BWW Feature: KANSAS CITY FRINGE FESTIVAL at All OverNow spreading like a virus with a lifespan of only ten days, the annual Kansas City Fringe Festival has once again exploded across Kansas City entertainment venues for the thirteenth July in a row. It is an entertainment stew chock full of short plays, musical performances, dance, comedy, storytellers, clowns, puppeteers, improv groups, one man shows, magicians, and visual artists.

There are over 90 opportunities to explore your own tastes and stretch your own limits of acceptability. Some Fringe performances are very good. Some are adult in nature. Some ideas are wonderfully creative and executed. Some shows are just awful.

"Fringe Festivals" are the descendant of something that happened organically in Edinburgh Scotland in the late 1940's. It has acquired a reputation for hosting performances on the "Fringe" of good taste and propriety. That's kind of unfair. There are shows that fit the description, but more "Fringe" is an opportunity join in something developmental and potentially worth seeing.

Anyway back to post World War II Edinburgh, eight uninvited theatre groups appeared at the established Edinburgh International Theater Festival. These groups found venues around the "Fringe" of the established event to display their wares. The idea spread and grew. "Fringe Festivals" now thrive after 80 years on six continents.

Here is how it all works. Fringers buy a $5.00 Fringe button and pick up a program at any of the seventeen venues around town or at the "Kansas City Fringe" office in the lower level of Union Station. The button allows "Fingers" to buy a $10 entrance ticket to any of the one hour or so performances.

Is it great? Well, you pays your money and you takes your chances. A lot of this stuff is experimental. About 20 percent of Kansas City performers travel around the country and the world to various versions of "Fringes." The Kansas City Fringe features local performances plus American performers who have arrived from homes located from sea to shining sea. One is from Alaska. Another is from New York City.

The Kansas City Fringe Festival continues all over through July 30. The web site is

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From This Author Alan Portner

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