St. Lou Fringe going to new lengths in its fifth year | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Lou Fringe going to new lengths in its fifth year

Jan 7, 2016

Five-year-olds are known for their openness to new experiences and their steady growth. In its fifth year, the St. Lou Fringe festival is no different.

As the Fringe gears up for 2016, it’s adding new events and positioning itself as a five-month-long series rather than a nine-day festival.

The first event, in April, involves Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and the Gateway Burners, a local organization associated with Nevada’s Burning Man festival. The Fringe is still finalizing the details of that collaboration.

In May, the Fringe will hold its annual Five-Fifths event, a multimedia retelling of a story such as 2014's "Alice in Wonderland." The next month, the organization will debut an artists' salon.

Em Piro founded St. Lou Fringe, which debuted in 2012.
Credit Allan Crain

Em Piro is founder of the Fringe. She said the salon — in connection with the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis — brings together different kinds of artists to improvise in front of a crowd.

“So it might be like a musician and an actor, or a deejay and an opera singer, and they come together and create something totally new and fresh and original in this kind of improvised workshop setting,” Piro said.

The annual “Act Your Pants Off” audience-participation event will take place in July, with the festival in Grand Center to follow August 19-27. The change from its former June slot is partially in response to a later start date for the Shakespeare Festival.

City’s changes fuel the Fringe

Over the past five years, St. Louis has deepened its groove as the kind of place that’s just right for a successful Fringe, according to Piro.

We're all just kind of spiraling into this big, wonderful, rich place to live. - St. Lou Fringe founder Em Piro

An increase in startup businesses is part of that environment. Even St. Louis’ challenges, including the death of Michael Brown and responses to the shooting, have helped create an area where experimental art can flourish.

“There’s a real kind of movement of investment in our city and in our identity and a lot of kind of self-examination,” Piro said.  

Piro said the shift goes hand in hand with growth in the local arts community.

“We’re all just kind of spiraling into this big, wonderful, rich place to live,” she said.

The Fringe will begin accepting submissions for performances on March 9. Piro said the organization is always open to fresh input.

‘We invite people to share with us what their idea of Fringe is, in St. Louis,” Piro said.

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL