Ithaca’s live performance festival, in its fourth year, features acts from near and far
The fourth annual Ithaca Fringe Festival of performance-based arts is coming to town Thursday-Sunday, April 20-23, sponsored for the second year by Tompkins Trust Company. The fourth installment has an eclectic lineup of acts featuring performers from as far away as Scotland, as well as home-grown talent.
The festival will get underway on Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at Fringe Central in the Visitors Center, on the Ithaca Commons, and it’s an event that is open to the entire community.
The Fringe Kickoff Party will feature delicious eatables donated by Manndible Cafe, music by area artists, and sneak previews of some of the Fringe shows, which will be performed over the next three days at Cinemapolis, Circus Culture, Community School of Music and Arts, the History Center, and Lifelong.
Ithaca Fringe, which gives 100% of ticket sales to the artists, is unjuried: Eligible submissions are pulled out of a hat (truly).
“It’s all the more exciting because you never know if you’ll get plays, comedies, dances, monologues, puppetry, vaudeville, storytelling, mixed genres or something else,” said George Sapio, producing artistic director. “It also eliminates bias and makes the experience more inclusive. Who am I, or some committee members, to judge what is and what isn’t good art? Everyone has different tastes.”
Sapio pointed out, “we’ve been fortunate in our first three years to have had a lot of very good acts, and some truly extraordinary and ground-breaking ones.”
The festival relies on dozens of volunteers, who sell tickets, assist audience members, run errands, and act as house managers and venue technicians. Out-of-town acts are billeted with area residents who open their homes and hearts sometimes making lifelong friendships in the process.
Although the Fringe hopes that all the artists walk away well compensated, they keep ticket prices affordable.
“Our prices are well below average theater ticket prices so that everyone in the community can see a show or two, or all eight,” Sapio said.
Fringe Central, at the Visitors Center, 171 E. State St., will be open for audience-artist mingling throughout the festival, thanks to the generosity of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Community Arts Partnership, and Ithaca Visitors Bureau.
Besides the community kick-off event on Thursday evening, Fringe Central will be open all weekend long for networking, games, entertainment by local musicians, and food donated by other area restaurants including Ithaca Bakery, Northstar House, and Istanbul.
The first-ever late-night Fringe Video Showcase will be screened at 10 p.m. Saturday, and Audience Pick and Andrew M. Dixon Awards will be given on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Fringe wrap party.
Delirium; Martin Dockery, Brooklyn, NY
Important Nonsense; Wolf’s Mouth Theatre Company, Ithaca, NY
Kara Sevda; Now What Theatre, Sebastian, FL
The Lightning Gap; James Comfort II, Ithaca, NY
Mississippi Smiles; Runboyrun Productions, Philadelphia, PA
My Lack of Social Life; Bad Idea Entertainment, Norristown, PA
Spy in the House of Men; Penny. For Your Thoughts, Rochester, NY
The World Will Stop If We Make a Mistake, New Village Ensemble, Scranton, PA
The festival is boosted by a grant from the Ithaca Tourism Board and help from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and sponsors. Sponsorship slots are still available, and individuals can support the festival with donations.
Tickets are $10, with discounts for three, five, or all eight shows. Students with ID may purchase individual show tickets at Fringe Central or at the door for $8.
Learn more about how to volunteer, donate, sponsor and purchase tickets at www.ithacafringe.com. Videographers may submit (links to their) 3- to 10-minute films, and musicians interested in playing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ithaca’s own Big Mean Sound Machine to open the show
| The Downtown Ithaca Alliance enthusiastically announces multi-talented artist Saul Williams will join the already impressive list of artists performing in the CFCU Summer Concert Series lineup.
Williams, an American artist known for his blend of poetry and alternative hip hop, is headlining the Thursday, Sept. 8 concert on the Bernie Milton Pavilion stage.
Big Mean Sound Machine, a popular Ithaca-based funk band, is set as the opening act. Performances will be held from 6 to 9 p.m.
Williams will be coming to Ithaca fresh off two popular music events – the Central Park Summerstage and Afropunk Festival. He is promoting his latest album Martyr Loser King, a multimedia project that engages the digital dialogue between the First and Third Worlds.
An acclaimed New York-based wordsmith, Williams has been producing ground-breaking music since 2001 when he released his debut album, Amhttps://downtownith.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/saul-williams-final-page-001.jpg?w=1462ethyst Rock Star, executive produced by Grammy-award winning producer Rick Rubin.
Since gaining global recognition for his writing and music, Williams has performed in more than two dozen countries and read in over 300 universities, with invitations that have spanned from the White House, Lincoln Center, The Louvre, The Getty Center, the Sydney Opera House and Queen Elizabeth Hall.
The 44-year-old Newburgh, NY native has collaborated with Nine Inch Nails and Allen Ginsberg, and has appeared in several films and television shows.
“Saul Williams is rightly famous all over the world for his poetry and his music,” said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. “Getting him to play a free public show is a huge coup for our downtown and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. And, personally, I am thrilled. Black Stacey, List of Demands, Amethyst Rock and Bloody Sunday are all mainstays on my playlists.”
Concertgoers are encouraged to use their reusable concert cups during this big event. Throughout the concert series, attendees are able to buy a reusable cup, of which the proceeds go to the United Way. This purchase enters the buyer into a contest, and any time they refill that cup, they gain more entries. On the night of the John Brown’s Body show, Downtown Ithaca will announce the winner of the reusable cup contest. The grand prize includes a private show with the Gunpoets for the winner and 10 friends.
Williams’ performance is brought to the area through an additional sponsorship from GreenStar Natural Food Co-op. The natural food store is opening its third Ithaca store on or around Aug. 17 at 307 College Ave. in Collegetown. An official announcement will be listed on Green Star’s Facebook page and website. GreenStar will also be sponsoring a music event, giving away prizes and offering free food at its new location on Sept. 9 and 10 as part of its Grand Opening Weekend. Visit www.greenstar.coop/collegetown for more information about this great “Natural Resource” opening so close to the Cornell University campus.
The award-winning Summer Concert Series is a free outdoor concert series open to the public and held every Thursday from late June to mid-September. Local and national acts perform music in genres including jazz, blues, reggae, folk, hip hop, country, bluegrass and rock. Last year, the series included two national acts, Son Little and Talib Kweli.
This month’s remaining shows include Anna Coogan & Willie B on Aug. 11, Richie and Rosie on Aug. 17, and Jimkata performing on Aug. 25. During Jimkata’s performance, Downtown Ithaca will be giving away a pair of tickets to Big Mean Sound Machine’s Big Mean BBQ II, set for Saturday, Aug. 27.
September performances are The Gunpoets on Sept. 1, Saul Williams on Sept. 8, and John Brown’s Body on Sept. 15.
The CFCU Summer Concert Series is presented by CFCU Community Credit Union and is also supported by Seneca Beverage, Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons, Green Street Pharmacy, Six Mile Creek Winery, Greenstar Natural Foods Co-op, The Ithaca Journal, Legacy Foundation, and the J. M. McDonald Foundation.
For more information about the CFCU Summer Concert Series and other summer events in downtown Ithaca, visit http://www.downtownithaca.com.