Pittsburgh’s own Fringe Festival returns to the North Side this April giving audiences the opportunity to explore both international and local one-person shows and performance art. The Fringe Festival originated in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 when some plucky theater groups uninvited to the officially sanctioned Edinburgh International Festival staged their own shows on the fringe of the event.
For the first time since Pittsburgh Fringe’s inception, attendees have the option of buying day or weekend passes to the performances. The festival spans three days and features twenty unique entries. This year’s Fringe utilizes both traditional and nontraditional theater spaces including James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy,
Max’s Allegheny Tavern and St. Mary’s Lyceum. Shows run as short at thirty minutes and as long as ninety minutes. Plan your day accordingly to make sure you catch each of the festival’s offerings. Xela Batchelder, Executive Director, noted that attendees who purchase passes get a “real fringe” experience because they have the ability to truly explore a range of performance of artists they have probably never heard of.
For audiences with limited time to commit, be sure to catch the following shows:
Ending a tour of Australia, The Eulogy returns to the United States in time for Pittsburgh’s Fringe. Written and performed by Michael Burgos, named Best Actor in a Play by DC Metro Theater Arts, this one-man comedic show takes us into the minds of a few inept funeral goers.
Another show of note is Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Anna Bennett’s Confessions of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Bennett’s send up of pop culture’s obsession with attractive, yet impossibly complicated, impish women is a “loving critique of gender representation” featuring Bennett playing four women: a geek girl, a dancer, a lovable nut job and a blonde bombshell.
Chamber Stevens, L.A. based author and Emmy nominee, is bringing It’s Who You Know, an improv experience where Stevens randomly pulls a name of a celebrity from a pile and regales the audience with improvised tales of his own personal L.A. encounters with that celebrity. Expect to be thoroughly entertained.
Not to be out done, local artist collective Boom Concepts’ walk-through installation If I Die I’m A Legend: A Tale of Orisha, Hoodoo, and #blackLIVESmatter is “a legend providing a historical diagram of afrofuturistic existence. A non-linear tale sharing the lives of Orisha Spirits within our times. The show provides a look into the existence of spirits, their relationship to the lineage of diasporic people originating from the mother continent, and the contemporary corporate evil forces existing in modern times. Audiences will witness the creation of a #blacklivesmatter#shrine BLACK POWER PORTAL; an important tool and point of refuge.”
Boom Concepts has consistently contributed some of the best art and performances Pittsburgh has seen in the last three years. This show will continue to make its hometown proud.
Lastly, another Pittsburgh based entry not to be missed is Northeastsouthwest by Beautiful Cadaver Project. This play was written in the style of exquisite corpse, a technique invented by French surrealists in the early 1900’s where an artist contributes to a drawing without seeing what is already on the paper, was written by several local playwrights who explored characters and themes in their writing without knowing what their collaborators were adding to the larger narrative. According to the writers, this play explores an evolving relationship, the city of Pittsburgh and the playwrights’ own personal evolution.
The closing event of Pittsburgh Fringe is the Fringe Award Ceremony Sunday night at 10pm at James Street Gastropub. In years past, we at Pittsburgh in the Round have chosen the winners in the categories of: Best Show, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Ensemble. For more information and tickets to the shows mentioned, and not mentioned, here can be found on the Pittsburgh Fringe’s website here.
**EDIT: A previous version of this article stated that shows would be happening in Lawrenceville, this information is incorrect. ALL Fringe Festival shows will be happening in the Northside. We apologize for any confusion.