FringePVD Celebrates Art in a Week-Long Festival

When Josh Short decided to join the Fringe fray and include the Creative Capital in the ever-growing list of cities producing annual festivals, he was a reluctant curator. Not wanting to stray too far from his role as Wilbury Group’s Artistic Director, Short was certainly willing to lend his name, his theater and his experience toward jumpstarting an event for new, often offbeat, performance pieces that don’t normally have a home base. With so many theaters and performance options available in Rhode Island alone, it is mind-boggling that we still have several artists who don’t have a niche or a venue for their particular creations. FringePVD addresses that need and, in its second year, Short is still on board and working to expand last year’s boundaries. Motif spoke to Short and Associate Director Kate Kataja in order to get an update on what to expect from FringePVD 2015.

MOTIF: Tell me something about FringePVD 2015 that’s not in the press releases.

Kate Kataja, Associate Director, FringePVD: Something that isn’t in the press release … hmm … well, this year we have an incredibly varied collection of performance, which we’re very excited about. There is everything from fabric sculpture to a Shakespeare/Where the Wild Things Are mashup to performance being created in real time, covering the mediums of dance, theater, music, spoken word, mixed media, performance art and more.

MOTIF: What are your thoughts on how this year has developed from last year’s FringePVD debut?

Josh Short, Executive Director, FringePVD: The major change between this year and last is the creation of the steering committee. Last year it was basically myself and Steven Pennell (from URI Providence) muscling our way through the planning process by ourselves. When we started planning this year’s festival we knew we wanted to put together a committee made up of performing artists, venue stakeholders and leaders from the local arts community who would not only help to share the workload, but bring important new points-of-view to the festival as a whole. With their support, the planning process has been much smoother, and it’s enabled the rest of the staff to pursue new ideas (like the Family Fringe Festival, and site-specific performances at The Dean Hotel) that we wouldn’t have had time to pursue otherwise.

KK: It’s really inspiring to not only see the caliber of artists that the growing national attention of this festival has attracted, but even more so, the increased number of local artists we are able to support and highlight this year. FringePVD has doubled in size (both in number of participating venues and number of participating artists) from its first year, and that is due in no small part to the dedication and hard work of everyone involved, and the support from the city of Providence. I think that the anticipated success of this year’s festival is two-fold: it clearly shows the interest from a strong community like ours in celebrating art of all kinds and the artists who make it, and Josh’s unwavering vision and desire to help support those artists. It’s because of that passion and vision that people like me are involved this year. You don’t have to put in that last sentence … Okay, you can tell Josh I said that, I don’t mind!

MOTIF: What are you, personally, most excited about this time around?

KK: I’m most excited about all the new things we have this year: pop-up performances, Family Fringe Day and site-specific performances at The Dean Hotel. I think these additions make our festival even more exciting and unique. I’m also really thrilled that our community will get to experience so many different kinds of art and artists throughout the week that they might not normally get to see. That’s what FringePVD is all about — providing artists a platform on which to show their work, and giving audiences the opportunity to see that work in a truly affordable and accessible way.

And, although events such as the Out of the Box Festival occur in Boston, FringePVD is still the only true Fringe event of its kind in the area. July 21 – 25 will bring a dizzying array of performances in venues such as the AS220 Black Box, Aurora, The Wilbury Group, Mathewson Street Black Box Theater, Chifferobe Atelier, The Avenue Concept, Peace and Plenty Park, URI Downtown campus and many others.

One of the most intriguing (or the creepiest) may be at The Dean Hotel downtown, in Room 212, specifically. From July 22 – 25 at 8pm, you can see Where the Wild Things Are by Andrew Polec. The event description simply states “Max, upset with his mother, ventures to Where the Wild Things Are to find murder, Shakespeare, betrayal and ultimately, himself.”

If such intimate surroundings give you pause, you can take in another round of Roadhouse: The Musical (July 21) or IS/ISN’T by Antonio Forte and Paul M. Cote (July 25) at the spacious Wilbury Theatre on Broad St. The choices are many and one can either plan ahead and map out a route of performance places and times, or simply stumble across whatever happens over the course of the week. Either way, there is something for everyone and even some things for those who feel as if they don’t quite fit in with anyone.

FringePVD 2015 is presented by The Wilbury Theatre Group, in collaboration with URI Providence Campus and with support from the Providence Tourism Council and Motif magazine. Performances begin with an opening celebration at Aurora on Monday, July 20 and continue through Saturday, July 25. For a complete listing of performances, visit fringepvd.org.

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