The 2020 Cincinnati Fringe Festival Goes Online Only

Plans are being made for on-demand video and live-streaming options for this digital Fringe

click to enlarge There will be no crowds like this for the 2020 Fringe, as the fun goes online - Photo: Jeff Burkle
Photo: Jeff Burkle
There will be no crowds like this for the 2020 Fringe, as the fun goes online

In a recent feature posted on CityBeat about what’s happening with local theaters, I wrote that there had been no word from Know Theatre regarding the 2020 Cincinnati Fringe Festival, scheduled for May 29-June 13. Today word arrived, and it’s good news — if a tad weird, but isn’t that what Fringe is all about?

So here’s the scoop about how the organizers intend to produce a festival in the midst of a pandemic.

It will not be Fringe as usual. Instead, the plan is for an “all-digital, totally online, 100% at-a-safe distance, for-2020-only” Cincy Fringe. The plan is to provide streaming performances, online art galleries and digital meet-ups, all accessible from home. It should be available whether you use your computer, tablet or a smartphone.

The scheduled opening night remains Friday, May 29. As Know’s announcement reminds us, “Because one of the best parts of Fringe is the sense of community that arises between audiences, staff and artists, the Know Team is creating ways for people to connect at a distance.” There will still be voting for the “Pick of the Fringe” awards, using online polls instead of paper ballots. Fringe-hosted digital hangouts and streaming segments will replace the popular nightly Bar Series events, still featuring the zany live-streamed nightly Fringe newscast.

Fringe organizers are working with artists to sort out whose performances can be recorded in high-quality video for video-on-demand or and which ones might work for live-streaming. (Performances have been selected from a record-breaking number — 127! — applicants.) Out-of-town artists won’t come to Cincinnati, but every effort will be made to include their remote submissions.

The lineup announcement party scheduled for April 27 will not happen, but information will be available by the end of April including details about streaming packages and further details. Already purchased Fringe passes will be honored — but how they are used will be different. Check with for updates.

A note to me from Know’s Zach Robinson says, “With so many things canceled and postponed, we’re looking forward to being able to give our Fringe family some semblance of normalcy and connection — even if it’s from a distance. It’ll be different than anything we’ve ever tried before, but we’ve got a great team and we’re up for the task.”

“Normalcy” is not exactly what we expect from the Fringe, but connection certainly is. So let’s get ready. This sounds like fun to me.

About The Author

Rick Pender

RICK PENDER has written about theater for CityBeat since its first issues in 1994. Before that he wrote for EveryBody’s News. From 1998 to 2006 he was CityBeat’s arts & entertainment editor. Retired from a long career in public relations, he’s still a local arts fan, providing readers (and public radio listeners)...
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