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'Fringe de la Fringe' brings street fair to June theater festival

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 14, 2012 - St. Louis’ Fringe Festival just got fringe-ier. The response to the city’s first such  theater and other performing arts event was so overwhelming that organizers are giving all comers a chance to show their stuff.

While many of the dozens of Fringe Festivals around the country and the globe take place only inside theater spaces, the St. Lou Fringe is also taking it to the streets with “Fringe de la Fringe” outdoor performances.

Throughout the June 21-25 event, talent not seen onstage will be on view in a street fair that will include black-light theater, improv and Taiko drumming, according to local Fringe founder Emily Piro.

“We can only accommodate so many performers, and we want to embrace anyone who is Fringe-friendly in St. Louis,” Piro said.

Thursday event weaves public into the Fringe

The public is invited to find out more about all things Fringe at a free event 8 p.m. Thursday at the Fountain on Locust, where Fringe theater and other artists each have 60 seconds to show or tell people about their performances.

Twenty of the 30 Fringe artists hail from St. Louis, with 10 others coming from such cities as Seattle, Hollywood, Philadelphia and Kansas City. Two applications arrived from other countries, including India, but not in time for consideration.

The chosen artists will present about 100 shows during the Fringe Festival, held in makeshift theater venues carved out of Locust Business District locations. Exact addresses have not yet been announced.

More social-informational events will lead up to the festival, with one scheduled April 1 at Schlafly Tap Room on Locust. A May 15 “Fringe Tease,” offering a sneak peek at Fringe entertainment, will take place at Fubar, also on Locust,

“If people are still trying to wrap their minds around ‘What is a Fringe Festival anyway?’ they can come to that,” Piro said.

‘Melting pot of creativity’

Opportunities to get involved with St. Lou Fringe are numerous and varied. In one, organizers are asking creative types to vamp up “FringeGuy," a figure that will adorn festival area admission buttons. The only requirement is to keep “FringeGuy” gender and ethnically neutral.

Sponsors include KDHX radio, Grand Center, the Locust Business District and Schlafly, and support is being formalized with Circus Flora, HotCity Theatre, the St. Louis Beacon, STL-Style and other organizations. The Fringe is also in talks with Saint Louis University.

During the festival, admissions buttons will cost around $5 with show tickets topping out at $12. What’s in store for festival-goers is a wide variety of entertainment, according to Piro.

“We have what we want which is a real melting pot of creativity,” Piro said.

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.