In Case You Missed It
Boulderganic Fall 2009
Student Guide 2009
Boulder Weekly Sweet 16 Anniversary
Summer Scene 2009
Best of Boulder 2009
Annual Manual 2009
Newspaper of the Future
Kids Camp Guide 2009
Wedding Marketplace 09
Student Guide 2008
Best of Boulder 2008
Annual Manual 2008
Join Our Mailing List
August 6 - 12, 2009
From the fringes
The Boulder International Fringe Festival challenges convention
by Gene Ira Katz
When the first Fringe Festival took place in Scotland following WWII, no one could have guessed this impromptu, spontaneous, ad-hoc performing-arts event would wind up inspiring dozens of similar extravaganzas all over the planet, including here in Boulder. That original 1947 Fringe was spawned from what was intended to be a pan-European get together in Edinburgh to help unite a continent racked by war. Whether through oversight or deliberation, a large group of avant garde creative artists and performers were not invited to the formal Edinburgh International Festival, so a number of theater companies decided to set up their presentations on the outskirts of the official festival site. Of course, the upstarts managed to attract a significant audience and impressive press coverage.
By 1951, the Edinburgh Fringe had established its own identity and over time grew to become one of the world’s largest arts festival, not to mention the progenitor to so many other Fringes across the globe.
In 2005, according to David Ortolano, executive producer of the Boulder International Fringe Festival, “A bunch of people from the arts community came together to discuss the possibility of a local arts festival of some kind.” This included folks from the Boulder Arts Commission, the Dairy Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts Alliance and others. A committee was formed and all local arts organizers were invited to participate. About 80 people showed up at two public meetings to discuss what kind of event should be created. “As the dialogue dragged on,” explains Ortolano, “I did a survey, asking the interested parties what they would want an arts festival to look like.”
Ortolano, who also serves as director of Naropa University’s Performing Arts Center, had been to Scotland and seen for himself what the Edinburgh Fringe looked like, and he was attracted to the loose and experimental style.
“I thought it was kind of similar to some of what we do at Naropa — a more open-ended model of indie-style productions,” he says. “I always tell the students to go out into the world and see what they’re doing in different places.”
With a modest gift of seed money from the Arts Commission, and the donation of a venue by an individual who had reserved time at the Dairy Center, Boulder’s arts community opened up a new venture. Even though they called the first event a “mini-fringe,” they received around 125 submissions from artists representing music, dance, film and theater.
Since then, the Boulder Fringe has distinguished itself as a rich and varied annual arts event, taking its rightful place alongside well-known fringes in other cities, including New York, Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto, London, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Melbourne, Seoul and, of course, Edinburgh.
Each winter, a simple on-line application is offered on the Fringe’s website (boulderfringe.com) with performance slots awarded through a lottery system.
“This is not a juried festival,” says Ortolano. “All the applications are collected together and literally drawn out of a big hat.”
Not only is there absolutely no censorship of any kind, performers who missed out on being selected might just show up and present some form of guerilla theatrics in the spirit of the original Edinburgh festival.
“I encourage people to show up and crash the barriers,” says Ortolano, quickly adding, “provided they don’t break any city ordinances.”
He also notes that the Boulder Fringe reserves the right to cancel any program that turns out to be dangerous, illegal or against the policies of the assigned venue.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of following the Boulder Fringe these past few years will certainly have some powerful memories to share of unusual, startling and innovative presentations from artists ranging from legends to newcomers.
One of the most notable performers this year is Ruth Zaporah, a New Mexico-based performance artist, director and teacher, internationally known for her innovative work in the field of physical theater improvisation. She is also the Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department. Her book, Action Theater: The Improvisation of Presence, is in its fifth printing, and she is a two-time recipient of National Endowment Choreography Fellowships.
Zaporah will conduct a workshop titled A Splendid Moment. Her practices are described as expanding awareness and stimulating the imagination. Participants can expect their capacity for emotional performance to be strengthened through her presentation. They will also experience fresh views of themselves, who they are, what they perceive and how they respond. The workshop takes place over several days at Naropa’s Nalanda campus on Arapahoe Road and 63rd Street. Participants must be more than 18 years old,
with intermediate to advanced theater experience.
While still young, a Boulder Fringe tradition has taken hold with a nightly talk show called The Daily C.R.A.B. Ortolano says the name is taken from a line in a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem: Constantly Risking Absurdity, Baby. Hosted by comic and playwright Jimmy Hogg, and featuring a music combo, the Craberet Band, The Daily C.R.A.B. is not only an unpredictable, off-the-wall variety show, but provides audiences with the perfect opportunity to sample the Fringe’s offerings with live performances by different Fringe artists every night, as well as exclusive, behind-the-scenes interviews. With a wide variety of dance, music, theater and comedy, this late-night offering takes place at 10 p.m. at the Scotch Corner Pub each evening of the Fringe Fest. Be forewarned that some of the language and subject matter may not be suitable for tender ears.
Another entry this year that has already received a good deal of notice is a multi-theatrical piece called Good Girls Don’t, But I Do, inspired by the controversial best-selling advice book The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right.
Incorporating both original and culled texts, movement and song, this show is an innovative exploration of what it means to be a woman in contemporary society. The piece humorously looks at the do’s and don’ts of dating from a variety of perspectives.
“That one has a lot of buzz around it,” says Ortolano.” I’ve heard from a lot of people who say they’re going to see it.”
He is also impressed by a young musical group out of Denver, GLOAM, comprised of a pair of sisters, their brother, and some friends who create an inspired “harmonious cacophony,” with an unusual theatricality, journeying way out on music’s cutting edge.
Ortolano is particularly excited about a new event on Aug. 23, The Hill Flea, an outdoor arts market co-produced with the Hill Commission. The Hill Flea will host more than 40 booths, along with a variety of local businesses and performances that have both green and artistic themes, and there will be acts on the Fringe Stage for the whole community — street theater, site-specific dance, music and spontaneous happenings throughout the market. In addition, the KidsFringe, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will showcase art by and for kids of all ages.
Even the organizers of the Boulder International Fringe Festival don’t exactly know what to expect from this event, which means there will definitely be a few surprises in store for the audience.
For More Info:
The Boulder International Fringe Festival takes place Aug. 12-23 at various locations around Boulder, 720-563-9950, www.boulderfringe.com
. The main box office this year is located at the Laughing Goat Coffee House, 1709 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-440-4628.
Respond: firstname.lastname@example.org to top