In Defense of Fringe Festivals

You’re probably wondering at this moment – what IS a Fringe Festival? They are held across the country, at different times of the year, to celebrate new performing arts, including live theatre, dance, puppetry, and more. In 2011, I attended the Minnesota Fringe Festival in Minneapolis/St. Paul and was thoroughly impressed by all the community support and dedicated volunteers. Fringe breathes new life into our entertainment, and lets aspiring artists thrive.

The origin of Fringe Festivals began in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland as an alternative festival running alongside the Edinburgh International Festival. Robert Kemp, a local journalist, inadvertently gave the event its name in his quotation:

“Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before…”

In the years to follow, Fringe grew in popularity and occurrence in the United States.

The importance of Fringe lies in one crucial role: The opportunity to let new ideas shine. Too much money goes into the tested, repetitive concepts. Not enough new work is featured on the larger stage. These unfiltered festivals let audiences enjoy themes, settings, characters, and performers never known before.

The idea of “the new” thrills many audience members, but not the bankers. Broadway and its similar industries take a big risk with a new show, as there always looms the potential for the show to be a failure, or a “flop.” Fringe fests are able to test the waters with breaking the budget. Audiences get the chance to champion the best new shows and get them attention from bigger financial backers.

Fringe Festivals also bring a sense of community of volunteers and audiences – the locals get to cheer for up and coming performers, too. Plus, student volunteers get see the arts thrive and keep them involved.

Stage performers will often thrive more without flashy special effects. The focus shifts to emotional range and an intimacy with the audience that never quite happens on a large stage. Songs resonate from the heart, and dialogue is received like a lover’s murmur in your ear. Something magical occurs every year on the Fringe stages.

Search for Fringe in your area and support a great concept – many cities have them annually, especially in New York City, just down a few streets from the Great White Way. See the best new voices and performances for a great price and a great pride in what your community has been hiding until someone lit the light bulb spotlight of Fringe.

To find a Fringe Fest near you, please visit:

About alishabmarie

Sometimes I write things. Sometimes they are even good.
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3 Responses to In Defense of Fringe Festivals

  1. Pingback: Top 5 Reasons to Love the Minnesota Fringe Festival | Alisha Bjorklund

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