Saturday, July 29, 2023

It's (Minnesota) Fringe (Festival) Time! 30 Years!

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is celebrating its thirty years of bringing adventurous theater to Minnesota theatergoers. Thirty years of the MN Fringe! Thousands of shows! So much theater! So many amazing artists!

But we're here to talk 2023 Fringe. Before we get to the shows we're looking forward to, here's some quick details:

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is held August 3-13, 2023 at various locations in Cedar-Riverside*. You need to buy a button. And tickets. More info is at

*See also Independently Produced shows at various locations around the Twin Cities.

ALSO, subscribe to the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers' new podcast Twin Cities Theater Chat for more Fringe. (Subscribe, like, rate, review, tell your friends and family, shout it from the rooftops that a new podcast has come, whatever works for you.)

On S1E7, MN Fringe Executive Director Dawn Bentley tells us more about the festival is surviving and thriving and why the motto at the Fringe office is: "There's always something at the Fringe."

On S1E9 How to Fringe with the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, Jill Schafer of Cherry and Spoon, Rob Dunkelberger of The Stages of MN, and Erica Skarohlid of Lettered in Theatre share their tips for making the most of the MN Fringe Festival.

To the SHOWS!

Everyone has a different method for picking through the copious offerings of the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Mine is to go through the Show Listings on the website, in alphabetical order, and favorite any that sound intriguing. Of over 100+ shows, I have a mere 56 shows favorited. 

Elements that go into my decision-making include genre, cast and crew, how intriguing the summary is AND the relative merits of the show art. Below, my semi-arbitrary list of must- and maybe-sees.

Oh, the HORROR! And Monsters and Things:

By Special When Lit and The Winding Sheet Outfit
Two pre-teens are compelled to serve a modern monster; an eyeless watcher whose price for loyalty is blood. In the age of electronic loneliness, how far would you go for friendship? Based on true events in WI.

5 Prisoners
By Ghoulish Delights
This sci-fi/horror anthology features five short scenes about unexpected spaces that confine unexpected prisoners, written by Pat Harrigan, John Heimbuch, Ariel Pinkerton, Tim Uren, and Duck Washington.

A Girl Scout’s Guide to Exorcism
By Melancholics Anonymous
In the summer of ‘08, plucky Troop 172 summons Rosalie Barrow Edge, a militant environmentalist obsessed with hawks and vengeance. Join the Girl Scouts at Camp Nawakwa as they earn their first exorcism badge!

Monster Science's Greatest Hits
By Monster Science Productions
Remounts of five of the award-winning, Fringe-favorite Rev Matt's Monster science shows - different every night! As chosen by some people I found! Watch this space for the lineup!

4 Bisexuals and 2 Guys Named John Kill Dracula
By Lady Chamberlain Productions
Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel "Dracula" is one of the most adapted works of all time. This is another one of those adaptations. They're all dating each other in this one.

Literary Theater! It's Like Reading, Kind Of!

By Alchemy Arts
A nostalgic love letter to the stories that made us, come explore what it means to believe in magic at any age. This whimsical, poignant journey will tug at your heartstrings and make you feel like a kid again.

20,000 Leagues Under the Telltale Heart
By Wet Splat Productions
Verne! Poe! Dickens! Twain! Christian Andersen! Kafka! Join us for a series of improvised tableaus based on their real-life correspondence. Everything in this show definitely, definitely really happened!

Baldwin's Last Fire
By Black Lives Black Words International Project
In this historical fiction, James Baldwin has retired to a life hiding away in France when he uncovers a gripping murder mystery. Witness the unravelling of his final masterpiece.

By [Un]Qualified
It's H.G. Wells' THE INVISIBLE MAN - like you've never seen him before! Witness the story of Griffin, the Invisible Man, in a new physical, farcical adaptation featuring a madcap cast of four!

Omar Khayyam Club
By Thee & Me Productions
What do a 12th century Persian poet, a bargain bin, a 1900's gentleman's club, the Titanic, the Kentucky Derby, the Grateful Dead, Peanuts, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and a loaf of bread have in common? Come find out!

It's Hard to Be the Bard, Baby (aka Shakespeare)

Butts in Seats: How to Get People to Attend Your Shakespeare Production by Having Musical Settings for the Lyrics in His Plays. Numerous Examples Included.
By Ken Takata
Shakespeare’s plays contain over 70 lyrics, but most of the original music has been lost. Here we present musical settings in styles including the Great American Songbook and glam rock. (See more info & video.)

Breakneck Midsummer Night’s Dream
By Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre
Shakespeare’s most beloved play! A dose of Renaissance Viagra! Three couples vault their way into the marriage bed via this whirlwind tale of Romantic Rivalry, Fairy Ribaldry, Love Potions… and an Ass!

By Rebecca Wickert and Ella Eastman-Kiesow
Awaken in the depths of a tormented mind and follow the quest of Shakespeare's young, passionate, and tragic hero as they navigate political and social influences in their own nightmare.

Audacious Ignatius: Lost in Atlantis
By Kyle B. Dekker
Ignatius Donnelly was a big player in 19th Century Minnesota politics, he is best known as a crackpot tied to pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and Shakespeare conspiracies. A legacy Lost in Atlantis.

I Don't Need Anything But You (Solo Shows)

By Destiny Davison
In her solo debut, DOLLY WHO?, Destiny/Dolly Davison pitches a show that doesn't exist (yet) with help from her cartoon friends, life lessons, a dash of improv, and you.

My Only Hope for a Hero
By Rogues Gallery Arts
Local theater maker, Duck Washington, returns to the Fringe with his one person exploration of bravery and cowardice. In this ever changing world, does Duck have what it takes to be a hero? Does anyone?

By Chrisdavisdoesstuff
Comedian Chris Davis, brings 2 different one man shows across 5 different FRINGE performances. "Just Black Enough", exploring race and what it means to be black & "Seriously, I'm Not Gay", exploring identity.

5-Step Guide to Being German
By Paco Erhard
Wanna be German? Of course you do. And now you can, as German comic Paco Erhard teaches you how. Sold out worldwide, this award-winning show finally hits America. ★★★★★ Broadway Baby. 2022 Patrons Pick Orlando.

Climbing my family tree
By Kurkendaal Barrett Presentations
Les takes a test on . The results are shocking . Watch him uncover an almost 100 year old family mystery and meet some cool new relatives in the process!

Reincarnation Soup
By Viet Nguyen
A mythic tale of soup, Saigon, & recycled souls. Journey through the Vietnamese heart in this multi-character memory play. (Best of the Fest, Critics' Choice for Drama, & Patrons' Pick at the Orlando Fringe)

Death and Loss and Grief and More

By Juliana Frick
On her way home from a ten-day meditation retreat, Myra Van Gloov loses her luggage, her house keys and then her phone. It only gets worse from there. A lyrical, funny and moving portrait of grief.

Fire in My Veins: Blazing through Life with Invisible Illness
By Allison Broeren
This romp with Allison about living with a rare autoimmune disease for 20 years has it all. Chronic illness is hard, horrifying, and honestly, sometimes hilarious. See the remount after a sold out opening run.

By Hey Rube!
In an attempt to save her dying mother and reconnect with her estranged father, a cynical daughter sifts through her memories in search of hope. From the creators of last year's award-winning Orzel Rising.

Dearest Mother
By Juggling Act Productions
John Berryman, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and popular University of Minnesota professor, had a complicated and dramatic relationship with his mother as told through their many letters until his death in 1972.

The Definition of Loss
By Ashen Armor Productions
After the death of her mother, a teenager struggles through grief, guilt, and growing up. Will she be swallowed whole by the darkness, or will she be able to find herself again?

Based on the Movie (or TV or Podcast or Horrifying True Story or Game)

Fargo Allegro
By Nightfall Productions
Didja hear all about what happened up there in Brainerd then? …Oh geeze…

Kill B: The Epilogue
By Six Elements Theatre
"Kill B: The Epilogue", a satirical sequel to Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" duology, focuses on generational trauma, the manipulation of men, and the desire to be known and loved.

Shark Grant
By Flavorade Foucault
Twelve artists begin this competition for one of our nation's most limited resources - grant money. To win, they must appease our panel of Sharks, who control the fund. Who will survive these.. Invested Waters?

Let Me Say This About That
By Imaginary Podcast Network
Heather and Danna (with the "help" of their producer Raffi) host a podcast based on audience suggestions and "real advertisements". They improvise genres from true crime to conspiracy theories, or whatever else

"Starved": The Astonishing True Story of the University of Minnesota Starvation Experiment
By Pat O'Brien
As WWII ended, the Allies faced the task of caring for millions starving in Europe & Asia. The U of Mn. enlisted volunteers to study how to reintroduce the starving to food. First they had to starve themselves!

Truth or Truth
By DallaDanna Productions
The audience asks our performers and guest storytellers the tough questions, and then we improvise scenes based on the stories being told. It's like "Truth or Dare?" without the potentially problematic stuff.

More Favorite Artists, More Amazing Theater Companies, More Promising Newcomers

Coyfish By THEATRE23
When Benji meets Danie online, he falls for her. But this is not your traditional boy-meets-girl storyline. This piece dives into the complexities of the developing relationship between two Asian Americans.

Dock Work By Jackdonkey Productions
An experimental, and devised show. Performed through moments of music, movement, and text. Follows the interpretive efforts of workers organizing a union.

Funny, Like an Abortion By EnCompass Theatre
Monroe finds herself knocked up, and since abortions are illegal in the United States, she and her best friend Jade have an abortion party! A darkly comedic glimpse into a haunting future.

Grindr Help Desk: The Musical By David Stillman
This fun and raunchy show with heart has Candice working at the help desk of the gay dating app Grindr. With humor and sass, Candice helps callers with everything from dating advice to profile pics and more.

Joy; A Sketch Show By Rachel Buhman
Experimental bits that cross through space, butts and various hands to find contentment in the night sky.

A wild web of improvised musical scenes. All dialogue is sung, and every scene is in a different musical genre. Accompanied by former Second City Music Director Kelly Shuda. You will die laughing. 

Pearl and Eugene: One Last Shtick By Clucklesworth Productions
Once, Pearl and Eugene were a dynamic musical duo. They had big-time stage careers and throngs of fans. Now, they live in a Jewish retirement home and have no one to visit them. When a developer threatens to take their home away, they decide to perform one more time to raise money and save it. Can they overcome the drama that split up their old act? Will old secrets be revealed? Will the actors get tired of eating tapioca pudding? Find out!

Primary By Alex Church
Members of a powerful Democratic family are forced to confront exactly how far they'll go to win after their matriarch loses her primary to a progressive challenger. 15% of sales donated to Women Winning

Reception By Downton Productions
RECEPTION is a comedy-drama about family, acceptance, and Star Wars. A couple faces disapproval from both of their families during a Star Wars-themed wedding, which could end the marriage before it even begins.

The Duet By ThickWater
A once famous country music duo, now grinding it out on the dive bar and casino circuit, is attempting to write the song that will take them back to the top.

The Place I Return To By Cornucopia Productions
Adapted from his poems & journal entries across five winters, we witness both the stagnation and the evolution of emotion as Abdimalik grows up between the ages of 18-21, stuck in his room with his depression.

The Resilient Child By Fortune’s Fool Theatre
Children should be seen AND heard. 4 local storytellers and 3 children use personal narrative, rhyme, and song to recount surviving childhood to come out strong, brave, and resilient.

The Shrieking Harpies By The Shrieking Harpies
The Shrieking Harpies are a musical improv trio featuring Lizzie Gardner, Taj Ruler, Hannah Wydeven, & with Justin Nellis on the keys. Our show blends musical genres into an improvised story!

The Windblown Cheeks Of Lovers By Mike Fotis Productions
A staged documentary about the creation of the hit 1984 mini-series, The Windblown Cheeks of Lovers.

What If We Hugged? by Comedy Suitcase
Stories of masculinity, fatherhood, and heart disease from a comedy writer turned race and gender justice worker.

Yes No Maybe (please explain) By Sandbox Theatre
Step back into the 90's with this heartfelt, awkward, sometimes cringy look at Kristina's notes from high school.

Happy Fringing, y'all!