Fringe fun: Ursinus’ 19th annual Fringe Festival

Modeled after the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Ursinus Fringe performances are a free, avant-garde style of theater. This year’s festivities featured new events, such as an aerial dance fabric workshop, in addition to returning events, such as the ever-popular annual drag show. It was the 19th annual run of Ursinus’ Fringe, and continued the tradition of success.

After attending almost all of the Fringe Festival events my freshman year at Ursinus, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this annual tradition. Since then, I have used the Fringe Festival as a platform for my play-writing and acting.

During the 18th annual Fringe Festival, I was able to produce and perform in both my own written work and work written by other artists during a student-run one-act festival. This year, I participated in the Fringe Festival Cabaret. The Cabaret is one of the most popular events for student performers. Although there are other opportunities on campus for students to express their art, the Cabaret provides a completely free platform to do whatever they choose. This year, it was hosted by Dr. Meghan Brodie, professor of gender and women’s studies and theater. Not only did she host the show, she also acted as stage crew providing student performers with everything that they needed for their acts.

In addition, Brodie oversaw the performance of her dog, Poppy, doing an impression of a bumblebee. This act was an audience favorite according to Julia Herrero ’21, who came to watch the Cabaret: “The best part was Dr. Brodie’s dog, she did an excellent impression of a bumblebee, I was thoroughly convinced!” When asked about the performance, Poppy declined to make a verbal comment, but stuck her tongue out in approval of her own work.

I performed a one-act I had written as well as a slightly impromptu “We Will Rock You,” that involved some audience participation. Both performances had been selected close to the day of the Cabaret, with “We Will Rock You” being chosen only the night before. As nerve-wracking as this last-minute decision was, I was met with nothing but support from both those running the event and those who were in it.

I was nervous about how both of my acts were going to be received by the audience. The Fringe Festival was the debut performance of my one-act and the premise was different than anything else I had ever written. The story of the one-act follows two men in a Walmart bathroom who wind up having a very deep and meaningful conversation in their respective stalls. Surprisingly, I was most worried about singing “We Will Rock You.” The actual Cabaret performance would be the first time I had ever sung it completely through, and it was the first time that I would have audience participation. Thankfully, both of my one-acts were well-received, mainly due to the supportive nature of the crowd.

After my performance, I got to enjoy the rather diverse set of acts from talented students. The whole show included singers, rappers, actors, poetry readers, musicians, jugglers, puppies, and food swallowers! Sophomores Myla Haan and Chrissy Foley performed a beautiful rendition of “To Make You Feel My Love” by Adele.

Haan enjoyed the Fringe Festival, commenting, “I think it went really well. There were a lot of new acts that I didn’t know about. A lot of freshman participation.”

Throughout the performance, everyone in the show learned how to cope with technical difficulties and on-the-spot line learning. The end product ended up being fun and artistic, and I will never forget it. The Fringe Festival was special to me because I got to express my art in a medium where mistakes aren’t forbidden. The beauty of the Fringe is its focus on expressing art rather than achieving perfection. My favorite event during the Fringe Festival will always be the Cabaret, because it really brings Ursinus together to highlight the raw talent of the community.  

When asked how he felt about the Ursinus Cabaret, sophomore Donovan Erskine said, “Oh gee, I really enjoyed seeing the hidden talents of some of my friends. Like, a friend of mine could swallow food whole. It shocked me! I wish I could swallow food whole too!”