Making its debut so soon after the demise of the International Theatre Festival of Chicago, this brand-new project seems to challenge the notion that the Windy City isn't hospitable to events of this kind. Producers John T. Mills and James Ellis hope to succeed where others have failed by offering a more sharply defined image implied by the word "fringe," more concentrated programming (more than two dozen acts in just 11 days, all in one venue with three different performance spaces), a special outreach to family audiences with its special weekend "Kids' Fringe," low prices, and the inclusion of Chicago artists alongside visitors from around the English-speaking world.
The 1995 Chicago Fringe Festival runs June 15 through 25 at the Organic Theater Company, 3319 N. Clark; the phone number for ticket orders is 327-5588 (the Organic box office) or 902-1500 (Ticketmaster). The listings below specify which of the Organic's three theaters each show is in: the South Hall or Lab Theater, both located in the second-floor Organic Greenhouse, or the main stage, whose entrance is on Buckingham just east of Clark. Tickets range from $5 to $12 depending on the show; a $5 festival button gets you a $2 discount on all tickets as well as fest-approved merchandise.
The Reader will carry Fringe Festival listings on a week-by-week basis; here's the schedule for opening day.
THURSDAY, JUNE 15
The Hundredth Monkey
Neo-vaudevillian Danny Lord, a member of New York's Big Apple Circus, is the force behind the Polo Brothers, whose show promises "hit-and-run comedy." He's joined by stilt walker Priscilla Blight. Main stage, 5 PM. $12.
First Prize and Home Fries
Chicagoans Wendye Clarendon and R. John Roberts wrote this comedy about a longtime waitress who wins the lottery. Lab Theater, 6 PM. $10.
The Heart's Desire: Tales of Laughter, Loss & Love
Evanston storyteller Nancy Donoval's program features traditional and original stories. South Hall, 6 PM. $9.
See Critic's Choice. Lab Theater, 7:30 PM. $12.
Gloria Steinem Said "Some of Us Become the Men We Wanted to Marry" . . . Wendy Hopkins Is Tall Dark and Handsome
From Toronto comes this musical comedy by Wild Cycle Productions about the search for true love. South Hall, 7:30 PM. $8.
This Toronto-based comedy troupe has been playing clubs, theaters, and festivals around North America for more than eight years. Lab Theater, 9 PM. $12.
Short Hair/Real Job
Performance artist Jeff Bradley arrives from Windsor, Ontario, with a program of storytelling, clowning, object manipulation, and "non-offensive stand-up comedy and positive non-humiliating audience participation." South Hall, 9 PM. $12.
Englishman Jonathan Kay adopts the persona of a medieval jester for this evening of humor. Main stage, 10:30 PM. $12.
"Magical Mystical Michael," who comes from Austin, Texas, performs a program of stage illusions. Lab Theater, 10:30 PM. $10.
Plenty of Time--Tea Time With Lady Ettie
Carol Black, based in Arlington, Texas, adopts the role of a fun-loving eccentric in this program of Renaissance storytelling. South Hall, 10:30 PM. $5.