What is the Cincinnati Fringe Festival?
The Cincinnati Fringe Festival (Cincy Fringe) is a 12-day theatre and arts festival produced by Know Theatre of Cincinnati. Performances occur in over a dozen theatres, bars, churches, coffee shops, and storefronts throughout downtown Cincinnati and (primarily) in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Each year, there are over 200 performances of 40+ productions from local, national, and international artists, which feature a wide variety of styles, disciplines, and subject matter.
During the festival we also have one-night-only Special Event presentations, like True Theatre’s storyingtelling event featuring artists, trueFRINGE, and a performance by Know’s house improv team, OTRimprov. We also have Visual Fringe projects, including photography/art installations and a brand new mural each year on the side of Know Theatre by the talented folks at Higher Level Art. On top of all that, each night concludes with the Cincy Fringe Bar Series, a post-performances party at Know Theatre (Fringe Headquarters) which starts off with an installment of the Channel Fringe Hard-Hitting Action News Update — your infotaining source for all Fringe news — and features special themes and events like 60-Second Previews, Fringe Olympics, Fringe Prom, Fringe-a-oke, and a lot of other opportunities for artists, audience, volunteers, and staff to mingle, drink, and have a great time.
Wait, what is a "Fringe Festival," or "Fringe theatre" for that matter?
It's often hard to supply one concise definition for Fringe theatre, but, succienctly, it's safe to say that Fringe productions are usually very experimental, whether in style or subject matter, and vary greatly from performances you usually see in mainstream theatre. Fringe shows are also very barebones, meaning there are few complicated technical aspects. All Fringes trace their roots back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which began in 1947 and has inspired countless other Fringe Festivals around the world since.
For more information about the history of Fringe theatre, check out this handy Wikipedia article!
So how did Cincy Fringe get started?
Cincy Fringe was launched in 2003 by Jason Bruffy and Jeff Syroney as a way to help broaden and strengthen Cincinnati’s burgeoning arts scene. What began as a component of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Studio Series eventually became a Know Theatre of Cincinnati production, as it continues to be, when Jason become the Artistic Director here.
In 2007, Eric Vosmeier took the reins and helped Cincy Fringe grow to new heights, creating an atmosphere at Fringe that was Kinda weird. Like you. With an eye towards maintaining a low cost of participation, and assisted by new programming like FringeNext and FringeDevelopment, Cincy Fringe began a more “artist centric," which has helped turn us into a favorite stop on the Fringe circuit for many nationally and internationally touring artists. It’s also helped us fortify the most unique opportunity for local Cincinnati artists to independently produce their own works.
In 2014, Eric stepped down as Producing Artistic Director of Know Theatre, leaving Cincy Fringe in the hands of Fringe Producer Chris Wesselman, Andrew Hungerford (Know’s Producing Artistic Director) and Tamara Winters (Know’s Associate Artistic Director), along with the remaining staff members. With an eye towards the future, the new team is thrilled with the opportunity to continue building upon Cincy Fringe’s legacy, including expanded year-round programming with our Fringe Encore and Fringe Extra Series. While the details continue to evolve, the heart of the Festival will never change; this is a place for artists to do the theatre they want to do and that Cincinnati audiences can’t find anywhere else.
What is FringeNext?
Created in 2011, FringeNext engages high school students as a part of the Fringe community. All FringeNext productions are created, written, directed, performed, and produced by some of the region's up-and-coming young artists.
Until the 2016 Cincy Fringe, all FringeNext productions received no more than 3 performances at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts over the first weekend of the festival. Starting in 2016, FringeNext shows will be entirely merged into the traditional performance lineup, receiving up to 5 shows over the entire festival in a regular venue.
What is FringeDevelopment?
Not every Fringe project is ready for a full run. In 2011 we began FringeDevelopment as an opportunity for artists to take advantage of the critical mass of creativity congregating for the festival each year by workshopping their projects for feedback from audiences and artists — and even getting other Fringe artists involved! Development shows rehearse during the course of the festival and get one performance to put their work up on its feet. We also arrange workshops for artists, by artists, including yoga classes, acting workshops, master classes and more! On occassion these workshops are also open to the public.
What are Special Events?
Over the course of the festival we also offer special one-night-only events that range from a performance by OTRimprov to True Theatre's trueFRINGE storytelling event. We try not to throw too many Special Events on top of our already busy performance schedule, but there'll always be a handful of these one-off events for you to partake in.
What is the Cincy Fringe Bar Series?
The Bar Series is a post-performances party at Know Theatre (Fringe Headquarters) which starts off with an installment of the Channel Fringe Hard-Hitting Action News Update — your infotaining source for all Fringe news — and features special themes and events like 60-Second Previews, Fringe Olympics, Fringe Prom, Fringe-a-oke, and a lot of other opportunities for artists, audience, volunteers, and staff to mingle, drink, and have a great time.
What are Fringe Encores and Fringe Extras?
Just because the Festival isn’t underway doesn’t mean we aren’t Fringing. While Know Theatre’s Mainstage and Secondstage seasons fill up the calendar the rest of the year, we always find time to welcome performers for some Fringe-y programming to keep our die-hard festival fans satiated. Most Encore/Extra programming occurs either on Know's black box mainstage or on our cabaret stage downstairs in the lobby, but we sometimes get in the true Fringe spirit by taking a show off-site with a partner theatre or by creating a temporary venue.
For Encores, we welcome back productions that were previously performed at a Cincinnati Fringe Festival. It may have been a recent festival or we might have a visit from an old friend we haven’t seen in a while; either way, this opportunity gives Cincinnatians another chance to catch a show they missed or just really liked.
Sometimes we present productions that the city or our Fringe audience has never seen before. It may be something submitted to Fringe that just didn’t fit that year’s lineup, or it might be a show that happens to fit the Fringe mold but arrives to us outside of applications. Bottom line: if it wasn't originally at one of our Festivals, we call it a Fringe Extra.
Where can I find out more information and keep up to date with Know Theatre and Cincy Fringe?
We’re everywhere online and try to update folks as much as possible when it comes to all things Cincy Fringe. To keep with us:
Like Cincy Fringe on Facebook!
Like Know Theatre, producers of Cincy Fringe, on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/knowtheatre
Follow both on Instagram!
You can also join Know Theatre's mailing list to receive our weekly newsletter!
Where can I park?
Our beloved neighborhood has seen quite the increase in visitors over the past few years, making parking a bit more difficult.
We recommend parking at the Gateway Quarter/Kroger parking garage located at 10 E Central Parkway, the Gateway Quarter Parking Lot located at the corner of 12th and Vine Street, the Mercer Commons Parking Garage off of Vine, or the garage below Washington Park next to Music Hall. Any of these options put with within walking distance of all venues in the festival.
If you DO park on the streets, however, please keep in mind that meters in Downtown/OTR now run until 9pm every day of the week. Fortunately, there is a handy smartphone app available now so you can pay your meter remotely. For more information on street parking rules, regulations, and payment options, visit the City of Cincinnati's website.
Can I walk to the venues?
Yes! We work hard to keep all venues at Cincy Fringe with a walkable distance. All performances space are typically within a six block radius (~10 minute walk) of the Fringe Headquarters at 1120 Jackson St. 45223.
Is there a map of the venues?
There is a map on the back of the Offical Fringe Guide, distributed by our Media Partner, Cincinnati CityBeat. The guide is issued in the mid-May edition of CityBeat and can subsequently be found at all venues around the festival, including Know Theatre. You can also download a .pdf of just the map once the guide is available. This map also includes discount at business you'll see in our neighborhood. Bring in your ticket stubs or passes and tell them the Fringe sent you!
Box Office Information
How can I buy tickets or passes?
You can purchase tickets or passes online by visiting our Performance page. You can also call 513.300.KNOW(5669) to reserve your tickets or passes in advance over the phone.
What are your box office hours?
Before May 31, Know Theatre's box office is typically open 11am – 6pm Monday through Saturday. From May 31 – June 11 (during the Festival) the box office hours are 10am – 10pm.
Where can I buy tickets in person?
You can visit the Festival Headquarters box office at Know Theatre during normal business hours for any ticket or pass purchase needs. Venue box offices can only sell certain passes and only tickets for their upcoming performance, so prevent anguish by purchasing everything you need in advance!
Advance tickets can be purchased at the Fringe Festival Headquarters (Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson Street) prior to 2pm on the day of the performance in person or over the phone. After 2pm on the day of the performance, advance tickets can no longer be purchased until the venue box office opens, thirty minute prior to the performance time.
At the venues
Venue box offices will open thirty minutes prior to the performance time. After 2pm on the day of the performance, advance tickets can no longer be purchased until the venue box office opens.
Do I have to buy my tickets in advance?
You don't have to! Sometimes the spirit of Fringe moves you to suddenly see a show you weren't expecting. BUT, if you know exactly what you want to see and when, we strongly reccomend reserving your tickets in advance.
How do the passes work?
Full Frontal: All Access Pass
Full Frontal passes are non-transferable passes (meaning one per person) that can be used to both reserve tickets in advance at Headquarters and gain entry at venue box offices. Full Frontal passholders also get to vote for their very own Pick of the Fringe Award.
Voyeur: Six Show Pass
Voyeur six show passes can be used flexibly (more than one person can use a single pass) for six entries into any festival event. These passes can only be used in ONE of two ways: 1) Six advance tickets may be reserved over the phone or in person with box office headquarters for pick-up at venue box offices. 2) Voyeur pass can be used as a punch card for tickets at venue box offices. Once a physical voyeur pass is issued, advance reservations can no longer be made over the phone. Patron must bring physical pass to Festival Headquarters to reserve advance tickets.
When does the venue house open?
Venue houses will open fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled show time.
What if I get there late?
NO LATECOMERS WILL BE SEATED. Avoid disappointment. Be on time.
When I purchase a ticket, where does the money go?
Every time you purchase a ticket for a Fringe Festival performance, 50% of your admission price goes directly to the artists who created that show. The Fringe Festival exists to foster the creation of new work. Thank you for helping to support independent artists with every ticket you buy.