Go Deeper

New Orleans Fringe calling all (poor) emerging artists with weird, wild, fresh or original works

Posted June 18th, 2010

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve heard of Philly Fringe–but did you know that New Orleans has a Fringe Festival too? Well duh, it’s New Orleans, the First City of Jazz, and home of the freakiest mass performance art there is! (Mardi Gras) The New Orleans Fringe Festival is taking applications for shows until July 1st.

The three year-old festival, which will taken place November 17&endash;21, is a fantastic opportunity for artists, complete with plush amenities. The people at N.O. Fringe care about the festival so much, that executive director Kristen Evans called me from Peru to talk about it. As she puts it, “We want you to take artistic risks, and we’ll take on the financial risks.”

That means that they line up and pay for venues, which range from traditional theaters to “a big, old, gorgeous, 150-year-old church that’s really deteriorating.” There’s also a Bring Your Own Venue option for those with site-specific shows, but you cover the costs. N.O. Fringe also generates publicity–including free advertising and posters–funds tech staff, and splits the box office with you 50/50. Did I mention there’s no performance fee? Plus, last year they let performers camp out in a warehouse half-filled with pianos under construction for $20/week, and this year they have their fingers crossed for free billeting for all artists.

Here’s what they’re looking for: cabaret, comedy, dance, drama, improvisational, magic (New Orleans is a voodoo hotspot after all), multimedia, musical theater, performance art, puppetry, storytelling, variety, burlesque, spoken word, street theater . . . phewph! Shows have to be between 30 and 60 minutes long, and they discourage artists from entering shows that will be produced in New Orleans during the four months before the festival. Your show doesn’t need to be done by the application deadline, but you should be able to provide a very good description of what you’ve got in mind. There’s an application fee of $25, and if you’re selected you must cover your production and travel costs–but after all that free stuff, you can afford Greyhound!

Past works have included an opera, a swamp zombie wedding, and Live Arts and Philly Fringe performer Makoto Hirano’s interdisciplinary dance piece Boom Bap Tourism. “It’s a wonderful time, there are free parties every night after the shows, and we have this great scrappy parade on Saturday which all the performers get involved in,” says Kirsten. “It’s a great way to come and see what’s really one of the ‘fringiest’ cities there is.”

Get your act together, cause applications, which can be found at, are due July 1, 2010. Contact with any questions.

–Ellen Freeman

Photos courtesy of New Orleans Fringe Festival.