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Victor Gelis

The New Orleans Fringe Festival, set mostly in the Marigny andBywater neighborhoods, is the annual celebration of unusualperformance theater. With 70 shows from Wednesday to Nov. 20 in 33venues that range from comedy and circus arts to diverse outdoorevents, the festival has become one of the highlights of thecultural year since its inception in 2008.

The concept of a fringe festival arose in Edinburgh, Scotland in1947 as an alternative to the main city theater festival, and ithas spread significantly during the past few years. Aiming to staytrue to its values and avoid the confines of establishment, theseevents constantly create new margins. Patrons are looking forsomething unique, and this year’s edition of the New Orleans FringeFest provides just that. In addition to the main locations, BringYour Own Venues – or “BYOV” – allows artists to choose their ownplace to perform, from small theaters to private houses. This year,one artist has chosen to perform inside a giant greenhouse. A NewOrleans-style eccentric parade on Poland Street, a quirky artmarket and the new Yard Art Tour also all honor the insanecreativity of the Marigny/Bywater, described by executive directorKristen Evans as a place “from where you can see the end of theworld.”

Damon Rosenzweig, development coordinator and the only local inthe team, traces the origin of the local festival back to HurricaneKatrina. Rosenzweig said many people have continued going outtogether more and having fun, a habit carried over from thereconstruction period after the hurricane. Because of this specialenvironment, artists are attracted to New Orleans parades andfestivals, which have grown exponentially in recent years. Thevolunteer-run Fringe Fest, like many festivals in the city, offersa reasonable $8 ticket price and features a “free-for-all” tent atPress and Dauphine streets with daily shows and free beer.

Since you can only purchase your ticket at the festival, a rulethat preserves the spontaneity of the event, it is advisable to getthere 20 minutes before the show of your choice. You will also needto purchase a $3 button imprinted with the artwork of this year’sposter, a fun souvenir of the festival and a lasting reminder ofits originality.


The full program can be found at