‘Fringe Today’ keeps fes­ti­val spirit alive

On­line pre­sen­ta­tion fea­tures more than 100 shows, other events

Orlando Sentinel - - Local & State - By Matthew J. Palm

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.”

MICHAEL MARINACCIO

Tymisha Har­ris stars as leg­endary singer Josephine Baker in “Josephine,” which will be shown at 10 p.m. Satur­day as part of “Fringe Today.”

JOSEPH FLETCHER

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.”

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