Have you been Fringed?
The New York International Fringe Festival (Fringe NYC) has been offering 175 acts from 18 countries and across the U.S., filling a host of venues in and around New York's Lower East Side. Performances began Aug. 18 and nearly all will end either Saturday or Sunday, the 28th or 29th.
At 175 productions, this year's Fest matches the amount of attractions featured in the first fest, in 1997, and bests last year's event by roughly 30.
Fringe NYC also boasted a greater international presence than in years past, said spokesperson Ron Lasko. Thirty-five international artists and companies have been invited to participate, more than double last year's number -- thus minimizing the previously dominating presence of New York-based troupes. Countries represented include Canada, Brazil, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, Columbia, Greece, Poland, India, Sweden, Holland, Australia, Austria, Japan, Thailand, England and Belgium.
Lasko told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 26), "This year's Festival has far exceeded our expectations. There's been a frenzy to buy tickets; even on the first day we had six shows that sold out. Things are selling out left and right. For example, The Black Rider sold out a 300-seat house, and we had to turn away 20 people!" Not everything went so smoothly, of course. "The Black Rider almost didn't make it in," said Lasko. "Two performers had trouble crossing the border from Canada. (We call the show our `Peony Pavilion'!) But they eventually made it and the show's been doing fabulously."
Some highlights of the extravaganza have included:
* The Austin Pendleton-directed production of Admissions, Tony Vellela's drama about college campus politics. Admissions was presented at the Blue Heron Arts Center earlier this spring.
* jaywalker, a one-person show by Marga Gomez, a veteran of The Public Theater and P.S. 122.
* A new production of the Tom Waits-William S. Burroughs-Robert Wilson musical, Black Rider, by the Edmonton, Canada, company, A Gentlewoman and a Scholar Productions.
* My Penis, a serio-comic monologue of obvious subject matter -- and a sort of counterpart to Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues -- by Antonio Sacre, a veteran of the 1997 and 1998 festivals.
* Urinetown!, a satirical musical courtesy of Chicago's Theatre of the Apes (aka the NeoFuturist's Greg Kotis and Second City's Mark Hollmann). This one's been extended to Sept. 4.
* Jinkies! The Totally Unauthorized, Partially Improvised Scooby Doo Mysteries Live on Stage brings Scooby Snax and the Mystery Machine back to life, courtesy of author-director Eric Pliner. This one is pretty much sold out.
* Mongrel, an Australian piece at Surf Reality, will add an extra date the upcoming week.
* All Male Tales of Y2Gay also proved a popular ticket.
Though the 1999 Festival isn't even over yet, the organizers are already thinking about next year's event, which will take place Aug. 16-27. The Present Company, led by producing director Elena K. Holy and artistic director John Clancy, produces Fringe NYC.
As with the first three Fests, the fourth will undoubtedly be held in all kinds of spaces and places -- indoors and out. Special events, continuous live street performances, panel discussions, workshops, conferences and Fringe Jr. programming for kids, will again be part of the Fringe NYC mix. Performances cover a wide range of disciplines: theatre, performance art, dance, children's theatre, spoken word, buskers and multimedia.
For information on the Fringe Festival call (212) 420-8877.
Fringe NYC's web site is http://www.fringenyc.org.