The Virginia Arts Festival is adding a Fringe Festival this year to include venues across the campus of Old Dominion University.
The first VAF Fringe at ODU will be Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24. There will also be VAF Fringe Festival in Norfolk May 15 – 20.
The original Fringe Festival started in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Artists outside the classical mainstream performed “on the fringe” of the famous Edinburgh International Arts Festival. Today the Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, inviting performers from around the world to experiment, provoke and inspire.
Cullen Strawn, executive director for the arts at ODU, says, “A fringe festival is an opportunity to question hegemony and to celebrate expressive intelligence in all its forms.” Strawn is at the hub of all visual and performing arts at ODU. He has advanced degrees in folklore and ethnomusicology, the study of music in a cultural context. His current instruments of choice are the old time fiddle and banjo. He facilitates all of the arts, both visual and performing, in multiple tiers of programming, for both the campus and surrounding communities in Hampton Roads.
Strawn is excited that ODU is partnering with the VAF on this Fringe Festival. “The Virginia Arts Festival is one of the premiere arts organizations in the Commonwealth, and its mission involves bringing first-rate artists, fostering new works, and making a positive impact in Hampton Roads through partnerships and cultural tourism. It is important for both organizations to work together in areas where these aims align in order to benefit local economies, visitors and residents.”
The VAF and ODU have been meeting for over a year to select the artists, events and venues for the VAF Fringe at ODU. “Universities should value diversity, inclusion and equity and maintain awareness of cultural production occurring throughout the world. Our programming should reflect and probe these values across the arts.”
The VAF Fringe at ODU will have an interesting mix of “witty and bold,” diverse, experimental, folk, funny, bluegrass and a whole lot more, all in venues around ODU, including the Goode Theater and the Gordon Art Galleries. Many of the events are free or at reduced cost to students.
Founded in 1988, the Neo-Futurists are “one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in the US.” They have performed their “roller coaster” two-minute plays at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. “There is music, dancing, mess-making, joke-telling, confessing and everything in between.”
On Friday, March 23, After Jack Americana Trio will bring their “hot folk from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains” to the Fringe at ODU.
Cullen Strawn is excited about this performance. “After Jack will bring the clawhammer banjo – which everyone needs more of.” The three women blend bluegrass, gospel and folk music.
There will be a Silent Disco on Friday, March 23, with a rain date on Saturday, March 24 at Brock Commons on the ODU Campus. This event is free to all. Choose your DJ and track, pop on the earphones, adjust your audio level and dance to your beats or nix the earphones and enjoy the dancing.
Last but not least, Hampton Roads’ own B.J. Griffin will be performing on Saturday, March 24.
Griffin played in the Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra and has opened for Lauryn Hill, Smash Mouth and Lionel Richie. He is known for his “soulful groove, classical grounding and souring voice.” You can’t miss an artist who samples Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” while playing the cello.
For more information about the VAF Fringe at ODU and to purchase tickets, go to here. Free event parking will be available in Garage D located on 45th Street on the north side of the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of ODU.
For more information about the arts at ODU, go to here.