The Norfolk Fringe Festival is coming.
It starts Thursday, May 25 and runs through Sunday, May 28 with a diverse group of artists and performances in venues from the Attucks Theatre to Work Release/Commune in the NEON.
Fringe Festivals are nothing new. The first, and most famous, is the giant Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It began in the 1940’s as roving bands of musicians and other artists performed in the streets “round the fringe” of the Edinburgh International Festival. The Edinburgh International Festival continues to bring top classical music, opera, theatre and dance to Scotland each year. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is now the largest art festival in the world.
A Fringe Festival is not so much about the classic. A Fringe Festival is about the original and the unique. Fringe performers work outside the box and sometimes right in the box. True to their street performing roots, the shows are usually shorter, more intimate, rapid-fire and affordable. It is a “performing-arts smorgasbord.” Shows are performed in different types of venues, including the streets.
As part of the Fringe Festival this year, the Virginia Arts Festival and the Chrysler Museum of Art have joined forces to bring painted pianos to the streets of Norfolk for you, and anyone, to play. “Play Me, I’m Yours” was created by British artist Luke Jerram. There are now 1,500 pianos in 50 cities around the world for anyone to play. The pianos will be installed in various locations around Norfolk beginning May 23 to June 4. You can post photos and videos of your performance here. Be part of the Fringe Festival this year.
The Fringe Festival will be presenting a world premiere. “Kept: A Ghost Story,” an original opera by composer Kristin Kuster and librettist Megan Levad, will premier at the Attucks Theatre on Thursday, May 25 with an additional performance on Sunday, May 28.
“Kept” is the 19th-century story of a “wild young woman, the lighthouse keeper she marries, and the dark secrets they share.” JoAnn Falletta will be conducting the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in the beautiful, small Attucks Theatre where you feel that you are right on the stage.
Deborah Henson-Conant is not your mother’s harpist. She does not wear a long skirt, or sit down, or play angel music on her harp. Deborah is a Grammy-nominated “electric harp-virtuoso.” She swings her harp around like a bass guitar, covering rock classics, playing the blues and some “sizzling flamenco.” She can sing and play the harp at the same time. She will be swinging that harp around on Friday, May 26 at the Robin Hixon Theater in the Virginia Arts Festival Building on Bank Street in Norfolk.
A huge hit at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Reduced Shakespeare Company will present “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged)” for three performances from Friday, May 26 – 28 at the Wells Theatre. This is not your English teacher’s Shakespeare. This one moves at “breakneck speed.” It’s full of puns and pratfalls. It’s more Three Stooges than Shakespeare.
The youngest jazz artist every nominated for a Grammy is coming to the Fringe Festival on Saturday, May 27. Joey Alexander started picking out Thelonius Monk tunes when he was 5. By age 11, he was playing the Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals. He is 13 now and bringing his Joey Alexander Jazz Trio to TCC Performing Arts Center for the Fringe Festival.
Matt Lorenz, the Suitcase Junket, will be keeping the roots of the Fringe alive when he brings his one-man band, throat-singing self to Work Release/Commune on Sunday, May 28 at 7:00.
There is his guitar, pulled from a dumpster and polished up to playing, but there are also thrift store forks, bottles, bones, gas cans and shoes in the mix. He is the original eco-friendly musician, on the road and playing “swamp-Yankee” music around the country. Not classical, but classic.
For more information and to buy tickets to this weekend’s Fringe Festival, go to here.