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Chicago Fringe Festival Lineup Set, Featuring Puppets, Dancers, Fairy Tales

JEFFERSON PARK — The Chicago Fringe Festival will feature an aerialist dance company, a group that roasts characters from fairy tales and an avant garde theater company devoted to presenting fantastical realism and challenging the definition of gender and sexuality.

Fifty performances — including those from NOCO, the Fresno Dance Collective; The League of Miscreants; and the Cock and Bull Theatre — will take place Aug. 29-Sept. 8 throughout Jefferson Park.

Festival organizers are working to finalize the five or six locations for the performances, some of which may take place on Chicago Park District property, said Owen Brugh, an aide to Ald. John Arena (45th).

"It is really going to be a summer of festivals in Jefferson Park," Brugh said. "We couldn't be more excited."

Jeff Fest, an arts and music festival, will take place July 26-28, and Taste of Polonia, the largest outdoor Polish festival in Chicago, will take place Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

Other performances at the Fringe Festival will include shows by El Teatro Luna, an all-Latina theater group, and Abraham Werewolf, an experiment theater group. There will also be a performance by Sea Beast Puppet Company.

Bucktown artist Alex Kostiw won the festival's contest to design a logo and poster. Her design features a woman with red hair eating oranges from a tree growing from the neck of a man seated beside her on a bench as blue birds fly around them.

"The design sends a strong message and was chosen for several reasons: The colors invoke the Chicago flag, the use of the tall fruit-bearing tree reflects the audience’s emphasis on choice — picking the ripe fruit of the performances they would like to see,” festival Executive Director Vinnie Lacey said.

The design — which reflects the festival's theme of Pack A Lunch — will be featured on T-shirts, posters, banners and advertisements for the festival. Originally from New York, Kostiw is a freelance designer.

"The Fringe Festival strikes me as nourishing, both for audiences and performers," Kostiw said. "I originally thought of a salad growing out of this guy's neck, but the explosive flavor of oranges and their bright color and abundance seemed more fun — Fringe-like.”

The festival will feature 50 performances including puppetry, drama, sketch comedy, music and more. The first 13 spots were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and filled up in two minutes, Guldin said. The rest of the spots were awarded in a lottery.

Tickets will be $10 for each performance. All of the box office revenue goes to the artists, which means some will be able to make a profit.

Fringe festivals take place all over the country, with many of the shows emphasizing an experimental, avant-garde and do-it-yourself ethos.