Phoenix Fringe Festival returns to downtown area with eccentric performances

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The fourth annual Phoenix Fringe Festival, beginning April 1, is bringing off-beat performance art and unconventional theater shows back to the downtown area for 10 days. Many of the local performers are ASU alumni or current students. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Roth)

For those seeking out of the ordinary entertainment in the next 10 days, Phoenix Fringe Festival may be the answer.

During the festival, 24 different nontraditional theater productions will perform in seven small art venues in the downtown area. Shows range from a reworking of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to a play about zombies to a musical about a divorce lawyer who comes head-to-head with the fury of Aphrodite.

Daniel Roth, the event’s director, said that students attending Fringe Festival can expect to have their boundaries pushed.

“We don’t have anything that’s safe really,” Roth said. “It will definitely make an impact. It will take you out of your comfort zone.”

Roth said the annual festival brings a unique atmosphere to downtown Phoenix.

“It’s a critical mass of entertainment downtown,” said Roth. “It really transforms into a performance-art city. You don’t get to see this kind of thing every day in Phoenix.”

Fringe Festival is not a concept unique to Phoenix, as “fringe theater” is a common term used to describe unconventional theater shows and performances.

This is the fourth annual Phoenix Fringe Festival. While smaller than it was last year, Roth said festival-goers will benefit from a scaled-down approach because it will be easier to get from one show to another.

“It allows the festival to run better,” Roth said.

Roth said that about half of the performers are local, but some have come from as far away as New York and Australia. Many of the local performers are ASU alumni or students who are graduating in May.

Van Rockwell, a 2010 theater graduate from ASU, is directing a show for the festival. This is the second year that Rockwell has directed a show and his first as a writer.

Rockwell’s show, “Oppressed: A Proclamation of a Maltreated Male,” will be performed on opening night at Phoenix Theatre next to the Phoenix Art Museum.

Part of Rockwell’s goal in putting on the show was to get ASU students and alumni involved. Most of the actors and production people working in the show are either alumni or current students, Rockwell said.

Rockwell said he is excited about showing at this year’s festival because it is an outlet for creativity. He said he feels like this show is “more suitable for Fringe” than his previous one.

“It’s innovative because people have a chance to do something they’re really passionate about,” said Rockwell.

Fringe Festival starts on April 1 and runs until April 10.

Contact the reporter at hjlurie@asu.edu

Want to get a better idea of what performances to expect at Phoenix Fringe Festival? Watch the Downtown Devil’s video package of last year’s festival here.