The FringeMI Festival is a performing arts festival that allows multidisciplinary performances to take place in unconventional spaces.
The history of the Fringe Festival dates back to 1947, when eight theatre companies, rejected by the first Edinburgh International Festival, decided to start an independent festival, staging their works in Dunfermline Cathedral, in Fife, about 20 miles north of the Scottish capital. The name ”Fringe” was actually added the following year, when the Scottish playwright and journalist Robert Kemp wrote, during the second edition of the Edinburgh International Festival: “On the fringes of the official festival, there seems to be a lot more initiative than in the past…” Over the decades, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has grown to become the largest and most important performing arts festival in the world, and now it encompasses almost 4000 shows in 400 venues, every day for a whole month.
FRINGEMI: PAST AND PRESENT
The FringeMI is the natural evolution of the NoLo Fringe Festival, born in 2019 with the intention of creating a Fringe Festival in an ever transforming neighborhood, but already with the idea of expanding to other suburbs of the city. It respects the typology of each Fringe Festival, and is therefore by its nature open, inclusive, international, tolerant, multicolored, fun, carefree, but nevertheless it is attentive, reflective, deep, passionate and sincere. Two particular aspects have been added: the attention and proximity to the territory in which it takes place (understood as a set of inhabitants, places and commercial and non-commercial activities) and the organization divided by neighborhoods and entrusted for each of them to an entity that works in the area (or, in any case, knows it). It becomes therefore a widespread festival that has the potential to choose the right locations and appeal to an audience made up primarily of residents.
The last edition of FringeMI Festival, which took place from 5 to 11 June 2023, had an audience of almost 8000 people, involving eleven districts of Milan, 50 venues for a total of 150 shows which catered for a wide range of audiences.
The success of the fifth edition of FringeMI is encapsulated in an organizational method that guarantees the care of each neighborhood in which the event takes place thanks to the organization delegated to an entity that lives and works in that neighborhood. The result is a real widespread festival with a constant and massive influx of audiences, a wave of new enthusiasts that fills us with joy and is part of the hope of a cultural recovery after difficult years, making FringeMI a pivotal event in the Milanese and national cultural offer”
(Davide Verazzani – Director of FringeMI Festival)
OFFICIAL PROGRAM & FRINGE EXTRAS
FringeMI Festival is currently divided into two parts:
. The Official Programme, whose shows are selected by international artistic call, according to the criteria of technical feasibility, novelty of the proposal and balanced programming, which for 5 evenings, livens up the venues of the festival;
. The Fringe Extra which includes other shows, performances and meetings that take place in different places in the neighborhoods, sometimes by buskers, often participated by the locals.
One of the main purposes of a Fringe Festival is to showcase productions by relatively new or little-known artists and companies, and to support and facilitate their distribution.
The winner in fact performs in a Milanese theatre (currently, it is the Teatro Elfo Puccini, one of the most important theatres in Milan and in Italy). An international network of “friends” of FringeMI has also been created since 2023: they are committed to choose at least one show presented at FringeMI to be included in its next edition, with formulas and agreements to be decided between the parties.
The FringeMI Network includes institutions that have strong values and commitment: theatres, places, festivals and other Fringes in the world: FringeMI is in fact connected to other Fringes through World Fringe Network, an informal organization that reunites all the Fringe Festivals worldwide. The goal of the FringeMI Network is the same of the World fringe: to create virtuous relationships, sharing of good practices and mutual knowledge, to encourage exchanges of shows and ideas.
Anyone who wants to be part of the network can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to discuss ideas and to find a way to broaden our network.
ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY AS A CREATIVE FACTOR
Respecting the environment has been at the heart of the festival since the start. However, it is not enough to state that we are inspired by certain environmental values: we intend to remove any doubt of greenwashing, we must take risks and proceed one step at a time, even by trial and error.
At the beginning of April 2023, an Italian organization called Trovafestival presented the Guidelines for Sustainable Festivals, a kind of handbook for designing phases for the organization of a cultural festival, created with the collaboration of BBS-Lombard, the MEC of the Catholic University of Milan and the Ateatro organization. We identify ourselves in it, also for the exhaustive but gradual approach and for the reflection it imposes in every single decision concerning sustainability.
In 2023 we reduced paper waste by 90%: the only promotional paper material has been in fact a bookmark made of recycled cardboard, which is useful, reusable, with a QR code where one can get all the information about the Festival.
The decision to drastically reduce the use of paper led to the collaboration with Green Graffiti (a brand of the Jungle agency), through messages placed on pavaments and squares with the use of stencils and a chemical free food paint. The Festival has also struck a deal with ilVespaio, a start-up company which designs merchandising by reusing waste from companies, through a self-supporting, light, easily transportable and flat-pack structure, totally made of recycled plastic collected by the residents of the neighborhoods where the FringeMI takes place.