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Fringe File #2: The Overachiever’s Plan for Day 1 of the Minnesota Fringe Festival

A collage of show images from the 2019 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

There are many different ways to approach to the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Twin Cities’ annual performing arts binge extravaganza. Mine has two rules. The first? Park once, move never. The second? Variety.

Rule 1 means that, once I’ve parked my car, every show should be a reasonable distance from the last venue I was at. Rule 2 means that I’m not going to see 2 downer pieces, 2 political parodies, or 2 dance shows in a row. (Comedies, musicals, and horror tend to have enough variety that I don’t worry about stacking these.)

Rule 1 doesn’t mean that every show needs to be near my parking spot. It does mean, however, that the journey between each individual show needs to be reasonably short. If I see a show at Augsburg College, rushing all the way on foot to the Southern Theater for the next would be impractical. If I go from Augsburg College to the U of M’s Rarig Center first, however, I can see a show there and then make it to either the Southern, Theatre in the Round, or Mixed Blood without having to run.

A walking plan for Fringe venues in the Cedar-Riverside cluster. While the whole walk is approximately 1-mile, breaking the journey into shorter segments allows you to see shows at many venues in an area without taking breaks.

So how do you start with picking a show? This year’s iteration of the Fringe website makes it easy: create an account (or login to last year’s account) and then go to the 2019 Fringe schedule. Select the day of the festival that you want and you’ll see the day’s shows sorted out by start time and venue.

Select the person icon in the upper right-hand corner of the Fringe website (see pink underlining) to login or create a new account.

There are two ways of marking shows: as favorites (click the heart icon) or as schedule adds (click the checkmark in a circle). If you think that you want to see a show some time in the festival, mark it as a favorite. If you want to select it for that specific day and time, mark it as a schedule add. Schedule adds are highlighted in the daily schedule, making it easy to see where you’re going next and play out whether it’s a practical walking distance.

A screenshot from the Fringe daily schedule, with two shows marked as schedule adds by orange highlighting.

Using these methods, here’s my overachiever’s plan for seeing shows on Day 1 of the main Minnesota Fringe Festival:

  1. Park in the Courtyard by Marriott parking ramp around 5 PM. It costs $22, but means that I won’t have to deal with maximum parking times or moving my car. It’s also conveniently located for heading home after a late-night drink at Republic or Town Hall Brewery. (Please drink responsibly.)
  2. Casually stroll over to Mixed Blood for Renaissance of the Dead at 5:30 PM. This show promises a comedic collision between a zombie outbreak and a Renaissance fair, which sounds like a sure-fire setup for “Bring out your dead” and plague jokes.
  3. Double back to the Southern Theater for A Confederate Widow In Hell at 7 PM. A powerhouse solo musical starring Willi Carlisle, whose 2017 show There Ain’t No More! garnered the Arts Reader‘s Best of Fringe award.
  4. Head straight to the U of M’s Rarig Center Thrust Stage for Mad as Hell: Or How to Lose a Bly in 10 Days at 8:30 PM. This show by Rinky Dink Productions features a cast of Fringe comedy veterans and a script by Josh Carson, a man behind many a Rinky Dink show and last year’s award-winning A Justice League of their Own.
  5. Bathroom break. 
  6. Casually stroll over to the Rarig Arena for Edith Gets High at 10 PM. This new musical is penned by Keith Hovis, the writer of Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant, now playing at Park Square Theatre. Its send-up of mixing video games and marijuana is a winning musical comedy recipe.
  7. Meet up with friends in the Seven Corners neighborhood.

The 2019 Minnesota Fringe’s Family Fringe begins July 26. The main Fringe Festival begins August 1.

Amy Donahue