Capital Fringe Festival returns in person to Georgetown Park and Sandlot Georgetown

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Capital Fringe Fest (Part 1)

The Capital Fringe Festival was canceled in 2020 and shifted to a visual art program in 2021.

Starting Thursday, it returns live in-person for two weekends July 14-17 and July 21-24.

“Capital Fringe Festival is a place where any type of expression is welcome, whether it be with the artists or the audiences, all are welcome,” Founding Director Julianne Brienza told WTOP. “Tickets are affordably priced. We can’t wait to greet each and every one of you.”

Weekdays bring 10 different theater shows and weekends bring 25 theater shows.

“The theater shows run the full gamut from drama, comedy, standup comics, multi-person shows, all sorts of different stuff,” Brienza said. “Primarily, the theater shows are personal stories, things that have happened or occurred in the last two years.”

Shows include “Climate, Cancer and 7 Celibate Men: A Queer Comedy” by Ali Miller, “All The Feels: And Uplifting Cabaret” by Natália Gleason-Nagy, “EGO/DEATH” by Natalie Parks, “I’m Just Doing My Job” by Diana Veiga, “Mixed Race Sweetie” by Mike Lane, “Sobriety of Fear” by Shaun Michael Johnson and “The Oreo Complex” by Lillian Brown.

You can also catch live music at the festival bar located in Sandlot Georgetown.

“Thursday we have a great night of music with Elijah Easton, a well-known saxophone player,” Brienza said. “Friday we have a full bill of 12 musicians with Janel [Leppin] doing her new album ‘Volcanic Ash.’ Saturday, we’re doing teasers of the theater shows. Sunday, we wrap with light jazz of Amy Bormet, founder of the Washington Women in Jazz Fest.”

The second weekend includes a community open mic that anyone can enter.

“You have to sign up at Sandlot between 2:30 and 3 p.m. and we’ll do the community open mic from 3 to 5 p.m.,” Brienza said. “Any talent anyone has, it doesn’t even need to use a microphone, you could be dancing, we don’t care! Any talent. The winner gets $50 and a gift bag that the Georgetown BID has put together that has a lot of discounts.”

It will all be held inside Georgetown Park, the mixed-use shopping mall on M Street.

“Everything is in Georgetown Park,” Brienza said. “We are in Washington Sports Club, abandoned. We are in DSW, abandoned. And we’re in Forever 21, abandoned. All of those closed in 2020 when the pandemic first hit, so that’s what we’re using. We built the theaters in the various rooms inside the vacant spaces. … All our theaters are 51 seats.”

Masks are required due to rising COVID cases across the country.

“As far as theater is concerned, we’re still in a pandemic,” Brienza said. “We have positive cases, we are testing the artists and crew daily because the pandemic is actually still happening. We do require masks for the audience and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, because live theater is special. … It’s been a trip getting this festival ready.”

It was founded in 2016 out of Brienza’s group house in Capitol Heights.

“We did 96 productions in our first year,” Brienza said. “Since then, we have kept true to our mission of locals first and the artists making the lion’s share of the ticket revenue. … Tickets are $15, the artist receives $10.50 of that ticket and The Fringe gets $4.50, so when you buy that ticket, you’re really buying that ticket from the artist. … 70%.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Capital Fringe Fest (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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