The Cincinnati Fringe Festival is one of the city’s first beloved summer traditions to return to form. This year, you can choose from a wide variety of outdoor in-person events and online streaming entertainment for your Fringe experience!
Last year, their necessary pivot to an all-online Fringe Festival turned their popular hometown event into a success across the nation and internationally: Fringe shows were viewed in 36 states, plus Washington DC, and by audiences in sixteen other countries across five continents. This year, they are keeping that global community alive with a lineup of video-on-demand and live-streamed performances, connecting their core Cincinnati audience with a community of Fringe fans across the world.
They are also bringing back live events outdoors for 2021!
This year, they’re moving the Underground – their subterranean lobby that acts as the hub of all things Fringe – aboveground. They’re taking over the parking lot next to their Jackson Street theatre and building an outdoor stage to host live performances, special events, and nightly post-show programs. But more than that, this outdoor space will serve as the (COVID-safe!) social gathering point for their Fringe audiences. More details about their outdoor venue coming soon!
What’s the best way to see it all? Get one of their coveted All-Access Passes! There are a limited number available, and it’s your ticket into every Primary Lineup and Special Event they produce. With forty shows in the Primary Lineup, the $275 All-Access Pass is one of the best entertainment deals in town. The Cincinnati Fringe Festival divides all proceeds in a 50/50 split with producing artists, so your money is always supporting these cutting-edge independent artists.
The Cincinnati Fringe Festival attracts artists from all across the country and around the world to Over-the-Rhine for a two-week celebration of all that’s wild, imaginative, and expressive in theatre, art, music, and dance. It’s a showcase of some of the most off-the-wall and outside-the-box creativity happening right now, and they like to say it’s kinda weird, like you.
This year’s Cincy Fringe will bring you:
8 outdoor productions from local artists
11 livestreamed production plus the “Channel Fringe Hard HItting Action News Update” every night
21 video-on-demand performances from local artists and artists from around the nation
…and so much more.
As ever, their organization takes the responsibilities of producing entertainment in a public health crisis very seriously, and they have safety procedures in place to protect their employees, artists, and audiences. All employees and volunteers will be required to adhere to testing and vaccine requirements, and masking and social distancing will be enforced in their open-air venue.
The 18th Annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival will run June 4 – 19, 2021. Tickets and passes will be available following the Lineup Announcement at their website, cincyfringe.com.
At A Glance
What: The 18th Annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival
Where: At Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St, and online
When: June 4 – 19, 2021
Tickets: Individual tickets are available for $11, with a “Love Your Artists” option for $16. Bundles and all-access passes are available. All tickets are available at cincyfringe.com.
The Primary Lineup
“Safe,” from FMG out of Roma, Italy (video on demand)
SAFE tells the story of a nun trapped in a house in the middle of nowhere during the pandemic era. A post-apocalyptic scenario in which Sister Daisy tries to take care of the last ones left in her community, facing fears as the looming of the end, death and the increasing doubt of faith.
#txtshow (on the internet), from Brian Feldman Productions out of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth (livestream)
A crowdsourced immersive multiscreen performance featuring a mysterious character named txt
(pronounced “text”) who recites a script written anonymously in real-time by a live audience (on the internet). Please Note: Audience members must keep their camera and microphone on the entire show. This show contains audience interaction. Recommended for 18+.
An Evening with Gwendolyn?, from E Cubed Productions out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
Gwendolyn Crosley, wife of inventor Powel Crosley, thoroughly enjoyed last night’s séance. It’s a shame she didn’t get to speak with her favorite author, Edgar Allan Poe. She did make contact with an enigmatic friend of his, Sarah Royster. The encounter was brief; Gwendolyn returned home alone. Or did she?
Anne Archy Reigns, from L.E. Lab out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
After the list of “The 100 Important Americans” released with the most cliche and hacky choices, two friends vow to make it on the list next year. One runs for political office. The other becomes a serial killer.
AWAY, NOW – The World’s Most Desired Destination, from Paul Strickland & Erika Kate MacDonald out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
As if mad scientists crossed Flight of the Concords with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Paul Strickland & Erika Kate MacDonald perform this HILARIOUS, SONG-FILLED variety show for adults GUARANTEED to be the Greatest Performance of a Travel Guide to a Place You Can’t Go! Sidesplitting Surrealist stories! Silly songs!! Spuppets!!! S!!!!
Betsy Carmichael LIVE at the BINGO Palace, from Betsibu Productions out of Buffalo, NY (livestreamed)
Join the fabulous Betsy Carmichael LIVE as she hosts an unforgettable night of BINGO. Betsy brings the audience “into the act” with special games, prizes, fun and surprises! A BINGO bash beyond belief… don’t miss a moment of the hilarity.
BIODANCE at Home, from BIODANCE out of Rochester, NY (video-on-demand)
Selling out live shows at Edinburgh and Rochester Fringe, Rochester, NY-based multi-disciplinary dance company BIODANCE makes its Cincy debut with this virtual show that brings the outdoors in! Join dancers, musicians, a poet and a media artist for this collection of dances shot in gorgeous settings both natural and conceived.
Continuum, from Performance Gallery and Solasta Theatre Lab out of Cincinnati, OH (livestreamed)
A journey strewn with cast-off imaginary friends and maybe your next-door neighbor. Play with dreams. Explore monotony. Question reality. Challenge memory. Conquer demons. What will the next room hold? You will need some courage. Pull up your sense-of-humor pants. This is going to be fun.
Current, from Pones out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
Humanity mirrors nature. Pones explores ideas of succession, resiliency, and adaptation through movement, storytelling, and soundscape. Natural disturbances – fire, drought, hurricanes, pandemics – these experiences can be painful and exhausting, but you are transformed on the other side. What do you inherit? What do you pass along? How are you different now? Search for what nature has to teach us about hope.
Dangerous When Wet: Booze, Sex, and My Mother, from redBrick Agency out of New York, NY (livestreamed)
Ripped from the pages of Jamie’s critically-acclaimed memoir, this award-winning, internationally-lauded, darkly-comic show is his alcoholic odyssey from small town sissy to louche Manhattanite. When Jamie hits a suicidal bottom, can the all-consuming love of his Mama Jean, who never has a thought she doesn’t speak, ultimately save him?
Died in a Trailer Park/Woke Up A Mermaid, from Mermaid Productions out of Minneapolis, MN (video-on-demand)
Storyteller Ariel Pinkerton may have been murdered, but that didn’t stop her from living in under the Washington Avenue bridge, having sex in trailer parks, accidentally smoking crack, or unintentionally hitchhiking through Wales.
From Russia Without Love, from Sufian Zhemukhov out of Washington, DC (livestream)
A political science professor stumbles into the underworld of Russian organized crime – what could possibly go wrong? In this wildly entertaining “escapist James Bond parody” (NPR), award-winning performer Sufian Z will may have you reevaluate what you thought you knew about professors, mafia and KGB!
HARAMBE, from Hugo West Theatricals out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
Cincinnati shocked the planet in 2016 with the tragic death of a rare gorilla. Equipped with knowledge from the future and countless chances to intervene, could the outcome have changed? “Memento” meets “Rashomon” in an exploration of the nature of fact, expertise, and shared morality in the “fake news” era.
HORSETAIL, from Hit the Lights! Theatre Co. out of New York, NY (video-on-demand)
In the shadow musical HORSETALE, a Horse and its Tail become separated and, in their search for each other, find themselves. HTL! weaves together shadow puppetry, overhead projectors, live original rock music, Looney Tunes homages, and American iconography to tell a story as wild and expansive as the West itself!
Instructions for a Habitat Inventory, from Playable Artworks out of Minneapolis, MN (video-on-demand)
Your habitat is the place where you are, and that place may feel smaller than it used to. Using a smartphone app, audio performance, and locations of your choosing, Instructions for a Habitat Inventory guides you through a reflection on where you are and what that means to you.
Meera’s Kitchen, from Beena Raghavendran out of Brooklyn, NY (livestreamed)
Chef Meera needs $5,000 to save her Indian restaurant from closure. She holds a live-streamed fundraiser to celebrate her culture and cooking – until a strangely familiar foe hijacks Meera’s sanity, and things take a dark turn. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of Meera’s Kitchen.
Missing 411, from SlugFest out of Brooklyn, NY (video-on-demand)
Missing 411: Into the Void is the second installment of a constantly evolving, interdisciplinary performance project that meditates on the subject of disappearance. In this installment of 411, vaudeville, horror, multimedia, music, and satire combine to tell the story of the mysterious disappearance of 5 best friends.
Mo-to-the-oncle, from Melissa Cole out of New York, NY (video-on-demand)
There’s a time and place for a monocle: 2021 and a Bronx high school are neither of them! A socially conscious, one-woman comedy about a Bronx teen who must wear a monocle after his dad loses their vision insurance.
Naughty Bits, from Vox Fabularum out of Whitewater, WI (video-on-demand)
Naughty Bits is a collection of daringly honest and giggle-inducing personal stories, centered on various body parts, delivered by solo performer, raconteuse, Sarah Beth Nelson. Stories dive into traditionally taboo topics such as bra shopping with small breasts, disposing of a placenta, and combatting the myth of the infinite vagina.
On Maintenance (How to Keep a Life), from Leave No Trace Productions out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
A faceted surface expands and contracts in a perpetual dance of construction and deconstruction – as if breathing, walking, digesting, thrashing, or embracing. Actors manipulate the surface’s panels, demonstrating the effort required to sustain life.
One Easy Lie, from Martin Dockery out of Montauk, NY (livestreamed)
People mean well. Until they don’t. Performed live, “the best storyteller in the US” (Orlando Sentinel) spins an intricately woven story of deception & greed in this escapist thriller. Previous Cincy Fringe shows by Martin Dockery: “Forbidden City!” (2020) and “Moonlight After Midnight” (Critic’s Pick award, 2015). www.MartinDockery.com
Panther Woman, from sKribble skratch Productions out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
Panther Woman is a fictional account of one woman’s experience in The Original Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Embark on a journey from the Jim Crow South to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s through a tale of struggle, love and hope for the future.
Peculiar, Missouri, from Breaker/Fixer out of Arkansas (video-on-demand)
Join folksinger Willi Carlisle on a singing journey through the Ozark mountains. With fiddle, banjo, guitar, and accordion, Willi spins tall-tales from the road with grit, humor, and vulnerability in this short film. Part travelogue and part queer love story, this performance is dedicated to the oddball in us all.
Planet of the Grapes Live, from Peter Michael Marino out of New York, NY (livestreamed)
Planet of the Grapes Live is an epic toy theater parody of the classic sci-fi Heston/Serling film. An astronaut crew crash-lands on an unfamiliar planet and are enslaved by a society where grapes have evolved into speaking creatures with human-like intelligence. Madness ensues. Live from NYC on your device.
Rewind-A-Buddy, from Paper Soul out of Minneapolis, MN (livestreamed)
Buddy wants to be YOUR FRIEND. And Buddy is on home video! Seriously. All you gotta do is pop him in your home VHS system, and Buddy will take the friendship from there! ALL OF IT. Over and over. And over.
Sexology: The Musical!, from Empowered Pleasure Productions out of Portland, OR (video-on-demand)
A powerful, funny, musical journey from monogamy to polyamory: complete with show tunes. Explore new paths to intimacy – from the agony of jealousy to the joy of compersion, peak inside a triad and hear firsthand accounts of love without limits. Winner of “Best in Show” at the 2019 Boulder Fringe.
Tomás Ford: Have A Bath With Me?, from Tomás Ford out of Perth, Western Australia (video-on-demand)
Run yourself a bath, set up a screen somewhere it can’t electrocute you and dive into Australian late night cult icon Tomás Ford’s new DIY visual album. Join him as he bathes his way around the Australian outback, crooning his hilarious and bizarre songs along the way. It’s bathtime!
The Belle & Boone Helm, from Hannah Gregory out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
The Belle and Boone Helms follows the life and crimes of Kentucky Cannibal Levi Boone Helm during the mid-1800’s–and a young woman’s journey to stop him before he kills again.
The Butterfly Heist, from Kelly Morton out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
“Dateline” comes to Cincinnati in this parody that goes behind the scenes of the real-life 2018 Krohn Conservatory butterfly show, where a rare butterfly was stolen … and maybe murdered. The true culprit remained in the shadows – until now.
The Park Cruising Diaries, from Zak Kelley out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
Have you ever hidden behind a tree with your wiener out? Then, boy, do we have a treat. The Park Cruising Diaries, written by Zak Kelley, is the deep dive into a year of sometimes-socially-distant-but-also-not-but-definitely-awkward-and-weird sexual experiences that “the app” couldn’t provide.
The Prime of Miss Jen Joplin, from Our Lady of Badassery Productions out of Ludlow, KY (video-on-demand)
When theatres shut down, this actress had to step it up. But third shift employment at a “fulfillment” center sucked in ways she never imagined. How does an artist survive in a space void of humanity? Create! She may be losing her mind, but will she also find her voice?
They End Up Together, from Emily Borst out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
In 1961, Robin and Dolores meet outside a bar one night and find themselves inexplicably drawn together. Combating negative exes, negative feelings, and a negative world, can these two women find themselves a positive ending in spite of it all? (Spoiler alert: they can)
Tilted Frame @ Home, from Combined Artform out of Los Angeles, CA (livestreamed)
“Unlike any improv show we’ve seen” Tilted Frame brings veteran improv players together with an award winning tech team to deliver a one of a kind interactive experience that is both funny and innovative. Tilted Frame is not a Zoom Show. “It transforms classic improv to a whole new creation.”
Twitterhated, from Julie Locker out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
Reeling after a racist macroaggression by her boyfriend’s sister, Amelia finds herself lost in the Twitterverse. When social media bleeds into real life, she’s forced to reckon with who she wants to be – and how she wants to communicate. Twitterhated explores social media’s impact on in-person relationships and difficult conversations.
Two short films: Why White? & I am White Like You, Right Mom?, from the MCRC Project out of Highland Hts, KY (video-on-demand)
Actors, visual artists and spoken word poets collaborate to tell the emotional story of how the Black and White racial categories were born. When the White category created itself, it made Black its opposite, making it impossible for Black and White to exist comfortably together in one body.
Unboxing, from CYD Productions out of Chicago, IL (video-on-demand)
Unboxing follows the lives of a small collective of YouTubers from 2011 to 2021. Presented in a collage of Youtube Uploads, FaceTime Conversations, and LiveStreams, the members of the Viral Squad do their best to make art and survive in a time of increasing political polarization and looming algorithmic inspired-radicalization. A play about the intersection of online content makers and politics.
Unintentional Significance: A Puppet Show About Everything and Nothing, from Autumn Kaleidoscope out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
An orangutan playing chess, resurrected roadkill, cicadas, puppets on fire, puppets under water, a blue light bulb and so much more. Unintentional Significance: A Puppet Show About Everything and Nothing invites the viewer to find meaning in the meaningless and truth among the absurd. What will you discover?
Why Kevin Ain’t Jack (And Jack Ain’t No Kevin Neither), from Sophia’s Ear / Michael Burnham out of Cincinnati, OH (live outdoors)
When an old northern white man steals a southern culture’s way of talking fiction, you get Jack Tales that make the old man look young, a song or three pretty badly sung, an appropriated accent that sure ain’t almost heaven, and the real-life murder of a guy named Kevin.
YOLO, from Feel So Young Theatre out of Minneapolis, MN (video-on-demand)
YOLO is the story of Don and Myrna, an elderly couple who are given an Amazon Alexa as a gift from their daughter that begins their spiral into technology. YOLO is a comedic, but poignant look at how new technology can impact the relationships of older adults
You Will Live Under The Sea, from Queen City Flash out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
Every year the land gets more and more crowded. More people. More buildings. More roads and more cars. Out there, the sea isn’t crowded at all. It’s just you. And that man. And miles and miles and miles of nothing else.
Their annual Fringe Development piece is a showcase of a work-in-progress, rehearsed and refined over the course of the festival itself. Audiences will be able to drop in on public rehearsals and see the show come together before its performance at the end of the festival!
Rising in Love, from ish out of Cincinnati, OH (livestreamed)
Interracial Millennial Jewish couple, Rosie and Scott, turn to family and friends to learn what it takes to rise in love. If you combine Cole Porter and couple’s therapy, you get this new sing-able musical that touches on relationships, compromise, and what it means to grow up and find love.
Empty Space, from Mount St Joseph University out of Cincinnati, OH (video-on-demand)
In a world beset by a rapid change to the climate, isolated astronaut Roberta Bottom strives to save earth. As her mission unravels, she realizes the importance of colleagues, family, and…toilet paper. With two options before her, what will Robbie choose to do?
Cookie Tongue’s Kaleidoscopic Bone House, from Cookie House out of New York, NY (video-on-demand)
A theatrical freak-folk music show live-streamed within a series of animated worlds featuring a menagerie original songs, puppetry, animation, and whimsical interludes inspired by Cookie Tongue’s surreal mythology, fairytales, childhood, ghost stories and a sprinkle of magic.
Saturday the 13th, by Isaiah Reeves out of Cincinnati, OH (livestreamed)
From the creator of 2018 Fringe hit The Blackface Project comes a live, one night only, special event reading of his new play Saturday the 13th. Directed by the visionary Daryl Harris, virtual audiences will have one chance to be amongst the first to experience this chilling tale of adolescence, friendship, brutality, and survival.
What’s Next?, by Combined Artform out of Los Angeles, CA (livestreamed)
With venues closed around the world, many artists are looking to the future, creating new
material, adapting old material, and exploring artistic ways to utilize the digital landscape. Many wonder, “Is streaming theatre, actually theatre?” “What will happen when venues open?” What’s Next? aims to answer these questions.
Like the Fringe performances themselves, this year Visual Fringe will be available as in-person and online experiences. Audiences will be able to browse the online Visual Fringe galleries on their website or view displays in their Jackson St galleries, visible from the street.
Fringe After Hours
Come hang out with their Fringe community and play along every night after the day’s shows are over! This year, their usual late-night “Bar Series” moves to our new outdoor hub beneath the Looking Good mural on Jackson and Twelfth to become Fringe After Hours. Old favorites, like 60-Second Previews and Fringe Olympics, will return this year, along with new, socially distanced events.
Get ready to Get Weird again! Make your plans to join us online, outdoors, or both starting June 4 for the 18th Annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival!
Know Theatre is Cincinnati’s Theatrical Playground. The Know showcases unexpected voices, new works, and plays that embrace the inherent theatricality of the live experience. Know Theatre seeks to be a place where artists and audiences feel welcome to take artistic risks, creating work that is cutting edge and accessible.
Know Theatre’s work is made possible, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Know Theatre with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
Know Theatre is also supported by The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, helping to change communities for the better through collaboration and innovation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provides a simple, powerful, and highly personal approach to giving.