32nd Orlando Fringe Festival advance

ORLANDO — As Orlando Fringe continues its new, year-round Fringing with monthly productions at its new downtown ArtSpace, Fringe also wants the public to keep in mind that the traditional Fringe Theatre Festival is coming up in May, and they have a theme to this year’s celebration: Festival Beautiful.

This year’s festival marks the 32nd year that this event has been held in Orlando, and their new theme is very much a celebration of the city that’s known as The City Beautiful.

“We’re back for our 32nd annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival taking place May 16-29, and this year we’re celebrating the city we call home and all the wonderful things in it that make it beautiful, with our theme: Festival Beautiful,” Fringe noted in a news release.

This year’s festival will be notable for another reason: it continues to grow. This year’s 14-day arts festival, the longest-running Fringe Theatre Festival in the United States, offers a lineup of 2,000+ ticketed performances and more than a hundred shows from local, national, and international artists. There will be lots to do, and lots of shows to pick from.

What’s New at Orlando Fringe Festival this Year?

This has already been a landmark year for Orlando Fringe. In January they opened ArtSpace at 54 W. Church St. in downtown Orlando, while maintaining their existing office space at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. ArtSpace now hosts new productions each month, extending the entire Fringe concept all year long.

And there are more changes on the way, Fringe noted.

“A lot has changed since last year’s festival,” Fringe noted. “Most notably the opening Fringe ArtSpace, our year-round venue on Church Street, and the home of this year’s Purple and Teal venues! We’ve come a long way from our first festival where we operated out of abandoned storefronts to a permanent home smack in the middle of Downtown.”

The Renaissance Theatre Company, 415 E. Princeton St., is their new Purple and Teal venues. Orlando Fringe also continues to expand with its Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) partners, locations that are outside of the main festival area but have become part of the overall festival, including The Abbey at 100 S. Eola Drive, the Stardust Lounge at 431 E. Central Blvd., and the Savoy Orlando at 1913 N. Orange Ave.

Some things haven’t changed, including the main festival itself in Loch Haven Park at venues inside the Lowndes and the nearby Orlando Repertory Theater and Orlando Museum of Art, with the continued annual presence of the Beer & Food Tent on the park’s lawn.

“The Lawn will be ready to welcome you with free entertainment on the Outdoor Stage, delicious food vendors, and our favorite—The Beer Tent,” Fringe notes. “We’re working hard to make The Lawn better than ever with more games and more fun!”

This year’s festival will also include:

  • The return of Visual Fringe and Kids Fringe
  • The Visual Art gallery
  • Live art demonstrations
  • Family-friendly shows
  • Appearances by Fringezilla
  • Opportunities to meet the visual artists themselves at Visual Fringe Headquarters.

“It’s your chance to immerse yourself in the work of local artists and to take a piece of the art home with you,” Fringe notes. “There’s still so much we have to share! Stay tuned for show announcements and for more details on specific offerings as we get closer to the festival.”

Why is the Event Being Dubbed Festival Beautiful?

Tempestt Halstead, the Orlando Fringe Festival producer, noted that this year’s theme has significance.

“This festival is not just about entertainment, it’s about pushing the boundaries of creativity, encouraging artists to take risks, exploring new avenues, fostering a sense of community and bringing people together to celebrate the power of the arts,” she said. “Let this festival be a reminder of the beauty that is possible when we embrace growth. I encourage everyone to embrace their own growth by taking a chance on a new performer or exploring a new venue. I guarantee you will find something that will challenge and inspire you. I cannot wait to experience this festival with all of our amazing patrons, artists and performers, who are what makes this festival truly BEAUTIFUL.”

So, what is Orlando Fringe? The Orlando Fringe Festival is the oldest Fringe in the nation. It was created in 1991 by Terry Olson, Andy Anthony and Rick Kunst, and held in 1992 in downtown Orlando. The concept was simple: a festival featuring multiple theatrical shows, mostly done in venues in empty storefronts. In 2004, the festival started to relocate to Loch Haven Park, and from 2005 on, the festival has been held entirely in that park and in nearby Ivanhoe Village. It’s the longest running Fringe Festival in the United States, a 14-day festival held in the spring.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book A Christmas Eve Story. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.

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