Second Fringe Festival celebrates arts

A fringe festival is all about bringing people together to appreciate the arts, from the traditional and serious to the offbeat and funny. That was the idea organizers Shelbie Filson and Nick Ross had when they put together Sweet Briar College’s inaugural extravaganza in 2008. Nothing about that vision has changed for the upcoming 2010 Fringe Festival — except it’s an all-new lineup of back-to-back entertainment.

Sweet Briar’s second Fringe Festival will be held Thursday, Feb. 4 through Sunday, Feb. 7 at various venues throughout campus. All events are non-ticketed, free and open to the public. Patrons are encouraged to spend the day or afternoon on campus, enjoy a meal or snack at one of the College’s eateries, and choose among the nearly two dozen shows, gallery exhibits and tours on the schedule.

The first Fringe Festival was created to focus attention on the arts at Sweet Briar, said Filson, SBC’s box office manager. “We have so much going on all year, but rather than having to visit the campus over several months to attend individual performances and exhibits, we wanted to make numerous artistic events accessible over a few consecutive days.”

Baritone Sinan Vural will perform at Sweet Briar's Fringe Festival.
Baritone Sinan Vural will perform at Sweet Briar’s Fringe Festival.

In 2008, the art community’s response to the call for proposals was so strong that the final schedule boasted 25 events. Filson said she and Ross, an associate music professor who conceived the festival, knew then that it would be back in 2010, with hopes of making it a biennial fixture. This year’s response was equally vigorous, allowing Filson to build another diverse menu of offerings around featured events already on the College’s busy spring calendar.

Main events are scheduled each of the four days, presented by professional vocalists, musicians, directors and actors as well as talented members of the Sweet Briar and local communities.

On Thursday and Sunday there will be classical music by composers Joelle Wallach and Arthur Honegger, with performances by baritone Sinan Vural, sopranos Claudia Patacca and Melisa Barrick, bassist Ed Mikenas and members of the James Piano Quartet.

Fringe Dance, a concert by Sweet Briar dance faculty and students, will be held Friday. And on Saturday evening, Endstation Theatre Co. will present a staged musical reading of “Hard Times,” a production based loosely on Charles Dickens’ novel and directed by Chad Larabee of New York City.

In between will be historical tours of Sweet Briar House, art shows, country music, Celtic dancing, dramatic performances of literary works, illusionist Nate Staniforth, medieval short plays mixing morality and shocking humor, and more.

Filson is particularly pleased about introducing the inaugural Arts and Crafts Walk and predicts it will generate plenty of buzz. Tory Oelfke, director of Sweet Briar’s first-year student programs, conceived the idea and is organizing the event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Upchurch Field House at the Fitness and Athletics Center.

With room for 64 vendors, Oelfke hopes to entice plenty of artisans who want to display, sell or demonstrate their work. Registration is free for the artists, and there is no fee for admission. To register for space, go to www.fringefestival.sbc.edu. Contact Oelfke at toelfke@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6134 for more information.

“It’s a huge undertaking by Tory, but it promises to offer incredible opportunities for both artists and patrons,” Filson said. “Plus, it will be in SBC’s new Fitness and Athletics Center, so I think it will be exciting for people to see the facility.”

Sweet Briar College is on U.S. 29, approximately 12 miles north of Lynchburg, 100 miles west of Richmond and 165 miles southwest of Washington.

For the latest updates and complete listing of events, visit www.fringefestival.sbc.edu, but please note that some events may be subject to change. For questions, contact Shelbie Filson, SBC box office manager, at sfilson@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6228 or (434) 381-6350.