DigiFringe is here

ORLANDO — If you’re feeling a sense of letdown that Orlando Fringe is now over, don’t despair. DigiFringe has arrived.

“Orlando Fringe has gone digital! Join us for the first-ever DigiFringe,” the folks at Orlando Fringe noted in a news release. The concept is simple: if you missed some of the shows at the last month’s festival, catch up with them online, now through June 18.

DigiFringe provides video recordings of a selection of shows that appeared at the 30th Annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, along with numerous additional performances from Fringe artists around the world. As the organizers of the annual theater event noted, “Fringe wherever you are!”

How Can Patrons Watch the DigiFringe Shows?

Tickets are now on sale, and all shows will be available to view anytime through Friday, June 18. There are also 10 Packs on sale for $90 and 25 Packs to purchase for $200.

At the regular Fringe Festival, patrons need to first buy a Fringe button before they can see any of the shows, with the money raised from the sale of those buttons going to the Fringe’s operating expenses. Fringe is taking a similar approach to the DigiFringe program. A fee will be added to each show as the price of a “digital button.” Still, Fringe noted that 100% of the ticket sales for DigiFringe will go back to each show’s producers or artists.

“Once you hit ten shows, the button fee will no longer appear,” Fringe noted. “In addition, each show has been given a Watch Party, where you can watch the pre-recorded show live with friends, family, and Fringe fans! You can chat with everyone during the show, and also tip the artist!”

Click on Digifringe.com to buy tickets.

Why Are Theaters Live Streaming Shows?

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit early in 2020, it forced community theaters to close their doors out of safety concerns. The subsequent lock downs prevented patrons from going to live shows.

A lot of community theaters, including Mad Cow Theatre, the Orlando Shakes, the Winter Park Playhouse and others began offering live streaming of productions that audiences could safely watch from their homes. Once these theaters began reopening their doors with social distancing measures and limited capacity in place, or staging outdoor productions, they often recorded the shows to allow audiences to watch it at home.

Even as vaccination rates in Florida get higher and many of the Covid-19 restrictions get lifted, it’s likely that digital theater productions are here to stay, as a way to complement rather than replace live performances.

What Is Orlando Fringe?

The 2021 Orlando Fringe Festival was held at the Lowndes Shakespeare Theater in Loch Haven Park, when there were more than 400 performances leading up to Memorial Day Weekend.

The Orlando Fringe Festival is the oldest Fringe in the nation, and in 2021 celebrated its 30th year. It was created in 1991 by Terry Olson (who is now the director of the Orange County Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs), 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 When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.

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