Each year the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the state's largest unjuried theater event, descends on the city of Minneapolis for eleven days, taking over every venue it can get its grubby little hands on, and creating an immense theater extravaganza out of thin air, thousands of volunteers, and boundless quantities of creativity (What is a unit of creativity? Does it comes in tons? Watts? Bytes?).
For many years the city of St. Paul has been the neglected little sister of this festival. "We have theaters, too!" she cries. "Good ones! And within walking distance of each other!" But to no avail - the festival, out of a desire to remain relatively compact (allowing audiences to get from one show to another in less than 30 minutes), has drawn the line at, well, the city line.
But times, they are a changin'. This year you'll notice the sub-heading for the Minnesota Fringe Festival is "Minneapolis and St. Paul." That's because one little venue, Gremlin Theater, lies just over the borderline on University Avenue.
While this may appear to be a small chink in the Fringe's "Minneapolis Uber Alles" armour, it's actually an indication of a larger movement at work. Fringe Executive Director Robin Gillette and Communications Director Matthew Foster (seen above shortly after drinking large quantities of coffee) say they are working at making the Minnesota Fringe Festival just that - a Minnesota festival. They've made trips across the state to visit communities with their own theaters and talk about ways they can get involved. That's not to say people will be driving three hours between shows in upcoming festivals, but it's an invitation to Minnesotans all over to claim the Fringe Festival as their own.
Want to check out the more than 160 shows that made the final list for this year's Fringe (July 30th - August 9th)? You can find them here.
St. Paul?! Where's that?
Will there be a Fringe tour bus to take people there?
I love the envelope-pushing Fringe Festival, but St. Paul may be over the line even for the Fringe. ;)
Catch a sneak preview of the 2009 Minnesota Fringe Festival performances at www.fringeyawards.org. You can view and vote for your favorite trailers.