When does the edge move to the center? This looks like the year for the New Orleans Fringe Festival as it unveils more than 150 shows from 60 performing groups during its run from Nov. 17 to 21.
The 2010 New Orleans Fringe Festival runs from Nov. 17 to 21 with performances scheduled throughout the city.
One measure of the festival's growing importance is that international artists are traveling here for the first time, including some from as far away as Chile, Switzerland, Italy, Northern Ireland and Norway. The foreign contingent joins artists from across the United States for five days of drama, comedy, musical theater, cabaret, multimedia, dance, circus, sideshow and puppetry. The Fringe even sponsors a parade on St. Claude Avenue, which mixes festival performers and neighborhood folks. The Good Children Fringe Parade starts at St. Claude and Poland Avenues on Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.
Although most of the festival centers on a half-dozen locations in the downtown neighborhoods of Bywater and Marigny, the venues also include such -- dare we say "establishment" -- theaters as Le Chat Noir cabaret and Southern Rep. Other venues are as alternative as the performers. This year, for example, shows will be staged in the Den of Muses, an industrial building in Marigny that house floats for the Krewe du Vieux.
Another first for the festival will be a weekend of free daytime children's activities, such as improv workshops, double-dutch contests and art-making activities. They will take place in the Free-For-All tent -- in Plessy Park at Royal and Press streets, beside the festival's central box office. It's a good place to put up your feet, sip a beer, grab a snack or shop the Fringe Market for crafts.
For tickets and details about all the shows, visit nofringe.org.
Southern Rep is currently featuring "Afterlife: A Ghost Story" by Steve Yockey. It's the world premiere of a piece that will go on to theaters in Boston and Los Angeles with support from the National New Play Network. Set in a beach house with a storm approaching, this hair-raiser follows a grieving couple through a plot full of sudden twists and surprises. Southern Rep artistic director Aimee Hayes staged "Afterlife, " with an all-star local cast: Lucy Faust, Michael Aaron Santos, John Neisler, Troi Bechet, Lisa Picone and Andrew Farrier. It runs through Nov. 7. Call 504.522.6545 or go to SouthernRep.com.
Cripple Creek Theatre Company does its part to promote new plays by presenting a trilogy of one-acts in November. Written by the troupe's artistic director, Andrew Vaught, "A Crude Trilogy" is directed by Emilie Whelan. She recently staged a sell-out production of "The Madwoman of Chaillot" for this spunky downtown company. "Crude" opens on Nov. 5 and runs on weekends through Nov. 13. Call 504.891.6815 or go to cripplecreekplayers.org.
Anthony Bean Community Theater continues its run of "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men" by Lonnie Elder III. Set in a rundown Harlem barbershop, this 1969 stage classic centers on the struggles of an aging patriarch and his fractured family. For the New Orleans production, which closes on Oct. 31, Anthony Bean directs a cast of seven, including such notable actors as Harold X. Evans and Damany S. Cormier. Call, 504.862.7529 or go to anthonybeantheater.com.
Saints fans have a chance to celebrate at the theater this month with two notable local shows. "Ain't Dat Super" debuted at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts over the Labor Day weekend. It will return to the big hall in Armstrong Park on Nov. 13. Set in a New Orleans bar, the show features beloved local actors -- Becky Allen and John "Spud" McConnell -- in a comedy loaded with Saints trivia. There is even a chance to "tailgate" before the curtain rises. Call 888.946.4839 or go to aintdatsuper.com.
There's also time to catch the final show of "Bless Ya Boys: Who Dat Nation" at Le Chat Noir cabaret on Thursday. It's the fourth year for this popular seasonal review which looks back, with a smile, at 40 years of Saints history. Other shows at the Le Chat include a pair of comedies "Good Night and the Island of Dr. Fitzmorris!" Friday and Saturday and "Love Child" (opens with a benefit show on Nov. 4 and continues on weekends through Nov. 21). Call 504.581.5812 or go to cabaretlechatnoir.com.
Le Petit Theatre also focuses on laughs with "Forbidden Broadway, " which runs at the French Quarter venue Nov. 5 through 19. The comedy spoofs familiar stage actors and Broadway shows. It has evolved in the decades since winning a 1981 Tony Award in New York. It now includes send ups of "Hairspray" and other more recent work. Call 504.522.2081 or go to lepetittheatre.org.