Cincy Fringe Festival brings the unpredictable and, often, unexplainable to OTR—on stage and off

If you’re up for unique, experimental, unpredictable performances—and the personalities and parties that go along with them—you’re in luck. The 11th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival is upon us.

Ostensibly, the Fringe is theater, but little of it will look familiar to regulars of, say, Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company or the Broadway series at the Aronoff Center. There’s interactive comedy, flashbacks to the 1960s and 1770s, women romping as pirates, sign-of-the-times drama, solo storytelling, conceptual dance as social activism and, as the title of one show lays out, “short-attention-span” theater—30 plays shoved into an hour.

In all, there are 32 productions—about half from local creators and performers, the rest from all over the country and beyond. While Know Theatre is the festival’s host, performances are scheduled in 10 other locales, several of which—including an open room in a chiropractor’s office—would otherwise never be confused for theater spaces.

The Fringe opens Wed., May 28, with shows happening simultaneously every night at every venue through Sunday, June 7. Each production will see three to five performances during that span. will help you sort the wheat from the “what?” by reviewing most, if not every, show.

“It’s a struggle to do edgier work in this city, so an upstart company with no audience to speak of has a much easier time generating audience with Fringe than trying to do it on their own,” said Eric Vosmeier, executive director of Know Theatre and the Fringe Festival. Vosmeier is soon stepping down after five years in both capacities.

“It’s not just about the plays, it’s about the community of the festival as a whole,” he said. “We really try to make sure people are coming down for the whole Fringe experience. The shows are definitely an important part of that, but just a part.”

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Click here to view or download the complete festival guide.

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