For the entire month of June, Spartanburg Fringe Arts Festival will host performances, plays, cinema, comedy, spoken word, a fashion show, music, and an art exhibit to give public exposure to creative works that are often considered to be too unusual for mainstream acceptance.
Among the most notable events will be several performances of Fun Home, a Broadway musical that won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It will be produced by Proud Mary Theatre Company, South Carolina’s first and only theatre company dedicated to presenting LGBTQ+ voices and stories. Fun Home, based on the controversial graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel, is set in the Bechdel Family FUNeral Home and is about the author’s coming-of-age as a lesbian and her relationship with her gay father. A live orchestra will provide accompaniment.
Another presentation that has national acclaim will be A Sordid Evening with Del Shores, featuring playwright, actor, producer, and director Del Shores, who is known for his plays and films Sordid Lives, A Sordid Wedding, and Southern Baptist Sissies. The double-bill program includes his new stand-up comedy show The S – Stirrer, followed by a VIP reception and on-stage intimate interview and questions from the audience.
Closer to home but still on the national radar will be the Rev. Jim Dant, Senior Minister at First Baptist Greenville. Dant will present his popular comedy lecture Stories I Can’t Tell In Church. Rev. Dant has been in the national spotlight for his progressive stance on LGBTQ issues, most notably in his book This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians. He has written several books and is a much-sought guest speaker. As pastor of Greenville’s 100% inclusive First Baptist Church, Rev. Gant has been complimented, cursed, blessed, blessed out, near deified, and damned for being an LGBTQ ally. His Festival appearance will makes for a lot of laughs and a lot of tears through his unique insight and comedy.
“We have been very lucky to get some very prominent, very high-profile, and very respected guests and shows in the Festival,” Festival Director Sandy Staggs said. “I want this Festival to be another feather in Spartanburg’s artistic hat, a hat that can be worn again for many years and with great pride.”
The Festival will kick off on Saturday, June 1, with a free opening reception that will spotlight the local talent of Proud Mary Theatre and musicians such as Mike “Firebox” Johnson.
The featured event of the evening will a runway fashion show by The House of Mann, a Carolina-based fashion company that has been seen in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Paper Magazine, and CNN (Cable News Network). Designer Brandon Hilton has dressed some of pop culture’s biggest names, such as Alyssa Edwards, Kim Petras, Laith Ashley, Allie X, and Desmond Is Amazing.
Local talent based at the West Main Artists Co-op will also be recognized when Spartanburg’s Scrappy Shakespeare presents the classic Much Ado About Nothing — in a very unclassical way. This ragtag group of performance artists is known for its creative and outrageous interpretations of Shakespeare’s works.
Sparkle City Improv and Alchemy Comedy Theater of Greenville will host of double
bill of improv antics on Monday, June 17.
Other theatre companies and playwrights that are on tap to present work include the USC Upstate Shoestring Players (Keep This for Your Records), Greenville-based playwright and actor Lauren French and her solo show Intimate Dinner or Tap Water Is Fine, devised theatre artist Erika Phoenix’s Fragments, Zachary Urban (All That Shines Is Not Silver), Robert Fuson (Barbie Liberation Organization), and Brook Nelson (White Picket Wives).
For people seeking music, Kate and James Riedy, a brother and sister duo, will present Broadway Genderbent, a showcase of Broadway show tunes sung by the opposite gender than what is usually expected. They will sing songs from Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Dear Evan Hansen, Shrek, and more.
June 25 will focus on the cinema arts and will include a screening of the surreal short film Fugue and a sneak preview of the full-length film The Awakening of Lilith. Both films are by writer/director Steven Adam Renkovish of Easley both deal with grief and one’s sense of reality. Renkovish and actress Brittany Renee Smith will be at the event that will include a question-and-answer session with the audience.
On June 28, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, Spartanburg Fringe Arts Festival presents Stonewall: 50 Years Later as a celebration and remembrances of the benchmark event considered to be the launch of the modern gay liberation movement. Patti O’Furniture, the Carolinas’ Queen of Comedy and Cocktails, will be evening’s emcee in a festive program that includes an encore performance of Movement by Proud Mary Theatre Company, a trivia contest, door prizes, and more.
On the final day of the Festival — Saturday, June 29 — the Fringe Rockin’ Finale will be a day-long concert of bands and musical artists, including Brandy Lindsey and the Punch, Satori Tree, DysFUNKshun, Wounded Hollow, Irises, and Splatter Punx and more!
Throughout the month, the art exhibit “Out of the Box” will be open for public viewing Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on evenings when the Festival is open.
“This is going to be a crazy but wonderful Festival,” Staggs predicted. “This is something never seen before in Spartanburg — or even in Upstate South Carolina for that matter. People will be entertained, shocked, impressed, distressed, inspired, amused, confused, and nearly any other emotion you can think of and that’s alright. That’s what a Fringe Festival is all about.”
For a complete lineup of events and more details, please visit online: SpartanburgFringeFestival.com.
This program is funded in part by Chapman Cultural Center, its donors, the County and City of Spartanburg, and the SC Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.