ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Nationally renowned and locally-based Joywave will headline a mini music festival as part of this year’s Fringe Fest finale in downtown Rochester.
Organizers announced the full lineup Wednesday for this year’s 10th annual KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.
The event will feature more than 425 in-person and online performances, including comedy, dance, multidisciplinary shows, music, spoken word, visual art, film, and more. The festival will run from Tuesday September 14 through Saturday September 25.
This year’s festival will feature more than 120 free shows during its 12 days, including a special finale at “The Five,” formerly known as Parcel 5, in Downtown Rochester.
The Five, now with grass and landscaping, will play host to a mini music festival, dubbed SMOKESTACKS, headlined by Rochester band Joywave. That event will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on September 25.
“Given the insanity of the past 18 months, we felt it was important to put on a concert that’s free for everyone. We all deserve a moment to breathe, and we can’t think of a better place to celebrate our community’s resilience,” says Joywave’s Daniel Armbruster. “We’ve had this SMOKESTACKS event idea for a while now and we are grateful to the Fringe for helping bring this idea to life.”
From the festival organizers:
As reiterated earlier this month, with the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant and corresponding increases in the number of hospitalizations among unvaccinated individuals, all performers, participants, staff, volunteers, and festivalgoers 12 years of age and older will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated in order to attend indoor shows at the 2021 Fringe. As of now, masks will also be required indoors, including for children under 12. The unvaccinated (including those under 12) must wear a mask at outdoor shows as well. Please note: Fringe will update its health and safety protocols as needed.
Fringe had previously announced that the Cristal Palace Spiegeltent would return this year, but because the tent’s owners did not obtain the necessary work visas to allow them to travel from Belgium to the U.S., organizers have obtained a beautiful Italian Circus Tent that will live for all 12 days at One Fringe Place (on the corner of Gibbs and Main Streets, across from Eastman Theatre.) Due to its construction, it will also allow for better air ventilation, another safety precaution that Fringe is pleased to provide.
Also at One Fringe Place, Silent Disco, which the festival introduced to Rochester in 2013, will return for all four, weekend late-nights. It will be home to Fringe’s 10th annual, free Gospel Sunday, an afternoon of the best in local gospel music hosted by Rev. Rickey Harvey, on Sunday, September 19 as well. Also returning to One Fringe Place are two more free Fringe events: Pedestrian Drive-In – nightly “silent” films using Silent Disco headphones – and Kids Day, featuring a free Disco Kids, on Saturday, September 18.
Returning sell-outs Dashboard Dramas (rotating plays in parked cars) and Bushwhacked Backyard: BONFIRE will both run at One Fringe Place throughout the festival, as will the debut of Bushwhacked Renaissance: Renew, Revive, Re-diculous, yet another wacky, improvised, and interactive comedy by Fringe favs, Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst.
The annual Fringe Street Beat will take place on Saturday, September 18 in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at Manhattan Square. All-styles dance teams will compete in semi-finals and finals for cash and bragging rights at this free, exhilarating event.
Because several of the festival’s usual indoor venues won’t reopen in time, new venues stepped in to provide spaces for the hundreds of local, regional, and national artists who submitted applications in June to perform at the festival. Those new venues include the Dawn Lipson Canalside Stage at the JCC as well the indoor JCC Hart Theatre; Made on State, a co-op for “makers” or creatives on State Street; The Spirit Room, also on State Street; the City’s outdoor La Marketa/International Plaza on North Clinton near Clifford Avenue; the new Sloan Performing Arts Center at the University of Rochester; and the Theatre at Innovation Square, the newly renovated Xerox Auditorium that seats 700, which will make its debut at Fringe. Returning venues are: Central Library, Eastman School of Music, Garth Fagan Dance, Java’s, Joseph Avenue Arts & Culture Alliance, MuCCC, Nox, RIT City Art Space, Rochester Contemporary, Rochester Music Hall of Fame, and The Little.
Inside, a new, Fringe-commissioned variety show created and directed by festival favorite Matt Morgan will make its World Premiere for 14 performances: Cirque du Fringe: AfterParty. The production will feature Morgan and co-hosts Mark Gindick and Ambrose Martos, both of whom performed with him in the acclaimed off-Broadway show, Comedy Trio Happy Hour. The three met at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and have since performed all over the world together and individually with companies including Cirque du Soleil, Big Apple Circus, and Spiegelworld. Rounding out the cast are five very talented women: Ethiopian hula hoop artist Zenebech Kassa, Russian juggler Gena Cristiani, African-American acrobat Shenea Stiletto, and Ethiopian foot juggler Elsabet Belayneh Marake, with live music by NYC’s sought-after DJ A-Ball, who was part of 2019’s Cirque du Fringe: D’Illusion.
A Virtual Fringe returns this year, with 55 productions available on-demand as well as live-streamed. Also, several site-specific shows have brought their own venues: Aerial Arts Rochester’s Amplified in its new facility on Atlantic Avenue, and the multidisciplinary Remnants in Ellison Park.
“We are all thrilled to get the performing arts community back where it belongs: on stage in Rochester,” said Founding Festival Producer Erica Fee. “We’re committed to providing a safe AND sensational 10th anniversary Fringe!”
“The KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival not only showcases the immense spectrum of Rochester’s home-grown talent, it has also cemented Rochester as one of the premier gathering spots for inspiring, fun, and exciting performers from across the world,” U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said in a press release. “That’s why I was proud to secure a Shuttered Venue Operator Grant for the festival to support it through the pandemic and keep it running in Rochester for years to come.”
“The KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival is an exciting and rapidly growing festival that continues to entertain audiences in the heart of downtown, and we are so excited to welcome them back this year for their 10th Anniversary,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “Monroe County is a proud supporter of this festival, and we are grateful to the organizers for all their hard work in making sure that we can come together to celebrate Fringe and the Monroe County Bicentennial in ways that help keep us all healthy and safe.”
“I am thrilled that the City of Rochester and the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival have partnered again to bring another year of artistic excellence to Rochester,” said Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “The festival’s growth and success throughout the years has served as an inspiration to fringe festivals across the country and around the world. I am so thankful we are able to safely celebrate the spirit of creativity right here in Rochester this September.”
“Artist-submitted venue shows account for the vast majority of our offerings and are a huge part of our overarching mission and that of fringe festivals around the world: to provide a platform for artists to share their ideas and develop their skills,” explains Fringe Board Chairman Justin L. Vigdor. “I can’t thank our venues enough for their participation.”
“All of us at KeyBank are very proud to be the title sponsor of the 2021 Fringe and to support this unique and inclusive celebration of art and imagination,” adds KeyBank Rochester Market Executive Phil Muscato. “Like the Fringe, KeyBank values the connections that bring us together, create shared experiences, and provoke thought and conversation. We are invested in making this community a better place to live and believe that the Fringe adds immeasurable value to our quality of life.”
From its five-day debut in 2012, the 12-day KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has become one of the fastest-growing and most-attended fringe festivals in the U.S. It is also the largest multidisciplinary performing arts festival in New York State. As a bifurcated festival, it allows for a combination of headline entertainment curated by the non-profit Rochester Fringe Festival as well as an open-access portion based on the 74-year-old Edinburgh Fringe model. Last year’s Virtual Fringe offered more than 170 online productions, both live-streamed and on-demand, giving artists a platform and connecting audiences throughout our community and beyond. The 2019 Fringe featured more than 650 performances and events – over 200 of them free – in 25+ downtown venues and broke all previous attendance records with more than 100,000 visitors.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.