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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Orleans Fringe Festival changes name and direction

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 5:51 PM

click to enlarge Goat in the Road Productions presented Numb as part of the Bring Your Own Venue portion of the 2014 New Orleans Fringe Festival. - RACHEL JUNE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Goat in the Road Productions presented Numb as part of the Bring Your Own Venue portion of the 2014 New Orleans Fringe Festival.

After what director Kristen Evans describes as the most successful New Orleans Fringe Festival yet (in attendance, quality, finances and number of shows), the nonprofit alternative theater festival is making several organizational changes and is now called "faux/real [a series of events]." It will become a three-week event in November 2015.

"In the past seven years, the festival has changed a lot, and changed the environs," Evans says. "We have always had a volunteer-run model, and we've hit the constraints of that model."

Evans also says that after running the festival out of her living room for seven years, she's looking to take a step back.

The festival features all sorts of shows, including drama, musicals, comedy, circus and aerialist acts, burlesque, puppetry, mashups of those and more. For seven years, the festival has jury-selected up to 30 shows to present at official festival venues, and it has welcomed outside producers to create and manage shows at their own venues, referred to as "Bring Your Own Venue" (BYOV) shows. That portion of the festival grew to more than 50 shows in 2014.

Staff decided they reached the limits of organizing the event in its current form, Evans says. In order for the festival to grow, they decided to refocus on the BYOV portion. Faux/real will act as a clearinghouse that organizes the overall event, prints a program and handles promotions, but all shows will be independently produced and the show creators will be responsible for managing venues.

Evans will play an advisory role, and faux/real will be part of the online publication NOLA Defender. Its founder and editor, Ben Mintz, has been named its Executive Producer. 

Mintz says the theater portion of faux/real will allow longer show runs and not have constraints of the Fringe-managed portion, such as maximum hour-long run times. The event will include literary events, staged readings of plays, food and more. By decentralizing the festival from the hub of Fringe-managed venues in Faubourg Marigny, it will allow more flexibility in all sorts of programming.

"People always asked us for a longer festival and more food," Evans says of festival feedback.

Mintz says faux/real is in the planning stages and he is looking at including food truck roundups and restaurant pop-ups. Faux/real may also include workshops, panel discussions and educational features. And it will seek to work with existing cultural groups and events.

"We're going to take a bunch of satellites and put them in a constellation," Mintz says.

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