Guests vacationing to Central Florida read my blog because they love to discover those off-the-beaten-path treasures available to the well informed traveler seeking “more than a mouse.”™
The really lucky ones come to Orlando during the last week of May and experience the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival.
You see, in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, you could only participate in the Edinburgh International Festival by invitation of the General Director. Several performing artists, who were snubbed, decided to produce their own works in the empty store fronts and church basements “on the fringe” of the established festival. This concept was an immediate success and the “Fringe” became more popular than the “official” festival.
The concept of a fringe festival grew in scope and popularity across Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. It provided artists the opportunity to show their work in an uncensored and unjuried environment where 100% of the ticket sales goes directly to the performers. Fringe festivals, like the one held each year for 12 days in Orlando at the end of May, now include live theatre performances, dance, artwork that is for sale, kids fringe, food and other vendors and madness to all types and ages.
The Orlando Fringe is the longest running US Fringe Festival.
The mainstay of the Fringe is the live theatre shows. They range in scope from individual performers telling a story on a bare stage to elaborate productions with costumes and scenery. They can last as short as 15 minutes or as long as two hours. Some are G rated and others a definite NC-17. They can be funny, poignant, offensive, absurd and god-awful!
When attending the Fringe, it’s a good idea to do your research; ask others what shows they liked, view websites and explore the information provided in the programming. It costs between $5 and $15 for each performance. In addition, since all the ticket money goes to the performers, attendees purchase a Fringe Button for $8 (you only need one to attend as many shows as you like.) This helps defray the administrative costs of producing a festival as large and varied as the Fringe.
This year Number One Son decided to do the “Fringe of Nature.” This unusual concept was executed by Brian Feldman, dubbed as Orlando’s greatest living performance artist by Orlando Weekly. Typical of Brian, it was a simple, yet quirky idea. His “performance” is that he drives the audience to a State Park in a Mini Cooper, they hike 3.5 miles to a remote campsite and then he pitches a tent and they camp for the night. Only two tickets are available for each “performance.” When Number One Son attended, he was the only “audience member.”
Number One Son really enjoyed his Fringe of Nature. Meanwhile, Number Two Son and I enjoyed a two person, hour long play that was a comedic exploration of who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare. We followed that with The Bike Trip which was one mans energetic and creative story of his attempt to retrace the steps of the first person to have invented and experienced an LSD trip. Yea, it was trippy. Number Two Son loved it.
The following night, Mrs. LanceAround and I enjoyed Fool For a Client; an hour and a half, one man comedy sketch which was a mostly true story about a man jailed for giving false information to secure a loan to open a Ben and Jerry’s franchise.There is something for everyone at the Fringe. If you want to go this year, you better hurry. It ends on Sunday.
If you’re planning a trip to Orlando next year, however, you might want to consider coming at the end of May and taking in a few Fringe shows. You’ll be glad you did!