‘Fringe Today’ keeps festival spirit alive
Online presentation features more than 100 shows, other events
Lindsay Taylor didn’t let a worldwide pandemic stop her from producing a festival in her first year on the job — it just wasn’t the festival she had imagined.
Taylor, who became Orlando Fringe’s festival producer last July, has put together “Fringe Today,” a 14-day lineup of more than 100 shows and other events that will start Tuesday. That’s the day on which theater fans would have flocked to Loch Haven Park for the first event of the 29th Orlando
Fringe International Theatre Festival. The in-person festival, which drew nearly 75,000 people in 2019, was canceled in March because of coronavirus precautions.
The online “Fringe Today” festival “kind of came out of nowhere,” Taylor said. “We’re just having fun with it. It’s better than being sad for two weeks.”
Fringe officials stressed that “Fringe Today” shouldn’t be viewed as a literal replacement for the festival.
“It’s something different,” Taylor said. “Let go of the feeling that this has to be just like Fringe. It’s not going to be.”
“Fringe Today” will lack the festival lawn’s shenanigans and its parade of food trucks, but it also comes without one of the headaches: “On the bright side, you don’t have to worry about parking,” Taylor cracked.
Viewers also don’t have to worry about paying for tickets or a Fringe button, required at the inperson festivals.
There won’t be any charge to watch the shows and events, available each day at Facebook.com/ orlandofringefestival. But tipping the performers and other artists for their work will be strongly encouraged.
The festival isn’t designed to create revenue for Orlando Fringe, which just finished a suc
cessful United Arts fundraising campaign, as well as a telethon that brought in $6,100 — more than double its goal. Rather, “Fringe Today” is about supporting performers in a time of economic hardship, officials said.
“There’s no money expectation for us,” said executive director Alauna Friskics. “The mission is to put as much money in artists’ pockets as possible. Our push is to get them money.”
In other ways, “Fringe Today” does represent the many aspects of the festival. There are offerings for young children and teens, as found at the Kids Fringe. Art demonstrations coordinated by the Visual Fringe team are included in the lineup. Concerts that would have been seen on the Fringe’s Outdoor Stage will instead take place from performers’ homes.
Merchandise is available: Orlando Fringe will sell collectibles such as buttons and shirts from the canceled Loch Haven festival — “the festival that almost was,” Friskics called it — at OrlandoFringe.org.
Even the Fringe bartenders will get in on the act: Teaching a cocktail mixology class.
“I wrote a list: ‘What are the things I think of when I think of Fringe?’” said Taylor of her programming strategy. “Then I said, ‘How can we add those things into what we’re doing?’”
Shows from Fringe favorites and newcomers, selected on a first-come, first-serve basis, are a mix of live and recorded performances. But through interviews and demonstrations the festival also will include backstage looks at how the Fringe comes together.
“Our audiences are such hardcore fans I thought they would be interested in behind the scenes — how to do a magic trick, how to pour a drink,” Taylor said.
Most days, shows will stream from midafternoon until about 10 p.m. Generally, programs for younger audiences happen first. Find the full schedule at OrlandoFringe.org/FringeToday.
“This is a love letter to our patrons, our staff, our volunteers,” said Taylor. “I hope they really see the heart of the festival — even if it’s not the same.”
Tymisha Harris stars as legendary singer Josephine Baker in “Josephine,” which will be shown at 10 p.m. Saturday as part of “Fringe Today.”
Arkansan Willi Carlisle, pictured in his 2017 Fringe show “There Ain’t No More: Death of a Folksinger,” will lead a “Folk Song Sing-along” at 9 p.m. Sunday as part of “Fringe Today.”