Minnesota Fringe Festival


If it's August, it must be the Fringe, feckless days of sweltering sun followed by forays into...what, exactly? As the Fringe has grown and spread its all-consuming tentacles across the city, it's gone from eclectic to indescribable. Music, dance, comedy, po-faced drama, and blatant titillation (or attempts at such) are all readily available given one's viewing proclivities. (We'll go ahead and get this out of the way: Show titles this year include Watching Porn, Porn! Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dong, and the touchingly sentimental I Got a Fundamentalist Up My Ass (pictured). One aspect that will change after this year is executive director Leah Cooper, who will be departing after six years of involvement with the organization. "Up until a few days ago I was pretty much mired in the details," Cooper said last week, reached on her cell phone while she was parked outside a radio studio for yet another interview. "There have been more last-minute drop-outs than ever before, people don't feel like their show is ready. I've wondered, has it gotten so big that people are afraid of taking risks, with veterans concerned with their reputations?" God, let's hope not. Because the Fringe experience is as much festival as it is theater, with audiences far more willing to suspend judgment (because, frankly, if any given show crashes and burns there are about a jillion more on offer). Cooper, who plans on abandoning North (for South) America for a time, sounds excited about her last Fringe, but also has one foot off the continent. "It's gotta be the best ever, then I've gotta sell my house and get out of town," she says. "Everything is the last time I'm going to do it, and now I'm starting to savor it. I'm focused on enjoying the hell out of it." And so are we, in this theater arts equivalent of State Fair overeating. Burp.