Sunday, July 26, 2020

2020 Minnesota Fringe Festival Preview

Friends, one of the best times of the #TCTheater year is approaching! The Minnesota Fringe Festival is going virtual this year. The bad news is the shows will not be live and in-person, and not as many shows/artists are able to participate. The good news is you can watch all shows from the comfort of your own home, many at your own schedule, and you don't have to deal with waiting in line, or rushing from venue to venue in the August heat, or squeezing your meals in wherever you can. This is a great opportunity to experience the adventurous nature of the Fringe, from the comfort and safety of home.

There are two parts to the virtual fringe. The first is "Nightly Fringe" - live shows will be streamed on various platforms every night from July 30 through August 9. On most nights there are two shows, at 7pm and 8pm (see schedule for details). These shows are FREE to view, but if you do partake, please consider a donation to the Fringe and/or the company presenting the show. The fun part of this is that the shows are live, and you'll be watching them at the same time as other audience members (with no risk of the show being sold out!).

The second component of this year's virtual fringe is called the "Digital Hub," which contains a bunch more shows that are either live, or pre-recorded to watch on demand. A $5 Fringe button will give you access to all of these shows, some of which will be free to watch, some of which will be available for a fee. Click here for the full show list.

This is my 10th Minnesota Fringe, and typically I post a "Must-See List" that is my most viewed post of the year. This year is different, because I believe it is possible to see everything so we don't have to make those difficult choices! I can't promise I'll see everything, but I will be tuning in almost every night, and watching a bunch of stuff on the Hub as well. My plan is to post mini-reviews of shows that I watch, although I'm not sure yet what that will look like.

In lieu of a must-see list, here are a few of the "Nightly Fringe" shows that caught my eye. This list includes some of my Fringe favorites from past years, but I'm looking forward to discovering some new favorites too.
  • Break the Dice: The Improvised Campaign by The Bearded Company - a mix of improv, fantasy, and D&D, this show has been a Fringe hit for several years (known as Swords and Sorcery) and is now also a podcast.
  • FringeMiss - a fundraiser featuring many Fringe favorites.
  • The Mystery of the Gryphon's Ears by Monster Science Productions - Reverend Matt's edutainment series is always a fun, funny, and clever deep dive into history, legend, and pop culture.
  • TV Tunes with Leslie Vincent - a variation of Leslie's weekly ukulele shows, featuring one of my favorite genres of music, TV theme songs (with commentary by the very funny Josh Carson).
  • The Cut-Out Bar by LandmanLand - a very special episode of Sam Landman's nightly record listening party, in which he listens to an obscure record he's never listened to before.
  • The Champagne Drops: The In-Between Years by The Champagne Drops - lovely harmonies and awkward stories of early adolescence.
  • Fruit Flies Like a Banana: Virtual Style by The Fourth Wall - this trio of trained instrumentalists who perform classical pieces combined with challenging, unique, fun movement and humor is one of my all-time Fringe faves.
  • Lauren and Nissa Present: Fun Times by Special When Lit - a sketch comedy with two very funny and talented women, finding some fun in these not-so-fun times. I'm in!

Get ready to enjoy some adventurous art starting this Thursday! And check back here as I share my experiences in this new world of virtual Fringe-ing. I hope you see some great shows, and please consider donating whatever amount you're able to help the Minnesota Fringe in their effort to raise $100,000 this year to ensure the future of the festival.