Normally, theater directors act as gatekeepers. They enjoy an endless library of possible plays, but limited time and resources. So the act of choosing a play to produce is one of curation. They must say “no” countless times to deliver the rare “yes.”
Las Vegas Little Theatre’s ninth-annual Vegas Fringe Festival flips those usual parameters on their heads. The festival fills its schedule on a first-come, first-serve basis. “We don’t want to be sitting there in judgment of other people’s work, saying which one merits [inclusion] more than another,” says Las Vegas Little Theatre president Walter Niejadlik. He based this selection process on a San Francisco fringe fest that he participated in as an actor years ago. “We haven’t turned anything away yet; have gotten pretty full.”
The mission is to provide a venue for play producers and performance artists. The festival helps them bypass the usual obstacles to production: costs, finding a stage space, marketing and ticketing. “It’s a great way to see others’ work and connect,” Niejadlik says. “And it’s usually a lot of fun.”
This year’s Fringe features 11 different productions, playing in both the Main Stage and Black Box spaces. The festival may seem intimidatingly large at first, but the format is actually designed to be accessible. Niejadlik advises newcomers to browse the schedule on LVLT’s website (lvlt.org/fringe2018) and choose from what piques the curiosity. “Another great way is to open the program, point to a play and give it a shot,” Niejadlik says. “The great thing about Fringe is that no show is so long that you can’t try something else after.” Time frames range from 45 to 90 minutes, and LVLT even offers a $110 festival pass with coupons that can be split among friends “any way you like” to see shows at a discount.
This year’s plays include: Imagine, the Rock Musical by Craig Escherich (Aon Theatrical Productions); Love/Sick by John Cariani (Endless Productions); Almost, Maine by John Cariani (Found Door Theatre Productions); Mugshots: Two of Us Have Been To Jail, a sketch comedy (Grey Envelope Theatre); Phin by Kate Labahn (KFT Productions); Scotland Road by Jeffrey Hatcher (LVLT); Time Capsule by Matt Martello (M-WIL Productions of Las Vegas); Kizzy in a Tizzy by Erica Griffin (Olde English Productions); Any Body for Tea? by C. B. Gilford (The Speeding Theatre); La Reina Mab by D. Marcelino Menendez Pelayo & Brandon Oliver Jones (Thujone’s Theatre Tribe); and The Lullaby Lady by Josh Sigal (Torn Kite Theatre Company).
“There’s a wide selection, from musicals to dramas to comedies,” Niejadlik says. “I hope audiences see what a diverse selection of theater we have in town. The local art scene has a wealth of talent.”
VEGAS FRINGE FESTIVAL June 8-17, various times, $12-$110. Las Vegas Little Theatre, 702-362-7996.