In Portland’s art scene, a lot of folks are out on the fringe.

At least this week they are.

That’s because more than 75 performances are scheduled today through Sunday under the umbrella of the Portland Festival Fringe. These are events put on by artists, theater companies, etc., to coincide with the first Portland Performing Arts Festival.

The main performing arts festival has eight acts — including classical and jazz music, dance and theater — while the fringe element has almost eight times as many. But that was the hope of the organizers of the Portland Performing Arts Festival, that it would spawn a ton of other arts activity.

And it has.

So if you want to explore the fringes of Portland arts this weekend, you can see a lot of bold, innovative art, the kind of stuff that might not be presented if not for this opportunity.

For instance, under the fringe umbrella there will be a theater festival called PortFringe, which includes about 40 of the 75 fringe events. PortFringe performances range from the physical, techno-music-driven comedy of AudioBody to Mike Daisy’s monologue, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” performed by Portland actor Keith Powell Beyland.

Some of the other PortFringe performances scheduled are: “Weeping and Blubbering,” a play by Lorem Ipsum Collective that includes a “shrimp man” as one of the characters; “Six Months for Six Weeks,” by John Coons, a semi-autobiographical show built around six original songs; “Murder, a Comedy,” by Kate Gurney, a play about a recent college grad living at home whose family happen to be serial killers; and “First World Problems,” a puppet show for adults by the Improvised Puppet Project, where puppets and humans live side by side.

The PortFringe festival — sort of a festival within a festival — was organized by the Portland Theater Collaborative, whose members were thinking of such a festival event before the Portland Performing Arts Festival put out a call for fringe events.

Michael Dix Thomas of Loren Ipsum Collective said PortFringe is a good opportunity for local theater groups because the venues cost them nothing to use. The collaborative raised money to rent out the venues for PortFringe, which frees up the various presenters to take risks and do things they might not be able to if they had to foot the rental bill themselves.

“This really allows people to just get up and do things. Would I being doing this if I had to commit a couple thousand dollars to it? Probably not,” said Beyland, the actor doing the Steve Jobs monologue. “I’m sure some of the projects in (PortFringe) wouldn’t have been put on otherwise.”

The other events being organized, aside from PortFringe, are being put on by individual presenters at various locations. But they, too, offer lots of fringe stuff.

For instance, Acorn Productions’ Naked Shakespeare series will be presenting an “audience walk-through” performance of “All’s Well on the Waterfront” — an adaptation of “All’s Well That Ends Well,” with characters from 19th-century Portland written into the show.

The show will be held in several rooms of a sprawling 19th-century building at the Portland Company complex on the city’s waterfront.

When audience members enter, they’re given a card to say who they are in 19th-century Portland, or at least their occupation. Then they hear a presentation in a room made up to look like Portland’s long-gone Grand Trunk railroad station. They all witness the final scene of the show together, then get to explore other rooms where other scenes are going on simultaneously.

“Watching the final scene creates a mystery, then seeing all the other scenes helps people piece it together,” said Michael Levine, creative director of Acorn Productions. “It’s a little adventurous, you discover the play as you wander around. It’s kind of a fringy sort of style.”

Because this weekend, fringe is in.

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

 

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