NEPA Scene Staff

Scranton Fringe Fest safely presents live theatre ‘Under Glass’ on Sept. 25-27

Scranton Fringe Fest safely presents live theatre ‘Under Glass’ on Sept. 25-27
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From a press release:

After canceling the six annual festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scranton Fringe Festival announced “Fringe Under Glass,” an innovative walking tour of live performing arts to be staged behind the windows of various downtown Scranton storefronts from Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Sept. 27.

During this challenging time for local businesses and the arts, Scranton Fringe has partnered with downtown-based businesses and empty storefronts with large window spaces to activate these unconventional guerrilla stages while attracting patrons to the streets of Scranton to enjoy and experience unique works of live theatre and performance art. Featured artists and cultural groups include the Black Scranton Project, Gaslight Theatre Company, The Pop Up Studio, Mostly Opera, Simone Daniel, and Nicole Nicholas.

“Fringe Under Glass” provides a unique, safer theatrical experience and strong visuals to engage small groups of audience members as they are led from window to window through the Electric City by a trained fringe tour guide. The live works will feature wireless audio transmission by the solo artists or small groups of creative talent who are already living or working in close proximity, providing a safe performance space and allowing the artists an opportunity to incorporate new technology into their work.

Performances will be viewed from various sidewalks throughout downtown Scranton on Friday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased now at A private group of 10 people is $150.

The runtime is two hours, which includes one 15-minute intermission.

“While the large fall festival of arts, culture, and community is canceled, we are thrilled to realize this innovative concept for connecting our incredible community of creative artists and brave audiences who have been so supportive of us over the years,” said Conor Kelly O’Brien, Scranton Fringe co-founder and executive director.

Currently in the national conversation, Scranton, Pennsylvania was recently featured in the Washington Post, and the city is the birthplace of the Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Scranton Fringe Festival has been a great celebration of performing arts in the city over the last five years. The continued cancellations of annual events are difficult. I am glad to see that the organization found a creative way to hold that celebration while keeping the community safe,” Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti said.

A nonprofit organization, the Scranton Fringe Festival has focused its efforts during the pandemic on supporting its community of artists, launching an emergency fund that has so far distributed over $8,000 worth of mini-grants to Northeastern Pennsylvanian artists and creative gig workers who have been affected by the global health crisis. The organization has committed to providing advance stipends to the artists participating in the project, ensuring that they can invest in their best ideas after months of lost work without depending on ticket sales or the status of the coronavirus. Sponsorships and donations are being sought to increase these stipends as well.

“In addition to creating a spectacular program of performing arts, our top priority is ensuring the safety of our artists, volunteers, and audience members,” said Elizabeth Bohan, Scranton Fringe co-founder and managing director. “We are following all recommendations on in-person gatherings and are taking every precaution as we continue the planning process.”

All performers will be behind glass, distant from the audience (with use of wireless audio to ensure all can hear and enjoy the work). All audiences (in small walking groups) and fringe tour guides will be required to wear masks while attending this event. Masks, gloves, and other PPE supplies will be available at all times during this event. Fringe staff will ensure each locale is sanitized between each performance. The Scranton Fringe Festival leadership team have been attending online-based workshops and panel discussions to learn the most updated safety standards for public art organizations as well as diligently following the ever-evolving standards set by local and state government and the CDC.

Since 2015, the annual Scranton Fringe Festival has presented hundreds of creative works to over 10,000 unique audience members and helped generate over $250,000 each year in the local economy. 2020 would have been Scranton Fringe’s sixth annual celebration of the performing arts, hosting more than 50 acts in a dozen venues in downtown Scranton over 11 days.

With 100+ performances each year, the majority of the festival’s programming is chosen from an open application that invites artists and creatives from across the globe to submit. Theatre, dance, music, puppetry, children’s arts, improv, and many other genres of work have been presented over the past five years.

Noteworthy programs helmed by the Scranton Fringe include the Big Gay StorySlam, which toured to the Soho Playhouse in New York City and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland in 2019; the Scranton StorySlam series, which has found a home at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple for the past few years; and, most recently, the company’s COVID-19 Emergency Artists Fund and online-based Social Distant-Scene Theatre initiative.

Watch Episode 132 of the NEPA Scene Podcast, a coronavirus shutdown panel discussion recorded at the onset of the pandemic in the area with Conor Kelly O’Brien, F.M. Kirby Center Artistic Director Anne Rodella, and Wilkes-Barre singer/songwriter Dustin Douglas, below:

Photos of New Vintage Ensemble members Kimmie Leff and Maggie O’Brien by Brent Pennington