The fifth annual Providence Fringe Festival kicks off on Monday, July 22 with a free opening party at The Wilbury Group (40 Sonoma Court, Providence), featuring Zoink Zulag and the Glactic Shag, Scruffy Aristocrats, the Providence Ukulele Armada, and more (7–9pm). After that it’s five days of shows up and down Valley Street, at the WaterFire Arts Center and The Wilbury Group space as well as Riffraff, Sprout CoWorking, Nicholson File Art Studios, and Donigian Park.
Four events are particularly worth mentioning:
1. Monday’s opening party (see above)
2. From Thursday through Saturday, The Olneyville Expo : A Celebration of Olneyville Past, Present, and Future Created by Darcie Dennigan, Jesse Hawley, and James Stanley. That happens at Donigian Park (228 Valley Street) each night at 7pm.
3. Saturday afternoon there’s a free Family Fringe event in Donigian Park from 3–6pm.
4. Law and Order Party’s Closing Party & Awards Ceremony (see below).
The nice thing about fringe festivals is that you can just look at the schedule and show up to something without thinking too hard about whether you’ll actually like it or not. Most of the events run under an hour, and none is more expensive than $15. Not sure if you like magic? Iffy on clowns? Comedy maybe not your thing? You can either a) give it a shot anyway or b) see something else. All of the shows are located within walking distance of one another, and many of them are in the same building.
The recommendations below include a mix of styles, genres, local performers and touring acts. There are over forty productions happening over the week, though, many more than once, so check the full schedule to figure out what makes the most sense for you.
NOTE: The performances listed below all take place at WaterFire Arts Center (475 Valley Street, Providence) unless otherwise indicated.
Bedtime Stories (7pm)
Seed & Ivy Theatre Co. – Rhode Island
Plagued by depression, Marina explores the causes for her insomnia with the help of a chorus of inner thoughts. Journey with Marina as she learns how to find her true self, and maybe even some rest. (Contains adult themes.)
308 and Counting (8:30pm)
The Complex Modern Dance Company – Putnam, CT
A physical and emotional response to the very real fears that teenagers face on a daily basis as they walk into the school buildings that were once considered a safe haven.
“Habia una Vez” (10pm)
Magnolia Perez – Providence
A bilingual interactive monologue about the life of an immigrant girl that travels to Providence at the age of 7 from the Dominican Republic and discovers the english language and the word “bilingual”.
Ordinary Creatures (7pm)
Big Teeth Performance Theatre – Brattleboro, VT
Through physical narrative, aerial acrobatics, and vibrant ensemble exploration, we present an evening on the nature of beauty, the grotesque, and how we are all stitched together.
Indefinite Articles: A Libertarian Rage (8:30pm)
Maximum Verbosity – Boston
An irreverent collection of jokes, stories, and rants by libertarian activist and internationally touring storyteller Phillip Andrew Bennett Low.
Mind Blown (10pm)
Danny Dubin – Chicago
Imagine your deepest secret revealed, and one of your most prized possessions vanishes only to reappear in an impossible location. A series of randomly occurring events are miraculously predicted days beforehand.
Witch Cakes: A New Musical (7pm)
Soma Theatre Collective – Wenham, MA
It’s the summer of 1692 in a little village called Salem and Proctor’s got a problem: all of his swagger is gone. With the help of a humble baker her clever little crow, and extra special cake, Proctor searches for the witch who cursed him to bring them to justice. Will his wife, girlfriend, or maid be sent to the gallows?
Frivolous: A Show about Musicals. And Other Things. (8:30pm)
Matt DaSilva – North Providence
What does Musical Theater have to do with The Fast and the Furious? Can Hello, Dolly! teach us about the NBA? What do hamburgers have in common with Broadway?
Pretty Face: An American Dream (10pm)
Amanda Huotari – Buckfield, ME
Pretty Face chews up the unbearable American newsfeed and spits out a story that you’ll love to hate and hate to love.
Jed Hancock-Brainerd and Casey Seymour Kim – Newport/Cranston
What happens in an arena occupied by two secret champions? Is it possible to discover kindness and community? Or are we all just killing time and each other. (Sprout CoWorking – 166 Valley Street #103)
Songs Stuck in My Body (8:30pm)
Sarah Chien – Brooklyn, NY
In this 45-min romp through dance, storytelling and song, Sarah Chien excavates the “childhood crap” rattling around in her head and her mom’s midwestern basement. Munch on real Girl Scout cookies, cuddle a Beanie Baby, sing along to a familiar song and ask yourself “What do we do with memories that no longer fit?
LIVE NUKES! (10pm)
The Central Scrutinizers – Chicago
Two idiots launch a nuclear weapon, and go through metaphorical and literal Hell to stop it. LIVE NUKES! Explodes onstage with ridiculous pantomime, acrobatics, rocket chases, scat-jazz gibberish, and interdimensional travel, without the use of props, a set, or even words.
Ladies at a Gay Girls’ Bar (2:30pm)
Maggie Cee – Boston
The Stonewall Rebellion is on the horizon, but across the U.S., working-class lesbians are fighting to create spaces where they can be themselves. Maggie Cee uses dance, soundscapes, oral history and fictional monologues to focus on the fems — the feminine women whose stories are too often forgotten, but whose strength and determination made the gay girls’ bars come alive.
Pretty Bird (4:00pm)
Dugway Proving Ground Theater – Oakland
Lane’s got a secret—and a star on her hands. Her blue ribbon hen, Pretty Bird, is poised for the big leagues. But fame has a way of ravaging the pecking order, and glittery ghosts from the past are intoxicatingly tempting. A darkly comic theatrical melange about the precariousness of putting all your eggs in one basket.
Yay America! (5:30pm)
Kaitlin Kaufman/Penelope the Clown – New York
When the country is a total mess and everything on our newsfeed makes us feel nauseous and/or constipated, it’s time we turn to clowns like Penelope for solace.
The Chronic Single’s Handbook (7:00pm)
Randy Ross – Somerville, MA
An unapologetic look at how men feel about sex, love, marriage, and massage parlors. The story begins in Boston and goes astray in Asia, Greece, and South Africa.
Center Ring (8:30pm)
Rachel Hughes & Ky Wyman – Providence
Center Ring is a one-act play that explores the shifting nature of who we all are as women: male, female, mothers, daughters, captors, prey, beauties, and beasts. Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. (The Wilbury Group – 40 Sonoma Court, Providence)
CLOSING PARTY & AWARDS CEREMONY
After the last performances are over, head on over to WaterFire Arts Center for a wrap party and awards show hosted by me, Matthew Lawrence, of Law and Order Party, with music from Unkle Thirsty (pictured). This awards show is a little unconventional because you get to nominate your favorite performers and shows for awards categories that you make up yourself. Seriously, it’s up to you. Make it specific to the show and make it fringy. For example: Best Use of a Stuffed Puffin! Most Unexpected Appearance of Saltwater Taffy! Ghastliest Description of a Haunted Rabbit with Myxomatosis! Post your nomination and the name of the show on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter with the hashtag #FringePVDAwards. Leading a low tech life? Stop by WaterFire Arts Center and add your nomination to the Awards jar.