Fringe Festival returns with 200 plays

Didi Panache and Lady Winifred of “The Lady Winifred & Didi Show” (Photo by JesusNYC)

Didi Panache and Lady Winifred of “The Lady Winifred & Didi Show” (Photo by JesusNYC)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, August 14, the summer theater tradition that is the Fringe Festival will return, with over 200 plays running at 16 venues throughout the East Village and the Lower East Side. This is the 19th year for the event, which will last 16 days (through August 30) with each ticket costing $18.

Elena K. Holy, the festival’s producing artistic director, who has been with the project since the beginning, said the plays that get selected are the ones that seem the most different.

“We look for innovation, vibrancy and diversity,” she said. The plays are also intentionally held each year during August when it’s normally a slow time of year for theater, and quipped Holy, when it’s an easier time “to sneak out of the office.”

Fringe has several divisions, including “Fringe Jr.,” the shows directed towards children, which are all being held at the 14th Street Y. There’s also “Fringe Al Fresco,” which are plays to take place at outdoor venues like parks and community gardens. Outdoor options this year include “The Merchant of Venice” in Tompkins Square Park by Hip to Hip Theatre Company and “Ferry Play,” a downloadable, self-scheduled play meant to be heard on the Staten Island Ferry, directed by Peter Cooper Village resident Erin Mee.

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14th Street Y is home to ‘Fringe Jr.’

By Sabina Mollot

By now, most theater buffs in New York City are familiar with “The New York International Fringe Festival,” the mega-festival of plays put on by over 200 companies in 16 days each summer for the past 18 years. However, what’s less known is that there’s also “Fringe Jr.,” a selection of plays in the festival that are geared towards kids. Each show is around an hour and put on by local as well as overseas companies.

The Fringe Jr. show “Vagabond$”

The Fringe Jr. show “Vagabond$”

The venue this year for Fringe Jr., which kicked off August 8 and will run through August 24, is the 14th Street Y. There are four plays to choose from, each one suitable for families with kids ages 5-12, and tickets are $18 for adults, $13 for kids.

This is the second time Fringe is showing children’s plays exclusively at the Y’s LABA theater.

Previously, Fringe Jr. plays had been shown at more than one venue each year.

“The 14th Street Y has been a very good friend to us,” said Ben Cohen, an associate producer for Fringe’s community and social marketing. The venue, he said, was ideal due to the fact there are already other activities for kids going on, making it convenient for parents who want to introduce their kids to theater.

“All of us at Fringe definitely feel that theater is so important for kids,” Cohen said. “I know it had an impact on me growing up.”

This year, there were over 1,000 applications for Fringe Festival plays, although the Fringe Jr. plays have a separate application process. But like with the other plays, Fringe looks for stories that are “current, present and topical.”

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