Saturday, July 25, 2020

Fringe 2020 - Virtual Minnesota Fringe is Upon Us!

I find myself a bit giddy as I type this.

I didn't think there'd be any need to fire up the Fringe blog again this year.

The pandemic shut down all theater (live, in-person gatherings of any kind, really).

So when the Minnesota Fringe Festival canceled what was already planned to be (back in late August 2019, right after the 2019 festival closed up shop for the year) a smaller festival focused in just a single neighborhood on the West Bank, and instead had to start doing emergency fundraising to keep the Fringe alive in Minnesota so it could return in 2021(?), I'll admit I was quite sad (and a bit worried, as I am for all theater).

And of course there's been a flurry of online theater, which seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but I've been just as guilty of participating in it as anyone else (five of my pre-existing short scripts had streamed readings by a theater out in California, and I wrote four new monologues for online performance for theater groups going digital in Connecticut and, again, California - fascinating experiments, but, you know, much as it was fun to collaborate across the internet, something was still missing...)

I've seen countless notifications for online theatrical content but most of the time my heart just wasn't in it.  (My attitude could be just as much a byproduct of me doing the "work from home" thing for my primary day job and having Zoom fatigue as anything else - I know, I know, first world problems.  It's not a reflection on the artists.  I miss them and their work terribly.)

It could also be the fact that July 1st was the one year anniversary of Mom's death - she was my faithful Fringe-going companion for 16 years and this will be the second Fringe season she's not with us.  Theater in general without her around to share it with is difficult.

But when I heard that the Minnesota Fringe is going to host online theatrical offerings and not be completely dark this year after all, my spirits lifted considerably - more than I was expecting.  Perhaps my not partaking of much online theater up to now has allowed me a chance to actually miss the art form so much that I'm willing to continue staring at a screen to get a little taste again.  Also, Phillip Lowe's recent two-night Fringe retrospective as an online fundraiser for the Fringe gave me that same "Fringey" vibe and made me think, yeah, maybe this can work, if only to tide us over.  Good storytelling transmits over the web just fine.

And it all seems super easy to access, so that's a plus.

Even though it's not a festival in the real world, physical sense, it's still a gathering of artists, both known and new to me, all collected under the Minnesota Fringe Festival banner.  And honestly, right now, that's enough.

Time to dig into the listings of what's coming starting this coming Thursday, July 30th.

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