5-day marathon of shows starts April 26
By Jim Flint for Ashland.news
Productions of all kinds and sizes abound at the Oregon Fringe Festival, which will begin its five-day run of unfiltered creative outpourings in Ashland on April 26.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the festival is produced by the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University.
This year’s offerings will include music, theater, visual art, film, and physical theater at numerous live and online venues, featuring more than 40 diverse artists.
Paige Gerhard, festival director, shepherded the event’s reemergence in 2022 after the pandemic interruption.
“Last year’s festival couldn’t have gone better,” she said. “While the biggest challenge was simply not knowing what to expect, it was so rewarding to see our festival producers take so much pride in what they helped bring to life.”
The 2023 edition will feature more than 10 venues, both on the SOU campus and in downtown Ashland.
“In addition, there will be creative work to interact with on our website as well as a couple performances livestreamed via YouTube,” she said.
On tap for 2023
Gerhard highlighted some offerings as examples of what’s on tap this year.
Student artist Rosemary Kesselring will present “A Hobbit’s Tale, or There and Back Again,” a new play based on the classic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.
“While it will stay faithful to the whimsical tone of the book, it will also feature a fresh new take on the story,” Gerhard said.
“Anything Rosemary directs is exciting because she takes an unconventional venue and creates an immersive experience through her use of sound, movement, lighting, props and costumes.”
On the visual arts side, local artist Alex Brehmer will present “Amplifier,” a large-scale collaborative installation of a rabbit head that uses group manifestation as a tool to inspire an open dialogue about what can be changed in the present and how to envision a bright future.
Gerhard said Brehmer’s work has impact because of its size and collaborative nature.
“Viewers will be asked to interact with her installation over the course of the festival,” Gerhard said. “It will be fun to see how it changes and evolves over time.”
Music is an integral part of the festival. Student artist Dean Kyle will present “…and that’s the piece!”, a mini-percussion concert series that uses microwaves, dog duets, finger painting and more in humorous and entertaining ways.
“Using random objects, Dean finds ways to create original musical compositions,” Gerhard said.
Collaboration and creativity
Gerhard, who has been involved with other arts organizations on and off campus, enjoys the collaborative aspect and creative energy she finds in the Fringe Festival.
“What I enjoy most is that it brings together all of the arts — music, theater, visual art, creative writing, film, you name it. And it embraces concepts and ideas that are bold, unconventional, weird and even risky,” she said.
At a fringe festival, there are practically no boundaries in an “anything goes” environment.
“The Oregon Fringe Festival provides a safe and inclusive platform for artists to share the kind of creative work that may not be fitting in a more traditional setting,” she noted.
She believes the festival has a positive impact on the community by helping emerging artists share their work and by encouraging dialogue and new perspectives.
“And since ours is the only fringe festival in Oregon, we’re able to engage and interact with not only local but also regional and nationally renowned artists,” she said.
Go to oregonfringefestival.org to learn about the festival’s 2023 participating artists and their creative work, see a schedule of performances and exhibits, and view archival photos from previous festivals.
Also on the website, fringe festival audience members can participate in the Viewers’ Choice Awards by voting for their favorite performances and exhibits, both live and online.
Reach writer Jim Flint at email@example.com.