To outsiders, the IndyFringe Festival can seem a little intimidating. With so many shows to see, particular protocol for buying tickets, and the general weirdo mystique of a Fringe Festival, it can be hard to know where to begin.
But relax. This might be a gonzo theater festival, but it’s still here in Indy, which means you’ll have friendly Hoosiers guiding you through the process. Here’s everything you need to know before heading out to your first Indy Fringe show:
Where Is It?
The Fringe Festival uses five venues in and around Massachusetts Avenue, just east of the main downtown area. ComedySportz, the IndyFringe Basile Theatre, and Theatre on the Square (which houses two Fringe stages) are directly on the avenue, while the Phoenix Theatre (also home to two stages) is one block off on Park Avenue. A bit farther afield is the Cook Theatre, inside the beautiful Indiana Landmarks building. The Cook is a ten minute walk or a two minute drive from the bulk of the action, or a shuttle runs between the Fringe Theatre and the Cook.
As for parking, you can find metered parking on Mass Ave itself, or free parking on the surrounding side streets. If you’re like me and have a terror of parallel parking, consider parking at the Cook Theatre. It features a wonderful parking lot within easy walking or shuttling distance of the main action.
Ticketing can be one of the more confusing aspects of Fringe. The first thing you’ll need is a backer button. These buttons cost $5, and the proceeds go to the Fringe Festival itself to defray administrative costs. You need a backer button to go into any Fringe show, but you only need to buy it once. After that, just make sure you wear it.
For each show you want to attend, you’ll need to pay $10, cash only. Why this division?
Unlike other Fringe Festivals, 100 percent of the door price goes to the performers, so you know more of your money is going to support the wonderful artists you’re seeing. You can purchase tickets individually at the door, in advance at Festival headquarters, or you can buy a fiver fo $40, which gets you into five shows. Even if you have a fiver, you’ll still need to show it at the door of every theater and get an actual ticket. Every show is one hour long, with 30 minutes between shows for mingling and meandering from one venue to the next.
Popular shows do sell out, so if you have your heart set on purchasing something, get your tickets in advance at Festival HQ.
Choose Your Shows
With all those logistics out of the way, it’s time to select your shows. With so many to choose from, it can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be. Fringe is accessible to everyone, no matter your taste. Yes, there are things you’d associate with Fringe, like an emotional one woman show about a transgendered woman’s journey or a quirky, wordless show about robots, but you’ll also find family friendly magic shows, fabulous storytellers, dance performances, sideshows, opera, burlesque and almost every other kind of theater in all its wild and wonderful forms.
Pick up a program, check out the website, or just walk into a theater. You might just be surprised and delighted by what you find.
Have you been to Fringe yet? Any must sees?