Ten things to know about the 2011 MN Fringe Festival

Earlier this week I sat down with Robin Gillette and Matthew Foster of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, to find out the details for this year’s performance free-for-all.

I’ve distilled our conversation down to ten things you’ll want to know, from the basics to the bizarre.

1. This year’s festival runs August 4 – 14, with 168 shows being performed on 15 stages, plus three “bring your own venues:” Mill City Museum, Kieran’s Irish Pub and Cult Status Gallery.

2. This year’s fringe button, which you need in addition to your ticket to see a show, looks like this:

Fringe-button.jpg

The button still costs $4… tickets are still $12.

3. Big this year: Shakespeare!! The bard is the inspiration for nine shows, including three Shakespeare-Sci-Fi mash-ups: Ham-Luke, MacBeth: The Video Game Re-Mix and Tempests (which reimagines “Aliens” as the sequel to “The Tempest”)

4. That brings us to the most talked about trailer for this year’s Fringe:

5. Also big this year: religion! and mental health! and music!

6. Lightrail construction will present challenges for many venues, including the only St. Paul venue Gremlin Theatre. Robin Gillette recommends that Fringe-goers pick a venue for the day and stay put, rather than trying to bounce around from one venue to the next.

7. Interesting factoid: Bob McFadden, the founder of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, is directing his own Fringe show. This is the first time a former festival director has returned to direct a show. It’s title? Dripping in Spit: The Resurrection of Father Louis Hennepin

8. This year’s “Fringe Central” is Moto-i. That’s where people gather before, after and inbetween shows to share reviews and rejigger their plans for the remaining days of the festival. Oh, and eat and drink.

9. Not sure where to start? There are two “Fringe-for-alls” this Monday and next. Each is a showcase of 30 different Fringe acts, each given three minutes to perform an excerpt of their show. FYI: a 2011 festival admission button is required for entry. Gillette and Foster agree – this is not where you separate out the “great” from the “good,” but the “maybe” from the “must avoid.”

10. Like life, the Fringe is what you make it. Go with friends, pace yourself, and simply enjoy the fact that all these people are willing to jump up on stage and share their creativity with you.

Happy Fringe-ing!

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