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Hawai‘i’s Fledgling Fringe Circuit


There are over two hundred Fringe Festivals all over the globe, and now O‘ahu and Maui’s festivals are joining the tribe.  “Fringe” festivals are known for the performing arts, they’re uncensored, original, easy to participate in and easy to attend because they use neighborhood venues.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports.

The O‘ahu Fringe runs January 12th through 14th at various downtown venues.  Maui Fringe Theatre

Peiling Kao
Credit Peiling Kao
Peiling Kao relocated from the Bay area last August to become the new Associate Professor of Dance at UH Manoa. She performs an improvisational piece with live electronic audio by Gretchen Jude at Ong King Art Center. The program, called Tiny Seismic, also features Kara Miller.

happens January 20th through 22nd at the Iao Theatre.  

O‘ahu Fringehas partnered with Honolulu Box Office for all ticketing services. You can also buy your tickets directly from the site.

At each O‘ahu Fringe venue you may use a Check with an ID, credit card or cash to buy your ticket. A credit card may used to buy tickets online or over the phone.

Fringe venues do not sell tickets for Fringe shows, applicable fees apply to all tickets sold.


$10 per show. Thursday – Sunday, General Admission

$8 for 12 year olds and under for the Sunday show only

Misa Tupou is the founding impresario of O‘ahu Fringe, now in its 5th year.  He’s intent on Hawai‘i Fringe Festivals reaching the level of surprise and delight that characterizes the Fringe circuit in his native Aotearoa, New Zealand.   We’re strolling past  Manifest and Downbeat…

“I’d love to fill all these venues with our acts but to do that we need  tons and tons of people to be a part of our festival.”

That’s the fun of Fringe, discovering gold in your favorite old hangout.  Igniting neighborhoods with creative performance is the idea.

Really Spicy Opera,
Credit Really Spicy Opera,
The Minneapolis based troupe, Really Spicy Opera, is presenting "Game of Thrones, the Musical" both on O'ahu and Maui.

“We’re using Next Door next week.  It’s always changing, great place, great venue, huge space.  (We’re putting in) a musical, “Game of Thrones, the Musical.”

Basil Considine has brought his troupe, Really Spicy Opera, to O‘ahu Fringe from Minneapolis where it won awards and was named a “must see” in the Twin Cities area.  Considine says it’s an opportunity to  spoof Game of Thrones, with a more feminist perspective. 

“And also massacre dozens of puppets because, you know,  it is Game of Thrones.  That’s something really important to me, that our audience come and just have a blast seeing whatever it is we are doing.”

Game of Thrones, the Musical, will be heading to Maui Fringe next week. 

“One of the big, big, big things i would love to see in Hawai‘i is that it becomes a Fringe Festivval destination meaning that we have a Fringe Festival circuit.  Just having that circuit is good for you as an artist.”

Exposure, yes, but Tupou says Fringe performers incur expenses that a circuit of gigs can help defray.

“You don’t want to be stagnant, that’s just going to destroy your art.  Your art needs to grow.”  Makes you wonder why there are only twelve acts this year---about 80% local.  Tupou says about nine hundred people attended Fringe last year.  Dancer, Peiling Kao, new assistant professor of dance at UH M?noa, is presenting a multimedia piece at Ong King, I asked her why more people don’t make use of Fringe to perform.

Kao:  “Really?  I think Fringe is a very great opportunity for me to show work and connect to the community.  Fringe Festival creates a space that allows artists to push the boundaries.  I feel like I’m allowed to push the boundaries and show work that is unfamiliar for the audience.”

Tupou:  “To me, that’s what you should do as an artist.  This is just so exciting for me being able to create something with friends that people can come to and showcase their work.” 

sheen ru
Credit sheen ru
Sheen Ru Yong and Spencer Agoston present "thin skin" at Studio 114, 7:30pm, January 12-14.

We arrived at Studio 114, it’s a second floor walk-up ma uka on King, Sheen Ru Yong and Spencer Agoston have a multi-media movement piece in store for us there, next weekend.  

What is needed:  A dedicated sponsor or three, artists pressing the edges and willing to put it all out there, plus audiences willing to experience theater in all its messiness and exhilaration.  Find tickets and more information about O'ahu Fringe and Maui Fringe.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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