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Tucson Fringe Theatre Festival

Tucson steps onto fringe of theatre world

It’s typically edgy, offensive, funny and memorable

Ah, the wacky, wonderful world of fringe theatre. It’s typically edgy, offensive, funny and memorable. This weekend, Tucson joins a growing number of cities worldwide with its own Fringe Festival.

Fringe theatre comes from the same evolutionary path that created off-off Broadway: creative intent struggling for audience and relevance in the face of bigger, well-financed productions. The term came out of the famed Edinburgh International Festival when independent companies and artists, locked out of the mainstream event, created their own festival on its fringe.

As a theatrical/performance movement, fringe has no rules and few guidelines. It seeks its audience with a mix of broader material; mostly shorter forms with multiple performances; and low prices. Subject matter of fringe theatre is original and often extreme; the presentations highly experimental. The timid are forewarned.

The Tucson Fringe Theater Festival is a production of local artist troupe Parasol Project, which has sponsored a growing number of successful arts-oriented events since their founding in 2009. Their statement on fringe theatre says:

Fringe doesn’t curate. Fringe is different. Fringe loves new work. Fringe restores the artist’s creative influence. Fringe doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg. Fringe doesn’t tell you to eat your vegetables. Fringe gives all the money back to the artist. Fringe is a laboratory for ideas. Fringe is the future of performance. Fringe is community. Fringe is awesome.

The opening celebration of the Festival on Wednesday at Old Town Artisans featured performance piece installations; a conceptual performance by Denise Uyehara, accompanied by members of taiko drum group Odaiko Sonora; and a dance work by Jodi Netzer.

The festival itself will feature six works presented multiple times from Thursday through Sunday at a variety of downtown locations.

“A Passion for Christ” is described as a comedy involving “an Artemisian moon priestess, a female hyokah (ceremonial clown,) a Christian minister, and a young girl with an abusive past.” It’s performed under black light with florescent props and makeup. It’s playing at Beowulf Alley Theatre Thursday at 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:15 p.m.; Saturday at 6:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 3:15 p.m..

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“BLOWHOLE” is a genre-mash-up, which “viscerally explores epic fantasy environs through high-energy repetitive physical movement, nonlinear narrative, fantastical soundscapes, and sonic exaggerated breath,” in a decidedly sexually provocative atmosphere. It will play at the Urban Tribe Collective on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:15 p.m.; Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:15 p.m..

“Halloween In America” by local musician and playwright Fish Karma, aka Terry Owens, is a rock opera about the search for transcendence while working nights at a Circle K. Karma will be accompanied by his band, the Love Generation. It will be presented at the Screening Room on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday at 6:30 p.m., and finally, Sunday this time at Beowulf Alley Theatre at 11:45 a.m.

“I Love You (We’re F*#ked) is another genre mash-up, this one created by Kevin J. Thornton. The one-man show combines stand-up comedy, narrative storytelling and original music. Thornton will go from the Tucson festival to the Phoenix Fringe Festival next weekend. Performances will be at the Screening Room on Thursday, at 8:30 pm; Friday at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8:30 p.m.; and a Sunday performance at Beowulf Alley Theatre at 5:00 p.m. to close out the festival.

“Where There’s Smoke” is subtitled “A Serio-Comic True Story in One Act.” It tells the story about when comedian Leslie Abrams woke up with her house on fire. Abrams plays no fewer than 48 characters in the one-woman play. “Where There’s Smoke” is playing at Beowulf Alley Theatre on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 8:15 p.m.; Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:15 p.m.

“White Girl” is an original work by Las Vegas artist Maythinee Washington. It is “an examination of love and hate, race, gender, identity, and self-awareness revealed through the story of a young and silent girl bombarded by voices not her own.” It’s at the Urban Tribe Collective on Thursday at 8:15 p.m.; Friday at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

If you’re looking for a low-cost combination of outrage, originality and laughs this weekend, check out one or more performances of what could be the first annual Tucson Fringe Theatre Festival.

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'I Love You (We’re F*#ked)'

If you go

  • The Tucson Fringe Theatre Festival, sponsored by Parasol Project, Thursday, March 24 through Sunday, March 27.
  • Venues include Beowulf Alley Theatre, 11 S. 6th Avenue; The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress Street; and Urban Tribe Collective, 657 W. St. Mary’s Rd.
  • Individual performances are $10 each. A Festival Pass is also available for $50. Tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com