Fringe curious? The basics

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by Kate Hoff | 7/21/09 • Next week, on Thursday, July 30, the 16th annual Minnesota Fringe Festival will open in 22 venues across Minneapolis and St. Paul.

This is your year. This is the year I’m personally inviting you to come check out the Fringe Festival. I know you’ve thought about it other years, but then the week got busy and next thing you knew, it was all over…and you missed it. (Sounds like me and the International Film Festival…)

full frontal fringe is the blog of kate hoff, one of six bloggers covering the minnesota fringe festival for the daily planet.

Or maybe you’ve always been a little bit Fringe-curious, but you’re nervous about trying it out. This year will be different. I’m going to help you with your plan of attack.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is the largest non-juried theater festival in the United States. This year there are 162 performing companies from the Twin Cities, Minnesota, the United States, and the world.

The Fringe opens Thursday, July 30 at 5:30 p.m., and the last show closes at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 9.

The Fringe, at Sweet Sixteen, is showing signs of maturity.

• This year, the official program just hit mailboxes in the August Minnesota Monthly — rather than the City Pages. Not a Minnesota Monthly subscriber? No problem…copies can also be found at the Seward Co-op and at all venues.

• Another first: a venue in St. Paul! We’re excited to add Gremlin Theater to the mix, located just over the border at University and Raymond, with free parking diagonally across the street in the US Bank lot.

• The Fringe closing night party, Sunday, August 9, will be held at Sea Change, the new restaurant at the Guthrie!

Afraid the Fringe has become too mainstream? Don’t be! With an assortment of shows as varied as Rumspringa the Musical and Cigarettes for Jesus, there’s no real threat of that.

Fringe tickets are a bargain: the most expensive option is $12 for one ticket – and they go down in price from there, depending on how many you buy (all available at the door payable by cash, check, or credit card). A five-show punch card is $50, a ten-show punch card is $90, and an Ultra Pass (unlimited shows!) is $150. More than one person can use the punch card (you can buy a five-show punch card and bring four friends to one show), but the Ultra Passes are for one person only…except for the first two days of the festival, when Ultra Pass holders can bring a friend to shows for free.

All people attending Fringe shows must have the 2009 Fringe Button ($4, available at all venues). Not only does this one-time festival “admission” support festival overhead costs, the Fringe publishes theater discount offers available year-round to button holders. Last year, if someone had used their Fringe button discount to buy one ticket to each discounted show opportunity, he/she would have saved well over $600.

By far the most economical way to see shows is with FREE tickets you’ve earned by volunteering. The Fringe is still has a few volunteer slots available (though they’re going fast this year, go figure); check the website at http://www.fringefestival.org/2009/volunteer/ for details and get yourself signed up.

Stay tuned for more Fringe tips and survival skills…

Kate Hoff is a fundraiser, printmaker, and alternative-theater denizen. Her prints were included in the Visible Fringe show in 2004—also the year she began blogging about the festival. A few years, countless blog entries, and a hundred-some Fringe shows later, Kate joined the Fringe board in early 2008. The views expressed here are hers alone and do not represent the official position of the Fringe (unless noted).

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