Birthday, Encores, and the 2015 Cincy Fringe

My thirty-first birthday arrived this week in a blur. Thirty, which had hoisted itself up as some monumental moment I’d been merely meandering towards throughout my twenties, had come and gone without much fanfare and a year later I was practically blindsided by the fact that I’d completed another trip around the sun.

Much is the same feeling when the realization dawns that the Cincinnati Fringe Festival is right around the corner. No matter how often we have meetings, no matter how filled the rest of the year is with preparations and applications and jurying, no matter how much I stay focused on our Fringe (as it is my job to do so), and no matter how many Fringe Encores are squeezed in each season to remind me of my favorite time of year, the moment always arrives when I stop and think to myself (or out loud, scaring other staff members),

“HOLY CRAP. Fringe is coming up real soon!”

It’s a moment of equal parts insane joy for the memories yet to be made and insane worry that I’ve totally forgotten to do that really important thing that the entirety of the Festival hinges on. And I love every minute of it.

Before I dive more into this year’s upcoming Festival (well, as much as I can anyway…we’ll be pretty tight-lipped until mid-April) I’d like to take a minute to reflect upon the amazing Encore season we’re having this year. We always do our darnedest to find schedule availability during the regular season for local and national Fringers to return to Cincy for some bonus performances of shows they’d previously brought to our stages. It’s a great opportunity for us to keep the Fringe vibe going year round and for these artists to have even more chances to share their work with us. We’ve crammed in a record 7 Encore productions so far this year, including our very first FringeNext Encore ever:

Lolita: A Three Man Show by Four Humors Theatre from Minneapolis, MN (2013 Cincy Fringe)
7×1 Samurai by David Gaines from Arlington, VA (2010 Cincy Fringe)
[Frankenstein] by Alex Talks and Harper Lee from Cincinnati (2014 Cincy Fringe)
Nothing and The Wave by Unity Productions from Cincinnati (2012 and 2013 Cincy Fringe)
Something Something New Vagina by Rebecca Kling from Chicago, IL (2014 Cincy Fringe)
Ikelos by Meddling Kids from Cincinnati (2014 FringeNext)

And now we’re just a few days away from welcoming Brooklyn’s The Coldharts back to town for an Encore of their 2014 Cincy Fringe hit, The Legend of White Woman Creek. So that’ll take us to 8 Encores! And numbers 9 and 10 might be right around the corner…but we can’t spoil that surprise yet…because we have to confirm it…but you should still be excited that it will happen…because we’ll make it happen.

A surprise to no one, Fringe theatre is my favorite kind of theatre. It’s raw, it’s passionate, it’s fresh. This year’s Festival is my first with an expanded list of responsibilities and I’ve taken great pleasure in assuming them. Anything and everything I get to do in order to help make our Festival the best damn Fringe out there is seen as a gift. Work no longer becomes work when it’s something that gets you all jazzed up and excited for the next task. I’ll eat, sleep, and breathe this Festival until I can’t takes it no mores…and then I’ll probably keep on going. We’re super pumped for some of the things in the works this year and while I can’t really spoil too much before our Official Line-Up Announcement Party in mid-April (Date and Time TBA), I can let you in on a few fun details:

-We expanded our jury to 25 members this year, more than double ever before, in hopes of using the expanded feedback on shows to make more informed selections. This has led to one of the most diverse and distinct line-ups we’ve ever seen, including more minority and women’s voices.

-We’ll be welcoming more International artists this year than we ever have, including some countries we’ve never hosted productions from before. (Poutine, sushi, or pap, anyone? You might be left scratching your head with that last one…)

-FringeNext saw another great year of submissions. The talent and quality of work from Cincinnati’s high-school aged artists continues to blow us away.

-We’ve got a couple stellar projects in line for Fringe Development this year, including a possible international Development project. The world knows about Cincy Fringe!

There’s so much more we have planned or hope to have planned but I really can’t let the cats our of their respective bags this early. The teasers will have to do for now.

The 2015 Cincinnati Fringe Festival is closing in. We’re working hard to make it the best ever and we hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are. Now, I simply must return back to the work I have at hand…there’s much to be done between now and May 26th!

Happy Fringing!

Chris Wesselman
Associate Producer – Cincinnati Fringe Festival