You may have heard of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, well this year is the first ever Paris Fringe Festival. In English? Yep. In English. Eh, Mostly.
The festival features both international work and France-based companies, and artists are travelling to Paris for the festival from Belgium, Canada, the UK and the USA. English is the main language for performances and other events. As a newer festival it received 100 submissions for this first year, which is not that many considering it was open world-wide. Newer festivals, however, tend to get fewer submissions as they are not as widely known, hence, less competition. (which is why YOU!) Of course judging by the amazing talent I saw at the inauguration, this festival won’t be a secret for long. (which is why NOW!)
The first edition of Paris Fringe, a festival of international theatre in English, takes place from Monday, May 23 to Sunday, May 29, 2016 in Paris, France. Artistic Director Reka Polonyi answers a few questions here…
What makes a fringe festival different from another theatre festival?
The Fringe festival started in the late 40s as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival. Companies which had not been invited to play, came along anyway. This is how the Fringe started, and today such festivals have popped up around the world, in New York, Montreal, Dublin, Prague, Amsterdam, Stockholm … and now, finally, in Paris. A Fringe festival is usually colourful, chaotic and immersive. Performances pop up on street corners, in bars, cafes, theatre venues. The companies are typically contemporary, and the works that are showcased are sometimes controversial, thought-provoking and include innovative approaches to theatre. It is usually based in the English language, as English is referred to as a language of international exchange.
Yes. As its history shows, a Fringe festival is usually a platform for artists to showcase new work, a place for young companies to meet and share their approaches. As the word ‘fringe’ suggests, most of the shows are considered off-mainstream, conventional theatre.
Who are some of the must-sees of this year’s inaugural festival?
There are shows for everyone – we have tried to offer thought-provoking themes and entertaining approaches for everyone to pick and choose from. The programme ranges from one-man testimonial theatre (Nine Lives), performance-dance (AMOUR), tragic clowns (’33 Kabaret, Tatterdemalion) to bombastic cabaret (Twisted and Tongue Tied), free open mic poetry in a laundromat (Dirty Laundry), musical theatre (Seasons, Paris-London-ROAM), improvised and interactive musical theatre for children (NEW), a murder in a real basketball court (Quasar Blues), stand up comedy (French Fried Comedy, FIEALD), ), interactive street theatre (Encore, Shared/Folder) and so much more …
Were there any trends in submissions this year?
It was sheer pleasure going through the pile of applications this year – what a huge variety of shows and nationalities! Naturally, we received more one-man/woman pieces as these tend to be easier to tour internationally.
What do you expect to see for next year’s festival? Trends? Deadline for submission?
We are hoping to open up more internationally, and not necessarily limit ourselves to the English language (or bilingual French-English) shows. We will especially be on the lookout for both local and international companies that promote contemporary themes and innovative approaches to theatremaking. After all, we are hoping to inspire audiences with shows that are not necessarily easy to find in Paris. Trends? Oh boy – interactive cabaret? Circus on social themes? Spontaneous performers guiding audiences through the streets? Hard to tell with an international festival … I’d hate to spoil the surprise. The deadlines and application procedures will be published on our website in the next months.