In case you need another heads-up about the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, I urge you to drop in between now and June 7 to see theater that's beyond the mainstream. Last week, CityBeat provided an overview of the Fringe — and how our city's five-year-old version is back with more stimulating shows, plus some visual art and film worth checking out. In this issue, you'll find previews of every performance opening during the Fringe's first week. A team of CityBeat writers will review early performances of shows so you can read about them online (blogs.citybeat.com/fringe08/).
But I want you to do more than read. I want you to show up. The Cincinnati Fringe is an adventure that requires audiences. These live performances need you to watch and sometimes get involved in them. Last year True/False asked audiences to vote on the veracity of monologues. This year Inner: City tours invite you to bring an iPod (or use a loaner) and take a tour of Over-the-Rhine.
The Satori Group's RSVP recruits people to listen through headphones and follow instructions, erasing the line between audiences and performers.
At an even more pragmatic level, Know Theatre (which manages the Fringe) and its performers need you to show up so they can sustain these annual festivals. Of course, they've lined up sponsors to whom we should be grateful. But the organizers also need the revenue generated by the sale of inexpensive tickets to pay for venues and things like marketing. Even more important, performers get half the box office for each show they present. That's how they finance their work, not to mention their travel and accommodations if they've come from elsewhere.
Beyond being supportive of an important local theatrical event, however, I urge you to do this because I'm convinced you'll become a convert. Ten years ago I read about the New York Fringe Festival online and thought, "I wish we had that in Cincinnati." Seven years ago I was in Minneapolis and missed their Fringe by a week, but I picked up a program and told everyone I could that Cincinnati needed something like this. Now we have it, and while some people take advantage of it, a lot more are missing the boat.
Check out the Fringe Web site (www.cincyfringe.com). Talk someone into joining you and commit an evening this week to seeing a couple of the shows. Why not recruit a carload and save on gas? Stop by Know Theatre (1120 Jackson St.) and buy a pass. If you show up by 7 p.m. you'll be able to attend at least three shows, plus maybe check out a gallery. While you're at it, take notice of the very positive changes in Over-the-Rhine. If you make the effort this week, I guarantee you'll be back for more.
Contact Rick Pender: [email protected]