What do zombies, a steel pans band and a harp/recorder duet have in common? They were all totally “fringed” out!
Central’s first large-scale Fringe Festival—a collection of fine arts events focused on the performing arts—was held April 24-27 in locations all over campus. Common in many different countries, the festival’s mission was to provide “an exploratory and magnetic environment in which a variety of unique arts can be exhibited through utilization of nontraditional venues.” The Fringe was open to all Central students, alumni and the local community as the student-led festival aimed to promote the arts in all forms.
Ann Wilkinson, instructor of theatre, tasked her Arts Management class in the theatre department with managing every detail of the festival—from forming a mission to organization, marketing and execution.
“Fringe Festivals are popular all over the world, and it had been a topic of conversation for a number of years as to whether we would host one on campus,” Wilkinson says. “It seemed like a good fit for Central as we strive to become a more creative campus, and it is a great way to combine as many of the arts as possible.”
Central has had one-day Fringe Fests in the past, but this year’s events were true Fringe. It was expanded to a four-day festival, and it was open to the public. Pella’s community theatre, The Union Street Players, performed “The Domine’s Wife,” a play about Pella’s founding, and Eric Bridges ’11 wrote and directed the mature play “Drunk Frat Boy vs. The Zombie Apocalypse,” performed by the Theta Kappa Alpha fraternity members. The events ranged from a Celtic musical harpsichord and recorder duet to lip syncs and improv.
All the of the shows were played in nontraditional spaces and were 40 minutes long—music was performed in the Vermeer Science Center, plays were staged in the Matyag UnderGROUND and a drum circle kept the beat around the fire pit on Peace Mall. The changing venues were a hit with performers and audiences alike.
“The talent liked being able to perform in unique spaces,” says Wilkinson. “The students liked being able to see shorter events. They felt like they could take in more of a variety and didn’t have to commit as much time. And they also really liked stumbling across events all over campus!”
Much of the festival revolved around Fringe-style events that were already in the works. Boat races from the Final Fling, as well as the A Cappella Choir’s ROCK-A-PELLA concert, were included among the many events. And if another Fringe Festival runs next year, Wilkinson hopes that more theatre productions can be included.
“Fringe generally involves a lot of theatre, but we didn’t have a lot of theatre with this one,” she says. “With a directing class next year, there could possibly be more student one-acts the next time around.”
Wilkinson plans to form a steering committee of fine arts faculty members, aiming to get all the arts departments involved in the development of another Fringe. But that doesn’t mean the students will be left out. She commends her students for pulling together an excellent project and working together—especially in such a short time frame.
“There were a lot of voices in the class,” Wilkinson explains. “Trying to organize an event in two-and-a-half months with 18 students isn’t easy, but they all found their niche and stepped up and found out what they could contribute and do best. They really rose to the challenge—that was the success story. They all agreed it was really intense and a lot of hard work, but they were really proud of themselves and deservedly so.”