After taking a year off, the New York International Fringe Festival has announced it will return in October 2018 in a smaller capacity.
FringeNYC, which was founded in 1997, was renowned for its sprawl — its last iteration featured 193 shows across 16 venues in downtown Manhattan. But now Elena K. Holy, FringeNYC’s producing artistic director and one of its founders, hopes to shrink the festival to one location, and in the process cut the number of shows by more than half.
“We’d really like to bump up the festival feeling and the opportunity to gather,” Ms. Holy said in an interview. “Our fantasy festival is a street closure, with all the venues on one block, and the opportunity to drink a beer with our playwrights.”
Ms. Holy is the festival’s only full-time employee, and took the year to regroup and explore options for the festival’s future. The festival has kick-started successful shows like “Urinetown” in years past, but some critics have contended that the shows vary too widely in quality.
Ms. Holy reaffirmed the festival’s commitment to underserved artists (“We look for artists who don’t have opportunity elsewhere,” she said) while acknowledging that the selection process will be more competitive.
A long-term home for the festival has yet to be found. Ms. Holy is looking for a space that ideally would have eight to 10 venues and an outdoor section. “If Jersey City wants us, maybe that’s where we end up,” she said.
But while the festival looks for a centralized home, there are also plans for partnerships throughout the city and the country. The 2018 festival will offer the chance for outer-borough venues to put on official FringeNYC satellite shows. And by 2019, Ms. Holy hopes to forge alliances with Fringe Festivals across the country, so that each one sends a particularly worthy play to the next FringeNYC.
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