Fort Myers is to become the newest Fringe festival location in the United States, and has unveiled a diverse and ambitious programme of shows for April this year.

The Fringe story dates back to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the (then newly formed) Edinburgh International Festival, an initiative created to celebrate and enrich European cultural life in the wake of the Second World War.

The Fringe movement has since spread worldwide, though Edinburgh remains the largest, and has now become the biggest Arts festival in the world. For coverage of the Edinburgh event, see our sister site – The EFC.

And from April 22nd-26th this year, Fort Myers will be the latest city to hold a Fringe festival. It promises to maintain long-standing Fringe traditions of being ‘100% uncensored, 100% unjuried and 100% inclusive.’ In the spirit of the Fringe, 100% of ticket sales go directly to the artists.

Fringe Fort Myers kicks off with the fun and frenetic Teaser Show, with each performance group given 2 minutes to sell you on their show. Over the next 4 days the Fort Myers area will play host to 48 performances on 4 different stages at the Alliance for the Arts and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre.

After the final curtain of the festival, Fringe Fort Myers will host their first ever Fringe awards ceremony celebrating the artists that make Fringe an incredible experience. Florida Rep Education will also offer Kids Fringe, which will operate a family-friendly performance within Fringe Fort Myers.

Tickets for the shows listed below are now on sale. For tickets and further details on the Fringe programme, please visit the Fringe Fort Myers website.

Choose Your Own Variety Show by George Gilbert (Fort Myers, Florida) – Welcome to the world’s only variety show where the audience and fate combine to write the show on spot! Spin the wheel of destiny, and watch as magic and circus jump out of the wheel and come to life before your very eyes! Each act has a story and every show is different, but one thing is for sure: there will be danger, there will be magic, and there will be non-stop thrills and excitement!

Sketch Comedy by Comedy Asylum (Fort Myers, Florida) – Sketch comedy with adult themes, improvisation and naughty puppets. Their specialty is corrupting childhood icons like The Hundred Acre Hood and The Wizard of Oz. They also have topical humor like My Fair Hooker, Dope Hospice, and the Good ‘Ol Boy Scouts.

Welcome to My Soul by Derek Lively (Bonita Springs, Florida) – Set in an underground nightclub, a performance artist (who wishes he could be a stand-up comic) takes us through a series of characters who he has met through his travels as well as members of his family. The performance artist has a cathartic experience because this show is unlike any other that he has performed.

Eat The Apple by Alyce Bochette (Fort Myers, Florida) – What was your definition of a life well lived? A small company of experienced dance performers will capture the audience through thought provoking movement and sound inviting all on a journey of self discovery. When push comes to shove, for what will you be remembered?

Earthshine by Kat Epple (Fort Myers, Florida) – Live music in collaboration with dance, projection art, lasers, and/or spoken word to explore the healing, beauty, fragility, and future of the Earth and performed by Emmy Award Winning artists, Kat Epple.

How We Show Up, Singing About the Dark Times by James Brock (Fort Myers, Florida) – A fragmented original play, with a mix of spoken word, music, song, and movement. The play celebrates the power and agency of being visible, with the attendant responsibilities of showing up, being present, against all of that which tries to render those on the margins silent and invisible.

It’s likely that the content may not be suitable for children–mostly because it would bore them to death. I am pretty sure, though, that moderately educated house pets will love it.

Old Fart by Tim Bourgard (Canada) – Hilarious, touching and fun. Old Tom is the Old Fart. He takes you through the joys and challenges of living long, laughing hard and loving deeply. He’ll make you laugh, bring a tear to your eye and put a song to your heart. Bet you’ll sing along when he strums on his ukulele.

Nazis and Me by David Lawson (Astoria, New York) – Nazis and Me is a one-man show about Lawson’s run-ins with hate set in a time where hateful Americans feel a strong sense of comfort: Right now.

Deep In Bear Country by Philip Gonzales (Minneapolis, Minnesota) – Phil Gonzales presents his ridiculously close analysis of Stan and Jan Berenstain’s Berenstain Bears children’s books. He has investigated, picked apart, theorized and speculated about Bear Country, its denizens, its history and its meaning.

Was any of this called for? No. Is it fair to do this to a rather innocuous series of children’s books? Maybe? Has it changed Phil’s outlook on life, art, family, community and legacy? Definitely.

Sexpert: Madame K! by Krista Komondor (New York, New York) – A wildly interactive solo comedy show that probes everything from excessive male masturbation to enhancing women’s pleasure. Madame Komondor’s completely unscientific sex rant skewers traditional values while exposing the effects of pornography on love and the female orgasm. Madame strips away the fourth wall to teach, answer audience questions, and invite members to the stage to explore examples of consent, cat calling, and most importantly, how to properly lick and suck a mango.

Pardon My French! by Tangi Colombel (Palm Beach, Florida) – Pardon My French! is an unorthodox French Cabaret Show, in English. A one-of-a-kind performance with classic Parisian songs, Gallic humor and just the right amount of jokes that will make you blush.… it’s unusual, different, exotic!

Mom In Transition by Elyssa Rosen (Delray Beach, Florida) – When a baby boomer mom finds out her millennial son is now her daughter, she tries everything short of mind control to stop this from happening to her normal life. Accepting her daughter is fraught with pronoun errors and confusion until mom sees the light in the H&M dressing room. This journey takes the audience through a mother’s neuroses filled with guilt, repentance and most of all humor and love.

The Light Bringer by Laila Lee (Tampa, Florida) – Freedom, but at what cost? A Palestinian immigrant and her family find more freedom in the US than expected. A true-life one-woman show, Laila brings to light her experiences growing up Muslim in the South, and how she discovers her own place in the world and what sacrifices she must make.

Anna and the Sea by Shawnmarie Stanton (Bradenton, Florida) – With Sea Turtle as her companion, actor, singer, songwriter, and solo performer Shawnmarie Stanton embodies over a dozen characters on this lighthearted journey through evolutionary biology. Musical mystery and vertebrate history – a winning combination!

Being Mark Twain by Alan Kitty (Nokomis, Florida) – Being Mark Twain addresses the question “What would it be like to be Mark Twain in the 21st Century? To learn the answer, Kitty transforms himself onstage while relating his 21st century experiences in a style reminiscent of Twain’s humor, satire and irony.

Drunk Magic by Colin Smith (Orlando, Florida) – Drunk Magic is a comedy magic show where the each time an audience volunteer is brought up, everyone on stage takes a shot of tequila. From straight jackets to cutting audience volunteers in half the show is as insane as it sounds.

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