Thursday, December 15, 2011

it. goes. LIVE.


The streets of St. Louis will transform into a stage for the ST. LOU FRINGE Festival for the first time this summer. Slated for the last weekend of June 2012, the first annual St Lou Fringe Festival will take to the streets on the fringes of Grand Center, and in the Locust Business District.

The festival will be a five-day immersion in cutting edge performing arts, connecting brave artists with bold audiences. Organizers expect to welcome over one hundred performances by thirty local and national companies. "We are excited to see passionate artists converge to create an explosive pressure cooker of artistic expression," says festival Executive Director Em Piro.

Characterized by their original, accessible, uncensored and rapid-fire nature, and because of the enormous success of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Fringe Festivals having been popping up around the globe. With the founding of ST. LOU FRINGE, St. Louis will join the ranks of metropolitan cultural hotspots like New York, LA, New Orleans, Orlando, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City. St Lou Fringe is a member of the United States Association of Fringe Festivals.

Piro sees the need for fringe productions in ­St. Louis. “The response to the festival has been inspiring, even this early,” she says. “We've been approached by artists, patrons, and arts organizations eager to get involved – even people overhearing us at our planning meetings. It just assures me that St. Louis is ready and ripe for a major, collaborative arts event like this.”

Fringes are traditionally considered theater festivals, but often also include dance, music, comedy, slam/spoken word, performance art, fashion, vaudeville, burlesque, or circus arts. Patrons can pop into half-a-dozen shows on any given night to experience something new while street performers roam the festival grounds. “We want a true festival atmosphere,” says Piro. Crowds are entertained with fire dancing, aerial arts, music, poetry, guerrilla theater, urban break-dancing, capoeira, juggling, street improv, or anything else that will dazzle spectators.

Grand Center and the Locust Business District are partnering for the first time to host the Fringe Festival. “We wanted to work with both Grand Center and the Locust Business District because of the opportunity for creative and economic growth, and so that we could literally be on the fringes of the ‘Intersection of Art and Life,’” says Piro. The event boasts an unusual variety of performance spaces. Four central venues will anchor the festival grounds while restaurants, bars, shops, small businesses and street corners also become stages.

Piro has teamed up with some of the city’s most influential arts enthusiasts to create Fringe on St. Louis soil. She is the co-founder of the theatre collective Glass Monsters, a St. Patrick Center counselor and the 2008 recipient of the Grand Center Visionary Award for Outstanding Young Artist. Planning Committee members include Steve Isom (founder of the Kevin Kline Awards), Joe Hanrahan (Marketing Director of The Black Rep), Billy Croghan (founder of the St. Louis Songwriter’s Association), Tara Daniels (STLTV), Dianna Thomas (The Chapel: Sanctuary for the Arts, Glass Monsters), Robert Strasser (The Tin Ceiling Theatre), Luke Lindbergh (Flux Art/Theatre), Phillip Allen Coan (independent director), Andrew Miller (independent artist), and Carolyn Schopp (St. Patrick Center).  Committee advisors include Katie Kappel (Locust Business District), Travis Howser (Grand Center, Inc), Rachel Tibbetts (Prison Performing Arts, Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble), Ed Reggie (St. Louis (improv) Festival), Todd Schaeffer (The WAPP), Kyle Cunningham (Code Incarnate Technologies), Chi-Wen Lee (independent artist), John Corbett (St. Louis Busking Festival) Christy Timberlake (independent designer), and Amy Ziegler (legal counsel). Organizations partnered with the festival to date include Grand Center, Inc, Locust Business District, Circus Flora and Fractured Atlas.

Local and national performers are encouraged to apply early for a space at the festival. Whether you are a seasoned pro or an untapped talent, now is the time to unveil the show you’ve been dreaming about. Like other USAFF and CAFF festivals, ST. LOU FRINGE is 100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible. Open submissions begin at midnight on January 15. Applications and guidelines can be found on the website.

STLF needs the support of arts patrons and local businesses to make the festival a success. St. Louis businesses and organizations are asked how they could partner effectively and creatively with STLF to nurture our creative economy together. Potential donors and sponsors are encouraged to contact Em Piro at 314-643-7853(STLF). St Lou Fringe is a registered non-profit with the State
of Missouri.

For more information, please visit

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For press inquiries, contact
Em Piro
St. Lou Fringe Executive Director

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