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Five Must-See Boulder Fringe Fest Performances

The Boulder International Fringe Festival is one of many fringe fests around the world where cultural gatekeepers have opened the dam and flooded audiences with playwrights, filmmakers, dancers, artists and curators showing off their works without censorship. Nobody gets turned away. Anything goes.

The joy and trouble for audiences is that we have to figure out how to navigate so much creativity. The festival opens tonight with an All-You-Can-Artist buffet, at the Dairy Center, where presenters will show off snippets of their work to the crowd. But what if you miss opening night? What's a festival-goer to do? See also: Davey B. Gravey's Little Movies on a Little Screen

For starters, browse the program online. But if you still need more direction, Westword checked in with the Fringe Fest director David Ortolano to learn the five events he's most excited about. In no particular order (after all, Fringe Fest snubs creative hierarchies), here they are:

5) Band of Toughs: I Miss My MTV "This award-winning, local theater company is an ensemble-based, do-it-yourself, mash-up theater. They have built a theater venue behind Trident in an empty warehouse. They made this very rough, rock-and-roll space into a theater," says Ortolano. Their performance I Miss My MTV explores the collision of images and sound in 1980s pop culture, moshing and the universal power of music. 4) Shirley Kirchmann "Experienced Fringe touring artist Shirley Kirchmann is bringing herself all the way from South Africa," says Ortolano. The artist will be presenting Deranged Dating, her story of finding herself single after seventeen years of serial monogamy and trying to figure out how to survive family pity, bizarre dates and a nightmare matchmaker. The absurdist performance mixes stand-up comedy with solo skits. Read on for more of the Fringe Fest director's picks. 3) Gemma Wilcox: Shadows in Bloom In Shadows in Bloom, festival favorite Gemma Wilcox tackles 22 different characters in her award-winning performance as a young woman teetering on the verge of independence and cycling through multiple personae. "She's a great performer with very precise, thoughtful and provocative work," says Ortolano. She plays men, women, children and crustaceans alike. 2) Joanna and the Agitators: Dirtland Dirtland explores big ideas of power: Who is in charge and why? Whose dirty laundry deserves to be aired? Who gets the wealth and who gets stuck cooking dinner? Ortolano describes Joanna and the Agitators' Dirtland as "an interestingly staged, postmodern, experimental dance and theater piece presented in the racquet ball court at the North Boulder Rec Center." 1) Martin Dockery: Wanderlust In Wanderlust, Martin Dockery reenacts his real-life journey from New York City to Timbuktu, on a quest to find meaning and love in life. "He's a great performer, a seasoned Fringe circuit favorite, a really great writer with great energy and very entertaining," says Ortolano.

For more information about these performances and others, check out the Fringe Festival Website. The festival takes place tonight through September 28 at the Dairy Center for the Performing Arts and elsewhere in Boulder.

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