Quantcast

Fringe Fest Sees Bump In Ticket Sales Despite Protest, Stolen Equipment

By Alex Nitkin | September 12, 2017 5:31am
 The theater ensemble Barrel of Monkeys was one of 50 groups that performed in this year's Chicago Fringe Festival.
The theater ensemble Barrel of Monkeys was one of 50 groups that performed in this year's Chicago Fringe Festival.
View Full Caption
Chicago Fringe Festival

CHICAGO — The Chicago Fringe Festival drew thousands of theatergoers to Jefferson Park and pulled in nearly $30,000 for its performers during its 12-day run that ended Sunday, organizers said.

About 3,900 total tickets were sold for 187 performances, registering a 3 percent bump in attendance compared to last year's festival, festival director Anne Cauley said.

One of dozens of global offshoots of the 70-year-old Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Chicago festival intentionally promotes outside-the-box, avante-garde theater by choosing its plays through a random lottery instead of screening them.

The annual festival's eighth year in Chicago — and fifth year in Jefferson Park — didn't come without hiccups.

One play, titled "A Virtuous Pedophile," inspired an online backlash and then a protest by asking audience members to sympathize with an adult character who was attracted to children.

And on Thursday, organizers returned from the festival's two-day hiatus to find that one of its electric generators had been stolen, Cauley said. Someone had cut through a padlock to sneak the $1,000 generator from outside Weston's Coffee & Tap Co, 4872 N. Milwaukee Ave., which had served as the fest's headquarters.

But the festival was saved when Susanna Ernst, a board member for the neighborhood group Jefferson Park Forward, offered to run electricity from her home to power the Kids' Fringe event at Milwaukee and Giddings avenues, Cauley said.

"It was frustrating, but we're used to rolling with the punches to make sure everything keeps moving," Cauley said. "And we're grateful to have a growing base of supporters who really wants to make sure we succeed."