Report From Fort Capital Fringe Festival

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fort Fringe, the former A.V. Ristorante Italiano building downtown that Fringe organizers staked out last year to serve as festival HQ, is again in service as the rollicking, tipsy hub of Fringe. During a recent walk-through, Fringe Executive Director Julianne Brienza showed off two new performance venues, dubbed Redrum and the Bedroom, on the second floor of the sprawling complex. The bare-bones and -- we mean this in the nicest, fringiest way possible -- decrepit spaces join "established" Fort venues the Shop and the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar.

The expansion, Brienza says, comes in response to festival-goers who didn't care for venues spread out across the city. "This year will really feel like a festival," she says, with all 11 official venues in a three-block area around Mount Vernon Square, and eight of those venues on one block alone.

Brienza projects that 10,000 or more attendees will descend on and around Fort Fringe, creating an atmosphere ripe for Fringe-style frivolity. And, who knows, some of the most unusual theatrical moments may not be reflected on the schedule.

This is, after all, a festival that has drawn, to Brienza's surprise, two unrelated companies with shows about women with swords and exposed cleavage: "Bare Breasted Women Sword Fighting" and "Uncorseted" -- although the latter incorporates men wearing falsies.

"Kind of random," Brienza says, amid the whirl of preparations at Fort Fringe. "They should have a duel."

If You Go

When: Thursday through July 26

Tickets: Individual tickets $15-$35; passes $50-$300. A Fringe button (a one-time $5 purchase shown at right) is also required for admission. (Fringe also promotes year-round discounts for button-holders at participating D.C. businesses, restaurants and arts organizations.) Tickets are on sale now by phone (866-811-4111), online ( or, starting Tuesday at noon, at the Fort Fringe box office, 607 New York Ave. NW.

-- Jonathan Padget

© 2009 The Washington Post Company