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Why Pittsburgh's Theater Scene Is Ideal For A Fringe Festival

Kim Traynor

In 1947, eight theater companies in Scotland were not invited to the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival.

Instead of going home, the companies set up on the outer edges of the festival, where they could take advantage of the large crowds and showcase their alternate brand of performance. Since then, these “fringe festivals” have expanded across the globe.

Dan Stiker had long dreamed of bringing a fringe festival to the Steel City, and this year that dream has become a reality as Pittsburgh stages its inaugural Fringe Festival.

“I started thinking way back in 2001 of bringing a festival and seeing if anyone else would also want to do the fringe festival. There was a lot of interest, but the interest level kind of stayed at that, at just the ‘Yeah, it seems interesting’. And then I went back to school. And then basically one year ago, I decided just to start the fringe festival. It was definitely time. I think Pittsburgh, as far as the theater that’s around, is more unique than what you would see on the Broadway stage, you know? There is Barebones Productions, the Dog & Pony Show, No Name Players, who is actually in our festival, they’re starting to find an audience. So it’s kind of the perfect storm of that audience and that type of theater,” said Stiker.

Most festivals start small in their inaugural year with 5-10 productions. But Stiker said he had no problems attracting theater companies. This first Fringe Festival features 25 productions.

“It’s just the perfect time as far as the amount of unique theater,” Stiker said.

A full list of productions, venues, and showtimes can be found at the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival website. Shows run through the 11th of May.

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