Indy Fringe Festival, Pauline Moffat

For some, the annual Fringe Festival is a misnomer. After all, what can be “fringe” about an event that basically takes over a significant chunk of the downtown for an entire month — not to mention the monthly FringeFriday events that have proved a magnet for audiences. In just a few years (the original Fringe was in 2005), the IFF has altered the arts calendar itself, moving it up a few weeks — giving patrons and adventurous theater-goers something exciting to look forward to in August (besides elephant ears).

Pauline Moffat, who was born in Melbourne and grew up in Sydney, Australia, took the Fringe reins last year and saw attendance double. Since then she has expanded the vision to include a film festival, while increasing the visibility of the Fringe with the FringeFriday performances. Also on her list of improvements is to increase the number of street performers, so that Fringe can continue to take over Massachusetts Avenue and beyond with weeks of spirited, creative and downright weird activity. Moffat says also that “this year our goal is to return $l00,000 to the performers.”

For those of you not yet familiar, here’s the briefing: Fringe Festival, based on similar festivals held worldwide, features 10 days of theater, along with a VisualFringe program, a 36-show Youth Theatre, the aforementioned short film festival and free public events. It’s an unjuried and uncensored showcase, and if that isn’t egalitarian enough, 100 percent of the admission revenue goes back to the performers ($76,000 last year). Groups and individuals come from all over the world to perform at Fringe. This year, we can look forward to performers from Minneapolis, Orlando, Los Angeles, New York and unique performances from Italy, Israel, Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Canada. Local theater groups will once again participate, including Arden Theatre and the People’s Playhouse. For Moffat, the biggest delight has been that “IndyFringe has moved so quickly from a local festival … buzz about Indianapolis being such a hospitable city has spread so quickly in the Fringe world.”

Another innovation this year is the first Fringe Festival/NUVO new play contest — the results of which will be announced later this month.

Future plans for the Fringe Fest, according to Moffat, include “working closely with the Canadian Fringe Festival Association and U.S. Fringe Festival Association to develop a 2008 regional touring circuit, which would include Columbus, Ohio and new festivals in Detroit, Mich., Windsor, Mich., and across the border to Ontario … we wish to attract the best in the world to IndyFringe so our local performers and audiences can benefit from the experience.”

Moffat and the Fringefesters are still looking for volunteers. See www.indyfringe.org.

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