This year’s First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival will include outdoor performances by the nerve-wracking STREB Extreme Action Company, a rare appearance by comedian Patton Oswalt, a breakdancing and hip-hop competition, and a world-premiere show by the creators of last year’s “Cabinet of Wonders.”
The 10-day festival, celebrating its fifth year, will feature 500-plus performances — more than 100 of them free — taking place at more than 20 venues Thursday, September 15, through Saturday, September 24, in and near downtown Rochester.
STREB Extreme Action Company
is the festival’s big free outdoor headliner. Founded by Rochester native Elizabeth Streb, the troupe combines dance with daring feats: In one past act, a company member lay beneath a suspended I-beam, rapidly spinning the beam before sitting up slightly – the beam just millimeters from his head – to grin at the audience.
The STREB performances will be on two nights – Friday, September 16, at 8, and Saturday, September 17, at 5, 7:30, and 10 – rather than the single night of previous years’ outdoor headliner shows. The location: Parcel 5 on Main Street, part of the former Midtown Plaza (site of the Trombone Shorty show at this year’s jazz festival).
Alternating with the STREB performances on Saturday, some of the region’s best dance crews will take the stage to present an all-style breakdancing and hip-hop dance battle in Fringe’s debut Fringe Street Beat
. Local dance crews are invited to participate and compete for a $1,500 prize (enter at rochesterfringe.com).
Comedian, actor, and best-selling author Patton Oswalt
, who participated in Rochester’s first Fringe, returns this year on Sunday, September 18. Oswalt will perform in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre at 8 p.m. This will be one of the few performances this year by Oswalt, whose wife died recently. Tickets are $35-$80.
Returning again is the jewel-box venue Spiegeltent
, at the corner of East Main and Gibbs Streets. Last year’s world-premiere "Cabinet of Wonders" was so successful that Fringe is bringing back its creator, Matthew Morgan, who will present another world-premiere show, “Cirque du Fringe: MIRACLE CURE.”
Co-hosted by Morgan and comedian Mark Gindick, the show will feature high-wire acts. Tickets to this theater-in-the-round variety show are $21-$33 (increasing to $24-$36 after September 1).
Rochester native Pandora Boxx
, who gained national attention on RuPaul’s Drag Race, will perform her bawdy cabaret-style “The Worst Show Ever” in the Spiegeltent on Friday and Saturday, September 23 and 24, at 9:30 p.m.
A sell-out hit ever since its debut in 2013, Silent Disco
returns to the Spiegeltent at 11 o’clock all four weekend nights of Fringe. And debuting this year is Disco Kids
on Saturday, September 24, at noon.
Located adjacent to the Spiegeltent, the Spiegelgarden will again host free activities, including the Pedestrian Drive-In
— outdoor movie screenings using Silent Disco headphones — and the new Green Room
, a lounge area created by Rochester Mini Maker Faire from recycled materials.
A free community theater piece by Method Machine
and Fringe founding board member David Henderson
— who presented 2014 Fringe’s “Spoon River Rochester” — will be staged from 6 to 6:40 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, September 23 and 24. This year’s show, “Grimm’s Mad Tales,”
based on the famous fairy tales, will involve 200 participants, including Mayor Lovely Warren, performing along Gibbs Street while the audience walks among them.
, the site-specific, immersive, sell-out hit theater piece by Berlin’s Rimini Protokoll, returns this year with multiple daily performances. Tickets are $28 (but increase to $33 on September 1).
Free entertainment, including bands and street entertainers, show highlights, and chalk art, as well as food and drink vendors, will be located on Gibbs Street during Fringe’s final weekend: Friday, September 23, from 5 to 11 p.m. and Saturday, September 24, from noon to 11 p.m.
While Fringe organizers curate the headliners and all of the free outdoor entertainment, most of the 2016 shows were submitted by artists earlier this year and programmed by the participating venues.
This year’s venues include Bernunzio Uptown Music, Blackfriars Theatre, Central Library, the Eastman School of Music's Kilbourn Hall and Sproull Atrium, Gallery r, Garth Fagan Dance Studio, George Eastman Museum’s Dryden Theatre, Java’s Café, The Little, Lyric Theatre, MuCCC, RAPA @ SOTA, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, RMSC’s Strasenburgh Planetarium, The Strong, Theatre ROCS Stage, and Writers & Books. Additional Fringe-curated events will take place at Parcel 5, Gibbs Street, the Spiegeltent and Spiegelgarden, Kodak Hall, and around the City of Rochester. Events at these venues will include all genres of art, theater, dance, music, and comedy, as well as interactive installations and site-specific performance pieces.
The 2016 Rochester Fringe Festival's full schedule and all tickets are online at rochesterfringe.com