Arts & Culture

Five things to know about KC Fringe Festival: venues, shows, tickets

Excerpt from Brie Henderson’s 2015 monologue ‘Poops I Did It Again’ (warning: strong language)

Watch the opening scene of actress Brie Henderson's 2015 award winning monologue "Poops I Did It Again: The Story of An Angry Colon" where Henderson employs comedy to share her story of living with ulcerative colitis, a disease of the large intest
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Watch the opening scene of actress Brie Henderson's 2015 award winning monologue "Poops I Did It Again: The Story of An Angry Colon" where Henderson employs comedy to share her story of living with ulcerative colitis, a disease of the large intest

The No. 1 rule for Fringe festivals, dozens of which exist in the United States and around the world, is that there are no rules. Anything goes.

Well, almost anything.

The 15th annual KC Fringe Festival, from July 14-28, will present dozens of visual, film and performing artists in venues throughout downtown as well as in the West Bottoms, the Crossroads and Westport.

Those interested in getting a feel for the Fringe can attend an opening night party 6-9 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at Haverty Yards outside Union Station. Artists will preview their shows in rapid-fire succession, and Fringe fans can mark their programs for the shows they want to see.

Audience members for the shows and galleries must have Fringe Festival buttons. Festival buttons ($5) and tickets (most are $10) are available at kcfringe.org.

Here are five things to know about this year’s KC Fringe Festival:

1. The festival will open July 14, but previews for the event’s meat and potatoes — the plays and other performing arts — are at 7 p.m. July 16 and 17 Each production will be presented five times at the same venue, and almost all of them will run through July 27, followed by a “Best of …” showing July 28 at each venue. The Kick-off Party at Union Station is Thursday, July 18 from 6-9 p.m.

2. Union Station is the hub of activities. The kickoff and closing parties will be held at Haverty Yards, while the 411 Fringe desk for information, tickets and more will be in the Grand Hall. The visual arts portion, complete with an Iron Artist competition (where 13 contestants have an hour to create an original piece using a provided box of supplies), will also take place in Union Station (as well as at Arts Asylum), and Union Station’s City Stage will be one of the festival’s 14 performing arts venues that stretch from the West Bottoms to Westport.

3. The festival says it accepts artists “without jury or censorship … on a first-come, first-serve basis.” Accordingly, it is a good idea to do some research to check out the shows you might want to attend (each carries a rating of “G,” “PG” or “R”). They aren’t all future Tony Award winners.

4. If you think the Fringe Festival is just weird, daring and offbeat stuff by young artists, you’re wrong. Although there will be a full complement of the non-traditional (“In Just My Underwear,” “Weirdo: A Perfectly Normal Lesbian Contemporary Ballet ... Romance Included,” “Donating Sperm To My Sister’s Wife,” “I Could Take A Nap, But Killing Myself Would Be More Productive”), you also can see “An Old Troubadour & His Guitar” starring Jim Cogswell, “Pieces Of My Heart” by veteran cabaret artist Judy Simmons and “U Really Got A Hold On Me; A Tribute To The Music, Trials & Triumphs of Smokey Robinson” featuring Br. John.

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“Bones Beneath the Sidewalk” by Colleen Enna exposes local stories from the Civil War. KC Fringe Festival

5. Some events are intensely local, such as “The Science of Kansas City” and “Bones Beneath the Sidewalk,” with tales of John Brown, Bloody Bill Anderson and others. But the more than 70 acts/shows and more than 35 visual arts presentations come from all over the nation, highlighted by a four-show pack from Orlando, Florida (“Muttnik,” “Beneath the Bikini,” “The Lightweight” and “War Paint”).

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct times for the Kick-Off Party and preview shows.

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