A longstanding celebration of all things offbeat, the Fringe Festival has been showcasing arts and performance outside the mainstream since its first incarnation in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Undeterred by the unfortunate cancellation of last year’s live main event due to COVID-19, Atlanta’s 9th Fringe Fest kicked off this week with virtual, livestreaming, and pre-recorded events. Diana Brown, Executive Director of the Atlanta Fringe Festival, joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the upcoming online events.
“I know that, as a theater person myself, we’re all missing going to venues, and feeling that unique, special vibe that you get from theater,” Brown said. “You can see every single show in our festival, which you usually can’t, so that’s pretty awesome. And some of our shows are coming from very far away, like Alaska, and Amsterdam, and they wouldn’t necessarily be able to join us if we were in person. I think a lot of Fringe Festivals will maintain a virtual aspect for that reason.”
Events will include improv dance with Michelina Moen’s “Beyond The Body,” where Moens will invite the audience to submit songs (which she’s never heard) to a collaborative playlist, to be used for her own dance interpretation.
“You’re just getting total feeling and talent and movement and expression, just totally spontaneously from her,” Brown said.
Another upcoming highlight is John Street Theatre Company’s “Staged,” an experimental play taking playful advantage of virtual mediums.
“They decided to tell a bunch of family and friends, ‘hey, I’ve written the best play of my life, and I really want you to come see it,’ and then they performed deliberately bad theater for them and filmed their reactions – so it’s a play, and it’s a prank,” Brown said.
Other unmissable events include “The Next Stage (The Panic Attack Play),” a play by Caitlin Graham, tracing the playwright’s journey through mental health and stagefright, and “Dawson’s Creek Live!: A Tributary,” a parody of the hit 90s teen drama series.
“There are several Fringes where their shows have gone on to Broadway, or on to Amazon Prime … ‘The Mighty Boosh,’ and the ‘Flight of the Conchords’ were originally at a Fringe Festival,” Brown said. “Fringe can be, definitely, a trampoline to higher heights.”
Tickets and schedule can be found at http://atlantafringe.org/2021-festival/.