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KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival Opens Next Week

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The festival takes place Tuesday, September 15 through Saturday, September 26.

KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival Opens Next Week

The 12-day, ninth annual KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival won't take over downtown this year, but it will engage plenty of arts lovers in their own homes from Tuesday, September 15 through Saturday, September 26.

"With all that's going on right now - in the world and in our own community - giving artists' voices a platform is more important than ever," says Festival Producer Erica Fee. "And audiences need to experience the transformative power of the arts, whether it be to gain new perspective or simply to be entertained for a while."

Of the festival's 170+ virtual productions, more than 70 are free of charge, including a new, Fringe-curated conversation series called FringeTalk. Each of the four, hour-long, live installments will feature three guest artists plus a moderator discussing a specific topic:

1. Black Lives Matter & the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 8 PM. Hosted by beloved former Rochester TV anchor Norma Holland, the panel consists of Thomas Warfield (Dir. of Dance Dept., NTID/RIT), Karen "KB" Brown (Harlem Dance Theatre, Garth Fagan Dance), and Jason Nious (Molodi, Cirque du Soleil).

2. ...Too soon? Comedy in 2020 on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 8 PM. Hosted by Joe Liss (The Bicycle Men, Second City), guest panelists are Emmy Award-winner Tim Meadows (Saturday Night Live), stand-up comedian Maria Bamford, and Matt Morgan and Heidi Brucker Morgan (Cirque du Fringe, Absinthe).

3. Using Storytelling to Communicate Science on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 8 PM. Return moderator Norma Holland will be joined by award-winning actor David Calvitto, Marcy McGinnis (CBS News), and Carolyn Hall (Works on Water).

4. Predicting the Future? Performing Arts in 2021 on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8 PM. Hosted by Fringe Producer Erica Fee, the panel consists of President & CEO of the Association of Performing Arts (APAP) Lisa Richards Toney, Steven A. Adelman, Esq. (author, Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide), and Dr. Stuart Weiss (Intelligent Crowd Solutions)

Another free, Fringe-curated highlight is the release of two new podcast episodes based on Rochester history by Nate DiMeo's Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Memory Palace. Commissioned by the festival and made possible by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, the episodes can be experienced starting on Sept. 15 via Radiotopia, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher, as well as at One is "High Falls," which debuted at 2019's On-Site Listening Experience at High Falls and tells the tale of famous falls-leaper Sam Patch. The other is a world premiere called "From the Parking Lot" about Rochester's revered Corinthian Hall, famous as the site of Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July" speech. The since-demolished Hall stood at what is now a parking lot at the corner of State and Corinthian Streets, just a block north of Main Street.

Additionally, Fringe has curated two ticketed productions this year, both starring festival favorites Matt and Heidi Morgan. The world premiere of Cirque du Fringe: Quarantini, with an international cast of performers that includes Uganda's famed Act Katwe, has five streamed performances. In a new twist, audiences will get to know some of the cast via interviews with hosts Matt and Heidi. The Las Vegas legends will also present two online-but-interactive performances of Shotspeare Presents the Complete Works of William Shakespeare...sort of. This Bard-based drinking game will feature a diverse cast of performers from all over the world, including Jason Nious and Molodi: Extreme Body Percussion.

How to navigate this year's Virtual Fringe? Attendees can now download the free 2020 Fringe App, available via Google Play and the App Store, for tickets and information. They can also head to, where they can search for shows by genre (Comedy, Dance, Kids Fringe, Multidisciplinary, Music, Spoken Word, Theatre, and Visual Art & Film), date, free shows, age-range, on-demand or live-streaming, and ASL-interpreted or closed-captioned.

The 12-day, 2019 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival featured more than 650 performances and events - over 200 of them free - and broke all previous attendance records with more than 100,000 visitors. From its five-day debut in 2012, the has become one of the fastest-growing and most-attended fringe festivals in the U.S. It is also the largest multi-arts festival in New York State. As a bifurcated festival, it allows for a combination of headline entertainment curated by the non-profit Rochester Fringe Festival as well as an open-access portion.

Rochester Fringe Festival connects and empowers artists, audiences, venues, educational institutions, and the community to celebrate, explore, and inspire creativity via an annual, multi-genre arts festival. It was pioneered by several of Rochester's esteemed cultural institutions including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House and Garth Fagan Dance; up-and-coming arts groups like PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine; and higher-education partners such as the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. The organization's overarching mission is to provide a platform for artists to share their ideas and develop their skills, while being as diverse and inclusive as possible.

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