Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival

The local community is invited to celebrate Salt Lake City’s thriving performing arts scene at the fifth annual Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival (GSLF) opening night party Thursday, Aug. 1, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Gateway.

The opening night party is the perfect time to for the public to pick up a festival schedule and get to know the artists, and there’ll be live music, food trucks, previews of the Fringe shows, and loads of other fun.

We spoke with festival director Jay Perry about what’s in store for the event:

1) How would you describe the Fringe Festival to someone that's never been before?

We’re a multi-day performing arts festival in the heart of Downtown SLC at the Gateway, where artists from Utah and beyond come together to tell their stories. Our shows encompass theatre, dance, music, magic, comedy, and more. The Great Salt Lake Fringe is uncensored, unadjudicated, and unrestricted. Artists hold the power, and have the opportunity to create art that matters to them.

2) What are you particularly excited about that's new this year?

I'm very excited to continue our relationship with the Gateway, which began last year. Our opening weekend coincides with the Beer and Food Truck Festival which brings an extra level of energy and traffic to the Gateway. We have a wonderful group of mostly-local artists performing this year, lots of first-timers, along with some of Utah's best and most respected talent.

3. What’s great about having the Fringe at the Gateway?

The Gateway isn't just a shopping destination any more. It's emerging as a vibrant arts and culture district. You really can spend a whole day or evening out at the Gateway and have a fantastic time. I'm excited that Utah's incredibly talented and diverse theatre community can be a part of that growth.

4. Why go to the Fringe?

We have a famous film festival in Utah. The Fringe is that for theatre. We've had companies and artists spring up from our festival, producing their first work at the Fringe, and going on to become award-winning companies, actors and industry professionals.

The Fringe is a forge for artists to show and grow their work, launch a new company or artistic endeavor, interact with other artists and audiences, and move their dreams forward. The Fringe gives artists a stage that comes with far lower costs and fewer barriers to entry than a traditional theatre or dance company would have. Audiences can see a huge number of shows in a variety of genres for very low ticket prices. And it all takes place over just two weekends, all in one easy location. The Gateway! 

We also asked a handful of artists about what they are presenting. Here’s a sampling:

Ryon J. Sharette said: “I’ll be presenting ‘Tennessee Williams and the Battle.’ It’s a one-person world-premiere. I originally came up with the concept back in college as my senior thesis. It’s about Tennessee Williams at the age of 30, struggling to deal with failure. He invites the audience to be witness to his chaotic thoughts as he navigates depression, selling out, a lost love affair, and being a struggling artist.” Sharette added: “Fringe kicked off my new life as a liberated local actor.”

About her show, performer Barbara Brady said: “’Father, Daughter and Holy Ghost’ is my first solo performance piece, and the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival will be its world premiere. Being from San Francisco, my perception of SLC is that it's rather conservative. That makes the idea of an unjuried, independent theater festival seem rather daring, which expands the image of the city as a welcoming, broad-minded community.”

Viviane Turman, performer of the solo show “Malleable Vulnerability: An Invocation of Self” and director of “The Woods: A Devised Theatre Piece” with Prufrock Productions, says she “saw this as an opportunity to bring some really unique theatre to Salt Lake. As young artists we are so excited to have an opportunity to be doing theatre that is important to us and having that choice in what’s being produced and being the producers— having our hands in the entire process in a safe setting like the Fringe! I’m floored by the community this festival has fostered among artists in Salt Lake City. It is a culture of willing each other to succeed and flourish and nurture the creativity in all of us. From up and coming artists to seasoned vets it feels like the best way for theatre that’s different to even have a chance!”

Suni Gigliotti, a performer in "The Byron Five" by Company of Cohorts and director of "Telephone" by Comet Sweeper Theatre, said: “There's no other experience like performing in the Fringe. Performing for a show is always exciting and invigorating, but performing in the Fringe has an unmatchable fun and electric energy. It's a creative hub to see the works of many new works, witness innovative theatre, and to meet many new artists. I've left the Fringe every year feeling creatively filled and inspired.” Asked about the benefit of the Fringe for local artists, she said, “Fringes make independent theatre possible. Without the Fringe, many original works and shows would never have had a chance to have been shared. It's the best opportunity for independent creators and for artists who want an opportunity to get their work out there in an affordable and accessible way.”

ABOUT GREAT SALT LAKE FRINGE: The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by Westminster College students and staff. In 2015, the four-day festival hosted 27 theatre companies that put on 110 performances, earned over $16,000 in ticket sales and hosted nearly 2,500 attendees. Since then, the festival has grown to span two weekends and welcome nearly 5,000 patrons. This year, there will be over 150 performances of 32 shows in five storefront venues. The Fringe is focused on the performing arts and 100 percent of the ticket sales go directly to the artists. Shows involve theatre, dance, music, aerial arts, magic, and more. 95 percent of shows are world premieres or original works. Shows must be less than one hour long. The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival has one goal in mind: to provide an accessible opportunity for performing artists and audiences to connect and collaborate with one another. The definition of “performance” is growing and changing and we want to be a part of that change.

THE MISSION OF THE GREAT SALT LAKE FRINGE FESTIVAL: Our mission is to operate an annual multi-day performing arts festival that acts as an interactive entertainment experience uniting, artists, local businesses and the public. The festival also seeks to enhance the arts culture in Salt Lake City by showcasing affordable, unadjudicated, unrestricted and original works.

FESTIVAL DATES: Aug. 1 – Aug. 11. Tickets go on sale July 8 and start at $7. Visit the website: http://greatsaltlakefringe.org/

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