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The New Orleans Fringe Festival defies description 

New Orleans Fringe Festival

Wed.-Sun., Nov. 11-15

www.nofringe.org

Tickets $7 per performance after purchase of $3 Fringe button (Festival passes available)

click to enlarge Curiouser follows a poetic narrative about Sylvia - Plath, Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell.
  • Curiouser follows a poetic narrative about Sylvia Plath, Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell.

Add "fringy" to the list of things that are hard to define, but you'd know it when you see it.

  "Everyone has their own definition of fringy," says New Orleans Fringe Festival artistic director Kristen Evans. "You get to see a lot of people's ideas of what fringy is at the festival."

  Though she's a co-founder of the New Orleans Fringe, Evans does not sit on the panel that selected the 45 groups who will present 120 performances during the festival's five days (Nov. 11-15). But what are some of the elements that define fringy to her?

  "You'll never see this on TV," she says. "There's also this scrappiness. It's about the passion to put it on. No one's working with a big budget."

  A preview of 2009 Fringe acts reveals a bent toward multimedia mashups, combining dance, poetic narratives, burlesque, live bands, puppetry and more. Although the slate has more productions adhering to conventional theatricality than last year, works still tend to lean toward the experimental and performance-art end of the spectrum. Even traditional forms like cabaret and opera get a fresh treatment. So, with all the alternative visions, could a straight Shakespearean monologue stand out as an alternative show in the mix?

  "If you did it in the middle of the pool at the Country Club as a mermaid," Evans says. "That might be fringy."

  The original fringe event was the Edinburgh Festival Fringe held in 1947 as a response to the Edinburgh International Festival. Performers and producers whose work was not accepted at the arts festival found their own venues and staged their own shows. Over the decades, it developed into an open-minded attraction in its own right and is the biggest alternative theater and arts event in the world. Fringe festivals are now held throughout Europe and North America, and they all have their own character and sense of mission. Some admit performers via a juried process. Others reject that artistic constraint and admit acts by lottery. The Edinburgh Fringe allows any group to perform. Its August extravaganza included nearly 2,100 shows at 265 venues.

click to enlarge The Pomology of Sweetness and Light is a puppet and dance - production about Johnny Appleseed, created by the Black Forest - Fancies.
  • The Pomology of Sweetness and Light is a puppet and dance production about Johnny Appleseed, created by the Black Forest Fancies.

  The New Orleans Fringe is partially juried (20 acts), has lottery spots (10) and allows Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) shows, including some designed for site-specific performances and shows by groups which found their own venues. The reprise of Loup Garou in City Park is a site-specific addition.

  The New Orleans Fringe Fest seems right at home in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, where most of the shows will be performed. It will be a much busier but not unfamiliar slate of eccentric arts in a district already known for more bohemian, experimental, raw and rough-edged local theater, music, art galleries and clubs.

  Following are short previews of some shows in the festival. A Thursday happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) at the Fringe Tent/box office headquarters (corner of Press and Dauphine streets) will feature snippets from 10 festival shows. Visit www.nofringe.org for full schedules, show details and some YouTube previews.

Bang the Law

9 p.m. Wed. & Sat.; 5 p.m. Sun.

Trinity Church, 725 St. Ferdinand St.

Composer/guitarist Jonathan Freilich wrote a modern opera about New Orleans lawyers, but revives the original 17th century form's incorporation of social satire and comedy. The performance combines theater, opera and dance as leering and self-serving lawyers shake up the social order.

Canarsie Suite: At the Edge of Vaudeville

7 p.m. Fri.; 11 p.m. Sat.; 9 p.m. Sun.

Skull Club, 1003 Spain St.

New Yorkers Aimee German and Jennifer Sargent toured their vaudevillianesque cabaret act at European fringe festivals. Both have a background in clown theater, and this romp about the fictional performing LeRoy sisters features songs, dance, gorilla taming and knife throwing.

click to enlarge Canarsie Suite is a two-woman vaudevillianesque cabaret - featuring song, dance, clowning and physical comedy.
  • Canarsie Suite is a two-woman vaudevillianesque cabaret featuring song, dance, clowning and physical comedy.

Curiouser: An Historical Inaccuracy

9 p.m. Wed.; 11 p.m. Fri.; 7 p.m. Sun.

Peter's Piano Place, 3811 Chartres St.

Five Bard College graduates formed Skin Horse Theater and moved to New Orleans this summer to perform. Curiouser weaves together a poetic narrative about the lives of Sylvia Plath, Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll and the young object of his obsession, Alice Liddell.

The Danger Angels

9 p.m. Fri.; 11 p.m. Sat.; 7 p.m. Sun.

Sidearm Gallery, 1122 St. Roch Ave.

Poet/bass player Moose Jackson is joined by Shawnda Wilson in a narrative rock drama about a gutter punk who decides to spend his last $200 in the French Quarter before taking his own life. Jackson also wrote the script for Loup Garou, the ArtSpot Productions/Mondo Bizarro show, which is being reprised for the Fringe at its City Park location.

The Pomology of Sweetness and Light

9 p.m. Wed.; 11 p.m. Sat.; 7 p.m. Sun.

Trinity Church, 725 St. Ferdinand St.

New Orleans puppet theater duo the Black Forest Fancies reworked their drama about Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman, his frontier myth and the young girl who was to be his bride. The puppeteers have taken out some of the aerial work, added more dance and are preparing to tour the show overseas, including Edinburgh Fringe performances.

Rigorous Disco of Doom

9 p.m. Thu.-Fri.; 7 p.m. Sat.

Trinity Church, 25 St. Ferdinand St.

Providence, R.I.'s Jazz Hand Job collective is composed primarily of visual artists — and even a couple of farmers — who like to dance. This dark dance comedy features a wedding and reception feast that descends into an orgy of zombie doom.

click to enlarge Moose Jackson (right) wrote the script for Loup Garou and - plays bass guitar in his poetic rock drama The Danger Angels, - performed with Shawnda Wilson.
  • Moose Jackson (right) wrote the script for Loup Garou and plays bass guitar in his poetic rock drama The Danger Angels, performed with Shawnda Wilson.

Curiouser: An Historical Inaccuracy

9 p.m. Wed.; 11 p.m. Fri.; 7 p.m. Sun.

Peter's Piano Place, 3811 Chartres St.

Five Bard College graduates formed Skin Horse Theater and moved to New Orleans this summer to perform. Curiouser weaves together a poetic narrative about the lives of Sylvia Plath, Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll and the young object of his obsession, Alice Liddell.

The Danger Angels

9 p.m. Fri.; 11 p.m. Sat.; 7 p.m. Sun.

Sidearm Gallery, 1122 St. Roch Ave.

Poet/bass player Moose Jackson is joined by Shawnda Wilson in a narrative rock drama about a gutter punk who decides to spend his last $200 in the French Quarter before taking his own life. Jackson also wrote the script for Loup Garou, the ArtSpot Productions/Mondo Bizarro show, which is being reprised for the Fringe at its City Park location.

The Pomology of Sweetness and Light

9 p.m. Wed.; 11 p.m. Sat.; 7 p.m. Sun.

Trinity Church, 725 St. Ferdinand St.

New Orleans puppet theater duo the Black Forest Fancies reworked their drama about Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman, his frontier myth and the young girl who was to be his bride. The puppeteers have taken out some of the aerial work, added more dance and are preparing to tour the show overseas, which they expect to include Edinburgh Fringe performances.

Rigorous Disco of Doom

9 p.m. Thu.-Fri.; 7 p.m. Sat.

Trinity Church, 25 St. Ferdinand St.

Providence, R.I.'s Jazz Hand Job collective is composed primarily of visual artists — and even a couple of farmers — who like to dance. This dark dance comedy features a wedding and reception feast that descends into an orgy of zombie doom.

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