Second Annual St. Lou Fringe Festival Set to Dazzle

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Here’s the challenge for St. Louis theater goers: See as many of the shows at St. Lou Fringe this weekend as you can. Experiencing them all is mathematically impossible, so choosing which performances to see becomes part of the fun—and challenge. How about “Montana,” the story of Scarface as written by Shakespeare, or The Spotty Truth, who uses an audience member’s life history in a fully improvised comedic biography? If it’s dance you prefer, there are choices there too. Ashleyliane Dance Company performs with such impassioned emotion that it’s almost a new art form; or if swing’s your thing, The Four Fronts features four of the finest swing dancers in the country. And these only begin to scratch the surface.

Kicking off today and leading up to the awards ceremony on Monday, June 24, St. Lou Fringe presents 30 performance groups (10 of them from out of state) at venues throughout Grand Center, plus three outdoor stages, street performers, visual art, workshops, nightly after-parties and “Fringe Family” activities geared towards youth. Approximately 200 artists are involved in this year’s festival, and acts include theater, dance, music, comedy, vaudeville/circus and more. Japanese taiko drums, anyone?

The original fringe festival began in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, as an alternative festival that played concurrently and “on the fringe” of the mainstream Edinburgh International Festival. Since then, other fringe festivals have popped up all over the world, and become increasingly popular in the US. St. Lou Fringe’s inaugural season was just last year, thanks in large part to Executive Director Em Piro and several committed volunteers and partners. An unprecedented hit, St. Lou Fringe is back for its second season and the buzz is strong. Ticket sales are up and people are talking. “All the seeds we planted are really coming to fruition,” Piro says.

St. Lou Fringe 2012 fan-favorite production, “OSGOOD REX”

A fringe festival has a way of weaving itself into the cultural fabric of a city. Arts-lovers take part in an event that is created by other lovers of art, who see new, out of the ordinary, cutting-edge work. Artists from the area network with artists from across the country, and everybody gets a glimpse of what’s happening culturally in other cities as well as here in St. Louis.

As the festival puts it, St. Lou Fringe is a one-of-a-kind single-weekend pressure-cooker of artistic expression. If you’re heading to Grand Center to watch the explosion, the complete performance schedule, as well as ticketing information, can be found at the festival’s website: stlfringe.com.

Photos courtesy of St. Lou Fringe

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