Monday, August 10, 2020

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2020: Wrap-Up and Favorites

The great experiment known as the Minnesota Fringe Virtual Festival 2020 has come to an end. Of course it wasn't the same as our usual beloved live, in-person, together Fringe, but it was better than no Fringe. The festival was, as always, well organized, with two components (Nightly Fringe, which included 1-3 live shows every night, and the Digital Hub, which included 50-some shows to stream). While I do wish they had kept the 60 minute time limit for all shows (truthfully, if I saw a show was longer than an hour I often skipped it, because I didn't want to devote that much time to one show out of so many), and it was a bit wearying with all of the different platforms, links, apps, emails, and passwords to navigate, on the whole it was a successful experiment. The best part was seeing how adventurous these artists could get within the limitations of a pandemic world. The result is: artists will find a way to do art, and audiences will find a way to experience it. Thanks to the Fringe for connecting us all in this weird weird world.

I saw 37 shows this year, out of 70-some. As convenient and easy as it is to watch shows from home, home also contains a lot of distractions (dishes, my phone, cats, the Twins game, the Lost episodes I'm re-watching, my comfortable bed), distractions that we are forced to turn off when we enter the theater. It's harder to do so at home. Plus, going from watching maybe 1 streaming theater show a week for the last 5 months, to 37 in 11 days, was a bit jarring. Still, I enjoyed most of what I saw. And here are my favorites. For this list I excluded anything recorded in pre-pandemic times. Not that I didn't love some of that, but I wanted to highlight artists making use of this new format of theater-making. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
Although the Fringe is over, it's not too late to donate to the Fringe and/or buy some merch. We can all help them reach their goal to ensure a live, in-person, together Fringe in 2021! See you next year, Fringe-ers.

Read all of my Nightly Fringe mini-reviews here.

Read all of my Digital Hub mini-reviews here.