Rochester’s first annual Fringe Festival, set to run Sept. 19-23, is not a bunch of hippy-dippy wackos, we’re told. It’s much, much more. Artists and performers have taken Rochester up on a unique chance to show this fine city what they’re made of, with a set of unique acts, ranging from local musical talents like Moho Collective, to nationally acclaimed performers like Comedian Patton Oswalt (which this NextGen member has front row seats for.) In the span of five days, more than 200 performers will grace Rochester’s East End with their creative presence.
We asked one of NextGen’s own, Jennifer Galvez Caton, what’s in store for folks at this amazing inaugural festival. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: Where did the idea for the Fringe Fest come from?
A: In 1947, eight theatre groups turned up – uninvited – to perform at the newly established Edinburgh International Festival. The groups performed at venues they arranged themselves. The following year, Scottish journalist Robert Kemp coined the term “fringe festival” to describe these renegade performers. Today, there are more than 200 fringe festivals worldwide, with approximately 20 existing within the United States. Each fringe festival is a creative and economic engine for its host communities. For example, last year the Edinburgh Fringe saw 41,689 performances of 2,542 shows in 258 venues lasting the entire month of August. It grosses over $100 million annually for the Scottish economy.
Q: How did you come to get involved, and what is your role?
A: Initially, I was approached by Erica Fee, the producer of the First Rochester Fringe Festival, who brought it to my attention nearly a year and a half ago. As an active director-at-large for TheatreROCS, I was approached to be one of two venue coordinators at the Xerox Auditorium for the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival and happily accepted. TheatreROCS is a culmination of twenty-two theater companies in and around the Rochester area, that came together to form an umbrella 501(c) non-profit organization which formed in 2009. I am very proud to be a member. (For more info, visit http://www.theatrerocs.org/)
Q: How does the Fringe Fest connect with NextGen, and why is it a good opportunity for NextGeners?
A: I believe that both the Fringe Fest and NextGen have similar missions and goals by “pooling their contributions together, emerging leaders/artists are given a seat of influence in greater Rochester and are able to create an impact far greater than each could individually.” Both organizations want to serve Rochester non-profits by providing a voice, so that everyone may be heard whether artistically or just by spreading their message to the masses.
Q: What is the hope for this year’s Fringe Fest?
A: I do not feel I am at liberty to speak on the Fringe Festival’s behalf but allow me to speak on behalf of TheatreROCS. I can tell you that TheatreROCS, as an organization, hopes to continue to perform memorable theatrical moments that one can only experience uniquely through live theater. We hope that the tradition of performing on stage with the Rochester Fringe Festival will continue and become a strong partnership for years to come.
Q: Can you give us an idea of the wide range of performers folks will have to look forward to this year?
A: You couldn’t get any more of a diverse variety than the Rochester Fringe Festival’s headliners. This Friday, Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall, the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir will perform. They are America’s premier gospel choir and have performed around the globe for 25 years. In fact, this will be the choir’s only performance in upstate New York this year. Tickets are $10 to $40.
On Saturday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. also in Kodak Hall, Patton Oswalt, an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and voice actor known for roles such as Spencer Olchin in the popular sitcom “The King of Queens,” and voicing Remy from the film Ratatouille is scheduled to appear on Saturday night (Tickets: $15 to $55).
Finally, almost a half-million people on five continents have seen Bandaloop perform its highly-physical, dynamic choreography, suspended from climbing ropes attached to buildings, bridges, skyscrapers and cliffs. The best part is some of the shows are free!
Q: What kinds of acts will be included?
A: If you want my personal suggestions, I highly recommend Kasha Davis in “There’s Always Time for a Cocktail.” It’s a new work, based on the life of author Ed Popil (aka Rochester’s Mrs. Kasha Davis). It uses stories and songs to explore Popil’s transformation from a young boy in Scranton, PA, to “International Celebrity Housewife Mrs. Kasha Davis”, the star of “The Producers” and “Big Wigs”.
Then there is PUSH Physical Theatre mixes mime, modern dance and gymnastics. PUSH even plans to premier a new work.
Finally, Rochester Community Players, a home organization for the Shakespeare Players of Rochester will perform an excerpt from this past summer’s production of Richard III. These are all phenomenal productions and all three are at the TheatreROCS Venue, Xerox Auditorium!
Q: What has the response been so far? What are people saying about this idea?
A: From what I have heard through the grapevine, the response has been generally positive. It is always exciting when an event of this magnitude appears in our hometown.
Q: What has been the most exciting part about being involved?
A: Being part of something much greater than me and knowing the satifaction that comes with a community changing event like the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. It makes me feel like I am doing significant good just by volunteering and bringing awareness of all these uniquely talented artists to everyone in our local area.
(We think you’re doing a great job, Jennifer!)
Q: Where can people find out more?
Well, what are you waiting for? Go check it out today.