Fort Collins Fringe is coming

When I lived in Cincinnati, my friends all knew that if they wanted to spend time with me during the Cincinnati Fringe Festival their best bet would be to join me for a show. When my schedule would allow, I would catch roughly 30 shows during the Festival’s two-week run; it is very difficult to guess in advance which shows will be the home runs, so the more shows you can see, the better your chance to strike gold.

I have now been in Colorado for nearly two years and am still learning my way around the arts community here. Last summer I was traveling and missed the entire Fort Collins Fringe Festival but this year I can make two full days. In the tradition of sharing my schedule with my Cincinnati friends so we could meet up and experience art together, I have outlined the shows I’ll have a chance to see at FoCo Fringe. (Full disclosure: Fort Collins Fringe Festival is supplying me with media tickets this year, for which I am grateful!)

First, a word about Fringe and how I choose shows. A Fringe Festival — also known as “Christmas for Erica” — is a broad collection of theater experiences. The plays (and I use that term loosely) tend to be roughly an hour long and experimental or boundary-pushing in some way. If you can dream it, you just might run into it at a Fringe Festival. Productions tend to be scrappy, venues can be ad hoc, and the rules of theater are bent and played with. Don’t let the uncertainly scare you off; some of the most powerful, moving, hilarious and touching theater experiences I have ever witnessed took place at Fringe performances.

One of my greatest joys in life is recommending theater and art to other people, but typically I have had a chance to experience it for myself first, or at least read reviews and materials in advance. That is not an option for Fringe, where the shows may be completely improvised or may have been finalized an hour before the show, so I need to take another approach. My schedule below is based on reading the show descriptions, my attempt to choose as diverse a lineup as possible, and my own experienced hunches. To see the full Fort Collins Fringe Festival schedule, click here.

FRIDAY, JULY 26
5:00pm: Never a Bride: You had me at “follow this show around Fort Collins.” I have a weak spot for site-specific traveling shows like Nirvamlet or Between Us.
6:15pm: My Suicide Note: When a show has toured, my ears perk up. Fringe is a wonderful chance to showcase local talent, but it can also attract touring acts worth catching.
7:30pm: 5×5: Five choreographers x 5 dancers. I always welcome the chance to broaden my experience with dance, since I’m more of a theater nerd at heart.
10:00pm: Harp Antics: Here’s a good example of a show I’m taking a chance on purely because I have no idea what to expect.

SATURDAY, JULY 27
2:15pm: Clown App├ętit: Even if you don’t have children, I recommend putting an all-ages show on your list. They tend to be imaginative and lighthearted.
3:30pm: The Final Seance: Another “who knows what this will be” show for my list. It reads like a drama, perhaps more of a straight play than the rest of my list?
4:45pm: Gray Hair, Don’t Care: Two reasons I won’t miss this one: 1) Aerial stunts with a tongue-in-cheek theme, 2) My amazing friend Stef is performing!
6:30pm: Community Virtual Reality and Design: Fort Collins has a digital dome (like a curved IMAX) inside one of its museums, and local artists are allowed to make use of it. Fringe is a great time to see what some of those artists are up to.
8:15pm: Into the Box: This show is improvised, with the audience choosing the path. This is the type of show that I’ll see without my husband, who dislikes interactive theater. His loss!

There you have it: nine shows in two days. If you’re thinking of heading to Fort Collins Fringe, a few other things for you to consider: shows run on Sunday, July 27 as well, when I am out of town; there is a kickoff party on Thursday, July 25 wherein you can watch 1-minute previews of the various plays; Fort Collins Fringe has a focus on being family-friendly, so there are many free events to check out with the kiddos.

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