Just a few years ago, I was hardly familiar with the Fringe Festival. Now #RocFringe is in its 5th year and it’s probably my favorite festival in Rochester, the one I anticipate most eagerly. I’ve actually been to this festival for 4 out of its 5 years of existence, so I’m pretty pleased with myself for getting onboard with Fringe early!
I remember dancers flying around on the side of buildings in September 2015. I remember watching a giant tricycle covered in steampunks and surrounded by stiltwalkers slowly rolling through MLK Park in September 2014. #rocfringe13 doesn’t feel as close and familiar to me, but I know I went because I wrote it on my calendar!
#rocfringe16 was truly one for the books! I wrote a Yelp review of it, but this post is going to be a deeper dive. I was especially hyped up for it this year’s festival because I had the privilege of interviewing their creative director, Matt DeTurck, for I Heart ROC. I felt like I had a sneak peak at Fringe and was super excited for the festival as a result!
This year I went to 10 Fringe events! 10! I’m astounded at my own Fringeyness! My #rocfringe16 experience was comprised of:
- The opening night Launch Party (quite epic!), which I was invited to because of my work with I Heart ROC.
- Cirque de Fringe: Miracle Cure
- The Yellowjackets
- Brawling Bard’s “A Dream of Midsummer”
- Ruts! The Oregon Trail Experience
- Hands Full of Shakespeare
- Spooky Stories in the Stacks
- Remote Rochester
A little bit of everything! Fantastic live music, plenty of Shakespeare, and an existential walk through my city. While Rochester is certainly a city with plenty of culture- arts, music, and theatre, galore- Fringe pushes it to the next level! It’s all the ultra-quirky, eccentric stuff that you don’t normally get to see, and that often winds up being the stuff I appreciate the most.
I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here. Cirque de Fringe was impeccable. I couldn’t wrap my head around how fabulous it was! It was hilariously funny- when I left I seriously struggled to remember the last time I had laughed so hard. Plus, there were incredible feats of strength by talented female acrobats, an amazing plate spinner, and even a cute baby on stage! I’d highly recommend whatever cirque show ends up in the beautiful Spiegeltent. It’s sure to astonish and impress you!
The KOPPS show was basically the embodiment of the one hundred emoji. KOPPS was perfection. Parcel 5 was an epic venue. It had cleared out a bit by the time KOPPS took the stage, but their performance was still powerful and fun. Patricia & co. killed it. They even played some new songs, which were fantastic! Usually when a band plays a new song I’m a bit sad, since you can’t sing along, but I really enjoyed all of the new stuff and was psyched to get to hear it.
Brawling Bard’s performance was an unexpected fave! That’s the wonderful thing about Fringe Festival- you tend to go into things without knowing too much, so it’s easy to be pleasantly surprised! I figured hey, it’s Shakespeare and my dad wants to go, so I’m in. This theatre troupe infused Shakespeare with tons of of comedy. I got to be a fairy for Titania, so that was pretty cool too! I won’t give away too much about this one since I imagine they take a similar approach with most of their performances. Suffice it to say if you see Brawling Bard perform, they WILL make you laugh!
While we’re in the vein of sheer silliness, Ruts! The Oregon Trail experience was absolutely ridiculous…and awesome. This had a unique venue, too–the theatre at the Strong Museum! Don’t expect a high production value or superbly polished performance if you happen to catch Ruts! on the road. What you can expect, though, is goofy songs, off-key singing and ukulele strumming, and characters spontaneously falling over due to typhoid or broken legs. Plus, steak pillows. Yes, you read that correctly. Raw and cooked. If you played Oregon Trail as a kid, this will definitely bring you back to your childhood.
Last but not least…let’s talk about Remote Rochester.
Remote Rochester has been a thing of mystery to me. I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t heard much about it. People are pretty good about keeping the secrets of it so newbies can enjoy the full experience when they go for the first time. All I knew when we bought our tickets was that we’d be wandering around with headphones on and a voice in our heads telling us some existential stuff.
That turned out to be a pretty accurate perception, actually. What I didn’t expect, though, was to ride an RTS bus for the first time, to become an audience member in a play, a member of a horde, then a herd, to do ballet in a nearly empty building, to race down a city block, or to form silent friendships with people I’d never met, whose names I still do not know.
Our group leader indicated that we were on the very last Remote Rochester ever. It sounds like it’s being discontinued so the festival can continue to keep things fresh and new. Nonetheless, I’ll avoid spoilers and specifics just in case they ever revive it for a limited run. I’ll just share a few photos so you can have a sense of what this philosophical journey through the city was like.
#RemoteRochester was the happy conclusion of our #rocfringe16 experience. I sure hope this festival continues to thrive, because I think it injects the city with some of our crucial fuel- creativity, energy, passion, and enthusiasm. We have this in leaps and bounds, but Fringe is a wonderful exhibition of these traits. Long live Fringe!