turned down the work of approximately 800 artists from the original pool of 1,200.
This year's theme is "Art. It's in our nature." There will be a Kids Creative Art Station to help nurture this nature. And works by students from Jefferson, 1200 W. 26th St., and three other Minneapolis elementary schools will also be on exhibit and for sale (each is under $50) in the Metris Creates Gallery. The students worked with professional local artists to produce their art fair pieces.
In addition to free music performances (bands are yet to be announced), this year's fair also features performances by Cirque de Soleil's brilliant, inspiring contortionists Friday-Saturday, Aug. 6-7, during the evening (exact show-times were still to be determined at press time).
The free fair will be open Friday, noon-7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, log onto www.uptownminneapolis.com/art-fair/.