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The FRINGE-y 5: NATE EPPLER's Adventures in FRINGEland

The most wonderful time of the year is quickly drawing to a close: 2017 Sideshow Fringe Festival opened last week only runs through this Sunday, August 6, but until then you have a jam-packed calendar of creative, imaginative and adventurous theater to inspire you and to enlighten you - perhaps even enough to keep you satisfied until the 2018 rendition rolls around.

And perhaps no 2017 Sideshow Fringe offering is more eagerly anticipated that Nine Exits, which features a collaboration between award-winning playwright Nate Eppler (Nashville Rep's playwright-in-residence) and Cassie Hamilton and Mallory Kimbrell of Sailors & Maidens fame.

Today, in our final installment of The FRINGE-y 5, Eppler talks about his first exposure to life on the Fringe and what he's looking forward to this weekend, along with offering some suggestions about why you should make every effort to see Nine Exits.

[Editor's Note: Britt Byrd, director of Marian Or, (The Real Story of Robin Hood), stages a takeover of the BroadwayWorld Nashville Twitter feed today to whet your appetite for a full weekend of Fringe events - look for her on Twitter @BWW_Nashville!]

In the meantime, you can read all about Nate Eppler's adventures in FRINGEland now...

What was your first Fringe experience and how did it inspire you as an artist? My very first Fringe was a million years ago in NYC. I didn't really know the city yet so I didn't really know where the venues were. And, also, there sort of wasn't a schedule or a map because everybody else just seemed to know where the hippest work would be. So, with every show I saw, I experienced this incredible sense of discovery that went along with it. Each show was walking on to the surface of a new planet. I loved that feeling and I swear to you I think about recreating that in every show I do. If tickets and parking and babysitters are going to cost that much, I owe you a trip to a new planet, right?

What makes Sideshow Fringe so special? Nashville is a city of culture makers for sure and I am proud of all the art we make here. But we have to be honest when we talk about access - some artists have more access than others. Access to collaborators, to money, to production support, to audiences. I am definitely one of those artists who is very lucky to get that sort of support, and it's because of that privileged position that I am acutely aware of how hard it is for artists on the outside of the mainstream to get their work built and in front of audiences. The Sideshow Fringe celebrates and empowers those artists on the edges of Nashville's art scene. It's not just a chance for an audience to tour the hippest work Nashville is making, but a chance for those artists to make a lasting connection with audiences looking for electric new work.

How would members of the theatre-going public know you? What are some of your biggest/best/brightest and most infamous credits? I'm playwright-in-residence for Nashville Rep and I run the Ingram New Works Project. I had two new plays in production here in Nashville last year: Good Monsters at Nashville Rep and The Ice Treatment at Actors Bridge Ensemble (for which I won a totally fancy award.) During my residency for Nashville Rep last year I wrote a very sad play- this year I'm going to write a comedy about Republicans and acrylics.

Besides your own project, what Fringe offering most excites you this year? Right after the Sailors and Maidens show Nine Exits there is an honest-to-goodness-I-shit-you-not CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE PLAY. How can I not be excited about that? It's called The Lost Medallion of Gondalor (August 5, 10 p.m.)

Why should people come see Nine Exits? Have you seen a Sailors and Maidens show before? It's an adrenaline-hyped Girl-Power Pee-Wee's Playhouse about the power of Arts and Crafts and super lady friendship. This one is also about Cats and Death and I wrote three of the nine little exits. I saw them at last year's Fringe and immediately set about scheming to work with them. My plan worked. You know how you're like: There's so much amazing stuff going on I don't know what to see and also I'm a little bit reluctant because I don't know what that is? Trust me: This is the thing you want to see. You don't need to know exactly what it is. Visit a new planet.

About 2017 Sideshow Fringe Festival Seventh Annual Sideshow Fringe Festival - billed as Nashville's Progressive Performing Arts Event, presented by Sideshow @ Actors Bridge - gathers hundreds of local artists for what promises to be its largest endeavor in its seven-year history. Sideshow Fringe runs July 27 through August 6 at various Nashville locales.

Named as one of CNN's Most Intriguing Festivals in its "Best of the US" compendium of events, Sideshow Fringe Festival gathers some of "the most exciting performing arts Music City has to offer" for two full weekends of "electrifying, gravity-defying performances."

The 2017 edition of Sideshow will include a wide variety of performance styles including circus, comedy, dance, theatre, performance art, storytelling, puppetry, aerial arts, improv and clowning.

"Nashville is growing by leaps and bounds all around and the Fringe Festival is, too!" says Jessika Malone, program director for Sideshow Fringe. "We are excited to expand to two weeks in our seventh summer of celebration to meet the demand for the most adventurous performing art our city has to offer. The fringe is my favorite time of the year because it's all about expressing yourself courageously, embracing eccentricity, and celebrating authenticity in all its forms."

Individual tickets for paid performances are $15 each. Sideshow also has a Triple Play package for viewers to pick any three shows for just $35. Audience members can also explore all of this year's eclectic performances with an All-Access Pass, which covers everything the festival has to offer for $150. Free pop-up performances and other programming will be available in various locations throughout the Festival, including Richland Park.

The Sideshow Fringe Festival is a program of the Actors Bridge Ensemble led by co-founders Jessika Malone and technical director, Mitch Massaro. Daniel Jones joins the team this year as creative producer.

Tickets: Tickets are $15 and 50% of all box office proceeds go to participating artists. Tickets are available at and at all festival venues. All Events will be held in one of the festival's four main venues: The Black Box Theatre at Belmont university, The Darkhorse Theatre, The Actors Bridge Studio in Darkhorse Chapel and Richland Park.

Highlights of the 2017 Sideshow Fringe Festival include:

High-Flying Aerial Thrills This summer features five aerial offerings in the Black Box at Belmont including: FALL's special encore presentation of A Bending Of Its Own Kind, which debuted to a standing-room-only crowd at Oz Arts Nashville in June 2017 and features an all-new invented aerial apparatus based on the x-rays of artistic director Rebekah Hampton Barger's spine; New Altitude, featuring mother/daughter pair Thérèse Keegan and Lizard Walker, returns with Lines Interrupted - an all-new family-friendly aerial spectacular; Suspended Gravity spotlights the legendary women who have made music history in an original circus celebration Women Who Rock; and Chimerical Circus will make their fringe debut with an exploration of the identity of the performer and their many masks.

New Local Plays Nashville playwright Nate Eppler (Osborn Award Winner, Nashville Rep's Playwright-in-Residence) pairs with fringe favorite puppet troupe Sailors & Maidens for an Nine Exits; Britt Byrd, winner of Nashville Scene's Best Actress Award, makes her directorial debut with the patriarchy-smashing and gender-bending Marian Or, (The True Tale of Robin Hood); and Diego Gomez presents a world premiere workshop of The Backpack, an experimental performance format integrating traditional and forum theatre practices.

Returning Fan Favorites #ThrowbackThursday kicks off the 2017 Sideshow Fringe with the hottest, sexiest, most awkward tradition of them all - an interactive open mic where brave audience members can dust off their teenage diaries and reveal the inner thoughts of their younger selves hosted by Cassie Hamilton and Mallory Kimbrell of Sailors & Maidens / Meryl & Joyce.

Fringey Fun Sideshow fan favorites Conway Preston and Kara McLeland are back with an interactive comedy fantasy adventure, The Lost Medallion of Gondalor: A Choose Your Own Adventure, and filmmaker and puppeteer Madeleine Hicks will pop up her Sixty Second Cinema at select and secret locations throughout the festival and present your favorite films in a new format that gets in all the goods in under a minute!

Spinning Yarns abrasiveMedia presents an interactive live podcast Mixer Live: For the Love of Loving; Josh Campbell of Spillit Memphis returns to the Fringe to host both a free storytelling workshop and a new format story slam, The Nerve Slam; and F. Lynne Bachleda shares her tales of learning about life while driving for Lyft in Stories From The Backseat.

History of Fringe Fringe theatre is a term used to describe theatre and related performing arts that are not of the traditional two- or three-act play format. The term has been adopted by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and by alterNative Theatre festivals internationally.

About Actors Bridge Actors Bridge Ensemble is a professional theatre company and actor-training program now in its third decade serving Nashville. Our mission is to tell the stories that impact our community by producing provocative and socially relevant theatre, creating new theatrical works, showcasing emotionally authentic ensemble acting and fostering a nurturing environment where theatre artists at any stage in their development may train and assist in the production of professional theatre.

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From This Author - Jeffrey Ellis

Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner l... (read more about this author)

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