It’s All Happening at the Fringe

If you think there’s something different about this year’s Boulder International Fringe Festival, check your calendar. Activities are starting about a month later than usual, and, as Fringe director Dave Ortolano notes, there’s a reason for that. Years of feedback from audiences, artists and sponsors from past fests, have indicated that late August isn’t the best time to draw a crowd, especially in a town that comes alive once classes get under way at the University of Colorado and Naropa University. So Ortolano decided to experiment, and at least for this year and next, the Fringe, with its plethora of reasonably priced experimental performances, beer garden, and after-hours improv and comedy, will go down just as students get settled in and are looking for something to do.

“It’s more about the audience and the shows, which are the heart and soul of the festival,” Ortolano says. “We have independent artists presenting their own work, and that’s going to be the biggest benefit: If these artists can get more people into their shows, they’ll do better financially.” Yeah, it’s a crapshoot at the Fringe, but anyone can see that a September buzz leaves the dog days of August in the dust.

It will also help to have a new Fringe headquarters, Ortolano adds. Although shows will be held at venues all over Boulder, this year’s Fringe Central is at Agora at the Riverside, a relatively new mixed-use event space and cafe at 1724 Broadway, adjacent to Boulder Central Park. “They seemed really excited and happy to have us there,” he says, “and that paves the way for us to create a Fringe Club. Other fringes around the world have them, but we haven’t ever had a full version.”

The Fringe Festival begins there tonight at 6:30 p.m. with the annual opening celebration and All-You-Can-Artist Buffet — a revue of one-minute previews and a guide to what’s what at the fest; admission is just $5. Performances and all attendant events continue daily through September 29; for a complete schedule of shows, workshops and events, visit the Fringe online at
Sept. 18-29, 2013