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'It’s totally wild, but it’s worth it': St. Lou Fringe Fest curates local, national independent art

Madelyn Boyne, Matthew Kerns and Omega Jones are involved in the 2018 St. Lou Fringe Fest.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
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Left, Madelyn Boyne, Matthew Kerns and Omega Jones are involved in the 2018 St. Lou Fringe Fest.

“You can kind of do whatever you want, and it’s still art, it’s just not what people would see as mainstream,” actor Omega Jones said about the 2018 St. Lou Fringe Festival on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

The festival brings together independent performing arts such as theatre, dance, storytelling, burlesque, visual art and more for a 10-day event beginning Wednesday, Aug. 15. Host Don Marsh discussed the upcoming event with Jones, Madelyn Boyne, managing director of the company Whale of the People, and Matthew Kerns, executive director of the festival.

“The [fringe] movement, I think, is so important because we’re celebrating freedom of expression and freedom of speech, and giving a stage over to people who are making independent art across the land,” Kerns said.

As the local fringe scene has been active for seven years, Kerns said events like St. Lou Fringe take place all over the country.

“We see our local artists come to our fringe festival and we see other artists from other fringes around the country come to us as well,” Kerns added.

Jones plays a role in “The Gringo,” a St. Lou Fringe Festival musical headliner produced by Fly North Music. He said it touches on themes that are “real” and that others may shy away from, such as police brutality.

“It focuses on a white guy who comes into the area of Overtown in Miami,” Jones said, mentioning several other characters as well. “It’s all through their eyes and his white, gringo eyes … And it’s something I haven’t had the chance to be able to do before because most shows don’t talk about these things and they don’t talk about them in the depth that they deserve.”

Boyne, who’s involved with the production of “Perennial Growth,” said the dialogue-free show is “completely music-driven” and revolves around a plant created by scientists to solve the issue of climate change.

“The plant overtakes people, and eventually other plants and animals, and becomes sentient, so it’s kind of a wild concept,” Boyne said, attributing the storyline to her brother, Augie Boyne, who composed the entire show.

Kerns also referred to a visual and aural production of Jackson Pollock’s titled “Pollock: A Frequency Parable” as “the most out-there” show scheduled for this year’s festival.

“It’s totally wild, but it’s worth it,” Kerns said.

Related Event
What: 2018 St. Lou Fringe Festival
When: Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 through Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018
Where: Various locations in Grand Center
More information

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Caitlin Lally is thrilled to join St. Louis Public Radio as the summer production intern for "St. Louis on the Air." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Caitlin also freelances for area publications like Sauce Magazine and the Belleville News-Democrat. In her career, she's covered topics such as Trump's travel ban, political protests and community activism. When she's not producing audio segments or transcribing interviews, Caitlin enjoys practicing yoga, seeing live music, and cooking plant-based meals.

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