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Capital Fringe Festival Brings Avant-Garde Art to Washington, D.C.

Seven years ago, a dedicated group of people banded together to form one of the quirkiest and most innovative non-profits Washington, D.C. has ever seen. And what may have seemed like something better suited for San Francisco, has instead been a resounding success.

Capital Fringe was founded in 2005 and their lone goal was to create a more avant-garde atmosphere for the arts in what’s typically viewed as a staid town.

And ever since they launched, the group’s been greeted with rave reviews and packed performances. The numbers say it all. During a two-week span last year, almost 30,000 tickets to over 700 performances were sold throughout spaces in Washington, D.C.

The two-week soiree is what’s known as the Capital Fringe Festival, the marquee event for the group. And this year, it’s already underway, having kicked off on July 12th. But just because it’s already halfway through doesn’t mean that it’s exhausted all it has to offer. Not at all. This weekend is the finale and some of the best shows and performances have yet to take place. In fact, there are over 170 shows throughout this city occurring between Friday and Sunday. And they cover the entire spectrum.

Because Capital Fringe prides itself on giving artists complete control over their work, never altering or censoring, Fringe Festival gives typical theatergoers a chance to partake in an experience they may not expect.

One of these unique performances is The Circle, which is presented by banished? productions. Offered frequently over this final weekend, The Circle is interactive performance art, and takes you on a walk around the Fringe Festival’s home, at the intersection of 6th Street NW and New York Avenue. The night before the performance, ticket buyers will be emailed an audio file, which they will listen to as they go on their walk, which is decorated to match the story they are hearing. It’s a tale of a woman, set in the 1970’s, but because this is Fringe Festival, time is not the constraint you might think it would be.

If the intriguing doesn’t appeal to you, and you prefer guffaws instead, Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella has its last show late on Saturday afternoon. The slapstick comedy is presented by a local Italian troupe, Faction of Fools, and is one of the most popular reoccurring performances at Fringe Festival. They’ve run through the show four times already, and this is also the third year that Faction has done comedy at Fringe. It’s sure to leave the audiences in an uproar. Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella takes place at the Studio Theatre’s Logan Circle location.

Fringe also has serious and haunting tales, and closes with a show you may never forget. Presented by Michael Wright and showing at the DC Arts Center in Adams Morgan, The Extermination Machine tells the story of a Nazi being  interrogated by Israeli forces at a  secret location for his role in the Holocaust.

As per usual, one of the best parts of Fringe Festival is that it utilizes almost the entire city. From the H Street Playhouse in Northeast, to the Goethe Institute in Penn Quarter, Fringe Festival embraces every space this city has to offer. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see venues you many never visit, and experience performance art in ways you couldn’t imagine.

– David

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