festivals in your face

The Times has a quick and snappy overview of some of the non-Fringe festivals happening this month and next, including the HOT! Festival, the Ice Factory Festival, the Hell Festival, and American Living Room. While it’s great that the festivals are getting column inches, the article’s generalizations just add to the confusion. If the paper raves that everything’s pushing the envelope, and everyone’s experimenting and collaborating, well, that’s not much to sink your teeth into. It’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But it’s like walking hungrily into a huge lush forest that’s full of trees dripping with thousands of different kinds of crazy fruit you’ve never seen before: which ones will blow your mind and fill you up with just one bite? Which will leave you woozy and confused? And which will be guarded by a posse of purple monkeys who’ll take you hostage and convince you to never leave the woods?

Bizarre metaphors aside, a lot of the work in these smaller festivals is probably going to be amazing. And some of it’s not. But it’s tricky to differentiate one from the next. Even if you know (or are) the people involved, have been following the shows’ progress from their inception, and plan to see as many as you possibly can, it’s definitely overwhelming. Do you think that what started as ways to fill artistic gaps and bring performers and audiences together are still fulfilling the goals they set out to? Is it worth it to try to tell them apart, or should you just say “screw that! I just want to see me some performances” and go to as many as you can, or at least the ones your friends worked on? How are you deciding which festivals and shows to support? Tell us what you think down there in the comments. If anyone is directly involved in a festival, in whatever capacity, and wants to write something longer about the experience, email me at intern@culturebot.org. And be sure to read all the way to the end of the Times article, where contact info, dates, and ticket prices for most of the festivals are listed.

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