Asheville Fringe Arts Festival


From Wednesday, Jan. 20, to Sunday, Jan. 24, the annual Asheville Fringe Arts Festival offers up a (mostly virtual) array of performances, films, installations, parties, and random acts.

Now in its 19th year, AFAF is no stranger to change. Quick pivots, bold experiments, and randomness (here, Random AF stands for Random Acts of Fringe) are all part of the experience. So, in order to keep performers and audiences safe during COVID-19, AFAF opted for on online version of its beloved, multivenue festival. Ticket holders can access links to stream exhibitions of dance, puppetry, comedy, storytelling, drama, spoken word, horror, and film.

Need more connection? Some shows offer talk-backs. Others, such as “#TXTSHOW (On the Internet),” “Healing Zones,” and the RAF production “Residuum” by Asheville-based Strange Daughters Butoh, are interactive. And the festival’s kickoff party on Sunday, Jan. 17, is a free fête promising live comedy with Moira Goree, Fringe trivia, special guests, and a costume party (plus chat opportunity) for virtual attendees.

Highlights of this year’s Fringe Festival include:

• “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness 2.0” by playwright and performer Cooper Bates (Los Angeles). In it, the character Clifton sets out to make history by uprooting the status quo and racist profile of a popular and long-running game show. (This show is a double feature with the animism and technology-infused “Altar the Timeline.”)

• “Basket Case — The Musical” by s (Oklahoma City). This is a dark, comedic musical loosely based on the 1982 cult-classic film of the same name by Frank Henenlotter.

• ”Stoner Morning Show” is a free, streaming performance in which the hosts of this morning talk show have slept in …and they're totally stoned. Headlines, interviews, human interest stories, and more.

• “The Wham, Bam! Puppet Slam,” hosted by local artist ToyBox, is an evening of short form puppetry performed in a variety of styles by some of the top puppeteers in the country.

• “Kaleidoscope Bone House” by freak-folk theatrical duo Cookie Tongue (Brooklyn) a musical menagerie, tumbling through a series of animated worlds with puppetry, animation, butoh-inspired dance and ritual magic, with songs and whimsical interludes inspired by Cookie Tongue's surreal mythology.

• A curated selection of short films from artists around the world.

Learn about more shows — from workshops and a dance film night to the return of Poetry Cabaret, and much more — and purchase tickets at 

Photo credits: Pagans and Androids, Rosie DeAngelo and Marcel Blanco (black and white photo), Brittney S. Harris (solo performer photo)

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