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What the Fringe?

Visual and performing arts roundup for June 2015

I Wish You Actually Liked Me (and Other Familial Impossibilities)

Michelle Pollard

"Projection on buildings, random shit everywhere. That’s what we’re talking about.”

Director Chad Oliverson is talking about Tulsa Fringe. No, it’s not a leather vest accent or the latest hipster haircut. It’s the newest DIY performing arts festival sweeping through Tulsa this month.

Actors, dancers, musicians and street performers organize and price their own non-juried shows at Fringe-affiliated venues. They pay to rent the venues and retain all ticket proceeds. Several sister festivals are wrapped into Tulsa Fringe, including Busker Carnival, SummerStage and a close relationship with the Blue Whale Comedy Festival

The festival’s origins stretch back to Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1947, after being excluded from Edinburgh International Festival, non-traditional performers banded together to play in pubs, basements, warehouses and parks—literally on the fringes of the main festival. Tulsa Fringe sprung out of SummerStage, a decades-old juried theatre festival. Though SummerStage showcases some of Tulsa’s best professional talent, Oliverson said it slowly became obvious that there were limitations to the traditional theater setting. 

After a 2014 test-run, Tulsa Fringe is now an official (albeit loosely organized) festival. In addition to local venues, Tulsa Fringe will pop up on street corners and in alleys.

“The question is always, ‘How can we make this as organic as possible?” Oliverson said.

So what can we expect from Tulsa Fringe this year? In short, “unexpect the expected.” 

Tulsa Fringe continues through June 28 // Free or $3-$20 // Visit summerstagetulsa.org for details.

Insider Tip // The Fur Shop is the somewhat-official afterparty and gathering place for Blue Whale Comedy Festival, Tulsa Fringe and SummerStage.

Must-see Tulsa Fringe Performances:

I Wish You Actually Liked Me (and Other Familial Impossibilities) // June 19-21 // Nightingale Theatre
A comedic look at whether or not any of us can actually bounce back from a childhood fraught with family dysfunction—especially around the holidays.

Welcome to Jewn // June 26 // Comedy Parlor 
Written by former South Park writer Toby Martin, Welcome to Jewn unpacks offensive and acceptable humor and lingo from a Jew’s perspective. Mature audiences.

Confessions of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl // June 26-28 // Living Arts
A one-woman show written and performed by the ultra-savvy Anna Bennett that uses four distinct female characters (and a heavy dose of foolish fandango) to examine gender roles in present-day pop culture.

Tinkerbell is Dead (And Rolling Over in her Grave) // June 27 // IDL Ballroom
The ninth annual performance of the beloved Theatre Pops show combines traditional monologues and stand-up to showcase 2-4 minute segments that run the gamut of emotion and hilarity. Mature audiences. 

Fragile Armor
From meticulously cut dresses to patterned gloves, Fayetteville artist Emily Chase’s intricate paper garments explore the role of clothing in human identity. Her Fragile Armor exhibit (showing at Living Arts through July 10) suggests how restrictive fashions, often worn to preserve and strengthen identity, affect the psyche. Though extravagantly ornate, Chase’s pieces are deceptively thin—the reality of superficial self-expression. 


“Identity and Inspiration” // Through June 29 // Philbrook Downtown 
Exhibition of Native American baskets, jewelry and pottery

“Bookworks IV” // Through July 5 // Philbrook
The latest installment of a series examining books as pieces of art

FiberWorks 2015 // Through July 10 // Living Arts
Features fiber-based works like knitting, needlepoint, embroidery and quilting

Tulsa Underwater Dream Project // Through July 19 // AHHA
Depicts aquatic life using fiber art 

For more from Megan, check out her stories on Samantha Crain and The Wood Brothers.