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The Fringe Gets Bigger

The uninhibited theater festival grows to 140 shows but keeps its eclectic, inclusive ethic

Joseph Price feels no shame in asking complete strangers about their love lives. But when he opened conversations with the line “Are you lucky in love?” at the Capital Fringe Festival preview party Thursday night, he was more interested in generating buzz for his play than in getting a date. Price, 27, codirects the performance Logic, Luck and Love, one of 140 shows featured in DC’s fifth annual Capital Fringe Fest, a monthlong avant-garde theater showcase. The festival kicks off on July 8 and is slated to be Washington’s biggest Fringe Fest ever.

“We tried to pick shows that would be able to show the spectrum of the Fringe,” said executive director Julianne Brienza. “That spectrum is varied—we don’t censor, we don’t jury.”

The performance selections at the preview ranged from irreverent to drunk to darkly kitschy. The Miss Teen Jesus Pageant reinterprets Christian hymns through the story of a gay couple who wants their daughter to attend Bible college. Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue featured a drinking song, with performers keeping up the pace.

Some performers also got political (this is Washington, after all). Promoters of the play The Tea Party Project pretended to picket the event, wielding intentionally misspelled and ungrammatical signs including “Shakespeer = Socialism,” “Actors is liberals!!!,” and “Dramunism.”

Loren Bray, 24, will have her first Capital Fringe experience as a cast member in The Von Pufferhutte Family Singers. The performance is a spoof of The Sound of Music, but the actors engage in Rockette-like high kicks and sing about how “I’d rather die than be obscure.” Bray, who sported a German beer-girl outfit with thigh-high sheer socks and a corset-like top with a pink bow, said she’s been looking forward to the Fest since May: “It’s been coming together nicely. I’m hoping to see lots of different shows.”

Bray wasn’t the only first-timer. Luke MacCloskey, a Pennsylvania resident, came to the festival last year to support a friend. He and his wife, Christina Myers, said they were so impressed with the atmosphere that they applied and were accepted as performers for this year.

“Last year, we found the DC audience to be supportive, receptive, and encouraging,” said Myers, 42. “We really wanted to participate.”

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