FRINGE BENEFIT: A NEW FESTIVAL
For the uninitiated, a fringe festival is a theater festival in which participants can put on plays but don't have to. They might prefer to tell a story, or dance, or invent some new form of expression on a stage.
It's actors without borders. More than 35 cities in North America hold the festivals, which are defined by their non-juried entry procedures and general lack of definition. Tampa is part of that list. A fundraising and lottery drawing party this weekend will go a long way toward determining the shape and participants in the first Tampa Bay Fringe Festival, May 11-14 in Ybor City.
"It has to be something that can be done on a stage in an hour, basically," said Trish Parry, 35, one of the festival's three founders.
The United States Association of Fringe Festivals defines Fringe as a cluster of characteristics, the nucleus of which is a focus on the performing arts. They are typically original, accessible and affordable. Beyond a child advisory when warranted, there are no rules.
"The artists can bring anything they want," Parry said. "It's uncensored, we don't choose them."
A University of South Florida graduate, Parry has performed in and produced with the London-based Wish Experience. She has produced A Brief History of Beer, a performance-based "drinking game," since debuting the act in 2013 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Scottish capitol where Fringe put down roots in the late 1940s.
A year later, she and fellow USF alum William Glenn did the act for a friend, fellow USF alum David Jenkins, the producing artistic director at Jobsite Theater. He encouraged his old friends to go further. The trio have founded the Tampa Bay Fringe Festival with the help of donated time and space. Support in Ybor has come from the Silver Meteor Gallery, CL Space and Hillsborough Community College.
"All of the fringe festivals, for audiences and artists alike, definitely have the atmosphere of being like a one or two-week party," Parry said. "A hardcore party, because the shows are shorter and they have a very limited time between them. Audiences are able to go literally from one show to another and another and potentially catch up to 10 shows a day. And there's usually events going on at surrounding bars, where they can all get together an talk about what they've seen."
The three founders will catch you up, plus roll out a list of ways you can help the festival, at the Tampa Bay Fringe Festival's Lottery Drawing Fundraising Party. 2 p.m. Saturday. New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. email@example.com.
DRINK TO THAT: FLORIDA ORCHESTRA
This is a busy weekend for the Florida Orchestra, in addition to the David Bowie concert (see Page 10). The orchestra Thursday gives its first Happy Hour concert, a new venture that combines informal atmosphere with free drinks and a chance to meet the musicians afterwards. Stuart Malina conducts A Toast to the Classics, featuring Bernstein's Candide Overture, Brahms' Academic Festival Overture and Prokofiev's Summer Day Suite. Music director Michael Francis will direct the next Happy Hour concert in March. 6:30 p.m. Thursday (doors and bars open at 5:30 p.m.) at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
To cap it off, the Florida Orchestra hosts legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman at its annual gala Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater. With Michael Francis conducting, Perlman will play the Theme from Schindler's List, As Time Goes By (from Casablanca) and the love theme from Cinema Paradiso. He has performed with the orchestra before, but not since the mid 1980s. Gala packages include a preconcert champagne reception and dinner after the concert with Perlman and orchestra musicians. 8 p.m., 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $50-$150, not including reception or dinner. (727) 362-5424. floridaorchestra.org.
MASTERPIECE: BEETHOVEN'S STRING QUARTETS
The 16 string quartets by Ludwig van Beethoven have been compared with Michaelangelo's statues and Shakespeare at his best. For one night, the highly regarded Enhes Quartet will perform a selection each from Beethoven's early, middle and late periods, including the Quartet in F major Op. 135, the last complete work he wrote before his death.
"This work, the string quartets of Beethoven, are arguably the most pivotal musical compositions in the history of the world," said Ehnes cellist Edward Arron, left, who teaches cello at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has soloed for numerous major orchestras. "They have been crafted with such skill and imagination. And the idea that Beethoven, particularly with the later quartets, conceived and composed these pieces in complete deafness to be brought back 200 years later, is mind-boggling." Arron 40, started playing with violinists James Ehnes and Amy Schwartz Moretti, and violist Richard O'Neill, last fall. He continues to play with the Palladium Chamber Players. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Palladium Theatre, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $25-$38, students with ID $10. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.