And it begins: Fringe lottery sets preliminary slate for 2012

​Monday's snow may have made it feel like winter, but for those gathered at Brave New Workshop's Uptown location that evening, it was all about August.

The participating theaters for the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival were drawn by lottery Monday evening, selected for either small or regular-size venues. As it turns out, more than half of those eager to participate made it on to the lottery, with nearly 300 on the waiting lists.

As the festival is unjuried, that leaves some intriguing names on the outside, including Comedy Suitcase, Mike Fotis, and Teatro del Pueblo.

Last year, the festival was split into three categories, with participants in the large theater category virtually assured of producing at the festival. This year, it was reduced to a pair of sizes.

"We really liked having the split lotteries, because it allowed our producers to decide for themselves how much money they're able to front, as well as what size audience best suits their show," says Robin Gillette, the Minnesota Fringe Festival executive director. "However, the trouble with the three-way split is that artists -- many of whom aren't familiar with our ever-changing venue lineup -- struggled with the medium versus large choice, and not everyone ended up in the category that was actually best suited to their show's needs."

There is often some turnover between the lottery and the festival, so those on the waiting list still have a chance. In the meantime, we can look at the list of shows and wonder what exactly the likes of The Donner Party Kidz or Steampunk Apocalypse will be like, and what exactly Joseph Scrimshaw has in store with Nightmare Without Pants. Apparently the artistic director of the Guthrie is on some minds, as the festival promises both Joe Dowling's "Romeo & Juliet" on the Moon (from the Peanut Butter Factory) and An Intimate Evening with Joe Dowling (The Mechanical Division).

The 2012 Fringe Festival runs August 2 through 12. For more info, visit

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