by Aimee Levitt
Consider yourself warned: St. Lou Fringe is coming back in 2013, from June 20-24. Due to an unfortunate conflict with Pride last summer, the 2012 edition of Fringe was woefully underpopulated, but it still won recognition in the pages of Riverfront Times as the year's Best Theater Festival and its founder and leader, Em Piro, was Best Impresario.
Now's your chance to see what all the hype is about and join in yourself. (And, to review: A fringe festival is a free-form theater festival wherein performers pay a small fee to participate and viewers get to see many shows at once.)
Tomorrow night, January 18, is the Submit to Fringe Party at the Schlafly Tap Room in Midtown, St. Lou Fringe's physical and spiritual home.
The festivities begin at 9 p.m. with musicians, singers and circus performers. At the stroke of midnight, Fringe will begin taking applications for participants in this year's festival, both in person or online. Ten will be selected on the basis of first-come-first-served. Ten will be selected by random lottery. And ten spots will be reserved for performers from outside St. Louis.
The lottery, explains Piro, was instituted to give more acts a fair shot at getting into the festival. "Last year we filled up our slots in less than five minutes," she explains. "This year, we could fill up in less than one. We want to make sure that people aren't disadvantaged by computer glitches and the like, so the random selection will afford a second wave of entries into the festival."
The application process is not the only way Fringe 2013 will differ from the original 2012 model. The show times have been bumped up to an hour. Participation fees have also been bumped up (between $100 and $200, depending on whether the show runs two, three or four days), but this year performers will be able to keep 75 percent of what they make off of ticket sales. (The rest goes to the production staff.)
Fringe-submission isn't just limited to theatrical performances. Piro is also looking for street performers (eg wandering minstrels, magicians, jugglers, burlesque dancers, bicyclists, clowns, etc., etc., etc.) to join in Fringe d'Fringe, the festival's outdoor component. Fringe d'Fringe accepts an unlimited number of artists.
But the main inducement to show up tomorrow night: You may get to see Piro walk on stilts.