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Louisville Fringe Fest Attempts To Combine Equity And Theatre

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Louisville Fringe Fest is a 5-day showcase of a variety of theatrical performances.

They include one-person plays, found footage-style productions, shadow fighting and a live podcast recording. 

One performance, “PM txt show (on the internet)” will feature an artist performing via Zoom. Audience members will be able to respond to the performer in real time with text messages that the artist reacts to as a part of the show.

While organizers do suggest a $5 donation, payment is not required to attend.

“If you can pay it, awesome, if you can pay more, awesome, but if you can pay a dollar or 50 cents or nothing, we’d rather have you in the audience than not in the audience,” said Allie Fireel, the artistic director for Louisville Fringe Fest. 

There is also a full festival pass that includes entry to all public shows and access to one that won’t be available to other festival-goers.

The pay-what-you-can model is a part of Louisville Fringe Fest’s goal of making theatre more equitable for audience members. And on the artist side of things, the festival is open to works that might not otherwise be considered complete. 

“For us in Louisville Fringe, and this is not the dominant mode for doing fringe in other places, it is about developing artists, or rather allowing artists to develop themselves on our stage,” Fireel said. 

Louisville Fringe Fest didn’t require artists to pay a submission fee to participate in the festival.

Fireel and other organizers hope it means more people will be able to showcase their work on stage. 

“We need to remove the barriers that keep people off the stage and out the audience,” said Fireel.

Beyond making Fringe Fest accessible, Fringe organizers hope to bring attention to the local theatre scene in Louisville at large.

“Louisville Fringe doesn’t see other theatre, other performance or other art as competition,” said Fireel, “Our competition is people who think theatre isn’t for them.”

They hope that by making Fringe as open as possible, that other forms of theatre in the city will begin to feel equally accessible.

When organizers began planning for this year’s festival, they had to do it with the mindset that it might not happen due to COVID-19.

Now, with positivity rates back on the rise and Jefferson County officially back in critical spread status, organizers are asking that artists and attendees wear masks. Neither the festival nor the venue are mandating masks.

Louisville Fringe Fest runs through Sunday night at Planet of the Tapes.

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