Fringe Festival Gives Small Acts a Moment in the Spotlight

September 8, 2014

Club Congress at Hotel Congress will host many Fringe Festival shows for 2014. The festival offers small acts a chance to play larger venues.

Club Congress at Hotel Congress will host many Fringe Festival shows for 2014. The festival offers small acts a chance to play larger venues.

by Brad Poole

Being on the fringe is never easy.

There’s always a lot of looking in from the outside, maybe a little longing to be a part of the action or have some action of your own. In performing arts, where small acts have a hard time finding venues, funding, and other support, being on the fringe can be very tough indeed. Some small acts never make it to a stage.

Enter the Fringe Festival, a tradition launched in 1940s Edinburgh, Scotland to help small acts get the attention they deserve. Annual Fringe festivals around the globe help actors, comedians, scriptwriters and other artists get their shows in front of audiences. Tucson’s fourth Fringe Festival is Sept. 12-14 at Club Congress and Fluxx Studio and Gallery, 414 E. Ninth Street, and it’s covering all the bases.

There will be free and paid shows, both day and night. There’s stand-up comedy, a homeless stripper/clown, two plays, and numerous intriguing and thought-provoking performances of song, spoken word and, well, stripper clowns.

“I think they’re just like me. They’re starving artists,” said Dante Celeiro, the self-described crazy executive director of Fluxx. “Small acts have a hard time getting audiences. You never know if an audience is going to show up. Festivals like this, people are going to show up.”

Economy of scale is key to the festival, said Yasmine Jahanmir, a co-founder and organizer of the Tucson festival. She loves being a part of the Downtown action, which has been growing and evolving a lot in recent years. She’s happy to have Fluxx onboard as a host venue.

Fluxx Studio and Gallery, 414 E. Ninth Street (next door to Hotel Coronado just east of the 4th Avenue underpass), is a host venue for the 2014 Tucson Fringe Festival.

Fluxx Studio and Gallery, 414 E. Ninth Street (next door to Hotel Coronado just east of the 4th Avenue underpass), is a host venue for the 2014 Tucson Fringe Festival.

“Maintaining a live performance space Downtown is important,” said Jahanmir, who splits time between Tucson and University of California- Santa Barbara, where she is a Ph.D. theatre student.

And Fluxx, which bills itself as the first and only queer art space in the state, is glad to be aboard, Celeiro said.

“For the past couple years now, I’ve been thinking, ‘Wow. How can I get the Fringe Festival here, because it would be perfect,’” he said. This year, organizers approached him, and he was happy to oblige with Fluxx’s stage, lights, sound system, and other gear that’s all set up on a scale made for small acts.”

The festival also puts money into performers’ pockets. Twenty percent of the proceeds go to the venues, while 80 percent goes directly in artists (often threadbare) pockets.

The festival starts Friday, Sept. 12 with shows at Fluxx and Club Congress, and continues with day and evening shows through Sunday, Sept. 14. Admission requires a Fringe Festival button, available for $2 at the door of each show, and tickets, which are $7 for each paid show. For more information about Fringe Festival, visit the Fringe website. For more information about the non-profit Fluxx, which is available to the general public for booking, find them here on the web. A full schedule of Fringe shows is available here.

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