Amanda Huotari performing “Pretty Face: An American Dream” during last year’s PortFringe. Photo by Sokvonny Chhouk

“Fringe” festivals are a global movement in theater that serves as a venue for new, innovative work, and Portland’s version, called PortFringe, will be held for the eighth time in June.

The series, featuring local artists and several from across the country and shows that tackle sometimes difficult topics, runs June 13-22 this year, which happens to be one of the best times of the year to be in Maine. The 2019 lineup includes a Solo Fest of one-person shows to kick things off and an Installation Fest of immersive performance pieces.

PortFringe launched in 2012 with 50 acts, and since has grown. Those involved in bringing in the artists and their shows encourage them – and the audience – to “step out of their comfort zones,” said spokesperson Deirdre Fulton McDonough.

“The result is absolutely electrifying,” she said. “The energy during the festival week is really not like anything else that happens in Portland’s performing arts scene, with hundreds of local and national artists descending on downtown Portland to present innovative, imaginative work.”

In addition to “homegrown talent,” PortFringe attracts artists from across the country, and she said that Portland’s take on the fringe trend has increasingly caught the attention of national performers and playwrights — this year, from as far afield as Alaska.

“PortFringe makes it viable for artists to take creative risks and for audiences to have a truly unique arts experience in Portland,” she said. “All shows are one hour or less, and with affordable ticket prices, it’s easy for audiences to try something different.”

Proceeds from ticket sales go back to the artists.

Daphne Howland is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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