The largest multi-arts festival in North America returns to the city next week and, with performances by companies from eight different countries and 21 states, it’s poised to attract a new set of admirers.
Running from Aug. 14 through Aug. 30, The 19th annual version of the New York International Fringe Festival, which this year will present performances by 185 of the world’s best evolving theater groups and dance companies. The festival’s producing artistic director, Elena Holy, said many come to FringeNYC thinking they’re going to come see one show, but end up making an entire day of it.
“The shows are about as different as can be; diversity is one of the things we look for,” Holy said. “They are diverse across genres; comedy, dance, just about any genre you can think of, as well as stylistically and dramatically.”
Performances will take place in 16 venues in downtown Manhattan. Attendance expected to exceed 75,000.
Premieres include “Jurassic Parq,” “Urinetown” and “‘da Kink in My Hair.” FringeNYC alumni also include famous actors such as Bradley Cooper, Melissa Rauch and Mindy Kaling. Holy said this wide range of different people, shows and activities involved in the festival make it a combination of both a summer camp and a theatrical adventure.
A kids and family-friendly portion of FringeNYC, FringeJR, is another of the festival’s compelling attractions, Holy said. This year, a particularly extraordinary group of applicants have put together five shows for both children and families.
“Although they are shows that are suitable for kids, they’re not dumbed down at all,” she said. “They are also very much enjoyed by parents and adults.”
Because of the varied number and types of shows included, Holy suggests figuring out which one you would might best enjoy is to take the FringeNYC online quiz. It will ask you a bunch of questions and eventually pair you up with the shows that are most suited to your liking. She said it has been very successful in pairing audiences up with shows they truly ended up enjoying.
The Fringe Festival is made up of a different community of artists, audiences and volunteers. And although Fringe Theater originated in Edinburgh and is adapted all over the world, Holy said FringeNYC is different, because it is located in one of the greatest towns for theater.
Holy said one of the things she has learned is that the audiences love having the opportunity to meet the artists and discuss their work with them. For that reason, they have launched a special event this year called FringePlus. After the shows are over, they will be followed by a meet-up at a local bar or restaurant, where the artists and audiences will be able to grab a drink together and discuss the performances.
“It’s interesting,” she said, “because I feel the festival provides a rare opportunity for emerging artists in New York City to grow and for audiences to let loose and become adventurous.”