First thing to know about this year’s Pittsburgh Fringe: don’t go looking for it on the North Side, where it's been held for the past couple of years.
Instead, the sixth annual festival for cutting-edge performance art from around the country and beyond is headed to venues along Penn Avenue in Bloomfield, Garfield, and East Liberty.
The format is familiar: More than 40 acts of an hour or less each are showcased over four days, in genres including theater, dance, comedy, music, spoken-word and more.
One notable performer abruptly pulled out of the Fringe just this week. Brian Feldman, a Washington, D.C.-based performance artist, was set to do several showings of his "Dishwasher," for which he goes to the home of a volunteer host, washes the host's dishes, then cold-reads a monologue the host has selected. After Feldman cancelled, the Fringe announced a replacement show: the "Kitchen Not So Confidential Cabaret," in which "three random performers from across the festival" make a show out of cleaning a host's kitchen.
Other acts in the 2019 Pittsburgh Fringe include:
- Los Angeles-based comedian Steve Chang’s “A Complete Waste of Time,” which “takes you on an introspective journey to find meaning in life by means of ayahuasca, hookers, and gay conversion camp”;
- “Mad Love,” Salem, W.Va.-based troupe Ignite Entertainment’s narrative incorporating burlesque, light and cirque acts;
- “a postmodern jazz,” an improvisatory blend of movement and music by Pittsburgh’s own The Pillow Projects;
- “Do You See What I Hear?” by New York-based Strange Fangs Song Factory, with poet Mario Moroni recites his work to original music performed by composer James Glasgow;
- “The Internet Ate My Brain,” New York-based comedian and “Microsoft Outlook for Dummies” author Bill Dyszel's interactive presentation critiquing the age of the web;
- “Erase Every Line,” a “one-man variety show” by Pittsburgh-based Ian Insect; and
- “The Reluctant Mind Reader,” by Chicago-based performer Brendon Ware.
Fringe festivals, now commonplace in U.S. cities, trace their origins to the birth, in 1947, of Scotland’s famed Edinburg Fringe. The shows are uncurated by design; Pittsburgh Fringe director Xela Batchelder literally picks the names of applicants out of a hat. But most performers are experienced, often on the growing U.S. fringe-fest circuit: Feldman, for instance, has performed over the years at 10 festivals in five cities.
Venues at the 2019 Pittsburgh Fringe include such studios, galleries and commercial spaces as Level Up Studios, the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, and the ACE Hotel.
Most shows are performed multiple times. Ticket prices vary (and a few events are free), but discounts are available with the purchase of a Pittsburgh Fringe button. Details are here.