For a taste of the avant-garde, you don’t want to miss the KC Fringe Festival. The sixteen-day showcase features a range of art exhibits, film screenings, and theatrical performances from local, regional, and national talent.

KC Fringe Festival brings together local, regional, and national talents bringing dynamic and daring works of theater, film, and visual art.

By Natalie-Elizabeth Tan

KC Fringe Festival is back for its 20th season. True to its name,  the festival, which will be held July 12 – 28, aims to be a launchpad for all forms of offbeat, experimental arts.

“The festival features local, regional, and national talents who can bring uncurated dynamic and daring works of theater, film, and visual art,” says Fringe Festival Executive Director Audrey Crabtree. “The festival features the most original artistry in the Kansas City area.”

There is no shortage of things to check out at this year’s Fringe Festival, as there will be eight film programs and six special events showcasing 34 visual artists and 53 productions—the bulk of which are original, world premieres, or both. The types of shows you can expect to see are diverse, ranging from family-friendly performances suitable to those intended for mature audiences only. These shows include a variety of styles including comedy, circus, theater, musicals, storytelling, and stand-up.

A number of performance styles are represented at KC Fringe Festival, including comedy, circus, theater, musicals, storytelling, and stand-up.

One event you must experience for yourself is the Sound Mandala, an innovative audio system that uses an 80-loudspeaker channel to create dynamic, spatially immersive sound experiences. Featuring pop, rock, jazz, and Celtic tracks, along with short scenes and sound-effect collages, this show transforms sound distribution and motion in a way traditional audio setups cannot replicate, offering a one-of-a-kind auditory experience in a black box theater setting.

The three workshops at the festival cater to different interests, with Producing Theatre 101 for those keen on theater production, Reaching the Write Minds for aspiring teenage playwrights, and Practical Mime for All Performers, for any performer who wants to improve their on-stage confidence and presence. Workshop tickets can be purchased here.

The festival also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, having introduced its Amplified Voices Program in 2022. This program supports BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and differently abled artists through scholarships and highlighted marketing. This year, some shows you can catch under this program include Thespiation’s The Compleat History of Women, abridged and Terrace Wyatt, Jr.’s Black Man Missouri. The former aims to condense the entirety of women’s history into under an hour, while the latter explores the profound impact of a police shooting on a family, focusing on the heart-wrenching dialogue between the victim’s mother and the officer involved.

From immersive audio experiences to groundbreaking theatrical performances, KC Fringe Festival offers a plethora of events that highlight the creativity and diversity of the arts, ensuring there is something for everyone.

All photos courtesy of KC Fringe Festival.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.