ORLANDO — For fans of Orlando Fringe, January promises to be a very exciting month.
On Wednesday, Jan. 11, Orlando Fringe officially opens its new Fringe ArtSpace in downtown Orlando, and that also launches the kickoff of Fringe’s 7th annual Winter Mini-Fest.
“Mini-Fest is such a unique offering because we have specifically chosen 19 shows to be a part of this awesome festival. Plus, this will also take place at our new Fringe ArtSpace in Downtown Orlando,” Fringe noted. “We’ve worked hard in 2022 to make our new year-round venue an amazing space for artists and art lovers. Come check out what we are all excited about that takes place all in one weekend.”
Winter Mini-Fest will be held Jan. 12-15. The mini-fest will also serve as a grand opening ceremony, as Orlando Fringe officially welcomes the public to its new year-round venue at 54 W. Church St., as a Grand Opening Bash will be held.
What Shows Will be Performed at Winter Mini-Fest?
The lineup for ArtSpace’s First Season includes:
From January 26-29
VarieTEASE GENESIS by BlueLaLa Entertainment: An extension of the last installment of VarieTEASE On The Move, which tells the story of the closing of the unique theatre, THE VENUE, and the four years following, this dance performance was specially created by Blue for the launch of ArtSpace.
February 3-5, 2023
CARRIE the Musical by William Daniel Mills Theatre Company a thrilling and engaging retelling of Stephen King’s classic novel Carrie, with music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and book by Lawrence D. Cohen.
February 17-March 5, 2023
Middletown by Kangagirl Productions & Ant Farm, a deeply moving and funny new play by acclaimed writer Will Eno that explores the universe of a small American town featuring an all-star cast directed by Orlando Fringe Festival Lifetime Achievement Award recipient David Lee. As a friendship develops between longtime resident John Dodge and new arrival Mary Swanson, the lives of the inhabitants of Middletown intersect in strange and poignant ways in a journey that takes them from the local library to outer space and points between. Middletown, which is modeled after Thorton Wilder’s classic play Our Town, will draw together artists from across the Central Florida community to collaborate on a very special production.
March 9-11, 2023
A Quarter of A Century…and then some! by Beth Marshall Presents: Arius has been on this Earth for A Quarter of A Century…and then some. Throughout his evolutions around the sun he has learned so much, but also has unlearned or recalibrated some of those learnings to fit his morality of understanding them. Through brave exploration, vulnerability, self discovery, reflection, discipline, love and motivation, Arius has found the new hobby of growth. He continually finds ways to improve on himself, do the inner work and share his light and joy. By mixing comedy, drama, rap, R&B, spoken word, dance and songs to share his evolution of growth as a Black queer artist in 2022, Arius tells the story of his 25+ years of what he has learned and unlearned.
March 17-19, 2023
Our Lady of the Tortilla/Nuestra Señora de la Tortilla by Descolonizarte TEATRO: This comedy tells the story of an intergenerational, Latinx family in the U.S. struggling with tradition, culture, language, love, and… each other! Everything changes when the pious tia (aunty) sees the Virgin Mary on a tortilla, and family ties are put to the test. Written by Emmy and National Hispanic Playwright Award Winner, Luis Santeiro. The play is in Spanglish (Spanish and English) with Spanish and English supertitles, and it features live music.
As Beth Marshall noted, “Fringe ArtSpace is the right balance of retro Fringe meets right now. Veteran creators are given a supportive platform with the proper resources to create and produce original work often amplifying underrepresented voices and mentor up-and-coming artists. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this.”
What is the History of Fringe ArtSpace?
Orlando Fringe is taking over the space formerly used by Mad Cow Theatre. Last April, the City of Orlando approved a deal to allow Orlando Fringe to operate at the Church Street property. Mad Cow Theatre was served with an eviction notice last November, and their final season there ended last May.
The city now has a multi-year lease agreement with Fringe for the Church Street space, which will become their permanent home to bring in national touring productions. Mad Cow is now considered defunct, although their website is still seeking donations as they search for a new home for future productions.
What Is Orlando Fringe?
The 2022 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 2022 celebrated its 31th 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 “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.