Chiang Mai’s first annual Fringe Festival of Performing Arts will take place October 24-27 from noon to 9.30pm at the KAD Studio Theatre located on the 7th floor of Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex.
The fringe are performers on the move: people who perform at a special place and time. They aren’t performances or acts normally seen in the theatre or at a regular arts festival. Examples of fringe people include street performers and improv groups. During the Fringe Festival, several of the fringe are gathering at one place over the span of four days to perform. The festival will be made up of acts from various genres and cultures within the performing arts. All acts will cost less than 400 baht with the average price ranging between 200 and 350 baht.
The festival is being modeled off the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals and its requirements. This means that acts are chosen at random or on a first come, first serve basis. The performer’s ticket proceeds are fully returned to the performer. And all performances will be mindful of Thai cultural sensibilities (ensured by the Gate Theater Group and the EXIT Theatre Company); however, the theaters will not otherwise intervene in the artistic content and concepts. Each unique artistic voice is allowed to shine through – It is a celebration of expression and of those underrepresented within the performing arts.
Currently, there are 18 acts set to perform. Crescent Moon Theatre, a popular Bangkok company, will be making a trip north to attend and perform at the festival. The contemporary based company focuses on social awareness as well as gender concern. Other acts include a stand up comedian, a Thai mentalist, and Airdance (aerial acts) – an act from the Philippines.
Performers sent in summaries of their performance – what they do and how they do it, paid a nominal registration and performance fee (that goes towards the performers’ technical help), and set their own ticket rate. The Gate Theater, based in Chiang Mai, and EXIT Theatre, based in San Francisco, are producing and funding the festival.
Stephen Turner, organizer of the festival, is looking to give back to the community – specifically the arts community. When Turner started at the Gate Theater around 12 years ago, there was little to no English arts scene within Chiang Mai. “We have been able to survive because of the support of the community. And so I think it’s time for us to do something for the community,” states Turner. He considers giving back to people a key principle of success. Keeping an arts scene flourishing comes from the support of community – people expressing themselves and people paying attention. Fringe Festival of Performing Arts is a great opportunity to boost Chiang Mai’s art scene. With acts coming from across the country, as well as out of country, it is a great opportunity to show the world the art Chiang Mai has to offer.