In an effort to encourage more young people to attend the country’s oldest performing arts festival, the 2015 Orlando Fringe Festival has been ramping up its efforts to draw in a teen audience.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the 24th annual festival, held at Loch Haven Park, counts eight local high-school theater troupes among the more than 100 performing groups it will host this year.
“It’s not only an amazing opportunity for Orlando Fringe, it’s an amazing opportunity for these students,” said George Wallace, the Fringe Festival’s executive director.
Four of the troupes come from Orange County, and one from Seminole. In addition to performing at the Fringe Festival, these students will get to attend special festival workshops in auditioning, acting and improv comedy.
“Saying ‘I performed at Fringe’ is a big deal,” said Shelby Buchanan, a senior at Seminole High School in Sanford. Buchanan explained that Orlando’s Fringe Festival, with its international reputation, is a great place for aspiring performing artists to kick-start their careers.
Allowing high-school troupes to perform is just part of producer Mike Marinaccio’s efforts to get more teens to the Fringe Festival. Since 2011, Marinaccio and Wallace have worked to add venues and free kids’ activities as well as diversify the types of food available to attendants.
The Fringe Festival has also increasingly directed its advertising toward teens, as well, including smartphone-targeted ads and mobile billboards. On average, more than 95% of all Americans will be reached by mobile advertising techniques.
Each year, the festival features performances of some of the most colorful and avant-garde short plays, comedy acts, music and improvisation. While the Fringe Festival often gains much of its publicity from its more risqué content, many of the performances it puts on are suitable for all audiences.
Orlando’s festival, as is the case with with 200 other fringe festivals around the world, traces its roots back to Edinburgh, Scotland, where artists and performers who couldn’t get booked at a festival started one of their own on the festival’s outskirts.
The Orlando Fringe Festival ends its two-week run on Monday, May 25.