For the past eleven years, The Kansas City Fringe Festival has given KC artists the opportunity to produce and showcase their work in a theatrical stew that includes: theatre, spoken word, film, music, dance, comedy, and burlesque. Fringe delivers to an array of audiences, providing a variety of entertainment that can appeal to anyone’s particular
performance taste. There is a show for everyone. Inspired by the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, the festival gathers a menagerie of artists and art supporters, celebrating theatrical artistry at its truest, purest form. The Fringe Festival has also given ample opportunities to University of Missouri-Kansas City theatre students.
Jonathan Robertson (MFA Sound Design 2016) and Jason Bauer (MFA Sound Design 2016), along with Jason Ludlow created the “sound play” Companions. Describing the play, Robertson states that “The main character is the sound of a television, which we learn is actually a sonic projection of the wife’s internal thoughts.” Robertson also directed and did the sound design for the piece. This was Robertson’s second year in the Fringe Festival. He feels that it is a “great place for artists to practice and perform what the artists love, art.” As for Bauer, the most important thing about KC Fringe is that, “It allows artists to create original pieces or to produce known pieces that the artist loves. It is a platform that is unbiased and inexpensive to work from and gives opportunities for artists to learn.”
Margaret Shelby (MA Theatre History 2015) and a few friends decided to take the risk and self-produce their own scripts about art and art–making for KC Fringe. The Art is a Lie, an evening of short plays, was executed at Phosphor Studios. Shelby’s own play, The Lash, was directed by UMKC graduate student Elizabeth Bettendorf Bowman and featured many UMKC students and alums. Shelby sees the value of KC Fringe for an artist. There is no excuse not to be a part of it. “Seriously, there is very little that can prevent you from being a part of Fringe. We self-produced, and did so by launching a very successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money. Fringe provides a venue for the most shoe-string of efforts, and you really have to take advantage of that.”
Jae Shanks (MFA Sound Design 2017) sound designed five shows for the festival: Love Me Tinder, The Penis Monologues, Bond: a soldier and his dog, Self-Ease, and The Snake that Stole the Flower. Shanks was also the assistant stage manager for Lovesick. For Shanks, the festival was all about adapting. In designing her show, Shank focused on keeping it simple to run and simply augmenting the show as a whole. “Overall, I learned so much about my own capabilities and ideas and how to adapt to the needs of a show in three hours of tech (sometimes less!). I am glad that I was a part of such an interesting experience seeing crazy theatre. It’s a fantastic feeling to be a part of such collaborative effort.”
The KC Fringe Festival continues to grow year after year, providing platforms for original work and stellar talent, combining artists and audiences together in a community of support and celebration for the love of theatre.