Cast of Booted, a dance piece at FringeNYC 2003
East meets west this August, for the 7th annual New York International Fringe Festival. The largest multi-arts gathering in North America, presenting shows by some of the worlds best emerging artists and companies. FringeNYC has expanded west to the West Village this year, and Fringe Central, the festivals hub and information center, will be located at Manhattan Theater Source on MacDougal Street.
Weve gone to the West Village partially because a lot of East Village spaces are gone, says Elena K. Holy, Producing Artistic Director of The Present Company and FringeNYC. Also because some West Village spaces wanted us for a while. This year we took them up on it.
Its been quite a ride for Holy, who, with John Clancy, conceived of the first FringeNYC in 1996. We were a little theater company who couldnt afford to take a show to the Edinborough Festival, so we decided to start our own.
We knew it would have to be big, she said. There were so many small companies here like us. That first year we ended up with one hundred seventy five shows in venues all over the East Village. Weve grown steadily, and this years Fringe is the largest by far, two hundred and ten shows at twenty venues and runs sixteen days.
According to Holy, there are fifteen states and ten countries represented in the current festival, with artists and groups from Massachusetts, Virginia, California, Hawaii, France, India, Czech Republic, Venezuela, and Japan.
New York is such an international city, she says. Some of our international companies are made up of expatriate Americans, and some local companies are made up of people who just came here, so great mixtures exist. Its all about people from different places working together in a joyful collision and jumble of styles and aesthetics. Last year, New York discovered they wanted this festival, so it was a huge celebration of creativity and community. This year, I feel they deserve it. Politically, its been difficult, and New Yorkers have struggled. Our job and goal as co-producers and artists is to put on the very best festival we can for them.
This years performances run the gambit from new musicals to film noir puppetry, and everything in between, including dance, theater, solo performance and multi-media. Holy encourages people to use the festival websites popular Slice-o-matic, a quick means of searching through shows to find what you want to see at any given moment.
Not to be missed highlights?
Theres so much quality work here, notes Holy. Staggering Toward America by Rik Reppe, is one mans cross-country journey after 9/11, with stories about the people he met.
Shirtwaist is an intriguing musical about the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire in Manhattan. Then there are two comedies about corporate America- Shredders, about document shredders, and Natural Selection, about two women who put together gift boxes.
Fringe vet, Pat Candaras returns with her unique comedic style and a new show, Panic Is Not A Disorder, about lifes daily rituals set against current events.
Angel Abcedes The Semen Tree, is an autobiographical sketch of a young teen growing up and discovering his sexuality in 1970s Honolulu.
Booted is an inventive dance piece by Eva Dean, returning with her company this year. Its partially danced in combat boots, and deals with freedom of expression and liberation.
Besides the dizzying array of shows, FringeNYC has a host of special added attractions. Theres FringeAlFresco, a series of outdoor events and free show samplers on various days between 4 and 6, all in Washington Square Park. FringeU is a collection of workshops and panel discussions at 440 Lafayette, led by Fringe participants. Broads With Swords, an all female sword fighting crew from the UK, will be on hand for a demo, and there will be a panel on publishing work. For children, FringeJr offers samplers of Junior shows on weekends at noon in the Washington Square Park playground.
For a detailed listing of all the happenings, grab a Fringe program guide, available at Fringe Central on August 1, and dont forget to check out local restaurants noted on the map.
This is a big miracle we pull off every summer, Holy adds. Its sort of become a local institution. But theres often a misconception that were funded by the City. In reality, its a festival run almost entirely by volunteers. Its just all of us, and a large dose of love of theater and New York.