ORLANDO – It’s never too early to start thinking Fringe.
While it’s true that the annual event known as the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival won’t be launched until next May, the applications for that two week festival go live on Saturday.
And this year’s Orlando Fringe – which is heading into its 22nd year – will be offering some unique changes and new opportunities for the artists, said the event’s executive producer, Michael Marinaccio
“This year, we have new venues and a new lottery system,” he said.
Marinaccio, a veteran of 17 Fringe shows, was hired by the festival’s board of directors last October to become its new producer, replacing Beth Marshall, who is now the producing artistic director of Beth Marshall Presents.
To find her replacement, the Orlando Fringe Board of Directors set up an advisory panel that included volunteers, staff, artists and audience members who were recruited to help develop the role of the next producer.
Marinaccio decided to apply for the job because he’s been a part of Central Florida’s theater community, and Fringe, for so very long – and got the job.
His first Orlando Fringe last May as the director turned out to be the most profitable one in the event’s long history. The 21st annual Orlando Fringe had 65 sell-out shows, returned 100 percent of the box office receipts to the artists, and paid out more than $251,000 to the performers, a record.
Orlando Fringe just announced it would be expanding, offering three new venues, including Theatre Downtown on Princeton Avenue and The Venue, an 85-seat theater on Virginia Drive. Fringe will also be using the McLaughlin Studio, a rehearsal room on the second floor of the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, the main hosting building for this event.
Marinaccio said he’s also introducing a new lottery system this year. Anyone interested in applying for Fringe 22 needs to submit their applications by Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. The public Lottery will be held Nov. 19.
In past years, artists were asked which venue they wanted to apply for. This year, Marinaccio said, they’re doing things a bit differently.
“We’re going to do first, second and third choice on venues,” he said. That means artists still have a chance of getting into their second or third choice if the first one fills up quickly.
“The prices have changed,” Marinaccio said, of the cost to rent the individual theater spaces available at Fringe, the main expense that artists pay to Orlando Fringe.
“I wanted to even out the rates, so it’s easier for the artists to apply for all three,” he said. “They pay for the highest price venue they apply for and get into.”
Orlando Fringe is also offering a $200 early-bird discount on two of the spaces, the Silver and Orange venues, and $100 on all others for applications received by Sept. 15.
Although most Fringe shows are timed at an hour or less, 90-minute shows can be performed in the Silver and Orange venues, as well as the new Theatre Downtown option.
In addition, “We are also selling deeply discounted artists ads for the 2013 program,” said the festival’s manager, George Wallace.
Marinaccio said this is all part of their effort to make Orlando Fringe a more accessible and attractive event for artists and producers.
“We’re trying to become even more artistcentric than we are now,” he said. “We wanted to be accessible. Accessibility is a part of our mission.”
Orlando Fringe is the oldest Fringe Festival in the United States, celebrating its 22nd consecutive year next May, and is a member of the U.S. Association of Fringe Festivals and the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals.
Marinaccio said with the Fringe’s impressive box office strength last spring, “We are doing much better than past years with our sponsors, and we think this will be the best Fringe yet.”
Complete application guidelines and venue descriptions are available at www.orlandofringe.org, and questions can be directed to Producer@OrlandoFringe.org.
In the meantime, Marinaccio said, those applications are just about ready to be filled out.
“Saturday is the big day,” he said.
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