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And now for something a little different …

To hear Sharon Litwin’s interview with Emilie Whelan on WWNO-FM, click here.

Fringe Fest is under way, with a little something for everyone.

It’s time again for the wild and the weird, the fresh and original.

That’s what Emilie Whelan says, and she should know. She’s the performance coordinator for the ever-growing, slightly off-the-grid New Orleans Fringe Festival, an annual romp of “fearless performers, fearless audiences” taking place now through Sunday.

While there are dozens of “official” Fringe-managed performances around town, there are even more spontaneous, individually created groups, whose presentations are popping up in all kinds of unusual places.

“All our BYOVs – Bring Your Own Venues – have exploded in numbers,” Emilie says. “This year we have over 40. And these are people who get their own venues, take charge of their own box office, do their own marketing.”

Now in its fifth season, this five-day-long theater and performance happening is showcasing a collection of presentations as wide-ranging as drama and cabaret, contemporary circus arts and musical theater. The venues are just as varied, ranging from outdoor gardens to indoor theater spaces, a Mardi Gras float den to a Free-for-All Tent on a neutral ground near a railroad track. And while most locations are in the Marigny/Bywater area, there are also pockets of events all across the city.

“There’s a bunch around Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard and a bunch around Mid-City,” Emilie says. “There’s even a few downtown and on Canal Street.”

Content runs the gamut, from the seriously adult to kid-friendly family events. Take your pick from 69 different offerings as diverse as grown-up comedy on the fringe or a “gripping, innovative” version of Hamlet, a “thought-provoking” dance collective’s presentation or a contemporary cabaret comprising theater, dance, music, film and puppetry. Young Fringelings and their families have an entire weekend of activities planned for them: From noon to 5 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 17) and Sunday (Nov. 18), they can go to the Free-for-All Tent at the corner of Press and Dauphine streets and learn new hoola hoop moves or participate in a dance workshop. There will be food vendors as well as other kid friendly events.

While tickets can be bought online, they can’t be printed out online, and must be picked up at the central box office on Press Street at Dauphine, a block or so from NOCCA. There, tickets can be purchased for all Fringe-managed shows with credit cards or cash. But all BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) Fringe-associated but individually presented events will accept cash only.

For tickets, show listing and venue location information, go to

Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.


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