Fringe opens today – here’s what you’ll be wearing

A look at the art of the Fringe button

The Capital Fringe button you’ll be sporting somewhere on your person this July may look like you bought it at a Winslow Homer exhibit, but actually it’s art created by a member of the Capital Fringe staff whose proceeds support both the Festival and its performers.

Everything about Fringe feels handmade. “Yeah, that’s right. We all pick up skills as we need them. We’ve been designing our own logos and programs for a few years. That’s my cat on the festival’s main page. And last year someone put lost sunglasses on our statue, and we thought that was cool, so it’s there too,” Executive Director Julianne Brienza told us.

Detail from the painting by Scot McKenzie for 2011 Capital Fringe Festival

This year’s button art, which is also cover art for the Festival’s program book, was designed by Producing Artistic Director Scot McKenzie. And what of the significance of a boat out on a stormy sea? “It’s been a tough year for everyone,” she continued. “Including for us here at Fringe. We’re a big, successful festival, and people expect us to be this corporate special events company, but really, we’re just three full time people putting this together” [plus lots of hired staff and volunteers as the July festival starts to roll out.] “We work very hard every year to pull this off and make it work financially.”

And with Fort Fringe, the building which now houses the festival, scheduled to be razed in the next few years to make room for convention center related buildings, Brienza is looking for their next DC location.

The DC  flag is flying upside down, a sign of distress, and the red flag is a protest flag, she explained. But the main thing is that the Capital Fringe boat is charging straight through the rough waters.

Prices are slightly higher this year. A single show is $17, up from $15, and the button, first introduced in 2008, is $7, rather than $5. The 2011 Capital Fringe will be offering 124 productions with 2,000 participating artists and is expected to draw 30,000 button-wearing folks during its 18 day run. In an interview with Rebecca Sheir for WAMU 88.5’s Metro Connection, Brienza explained that 60-70% of the Festival’s proceeds goes back to the artists.

Besides being required to get you into each performance, there are other benefits to wearing the button. Wearing it entitles you to discounts during the festival at 19 establishments, offering everything from food, drinks, a gymn workout, greeting cards and a $30 ZipCar driving credit. Hold onto the button post-Fringe for more monthly discounts.

Plus, wearing the button is almost better for meeting new people than walking a puppy. It’s a natural conversation starter. And that’s one of the reasons Capital Fringe exists. “DC can be a hard place to meet people.” Julianne said on Metro Connection. It’s one of the reasons they started the festival here in 2005.

As for the ever changing button graphics? Brienza told Pink Line Project “We very much view ourselves like we’re a band and each year we release a new album. So, of course the image will change but the core is always the same.”

Sail on, Capital Fringe. Sail on.

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DC Theatre Scene will have writers at every show. Visit our special Capital Fringe splash page for links to all the reviews and coverage.

 

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