St. Lou Fringe Festival | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Lou Fringe Festival

Playwright Shannon Geier (at left) is headlining the 2019 St. Lou Fringe Festival with her play "Check In." Matthew Kerns is the executive director of the festival.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

To describe the St. Lou Fringe Festival as a theater event is something of a misnomer. There are plenty of actors, playwrights and other theater professsionals involved in the annual six-day-long extravaganza that gets underway this Tuesday. But there are also poets, dancers, performance artists, sculptors, burlesque performers and improv acts.

This year’s offerings also run the gamut with pieces by established and experienced playwrights as well as emerging artists and previously untested work. That’s by design, according to organizer Matthew Kerns.

“The idea of a fringe festival is that it is uncensored and unjuried,” the executive director of the festival told St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske on Monday’s show. “We offer opportunity where opportunity is not given anywhere else in this region. So if you have a piece of work that you are passionate about that is very experimental, we are the place for that to be done.”

Brandon Bieber played a number of different roles in the recent touring production of "Something Rotten."
Brandon Bieber

When Brandon Bieber was a toddler, his parents took him to his older sisters’ dance recitals.

Soon, he was riveted to the sight of their sequins and sashays. When a call went out for children to be part of a Westport Playhouse production of “The Phantom of the Opera,” his sister tried out.

“They said, ‘We like her — and we’ll take the boy, too,’” Bieber said.

For more than a decade, Bieber has worked as a Broadway and touring dancer and actor. He’s back in St. Louis to direct a St. Lou Fringe Festival play about a stock-car racer challenging traditional female stereotypes, called “Race Cars and Romance.”

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

“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.

St. Lou Fringe Festival is back for a fifth year, running Aug. 19-27 in Grand Center, and features everything “avant-garde, independent and brand-new” that “you wouldn’t see in other theaters here in St. Louis,” said Matthew Kerns, the festival’s new executive director.

This year’s Fringe features acts from Colorado, Nashville, as well as those native to St. Louis. All the acts are one hour or under.

St. Lou Fringe Festival Left, Em Piro; Middle, Alicen Moser; Right, Joe Hanrahan
Alex Heuer

Four years ago, St. Lou Fringe set out on a “passion project” to create an event that provided a networking platform for emerging artists to gain exposure. The project became known as the “St. Lou Fringe Festival,” which includes 10 days of performances from a diverse variety of art forms, including slam poetry, magic, fashion design and street performance. The overall goal of the organization is to promote St. Louis as a “hotspot for cultural and economic vitality” through arts culture.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Adam Rosen was growing up in St. Louis, he spent a lot of time in support groups. Not for Asperger’s but as a gay teenager. The Asperger’s identity came much later, providing clarity about his other difference: an obsession with composing music.

Looking for offbeat entertainment: It's Fringe time

Jun 13, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 19, 2013 - In bigger cities with more experience with these festivals, those who hear the word “fringe” know to expect something that is a little off the beaten path, a little eccentric, a little different.

That should also be the case with this year’s second annual St. Lou Fringe Festival.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2012 - Only one day after the St. Lou Fringe Festival ended last June, organizers began untangling information gained from the festival and the feedback.

The biggest and possibly only misstep: scheduling it on the same weekend as Pride St. Louis’ annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. That won’t happen in 2013.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 20, 2012 - Both the theater and St. Louis seem reluctant to let go of Em Piro.

When the St. Lou Fringe founder left Seattle for Saint Louis University in 2004, the idea of theater was a fading image in her rearview mirror.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 14, 2012 - St. Louis’ Fringe Festival just got fringe-ier. The response to the city’s first such  theater and other performing arts event was so overwhelming that organizers are giving all comers a chance to show their stuff.

While many of the dozens of Fringe Festivals around the country and the globe take place only inside theater spaces, the St. Lou Fringe is also taking it to the streets with “Fringe de la Fringe” outdoor performances.