ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Fringe Festival, the longest-running theatre festival of its kind, is back and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Last year, festival organizers cancelled the in-person part of the festival due to the effects of COVID-19 and were one of the first Fringe festivals to take their event online in 2020.
This year, with safety measures in place, Orlando Fringe is back in person and gearing up for its anniversary celebration.
The 30th Annual Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival is taking place May 18-31. The event will be held in Loch Haven Park.
“Hearing first-hand from artists about how hard the pandemic has hit them was the biggest driving force in moving forward with our festival this year,” said Fringe Executive Director Alauna Friskics. “Getting artists back on stage while maintaining high standards of safety and sanitation is the top priority for us.”
According to festival organizers, Fringe has welcomed back many of last year’s artists at reduced fees. Fringe is also working on ways the festival is shifting to subsidize their artists.
This year, festival attendees will see changes to some venues. Organizers have reduced the seating capacity in each of the festival’s performance venues to allow for social distancing.
“We are operating in full compliance with safety guidelines. We’re tracking these guidelines day by day to see how many patrons can safely attend each show,” said Friskics. “We want to fill as many seats as we can, but safely.”
Other changes, such as moving some exhibits online, are also being effected to keep people safe.
For the outdoor spaces, there will be marked areas and distanced seating for festival goers. Cocktail service is being offered this year to reduce guest travel. Strict mask-wearing will be enforced as well as extended sanitation and social-distance guidelines, organizers said. Fringe has even hired a COVID Compliance Officer to help give audiences as many opportunities to experience the festival as possible at their individual comfort level.
“We’re also eliminating any items that can be touched and passed around,” said theatre producer Lindsay Taylor. “That means no physical promotional flyers or programs this year.”
“We will come together safely and celebrate,” added Friskics.
Among some of the other changes to this year’s festival are modifications to the Bring Your Own Venue program. BYOVs are area businesses that offer performances in their buildings but are not managed by the festival. This year will say goodbye to some partners and hello to others.
This year, Fringe has announced a new program titled “DigiFringe.” DigiFringe will run from June 4-18, and will record every show at this year’s festival, allowing people to virtually attend Orlando Fringe.
To help fill the venues and raise funds for Orlando Fringe, the organization is asking fans to make a donation by purchasing a cardboard likenesses of themselves that will be placed in the empty seats of reduced-capacity venues. According to festival organizers, prices start at $50 for one cardboard cutout. For an additional fee, perks like multiple cutouts and venue selection are available. Of course, Fringe patrons will be able to take their cutouts home after the festival has ended.
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