Capital Fringe Festival Comes to Georgetown, July 12-23

Put on your alternative theater hats! 

Georgetown will be hosting the Capital Fringe Festival for the second consecutive year this July 12-23. Showcasing almost entirely original theater, dance and music with more than 300 artists – 75 percent from the D.C. metro area – this year’s venues are at 1025 Thomas Jefferson St. NW and Theater J’s Cafritz Hall with free creative live music at Powerhouse on 3255 Grace St. NW.

This year’s theme? “Find the Sweet. Find the Sour.” 

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!, the founder of the festival, Julianne Brienza believes, especially as the theater world has struggled to emerge from the pandemic. Show attendees will be “encouraged to enjoy fresh squeezed lemonade and live performance” throughout the festival. 

This year’s theme? “Find the Sweet. Find the Sour.” Courtesy Capital Fringe Festival.

Showing their love for the local theater community, the festival returns $10.50 of each $15 general admission ticket to artists and performers. With performances between 50-75 minutes, showtimes will run Wed.-Friday, 5-11:00 p.m. and Sat.-Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. with Wednesday performances exclusively at Theater J. 

Look for signs from Georgetown businesses offering discounts for attendees who display proof-of-ticket-purchases. 

Courtesy Capital Fringe Festival.

Launched by Brienza in 2005, Capital Fringe aims to “nurture in stuffy D.C. the informal, all-in-this-together attitude” she had found in Philly’s theater community, Brienza told the audience at one of our Cultural Leadership Breakfasts last year. 

For Brienza, the phrase “fringe” is “rooted in unsanctioned performances around the edges of the 1947 Edinburgh Festival” in Scotland, The Georgetowner reported last year. The term implies performances that are “in opposition to something,” she said. Fringe festivals now take place worldwide, presenting unjuried assortments of short plays, musicals, comedy acts and cabaret shows that provocatively engage with current issues.

The “primary philosophy of fringe is that there is no gatekeeping” Brienza told DC Theatre Arts. The Edinburgh Fringe is the “largest arts festival in the world” and today there are an “estimated 250 independent fringe festivals taking place around the world.”

Capital Fringe’s mission is to “celebrate cultural democracy and art for everyone,” by “embracing diversity and a spirit of independence,” the festival says. Its aim is to “challenge perceptions, shake up the institutional hierarchy, be brave and unafraid, and serve as a launching pad for unseasoned and established artists.” 

David John Preece’s drama “Tender” focuses on literary legends Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his wife, Zelda. Courtesy Capital Fringe Festival.

This year’s Capital Fringe Festival, in its 16 iteration, offers a wide-range of quirky, edgy, compelling performances, several of which embrace spontaneity, surprise, shock and audience participation. Forty of the shows will be unique to the festival.

With such a wide panoply of shows, audience members are bound to enjoy giving the festival a try. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with audience participation (Don’t drink that!), an imagined evening shared by Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Zelda, the Sharp Dance Company’s sharing of the story of Nicholas Winton rescuing 669 children during the Holocaust, story-telling from Burning Man aficionados, a magic show serving as a revealing stand-up comedy….

Many of the stories will address salient political themes surrounding life journeys, identity and discrimination. In “TBD,” Natalia Corvoisier and Courtney Simmons direct this “musical love letter,” performed by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, combining 15 plays performed in 30 minutes, in an order selected by the audience. 

In “Mutu Sakata,” written and performed by Renee Namakau Ombaba, a young Black woman from Mississippi named Mutu – meaning “genuinely human” in the Lozi language – explores her big-city adventures, dealing with culture shock and confronting her innermost fears. In “Dildos and Body Parts,” Sarah Greenspan plays Diva D’Luscious “combining burlesque, opera, and fantasy in a story about a mermaid who turns into a newly single woman,” DCist reported. 

“Explode the Form,” a Philadelphia Comedy Troupe, sets out to “dismantle your thoughts on everything from capitalism to Taylor Swift,” in “This is What You Look Like.” 

“Explode the Form,” a Philadelphia Comedy Troupe.

“Hey Pamela? Yes Pamela?,” a two-person play from Pamela H. Leahigh is semi-improvised as one of the performers is only given their role in the script 24 hours in advance of each show. In her one-act play “Between Raindrops,” writer/director Elizabeth Cutler explores themes of connection and memory, delving into the 1922 collapse of D.C.’s Knickerbocker Theatre, the city’s worst theater disaster that killed 98 residents and injured over 100 more. 

In addition to “Best in Festival,” Audience members will be encouraged to vote for shows in the categories of “Best in” comedy, drama, dance, ensemble, solo, musical, and music. 

Capital Fringe Festival in Georgetown runs from July 12-23. For a full listing of shows with their descriptions, showtimes and venues go here.



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