Monday, May 28, 2012

The 21st Annual Orlando International Fringe Festival

The concept of the Fringe Festival started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947. Artists who were not invited to perform in the official festival formed their own festival- literally on the fringe of society. All performances and art work are completely uncensored and all of the sales are returned to the participating artists. The Orlando International Fringe Festival was created in 1992 and is the longest running Fringe Festival in the United States.

My first involvement with the Orlando Fringe Festival was in 2008. It was a monumental experience not only because it was my first Fringe Festival but it was also my first time performing with DRIP. Working with DRIP over the years and attending the Orlando Fringe Festival every year have turned out to be life altering experiences.

The 21st Annual Orlando International Fringe Festival would be no exception.

Tod Caviness, writer for the Orlando Sentinel, host of the Speakeasy Open Mic at Will's Pub and the man behind the Poetry Vending Machine. I got introduced to Tod through Mariko years ago because they happened to be roommates. At Mariko's request I booked Tod to read poetry at one of our DRIP Fundraisers. I was so interested in Tod's poetry and performance that I reconnected with my own writing and have become a regular fixture at the Speakeasy Open Mic.

This photo of Tod was taken while he was hosting the Poetry Smackdown at the Fringe Festival. The Poetry Smackdown is a competition where poets perform their best works in front of an audience for prizes. It always promises to be one of the funniest and most sexually explicit shows at the Fringe  Festival. This year the Poetry Smackdown won the Audience Choice Award for best performance at the outdoor venue. 

This was my first year trying a Fringe Festival delicacy - fried Oreos covered in powdered sugar. I have no regrets. 

Curtis and Robbi running the Poetry Vending Machine. For five dollars (or a beer) they can write you a poem of any kind in twenty minutes or less. All you have to do is pick a title and three words you would like to have in the poem. If you are on a tight budget they can write you a haiku for one dollar. 

Curtis and I meet at the previous Fringe Festival in 2011. He performed a piece about literacy called "Future Incryptid" for the Poetry Smackdown that was unlike anything I had ever heard. 

This Praying Mantis landed on the Poetry Vending Machine and decided to become friends with Curtis. 

A view of all the outdoor tents just after sunset. 

This is the ceiling of one of the indoor performance venues. The main overhead light was obscured behind layers of stretched fabric and projected upon with small, glittering lights.

An outdoor performance by Paul Strickland and Chase Padgett. I had the good fortune of seeing one of Chase Padgett's one man shows earlier in the year called "6 Guitars". In his performance he portrayed six different musicians and their history with six different genres of music. I had seen Paul Strickland's show "A Brighter Shade of Blue" in a previous Fringe Festival and loved his insightful take on life. I was actually very sick during his show but still remember how it lifted my spirits. I saw his new show this year "Paul Strickland: Jokes, Songs, A Hat, Etc!" and had just as much fun. 

At one point during the Fringe Festival I found myself wandering through the main venue looking at the artwork on the walls. I happened upon Paul and Chase stilling in an out of the way corner practicing songs for a future collaboration. I watched for a moment then asked if I could join them. They welcomed me into their corner and I continued to watched them practice. They sang the sweetest, most soulful version of "Georgia On My Mind" that I have ever heard. I felt privillaged to be present for their jam session. The following day they were able to get time on the outdoor stage which is when this photo was taken. 

On a side note, Curtis and I wanted to see another show at the festival but since the alternator in my car had to be replaced during the Fringe Festival I was too short on funds to purchase any more tickets. Curtis had four "Fringe Bucks" - just one shy of being able to get a ticket. He asked around and it was Paul Strickland who gave one of his Fringe Bucks so that I was able to see one last show. That kind gesture was very much appreciated. 

And when it was all said and done I saw a lot of great performances. If something catches your attention please feel free to follow the links: 

The Screw You Review Presents Lady Winifred for President -A hilarious drag show about running for office and trying to avoid scandal. Screw You Entertainment

Paul Strickland: Jokes, Songs, A Hat, Etc - Paul sharing some wonderful stories and life experiences with some musical performances. Paul Strickland

Scientist Turned Comedian - He studied for years to get his PhD, and then he realized that he wanted to do stand-up. Tim Lee

AAAAAAGGGHHH ZOMBIES!!!.. Because Zombies $ell - This silly 10 minute puppet show literally took place in a closet.

Dog Powered Robot and the Subsequent Adventure - Some former DRIP members put this amazing show together. A futuristic play about robots featuring an unbelievably elaborate cardboard set and a very well behaved pomeranian. Dog Powered Robot

I Married a Nun - A 77 year old world traveler's incredible journey through life and love. D'yan Forest

Connected: An Interactive Experience - An interactive show with dance and storytelling about connecting to other people in your life. The Connected Experience

GGG: Dominatrix for Dummies - A surprisingly heartwarming story about a woman who trained to become a dominatrix and now gives self help advice. Self Help Dominatrix

Voice Activated - An acapella group that will blow you away with the maneuverability and scope of the human voice. Vox Audio

The charming glow of the Poetry Vending Machine disco ball during one of the final nights of the Fringe. 

Curious about the Orlando Fringe Festival? Check out

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