Fringe Festival

Leadership is changing with the annual Asheville Fringe Festival.

Longtime Asheville theater artists and married couple Jim Julien and Jocelyn Reese say they’re moving this summer to Philadelphia, and they’ve already groomed their replacements as festival co-directors.

Grace Engel


If you’re a proud multitasker, you might want to make plans for the night of Jan. 22 to go to LT Laundry in West Asheville.

“We’ll be doing laundry. People can bring their laundry if they like,” said A. Eithne Hamilton, an Asheville dance and film artist behind an immersive performance called “Solidago.”

 

“Solidago” is among nearly three dozen shows wrapped into the Asheville Fringe Festival, home to this region’s most inventive, experimental and hard-to-define performers. Performances run Jan. 23-26.

courtesy of the artist


Judy Calabrese’s upbringing would make for a riveting memoir. There’s a cheating father and a mother who disowned her, fundamentalist Catholicism and the wherewithal as an 18-year-old to pay for and put herself into therapy.

But beyond her own journals, Calabrese found the notion of making art from her own history foreign and terrifying. She went to college to become an actress.

“I wanted to be a fiction writer, and I was terrified when people said my writing was dramatic,” she said. “People would say ‘Is this based on your life?’ and I’d say ‘Absolutely not—these are characters.’ I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on with me.”

Courtesy of the artists

NOTE: This is the second of two stories previewing the 2019 Asheville Fringe Festival.

Vanessa Owen and Gavin Stewart met on the dance floor seven years ago and have danced together and separately ever since. In crafting their new collaboration, they wanted to comment on the country’s immigration debate.

The new work is called “Vessel,” and Owen dances it alone.

Courtesy of the Artist

NOTE: This is one of two preview stories BPR is producing in advance of the Asheville Fringe Festival.

Think of the theater, dance and music familiar to most people. You won’t experience any of that during the Asheville Fringe Festival, home to the experimental and adventurous.

Those adjectives certainly describe the three locally made shows in this preview. The first comes from Judy Calabrese, mother of three, whose one-woman show recounts three decades of relationships with women.

Isaac Harrel

There are t-shirts and bumper stickers, and no doubt city politicians have run on the campaign slogan -- Keep Asheville Weird.

“Asheville walks that fine line of being proud to be weird, but some people are also like ‘But I don’t want weird,’ you know?” said Jocelyn Reese, talking about the city’s annual bow to unabashed weirdness called the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival. Reese and her partner Jim Julien are co-directors.