The deadline to apply to be part of the first annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival is rapidly approaching.
Founder and Executive Director Dan Stiker said Fringe celebrates theatre that is bizarre, challenging, and obscure.
“It started in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 and has since become an international movement of theatre that’s … not seen on the main stages that you’d typically see theatre on,” said Stiker.
Unlike many theatre festivals, Fringe is unjuried. Neither Stiker nor any other organizer decides which theatre pieces will make it into the festival. Instead, the pieces are chosen randomly from a large pool of applicants.
Stiker said he participated in New York’s Fringe when he lived there, and since moving to Pittsburgh, he’s been biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to launch a local version of the festival.
“I always wanted to do a Fringe (in Pittsburgh), but I never thought the time was totally right,” said Stiker. “Because of the type of shows that are in Fringe, you need the audience to do that, as well as the companies in the area.”
Stiker said audiences can expect to see a variety of solo and ensemble performances, as well as some dance and comedy. He said many of the pieces are still in the “workshop” stage, meaning they aren’t yet in a final form, but that the actors, writers, and directors are looking for audience feedback.
“Most of the time the people that come to see Fringe shows are adventurous, so they want to see basically the diamond in the rough,” said Stiker.
Stiker said at least one successful musical has gotten its start at Fringe.
“One of the more famous Fringe shows that has made it to Broadway was the musical called Urinetown,” said Stiker. “It actually started out as a Fringe show in New York.”
The festival will be held during two the first two weekends in May at various venues in Shadyside. Stiker said the entire festival will feature at least twenty theatre pieces, and that the first weekend is made up entirely of seated readings of theatrical works.
Applications to participate in the first annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival are due January 1st, and can be submitted through the festival website.