For four years, the San Diego International Fringe Festival has been bringing audiences a taste of what they might otherwise never see. Encompassing nearly every conceivable genre of the performing arts—from puppetry to poetry, cabaret to comedy—the festival works a lot like an off-off-Broadway showcase of some of the world's most creative, up-and-coming talent. Think of it as seeing tomorrow's performing arts stars today.
To hear executive producer and director Kevin Charles Patterson tell it, he never would have started the Fringe Festival had he not, on a whim, booked a flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, where the Fringe Festival originated (dozens of cities all over the world now hold them). When he saw that city's fest, he says he knew San Diego was "prime" for such an event.
"After discovering what a fringe was and what it can do for a city, I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, this would be amazing,'" says Patterson. "We've gotten a lot of international interest from artists not only because we'e a tourist destination already, but because our venues are larger and we have major organizations participating."
There are dozens of performances this year, but if we were to choose just a few for a three-show pass, we'd probably go with Royal Kung Foolery, a London-based physical theater troupe specializing in slapstick; Kimberly Dark's one-woman show that deftly blends stand-up and cerebral storytelling; and Nations of San Diego, a multi-day, multi-ethnic dance performance celebrating the various cultures in our region.
"It's a goulash for the arts," says Patterson, who points out that the SD Fest is the only bi-national fest in the world since some performances take place in Tijuana. "Multiple genres and at a totally affordable price. There are so many things to choose from and it's unlike anything else that happens here throughout the year."
It all goes down Thursday, June 23 through Sunday, July 3. Times and venues vary, and tickets range from $27 for a three-show pass to $72 for 10 shows. Tickets for individual shows are also available. sdfringe.org
With swanky tree houses growing in popularity among adults, the trend is coming full circle to reflect back on kid culture, influencing The New Children's Museum's (200 W. Island Ave.) latest installation. The Wonder Sound is part treetop clubhouse, part village and fully imaginative. Artist Wes Sam-Bruce is responsible for both the creative and physical labor that went into the exhibit, which extends more than 30 rooms and was inspired by dusky natural landscapes, fictitious animals and ancient cultures. The interactive labyrinth, filled with spider webs of rope and a language specifically created for the project, is a surreal playground accompanied by composer Joel P. West's experimental soundscape. There's free admission on opening day, Saturday, June 25, and regular admission applies every day after, ranging from free to $12. Doors open at 10 a.m. thinkplaycreate.org
It's hard to imagine shows such as The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver could exist without the political cartoons that preceded them. Hell, if it wasn't for political cartoonist Thomas Nast's depiction of Andrew Jackson's Democratic jackass-ery scaring off the gentle Republican vote (different times back then), we wouldn't have the donkey and elephant symbols of the respective political parties. The art exhibit Party Lines: The History, Art, and Politics of Editorial Cartoons—which opens Thursday, June 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the San Diego State University Downtown Gallery (725 West Broadway)—explores the impact of political cartoons and features historical and contemporary work by artists including Patrick Oliphant, Herb Block and La Cucaracha creator Lalo Alcaraz (who we've profiled in these pages). Event is free. art.sdsu.edu/sdsu-downtown-gallery