Fringe Day 0: Let the games begin

Font of Knowledge was one of 18 shows featured at Wednesday's Out of Towners' Showcase for the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
Font of Knowledge was one of 18 shows featured at Wednesday's Out of Towners' Showcase for the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
Photo courtesy Minnesota Fringe Festival

The 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival has been bubbling under the surface for the last several weeks, and it's about the burst today with 15 shows at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday evening saw the last of the pre-Fringe events, as an Out of Towners' Showcase was held at the Brave New Workshop Student Union.

The showcase, like a pair of earlier ones for in-town artists, is kind of like a festival cattle call. Each group gets a few minutes to showcase what their show is about and, more importantly, why you should take the time to check out their show.

This is especially important for the out of towners, who often start at a disadvantage. It's one thing for a crew of local actors to drum up support for their show. It's an entirely different thing for a face fresh to the Twin Cities to make the inroads necessary to bring in audiences for five performances over 11 days.

So in the sweaty confines of the Student Union, 18 shows -- solo and ensemble -- strutted their best stuff in the space of a pop song, hoping to connect with the audience. In general, they did just that, bringing their pieces alive and creating a kind of Fringe tapas, with lots of little tasty samples. 

Some of the artists are making return trips, so they have some fan base already. City Pages cover star Les Kurkendaal not only gave a quick rundown of the plot of his solo show, A One-way Ticket to Crazy Town (man tries to connect with dementia-suffering mother via stories, ala 1,001 Arabian Nights), but also brought an engaging style that said "you'll have a good time spending an hour in a dark theater with me."

The best of the samples did this, be it Kevin J. Thornton's Strange Dreamz (wrapped up around a story about flirting with a guy at a Twin Cities party, only to discover he was straight) or Rebecca Kling's standup-like exploration of her transgender status and her different takes on sex from a man's and a woman's perspective. All the while, the nearly full house jotted down notes in their programs, possibly making decision to see -- or not see -- the shows on display.

The artists have their marks, and are just chomping for someone to shout "go."

The days leading up to the start of the festival can still bring changes, or at the very least deletions from the schedule. A pair of shows have dropped from the festival and will not be replaced. Galleria: A Series of Poetic Portraits and Catch-23 Extended.

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