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Fringe File 2018 #25 – The MN Fringe-Official Awards

A collage of Minnesota Fringe Festival images.

The Minnesota Fringe announced its inaugural Golden Lanyard Awards this evening. The awards for the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival were free-flowing, to say the least, with some 26 given out in sometimes confusingly labeled categories:

  • Spirit of the Fringe Award: Hamlet, but Hamlet’s a Chicken (Grand Island Theatre)
  • Underdog Award: Not Fair, My Lady! (Colleen Somerville Presents)
  • Audience Picks:
    • Not Fair, My Lady(Colleen Somerville Presents)
    • My 4 Bodies (Nightfox Stage Productions)
    • Dreaming (Gabriel Mata)
    • Next: The Musical – A Sidekick Story (Foxlin)
  • Artist Picks:
    • Swords and Sorcery (The Bearded Company Minneapolis)
    • WHALES (Hit The Lights Theater Co.)
    • Blood Nocturne (The Winding Sheet Outfit)
  • Fringe with Benefits Member Pick
    • Blood Nocturne (The Winding Sheet Outfit)
  • Staff Picks:
    • A Normal Theatre Play at MN Fringe by Goof Goof Picked by Amber Bjork, Artist Liason/Office Manager
    • Abeyance (Tyler West) Picked by Kaitlen Osburn, Director of Audience & Volunteer Services
    • Politics Religion Sex (Fearnot Dance) Picked by Liz Neerland, Technical Director
    • Still, or I’ve Been Choreographed (Kevin Williamson + Company) Picked by Jay Gilman, Artistic Director
  • Venue Picks
    • Augsburg Studio: Next: The Musical – A Sidekick Story (Foxlin)
    • Augsburg Main Stage: Inescapable (Concrete Drops Theatre)
    • Minnsky Theatre: Hamlet, but Hamlet’s a Chicken (Grand Island Theatre)
    • Ritz Mainstage: WHALES (Hit The Lights Theater Co.)
    • Ritz Studio: Estate of Affairs (So Shall I)
    • Strike Theater: Slapdash Panic… (Comedy Suitcase)
    • Mixed Blood: Not Fair, My Lady! (Colleen Somerville Presents)
    • Rarig Arena: Summers in Prague (Sidecar Theatre)
    • Rarig Thrust: Couple Fight: The Musical! (Weggel-Reed Productions)
    • Rarig Xperimental: Forsythian Dweller’s Club (Bittersweet Arts Co.)
    • Southern Theatre: Blood Nocturne (The Winding Sheet Outfit)
    • Theatre in the Round: A Justice League of Their Own (Mainly Me Productions)

These awards did not encompass any of the shows in the Family Fringe, a new addition to the Fringe lineup this year. Shows in the Family Fringe were selected by a panel of stakeholders, rather than via the blind lottery for the main Fringe Festival.

Excluding the Venue Pick Awards, which replace the long-standing Encore winners, 14 awards were administered by the Minnesota Fringe. Ten of the remainder were determined by various voting pools, with the final 4 picked directly by Fringe staff. None of the staff picks overlapped with any of the voted or box office awards.

Several shows received multiple honors, with Blood Nocturne and Not Fair, My Lady! emerging in the lead with three honors apiece. Blood Nocturne is a historical exegesis of the mythos of Elizabeth Bathory, sometimes called the most prolific murderess in history. Not Fair, My Lady! is a musical excoriation of not-female-friendly tropes in musical theatre. (Both also received awards from the Arts Reader, with Blood Nocturne getting a Best of Fringe award and Not Fair, My Lady! the Editor’s Pick award.)

The longstanding Encore performances were eliminated from this year’s festival as part of a schedule amendment that saw the 4 PM slot on the second Friday of the festival eliminated. “With the elimination of the Encore spot,” said Minnesota Fringe Executive Director Dawn Bentley, “That freed up the 8:30pm Sunday so there was no longer a need for the (sometimes dreaded) 4 pm Friday.”

Other festival changes in 2018 included the return of single-admission tickets, the replacement of the Encore slot with a much earlier Closing Night Party, and the contraction to two main hubs in Northeast Minneapolis and Cedar-Riverside. Minnesota Fringe has also committed to producing content on a broader calendar schedule, which earlier this year included giving previews of Fringe-related shows at Surly Brewing.

“All of these changes were made after careful examination of our mission,” noted Bentley, “Convening artists and audiences in round-table discussions, strategic planning with our expanded board of directors, a survey of market competitors and collaborators, and financial projections to achieve long-term sustainability of the organization. We believe Minnesota Fringe to be a necessary institution with positive economic impact on artists and cultural impact on the community. All of the changes made were done with the intent to ensure Fringe is around for another 25 years.”

Amy Donahue