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Louisville Fringe Festival returns for fifth year of experimental theater

Several actors stand together on stage with props surrounding them. They are in various costumes included a bear suit, cape and sheet ghost.
J. Tyler Franklin
Louisville Fringe Festival
The Louisville Fringe Festival considers anything performed in front of people as theater, like the show pictured above, "William Shakespeare’s GLOBE Arm Wrestling."

Storytelling, short plays and stand-up comedy are just a few of the performances set to hit the stage during the Louisville Fringe Festival.

The festival aims to bring experimental theater to intersectional audiences throughout Louisville. Organizers say they welcome all kinds of acts and broadly define theater as anything performed in front of people.

Having a space where under-represented creators’ unique works are welcomed and audience members have relatively low-cost access to the shows is a key component of Fringe Festival, festival organizers said.

“One of the best things about Fringe Festival is the [cross-pollination] that can happen between different art forms and different artists and different groups,” said Fringe Festival participant Clarity Hagan.

Hagan is participating in the festival on two levels: as an actor in the short play “Shotz” and behind the scenes on “The Ladies Capulet.”

For “Shotz,” playwrights had two weeks to write and actors had the same amount of time to rehearse.

“It's getting to do theater without both the commitment and also a lot of the stress that often comes with theater,” said Hagan. “And that's one of the interesting things, I haven't had to do a lot of work to balance between the two.”

Hagan said the Fringe Festival allows for a more diverse line-up because it’s low-commitment and has few barriers for artists and audiences alike.

“A lot of times the people who have the time and energy to produce a play or to pay for a venue are either people who are making a lot of personal sacrifices, or who have access to a lot of cash,” Hagan said. “And it's really, really nice to get to hear from people who don't necessarily have that overhead and whose voices might not be heard otherwise.”

One such show is Steven Michael Carr’s “Come Out Lou.”

It will feature people telling their coming out stories.

“Not just about being LGBTQ+, several people are coming out in a variety of ways,” said Carr, the creator and director. “We all face some kind of coming out. Whenever we admit things about ourselves to the world.”

Carr said having people depict the wide range of ways people have to reveal themselves to the world can create a kind of common ground.

He also includes the stories of people who have been historically silenced, which fits into the larger mission of the Fringe Festival.

“When I think of the word ‘fringe,’ I think of on the edge on the margins, things like that,” Carr said.

To him, Fringe Fest is a space for experimenting with art forms and subject matters that other festivals might not feature.

“Come Out Lou” is on the schedule Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. followed by a one-woman show from drag queen May O’Nays.

Louisville Fringe Festival performances run daily through Aug. 26 at the Louisville Visual Arts building on Lytle Street.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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