By Dee Jae Cox
Rudolf Bing, an Austrian impresario who had fled Nazi Germany, wanted to create an international theatre festival in the UK. After various searches, Edinburgh Scotland was proposed by the British Council as the new location. In 1945 a festival committee was formed and it was decided that 1947 would be the date of the festival and a chance for Edinburgh to create a new post-war identity as ‘the cultural resort of Europe’.
The first Edinburgh International Festival began on August 24,1947, with a goal to ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit‘ by bringing people and artists together from around the world.
Unfortunately, not everyone who wanted to participate were invited and so The Festival Fringe was created when eight of the companies who had not been included, – six Scottish and two English – staged their own shows alongside the new International Festival. These groups operated totally independently of each other, with no support structure.
The artists produced their own shows in empty stores and church basements and their work was staged literally “on the fringe” of the established festival. The concept was an immediate success and the Fringe soon became just as popular as the “official” Festival.
Today, Fringe Festivals around the world vary, lasting from a day to a few weeks involving multiple venues. Shows are kept brief and technical requirements simple. Introducing audiences to new genres of the performing arts.
Fringe Festivals are a celebration of art and culture. Artists and performers take to stages all over the U.S. and the world, to present shows for every taste. From big names in entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers. Fringe festivals include theatre, comedy, dance, cabaret, music, exhibitions and events.
In 2018 a new and exciting Fringe Festival kicked off in the high desert of California. Created and produced by Actress/Playwright/Producer Miri Hunter and Teacher/Actress/Writer Ann Van Haney, the High Desert Theatre on the Edge Fringe Festival is now in its fifth year. These two creative and inspirational women managed to continue the festival during Covid by putting it on line in 2020 and 2021, which opened it up to an international audience. Both Miri and Ann have been active in Los Angeles and Desert theatre for many years.
The Hi Desert Fringe Festival is produced under the auspice of Project Sheba, founded by Dr. Miri Hunter in 2007 and is a minority and woman owned non-profit organization whose mission is to work with persons of diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences towards making local and global communities strong and vibrant. In 2017 Project Sheba started a Theatre Company called Thought Theatre and a year later they kicked off the Hi Desert Fringe, whose purpose is to bring original, non-traditional, gritty, edgy, thought-provoking performance art to the Hi-Desert.
When attending Fringe Festivals in Hollywood one of the most exciting experiences for me was the discovery of the hidden gems that may not have otherwise been discovered. Stage works that I had never seen and artists I was not familiar with. Each was unique and enticing and waiting for new audiences to discover them. The 2022 High Desert Fringe Festival continues the mission of these exciting world-wide events by presenting fresh, new, edgy and inspiring works by a diverse group of artists.
Special Guest MC Turiya Autry will host the festival and present the following shows;
The One Woman Grievance Parade, Lisa Mednick Powell
This will be mostly a sartorial statement, featuring strips of white cloth safety-pinned to Lisa’s black outfit.
A Few Recent Histories of Haunted (Desert) Debacles, Claire Vaye Watkins and Ruth Nolan
prose writing inspired by growing up and coming of age in wild and woolly places in the rural Mojave Desert
Echoes of a Woman, Patricia West-Del Ruth
Voices from a horrific past, play over and over in a woman’s head, as she struggles to confront three different personalities as they reveal the brutal reality of her life.
Yes, No, Maybe So, Catherine Barnes
After an unsettling doctor’s appointment, Catherine’s inner social justice warrior, Professor Sarah P. Outrage, takes Catherine on a hilarious tour of her own fraught relationship with boundaries. Featuring song, characters, multimedia, and percussion instruments.
Pas De Poubelles, Jenn Henry
Set to a 1987 USSR recording of Tchaikovsky’s Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker (Op. 71, Act II: No. 14), “Pas de Poubelles” is a ballet duet with a trash bin.
The Desert Split Open, curated by Susan Rukeyser
Four local writers (Caryn Davidson, Annie Connole, Dwayne Alicie, and Susan Rukeyser) will read their original poetry and prose, offering a glimpse of the kind of work shared every month at the Desert Split Open Mic, Joshua Tree’s feminist, queer, and otherwise radical spoken word open mic.
Stories to Share, Sue Neal
Lillith The Demon, Garden of Eden, Created Equal, Van Ago, Go, Go
Olly Billy Bob Brown-America’s Favorite Thrillbilly, Allen Merritt
Olly Billy Bob Brown, America’s Favorite Thrillbilly practices the gift of gab and gossip, sharing humorous commentary on things he sees going on as he travels around the country.
Cholla Needles, curated by George Howell
Cholla Needles, the high-desert monthly litmag, presents a group poetry reading. The featured writers include Susan Abbott, Cindy Rinne, George Howell and John Sierpinski.
Elegant Betrayal, Rue Love
The video showcases an original song, which is a blend of spoken word and punk cabaret.
3 Short films, Roy Boucher
George, Happy Birthday Art, Bees and Seas
Tarot 4 U, Roy Boucher
Roy will also lead up to four workshops during the day, each at 45 minutes to introduce Tarot.
Torn Hide, Alex and Lauren Valdivia
A psychological bull fight, centered within a worn western woman, who battles her darkness in a vicious struggle, day after day, bruised by the desert.
Another Round of Lame Excuses, Kurt Schauppner
Of his performance Kurt says, “I sit around playing songs l have written and telling stories about the songs.”
Saturday, May 14th
Tower Homestead Guest Ranch in Wonder Valley, CA.
76969 Amboy Rd Wonder Valley CA
Beer, wine and catering by the Hungry Lizard will be available.
Outdoor COVID protocols will be observed.
For schedule and ticket information:
Please visit www.hidesertfringe.org
Dee Jae Cox, is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project
And Co-Creator of the Palm Springs Theatre Go-To Guide,