It’s August next week. It’s hot. You want to get out, but you don’t want to commit hours to an overblown action movie, a sweaty slog around the lake or extra innings.
To the rescue, as it has since 1993: Minnesota Fringe — 11 days of more than 700 performances starting Thursday. And none of them are longer than an hour.
So, here’s the drill: The shows were chosen in a random lottery in February. Anyone could apply, 129 were chosen. They are scheduled at 17 venues in Minneapolis — on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota and in northeast Minneapolis. You go to minnesotafringe.org and pick a day, ponder a show or two, or just go to one of the venues and take a chance on whatever is on stage when you get there. Each show is just $14, so you can afford to be a little reckless with your choices.
There are one-person shows, fully costumed productions, musicals, comedies, dramas, monologues, choruses, bloody tales and puppet shows. There are more than 1,000 artists involved in creating those shows.
Family Fringe, which made its debut last year with a series of performances — you guessed it — for families, will be back. It will run “in tandem” with Minnesota Fringe, says Fringe executive director Dawn Bentley, with shows this weekend and Aug. 2-4 at the Barbara Barker Center for Dance on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank Campus in Cedar-Riverside.
Unlike Minnesota Fringe, Family Fringe’s six shows were chosen by a group of former Fringe artists and folks from Twin Cities theaters that specialize in work for young audiences.
Fringers can choose from three different stages at the Rarig Center on the West Bank. (Photo courtesy Minnesota Fringe)
For Fringe familiars, there are a few changes for 2019, Bentley says. There are no more day passes, which brings ticketing back to where it was in 2014. There are single tickets ($14 for adults, $6 for kids) and a limited number of five-show ($60) or 10-show ($100) passes. The ticket prices and packages work for either Family or regular Fringe.
A “Fringe with Benefits” pass gets you unlimited access to Fringe shows and programming throughout the year. If you and a group of friends are going to catch some Fringe shows, Bentley recommends the five- or 10-show passes to save some money.
And remember that 70 percent of ticket sales go to the artists on stage in the show you see, Bentley says. The number of shows was reduced 30 percent last year to give artists a better chance to play to a larger crowd, she adds. Attendance at the 2018 Fringe was 38,000. Bentley would like to see more than 40,000 this year.
Artists who didn’t make the lottery still had a chance to get on the Fringe train, Bentley says. Seven site-specific, independent shows will go on during Fringe this year. There are seven this year at venues including Dreamland Arts on Hamline in St. Paul, Minnsky Theatre, the Phoenix Theatre and a walking show that starts in the downtown Minneapolis Marriott courtyard (“an audio-driven, site-specific adventure for a single audience member takes you around the West Bank neighborhood, and is powered by an interactive app”).
Family Fringe will feature two relaxed performances for sensitive patrons: 10 a.m. Aug. 2 and 3. Bentley says Minnesota is the first Fringe to offer relaxed performances.
Fringe shows will be captioned, Bentley says, which is presenting a challenge since many of the shows are works in progress until showtime, so scripts may not be available.
Also new this year, nine woman-empowering shows are banding together to create a “#feministfringe” movement. The lineup includes comedies (“Can I Borrow Your Poop,” “Unproblematic Favs,” “Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy”); explorations of sexual politics (“Measure4Measure,” “R Culture”); body-image and other feminist topics (“SIZE,” “Reclaiming My Time,” “Post-it Baby,” “Presentation in Pink”).
IF YOU GO
What: 26th annual Minnesota Fringe
When: Aug. 1-11
Where: 17 venues around the West Bank and Northeast Minneapolis, plus seven “independent” sites
Tickets: $14 per show for adults, $6 for children; with multi-show packages available.
Here’s the lineup for Family Fringe:
Storyland Magic Carpet presents “Super Drag Story Time”: Local drag kings and queens tell stories through puppetry, music and dance. Fringe says: “Bringing drag, circus and a passion for children’s entertainment together in a truly unique, heartwarming storytime event, kids will learn that people who are different aren’t scary, and that the things that make us different are the things that make us awesome!”
NYC’s Broken Box Mime Theatre presents “Destination: Everywhere”: Modern mimes tell tales of a jungle expedition, a spooky sleepover and a superhero on date night — without a single word. The troupe has performed nationally and in the U.K., France, Ethiopia, Switzerland and Taiwan.
Keane Sense of Rhythm with Universal Dance Destiny present “Minneapolis Human Rhythm Project”: Dance from many cultures around the world is performed in a multigenerational, diverse showcase. Keane Sense of Rhythm has been training tap dancers of all levels for 20 years in the Twin Cities.
Benjamin Domask presents “Hodge Podge”: Domask is a Minnesota-based clown, juggler, mime and musician who has performed nationally and internationally, according to Fringe. Bubble gumballs, bubble machines, umbrellas and tin cans are featured in a circus and physical theater piece.
Off-Leash Area presents “Paws ‘n Effect”: Two dancers, a live dog, live music and digital animations tell the story of a little girl in a big city who runs away from home. A magical dog floats down from the sky in a balloon and they go on an urban journey “where she learns acceptance of others and herself.”
Teen improv from the Brave New Workshop Student Union: An in-depth improvised performance by young comic performers from Brave New Workshop, a sketch and improv comedy theater based in downtown Minneapolis, founded in 1958.