By now you expect Capital Fringe to keep moving around the city. It has never really been a specific place so much as a downtown state of mind.
Capital Fringe was born by colonizing neglected spaces (now redeveloped) around the convention center, and it moved east as it purchased headquarters in Trinidad in 2014. This summer, it will showcase dozens of acts in multiple venues in yet another transforming neighborhood: Southwest D.C.
The annual Fringe Festival is a three-week blitz of unpredictable performances local and international, raw and refined. As a year-round organization, Capital Fringe and its vision is continuing to expand. Here’s what you need to know as it evolves, and as the July festival revs up.
Where it’s at: Market SW (by the Waterfront Metro) is the prime hangout, with an outdoor stage and a box office. The five main performance venues include Arena Stage, where 14 shows will cycle through the 200-seat Cradle — surely the swankiest digs in the festival’s history.
The other venues are the Blind Whino SW Arts Club (a converted church at 700 Delaware Ave. SW) and three actual churches within a few blocks of Arena Stage: St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church and Christ United Methodist Church.
Off-the-map venues include the art gallery Caos on F downtown and DCAC in Adams Morgan.
Where to chill: Fringe isn’t running an outdoor bar this year, which is a big atmospheric change. The festival is best experienced as a deliberate slowdown as you take in a couple of 60- or 75-minute shows, relaxing in the Fringe’s funky watering hole (with live music) between performances to see what titles people are buzzing about on any given day. Market SW will try to approximate the vibe with its information hub and outdoor stage, but the rooftop City Bar at the Hyatt hotel at 400 E St. SW is stepping in as the “official” Fringe bar.
What’s new: Until now the festival has been “unjuried,” meaning Fringe has been open to all comers without critically vetting the acts. This year, Fringe is offering a curated series of five works at Arena. Two to watch: “O Monsters,” about a family of shut-ins from Philadelphia’s experimental New Paradise Laboratories, and “Barococo,” from the local movement troupe Happenstance Theater Company.
What’s happening with Fringe: That $9 million plan announced several years ago is actually on track — more than $8 million has been raised, according to Fringe — to fully develop the Logan Fringe Arts Space (the former Connersmith gallery at 1358 Florida Ave. NE, a block from the Atlas Performing Arts Center). The building has been closed for construction of three 200-seat stages, an art gallery, a scene shop and a bar/restaurant.
Keep an eye on that project. Three new intimate, professionally equipped stages would be a big deal in the District, where emerging young artists and troupes — often getting their starts with Fringe Festival shows — increasingly struggle to find places to perform.
What to see: With tickets at just $17 and shows typically lasting an hour or so, the festival is always a prime time to roll the dice. Here a couple of gambles:
●“The Unaccompanied Minor,” a solo show at Christ United about fatherhood, from actor Elan Zafir (currently in “The Vagrant Trilogy” at Mosaic Theater Company).
●“Aphrodite’s Refugees,” a work from Boulder, Colo., that’s touring the U.S. Fringe circuit this summer. The show, performed by Monica Dionysiou in collaboration with visual artist Aaron Young, blends Greek myth with refugee issues (at Westminster).
●“Gilded,” from New York’s Harlot Productions, a steampunk vision of monarchy (at Westminster).
●“Through the Wall,” a dance piece from the Falls Church troupe DanceArtTheater (at Christ United).
●Two riffs (or rants) on romantic discontents: “PolySHAMory,” a solo comedy about the hazards of open marriages written and performed by New York-based Kate Robards (at St. Augustine’s), and “F--- Tinder,” a solo show about the dating app from San Francisco-based David Rodwin (at Christ United).
Venues clustered in Southwest D.C., with a main box office at Market SW at Fourth and M streets SW. capitalfringe.org.
Dates: Saturday-July 29.
Tickets: $17, with a one-time $7 purchase of a Fringe button.