"When I spoke to Sarah Mikayla Brown a year ago, she laid out a vision for an annual event that would join the burgeoning network of fringe fests across the U.S. and Canada. The Chicago Fringe Festival would bring in performers from around the country to interact with our homegrown artists and audiences; an uncurated selection process would bolster the sense of discovery she’d found at fringe fests in other cities. I liked the idea but was a bit skeptical that it could be pulled together in a year’s time.
I shouldn’t have doubted Brown. Assembling a staff of 16 (all working pro bono), she fielded 156 applicants and secured eight Pilsen venues. Beginning Wednesday 1, theater, dance, sketch comedy and other performance pieces will take over EP Theater and Dream Theatre, art galleries Chicago Art Department and Temple Gallery, salvage-chic bar and grill Simone’s, the Casa Aztlán community center and a pair of empty storefronts dubbed the Edinburgh Stage and Adelaide Stage (after the world’s two largest fringe fests). An open-air lot at 1714 South Racine Avenue will serve as Fringe Central, where festgoers can mingle over drinks and live music; after 10pm each night, the party moves inside to Honky Tonk Barbecue (1213 W 18th St).
The inaugural Chicago Fringe features 46 lottery-selected entries: 25 by Chicago-area performers and 21 from across the U.S. and Canada. With each coming in under an hour and at ten bucks a pop (five for $45, ten for $80 or an unlimited pass for $175), the idea is to take in as many as possible. Here are a few that caught our eye."