The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) returns Aug. 19-30 with its second annual eruption of performing arts. The Fest will take over nearly every viable space on New York's Lower East Side, filling them with 144 productions hailing from across the country and around the world.
FringeNYC was founded in 1997 by John Clancy, artistic director of the Off-Off-Broadway troupe The Present Company; Aaron Beall, the executive director the Downtown performing and producing space Todo Con Nada; and Jonathan Harris, founder of the League of Fringe Theaters and co-founder of the first U.S. Fringe Festival in Seattle. Harris has since been replaced by Diane Paulus, director Project 400 Theater Group. Elena K. Holy is the producing director.
The festival has cut back a little from last year's total of 171 shows, though 144 could hardly be called a small showing. Among the international visitors are Singapore's Action Theatre, which will be presenting Mail Order Brides & Other Oriental Take-Aways, a look at indentured servitude; Gotraheen, a Hindu translation of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge; and Get Outta Here, a production of The Guten Jungs of Wuerzburg, Germany.
Ironically, The Guten Jungs are not one of the eight groups which will be presenting works by Bertolt Brecht in commemoration of the German playwright's centennial. The offerings, presented under the blanket title of "The Brecht Centennial," include mounting of Caucasian Chalk Circle, Antigone, Baal, and Drums in the Night.
Other authors well represented include Heiner Muller and Eugene Ionesco (two productions of The Bald Soprano). Shows that have been attracting attention include Chicago's Annoyance Theatre's So I Killed a Few People, Mark Lonergan's Tenement Vaudeville, John Jahnke's Lola Montez in Bavaria, the Saratoga International Theatre Institute's Martini Ceremony, and new plays by Kelly Stuart (Interpreter of Horror) and Conor McPherson (Rum and Vodka). Stuart is the author of Demonology, which had a run at Playwrights Horizons. The Irish McPherson won praise for St. Nicholas, which played Primary Stages last season.
Also on the schedule are free live street performances and a series of panel discussions, workshops and conferences.
Check Playbill On-Line's daily "Fringe Watch" news features for information on other attractions.
FringeNYC will be presented in a variety of spaces, including Nada, Surf Reality, the Kraine Theatre, the Present Company Theatorium, the Connelly Theater, Henry St. Settlement, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and House of Candles. Shows will be presented from 3:30 PM to 2 AM weekdays and from Noon to 2 AM weekends. All tickets for indoor productions are $11. Schedules with exact show times and locations will be available on Aug. 1. For more information, call (212) 307-0229 or visit the web site at www.fringenyc.org.
-- By Robert Simonson