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Rochester Fringe Festival Announces 2023 Show Lineup

July 18, 2023
Cirque Inextremiste, Circolombia make Fringe debuts; The Fanzinis come through cultural exchange with Ireland

Rochester, NY—The Rochester Fringe Festival today announced the curated shows for the 2023 festival in what promises to be a summer of exciting news. The shows announced today at the Fringe’s BIG REVEAL press conference will perform in the Spiegeltent and its adjacent Spiegelgarden, located at One Fringe Place (corner of Main and Gibbs Streets, across from Eastman Theatre), and at Parcel 5 at 285 E. Main Street, September 12-23.

Last week, the festival announced that Tig Notaro will be this year’s comedy headliner on Saturday, September 16 at 8:00 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs Street. Tig Notaro is an Emmy and Grammy nominated stand-up comedian, writer, radio contributor, and actor. Her Netflix comedy special “Happy To Be Here” ranks 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and her most recent streaming special, “Drawn”, is a fully animated stand-up comedy production. “Under a Rock with Tig Notaro”, her talk show in which she interviews famous people she’s never heard of, was nominated for Webby and PGA awards. Notaro’s 2012 show “Live” and the subsequent documentary, Tig, about her recovery from breast cancer, elevated her to the top echelon of stand-up comedians—Rolling Stone named her one of the "50 best stand-up comics of all time." Notaro currently appears in Zack Snyder’s "Army of the Dead" and “Star Trek: Discovery”; she wrote and starred in the groundbreaking TV show “One Mississippi” and hosts an advice podcast, “Don't Ask Tig” as well as the documentary film podcast “Tig and Cheryl: True Story.”

The list of Fringe-curated shows includes some of the world’s most celebrated international performers, coming to Rochester for the first time from France, Colombia, Ireland, and Australia, as well as the return of some Rochester Fringe favorites with all-new shows.

The highly acclaimed French company Cirque Inextremiste makes its Rochester Fringe premiere in a clownish, tightrope-walking, quirky, fiery, spectacular and utterly crazy performance called EXIT. The fantastic Cirque Inextremiste team and its 3400 m3 aerostat immerse the public, body and soul, in an unusual scenographic universe. A group of sweet lunatics find themselves trapped in spite of themselves in a life-size epic. Their mission: to free themselves from their straitjackets and escape at all costs from this world governed by strict and implacable rules.

Rochester Fringe Festival Producer Erica Fee discovered Cirque Inextremiste during a visit to Europe to scout for talent to bring to the festival. “At Cratere Surfaces in Ales, France, I attended their performance and knew immediately that Cirque Inextremiste was the perfect centerpiece for the Rochester Fringe,” she said. “We believe this is the first time a hot air balloon has ever been launched from Parcel 5!”

Cirque Inextremiste will headline Friday & Saturday on the Fringe at Parcel 5, 285 E. Main St., on Friday, September 15 and Saturday, September 16, with performances at 7:30 p.m. The performances are free of charge.

Direct from Colombia, the world-renowned circus Circolombia makes its Rochester Fringe debut to take over the Spiegeltent for the duration of the festival, performing every evening beginning on Tuesday, September 12. Circolombia’s charismatic cast melds jaw-dropping acrobatic skills, high-intensity Latin dance and music, and a uniquely modern circus aesthetic to create a world-class entertainment experience. They are preparing a brand-new show especially for the Rochester Fringe Festival, with the title CORAZƠN (Spanish for “heart”). Tickets start at $30

Critics around the world rave about Circolombia’s skill and charisma in other shows:

  • “Some of the acrobatic feats are so elaborate and daring that they can only be watched through the fingers." —The List.
  • "These young performers represent the finest of the Colombian National Circus School." —Edinburgh Spotlight.
  • "A long way removed from a ringmaster in a top hat, this is circus from the streets of Colombia, vibrant and pulsating with a killer urban soundtrack."—London Life

How many area residents know that Monroe County, NY has a sister county in Ireland? It’s County Cavan, and our Irish counterpart is introducing itself to New Yorkers this summer by sending its world-famous street theatre artists, The Fanzinis, to the Rochester Fringe Festival in a cultural exchange. Two self-described “world-class Olympian-level idiots,” the Fanzinis present their “Ballet Poulet” (yes, that translates to Chicken Dance), an acrobatic clowning mashup that pits vaguely balletic comedy against a bad-ass display of mayhem, somehow involving a chicken, crazed gymnastics, and next-level hilarity. The Fanzinis will perform on Friday and Saturday, September 15 and 16 at Parcel 5, and on Sunday, September 17 at the Spiegelgarden. Check the Fringe website for performance times. All performances are free.

Meanwhile, the Rochester Fringe Festival is sending one of our most popular local shows, Bushwhacked, to Cavan Calling, an inaugural festival for those connected to the Cavan diaspora,  County Cavan, where they will wreak hysterical havoc for Irish audiences. (Bushwhacked will be back in time for the Rochester Fringe, with four shows in the Spiegelgarden at One Fringe Place; more on this below.)

A site-responsive outdoor video installation to be featured throughout the festival, Australian artist Craig Walsh, Monuments leads us to question what monuments actually are, what they represent, and whom we should honor in this public manner. Captured on video, his subjects move with the breeze as the leaves flutter and shift, turning even the smallest shifts in the faces into an important event. Monuments aims to challenge traditional expectations of public monuments and the selective history represented in our civic spaces. A diverse panel of area representatives will make the selection of Rochester’s unsung heroes from applications submitted by the Greater Rochester Community. The selection committee is looking for individuals whose work has had a profound impact on the community as a whole.

“Craig Walsh’s work gives us the opportunity to recognize people right here in Rochester who have not received the recognition they deserve for their contributions to our community,” said Rochester Fringe Festival Producer Erica Fee. “We are thrilled to bring this special event to Rochester, and to create an immersive outdoor environment where our audiences can engage with the art.” Festival-goers can view “Craig Walsh, Monuments” at their leisure throughout the festival; the art installation is free of charge. 


In addition to the prime-time shows in the Spiegeltent, Spiegelgarden, and at Parcel 5, the Rochester Fringe Festival presents crowd-favorite artists who have developed all-new shows for the 2023 Fringe.

Nothing puts the “lit” in literature like Shotspeare, a company of five sword-wielding actors who power their high-energy interpretation of Shakespeare’s plays with all the booze they can handle, occasionally broken with a spin of the Wheel of Soliloquy. Performing in the glamorous Spiegeltent on Friday and Saturday, September 22 and 23, Shotspeare will brilliantly mangle the Bard’s Othello in as uproarious a fashion as they can muster.  Tickets start at $28.

The hosts of the 2021 show “Cirque du Fringe: AfterParty” reunite at Rochester Fringe this fall in The Comedy Trio Happy Hour in The Meaning of Life, a three-person comedy show with Matt Morgan of prior Cirque du Fringe shows and Shotspeare, Mark Gindick—host of Late & Live, and actor/comedian Ambrose Martos (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and many others). They met as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College classmates, and as solo artists, they have traveled the world with Cirque du Soleil, the Big Apple Circus and Spiegelworld. They never fail to entertain people with acts that are very physical, occasionally sexy, somewhat dangerous, potentially intelligent, and always hilarious. Tickets start at $28.

Rochester Fringe’s favorite madcap duo, Bushwhacked, returns to One Fringe Place from their triumphant Ireland run with an all-new show, “Camp Bushwhacked.” Performing nightly at the Spiegelgarden throughout the festival, camp counselors Shawnda and Ronda are ready to take us on a hilarious journey through a highly interactive summer camp experience—an entire summer of fun in just 60 minutes. Actors/writers Abby DeVuyst and Kerry Young have created many other Rochester Fringe interactive experiences including the sell-out hits “Bushwhacked British Bake-Off”,  “Dashboard Dramas,” and “Hot Tub: The Musical,” and more. Tickets range from $26 to $45 for a variety of Bushwhacked experiences throughout the festival.

 Charming Disaster will bring its “Charming Disaster’s Musical Séance to the Spiegeltent on Saturday, September 23  at 7:00 p.m. Part concert, part spirit divination, part guided tour of what may lie beyond the mortal veil,“Charming Disaster’s Musical Séance leads the playfully macabre goth-folk duo to take on phantoms, poisons, witches, monsters, mediums, and more of their favorite things  in this performance of original songs and mysterious onstage rituals. Just in time for spooky season, Charming Disaster explores the dark side with tongue in cheek and cocktail in hand. All audience members will receive a special séance kit created for this event. Tickets start at $28.

The ultimate Fringe showcase of talent across the festival, (No So) Late & (Very Much) Live  comes together in the Spiegeltent on Saturday, September 16, at 4:00 p.m. This Fringe revue is hosted by Fringe favorite and physical comedian Mark Gindick (Cirque du Soleil, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Show with David Letterman), and features artists from across the festival—all performing snippets from their shows. Tickets start at $24.

A total sell-out every year, Silent Disco closes each Friday and Saturday in the Spiegeltent with a giant dance party after Late & Live, powered by a three-channel system and live DJs that let dancers switch up the music (and mood) at the touch of a button. You don’t hear a sound until you slip on the headphones, but you can see everyone getting their own personal groove on. This party starts at 11:00 p.m. and continues until last call (1:30 a.m.) at the Spiegeltent’s beautiful Interior Bar. Tickets are $19 for adults, $15 for students with ID.

Street Beat, the popping, locking, breakdance competition that pulls in fresh talent from all over the regional hip-hop scene, returns on Saturday, September 23 at Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The contest is open to any crew of three people in any dance style, with preliminary trials that lead up to all-out dance battles. Prelims take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m., and finals begin at 4 p.m., with the winning crew announced around 5:30 p.m.

Returning favorites to the outdoor Spiegelgarden include the free, always packed Gospel Sunday (September 17 at 2 p.m.), where Reverend Rickey Harvey of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church leads an afternoon of sacred song performed by some of Rochester's best gospel artists.

The annual free Kids Day, featuring family friendly activities like pumpkin painting, the ever-popular chalk art and Disco Kids, returns as well on Saturday, September 23.

Tickets to all shows go on sale at 12 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, online:; phone: (585) 957-9837 (additional fees apply). In person during the festival: At the door of the venue or at the One Fringe Place Box Office, corner of Main and Gibbs Streets.

With more than 500 performances throughout the 12-day festival at more than 30 venues and sites throughout Rochester, audiences for the Rochester Fringe Festival can sample everything from artists who paint on-site to a cappella vocal performances, magic to mentalists, internationally known dancers to off-Broadway dramatists, and jokesters to juggling. Here are just a few examples of the experiences in store for festival goers:

  • Fresh off an Off-Broadway run, The Stakeout, at the CenterStage Hart Theatre at the JCC, is a comedy/drama about two men on a stakeout of two men…who are on a stakeout of them. A fresh, funny, and fearless head trip about fathers & sons, the show features playwright and actor Martin Dockery performing with Andrew Broaddus, and has played to sellout houses at Fringe festivals throughout Canada, earning many “Best of the Fest” awards.
  • Making her U.S. debut in her award-winning solo dance program, “Pode Ser,” Paris-based dancer Leïla Ka ventures into raw dialogue, through different choreographic languages, in search of the multiple identities that constitute a person. Entering dance through hip-hop and later performing for Maguy Marin, Ka confronts the relationship to self, others and society, throwing herself into a never-ending struggle. Paired with additional award-winning works, University of Rochester’s Sloan Performing Arts Center proudly presents Leïla Ka’s USA debut. This engagement is part of the Albertine Dance Season and has received support from Villa Albertine Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.
  • After the success of his debut show ExperiMENTAL, and with hundreds of sellout shows at Fringe festivals across the continent, Mind Reader Steven Nicholas comes to School of the Arts with a brand-new mind reading experience. Nicholas reaches beyond the walls of the theater, involving people who haven't even come to the show. Minds are read, questions answered, and realities twisted. We can't tell you exactly what will happen, but we can promise you things you've never seen before.

“Our venues put the Fringe in the Rochester Fringe Festival, providing so much access to the performing arts and hundreds of options for our audiences,” said Fee. “We would not be a festival without them! I urge everyone to dive into the list of events on our website at and find a different show—or a dozen, or even more—to enjoy every night of the festival.”

This project is supported by a grant awarded to Rochester Fringe Festival from Empire State Development and I LOVE NY/New York State's Division of Tourism through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

The 12-day Rochester Fringe Festival is the largest multidisciplinary performing arts event in New York State. Since the festival's inception in 2012, nearly 670,000 people have attended more than 4,500 performances by regional, national, and international artists, from emerging to superstar. From drama to dance, comedy to children’s entertainment, music to magic, and so much more, this internationally-known powerhouse encourages creative expression while nurturing the artistic process, all while supplying new audiences to established and emerging arts venues. The Rochester Fringe Festival strives to be diverse and inclusive, and to stimulate downtown Rochester both culturally and economically.

In 1947, eight theatre groups showed up—uninvited—to perform at the newly established Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland. Although not listed in the official program, the groups performed anyway, at venues they found for themselves. The following year, a Scottish journalist coined the term “festival fringe” to describe these non-curated shows that began turning up annually. The Edinburgh Fringe is now the world’s largest arts festival and the third largest event after the Olympics and the World Cup.  Today, there are more than 250 Fringe Festivals worldwide, with nearly 50 in the United States. The Rochester Fringe Festival was the first in Upstate New York.

Sponsors include New York State Council on the Arts; City of Rochester; University of Rochester; Monroe County; Ames Amzalak Memorial Trust; Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation; Rochester Area Community Foundation; Nocon & Associates; ESL Foundation; RIT; Waldron Rise; Elaine P. and Richard U. Wilson Foundation; Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation; Konar Enterprises; Mary Mulligan Trust; J.M. McDonald Foundation; Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation; VisitRochester; Nazareth College; St. John Fisher University; Monroe Community College; The Pike Company; 13WHAM TV; CITY Magazine; D&C Digital; WXXI; Fred & Floy Willmott Foundation; Wegmans; Hyatt Regency Rochester; Canandaigua National Bank; Genesee Beer; Black Button Distilling; The Rubens Family Foundation; City Blue; Aspire Transformation Services; Benderson Development; Hamilton A/V; Wilkins RV; McCarthy Tents & Events; Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care; The Harley School; Boylan Code; Bond Schoeneck & King; Yelp!; and the House of Guitars.

Cirque Inextremiste’s appearance at the Rochester Fringe Festival is with support from Villa Albertine.


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