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Fringe File 2018 #24 – The Arts Reader Awards

A photo collage of the recipients of the Arts Reader‘s awards for the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

On Sunday night, the Minnesota Fringe will announce its official awards for its 2018 festivals at its closing-night party at Can Can Wonderland. Awards for the Minnesota Fringe have come and gone with different winds of leadership, with its own metrics and voting processes. The Arts Reader has its own system, which selects and spotlights shows that we think deserve special honors.

What puts a show on this list? In a word, impact. It’s a quality that’s hard to define, but very recognizable when you feel it. Some shows end up on our short list because of the sheer quality of the performance. Others end up there because of the originality of the story or the craft of their script and/or score. Others seem incredibly timely and resonant. Most have more than one of these aspects.

The process begins with peering through the show descriptions and press pitches (yes, we read every one). Next, we watch the previews and video trailers and other materials. Then we deploy a team of writers with significant experience in theatre to go see shows and report back. Some are theatremakers; others are aficionados or critics. We maintain a running conversation during the process; if someone wants to nominate a show for the short list, then we try and make certain that other members of the team see it. (This is no easy task with some sell-outs as buzz builds.)

Ultimately, it comes down to writers in a room (virtual, office, bar, etc.) talking about things that they’ve seen and think are deserving of special consideration. Many excellent shows are considered but don’t make it onto the final three lists. With no further ado, these are the recipients of the Twin Cities Arts Reader‘s 2018 Fringe Awards:

Editor’s Pick

  • Not Fair, My Lady!, presented by Colleen Somerville Productions

Critic’s Picks

  • Shrieking Harpies, presented by Shrieking Harpies
  • Eddie Poe, presented by The Coldharts
  • A Justice League of Their Own, presented by Mainly Me Productions

Best of Fringe

  • Blood Nocturne, presented by The Winding Sheet Outfit
  • Lions and Peacocks and Snakes – Oh My!, presented by CAAM Chinese Dance Theater

In previous years, we waited until after the final performances to announce our awards – in part because the encore performances allowed us to see one last set of shows before voting. This year, however, the encore slot has been eliminated, removing a major incentive for waiting to catch hard-to-see shows. We have therefore timed this year’s awards announcement to predate the Minnesota Fringe’s own official awards, so as to avoid the potential for confirmation bias. We’ll check back about these shows’ box office results in a later installment.

 

Here are some of the comments that the nominators made about each show, listed in the same order as above:

Not Fair, My Lady!, presented by Colleen Somerville Productions

  • “Alternately funny and incisive, this musical is both clever and perfectly timed social commentary.”
  • “I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Broadway for a long time. This show helped me realize why and why we deserve – no, need! – better.”

Shrieking Harpies, presented by Shrieking Harpies

  • “Virtuosic in scope and impressive execution, created on the fly and simply entertaining.”

Eddie Poe, presented by The Coldharts

  • “A creepy visual aesthetic, two engrossing performers, and some stellar songs that just get stuck in your head.”
  • “A worthy, mature sequel to one of my favorite Fringe shows of recent years.”

A Justice League of Their Own, presented by Mainly Me Productions

  • “A hilarious, well-crafted double parody simply stuffed with wit.”
  • “Just delightful.”

Blood Nocturne, presented by The Winding Sheet Outfit

  • “Visually striking, impressive in its scope of storytelling, and biting in its examination of how history is written by the victors. It all adds up to an engrossing and riveting show.”
  • “Take any one aspect of this show – its script, its use of music, or the charisma of the performers – and you would have had a hit. Put them all together and Blood Nocturne is on fire!”

Lions and Peacocks and Snakes – Oh My!, presented by CAAM Chinese Dance Theater

  • “This show stood out among the many impressive offerings in the Family Fringe. My daughter is now super-excited about taking dance classes.”

Hanne Appelbaum

Hanne Appelbaum is the Editor of the Twin Cities Arts Reader. She was born in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and moved to the Twin Cities to take up a career as a classroom paraprofessional. She is the mother of three children, an enthusiastic educator, and a passionate fan of dance in all of its forms. She enjoys ice skating, Game of Thrones (books over HBO, but who's counting), and restaurant dives.
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