Get Ready for a Fringe Binge at the Boulder International Fringe Festival

The Boulder International Fringe Festival has no permanent venue and presents twelve days of events featuring nearly three dozen productions and many more performers, staged all over Boulder. So how do viewers prepare for the Fringe binge that starts this week? “It really is kind of like geocaching,” says Alex Cooley, Fringe executive producer. In fact, part of the appeal of this no-holds-barred performance program is that it demands intrepid and adventurous audiences who are willing to coordinate their calendars in order to intersect with the entertaining and unexpected.

For over a decade, the Fringe Fest has been hosting dancers, comics, storytellers, theater groups, filmmakers, musicians, puppeteers and many others whose multidisciplinary skills defy easy categorization. As in Edinburgh, the birthplace of the Fringe movement, Boulder's version is an artistic-free-for-all. “Despite the stereotype that fringe is weird and strange and hard, at bottom these are people telling stories,” says Cooley, who started as a Fringe Fest performer eight years ago, moved up to an event producer slot and now finds herself in charge of the whole shebang.

The Fringe Fest is nothing if not egalitarian. Acts submit applications, outlining their staging needs; the festival favors small, flexible, mobile ensembles that don’t require massive resources. Once acts are booked, appropriate venues are found and date and time slots are assigned via lottery. While organizers don't offer a must-see list, they do their best to smooth the process. Shine, a restaurant in downtown Boulder that's long been an artist-friendly establishment, will serve as a daytime pop-up box office and Fringe Central, and will also host performances and roundtables.

And other Boulder businesses are getting in on the act. Twisted Pine Brewery is crafting a Fringe-themed beer – “They’re naming it right now,” says Cooley – and hosting opening and closing night Hullaballoos.  Additional hullabaloos during the fest will give the artists a chance to gather, network, and be interviewed by Fringe hosts in front of the crowd. “We want to blur that line between artist and audience,” Cooley says. “We want to be empowering.”

Here are just some of the noteworthy acts on the Fringe bill this year:

Concrete Temple Theatre, New York: Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities
The legendary puppeteer attempts to tell to the story of Perseus and Andromeda, with varying results.

David Lefkowitz, Greeley: The Miracle of Long Johns
A New York City theatre critic has the worst night of his life.

Gemma Wilcox Productions, Boulder: Red Bastard
An androgynous teacher leads the audience in a bizarre master class.

Stages of Circus, Boulder
Juggling and more – the new vaudeville brought to life.

Poison Apple Medicine, Salt Lake City: Princess Fearless
Mindy Dillard makes interactive music in one of the Fringe’s two family-specific shows this year.

Liz Macera, San Francisco, I’ve Accepted Everyone’s Death But My Own
This palliative-care nurse discusses death and what leads up to it.

Jon Bennett, Melbourne: Pretending Things Are a Cock
Yes, John Bennett went around the world pretending things were his cock. “This is his story,” Fringe Fest promises.

The Boulder International Fringe Festival runs Wednesday, September 16 through Sunday, September 27 in venues throughout Boulder; for tickets and information, visit, where you'll also find news of year-round programming.
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Brad Weismann became an award-winning writer and editor after spending years as a comedian. He's written about everything from grand opera to movies for a diverse array of magazines, newspapers and websites worldwide.