Fringe Festival begins this weekend

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Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Fringe Festival

By Alyse Horn

The Pittsburgh Fringe Festival brings performers from around the globe, and this year from Friday, March 31 to Sunday, April 2 there will be 37 shows and 88 performances. The most in the last four years since the Pittsburgh festival began.

Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival Xela Batchelder has been involved in the fringe culture for a ” very long time” and has attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for over 20 years.

Her advice for newcomers to the Fringe scene is to “dive in and see things they’ve never seen before.”

“The venues are not normal theaters. It’s intimate, small, close-up with the performers,” Batchelder said.

The settings for the performances are one of her favorite things about the festival. Each show is site specific and “instead of building a set, you’re [using] the space,” Batchelder said.

The first year Pittsburgh Fringe Festival took place it was held in Shadyside, but the organization had a difficult time finding venue space and wanted it to have more of a walkable footprint. Since moving to the Northside, all of the venues are in walking distance and ever expanding.

Three new venues this year are Alphabet City, Allegheny City Brewing, and Allegheny Inn. Batchelder said the Inn will be the site for three different shows over the weekend, such as Triage that will create a bunker in the downstairs area of the building. Alphabet City is hosting sic shows, and Allegheny City Brewing will be the site for a pop-up art installation called “Illuminate.”

If only for a fleeting moment, attendees may see Batchelder over the weekend. Her job is to solve  problems that arise and not be tied down to any specific show. If everything is running smoothly, she may get lucky and see a performance or two.

Batchelder said volunteers are always needed, and those who would like to can sign up online by clicking here. For every two hour shift, volunteers will receive a voucher for any show at the festival that is not sold out.

To see the weekend list of performances, click here.

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