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How to choose from 167 shows at Minnesota Fringe Festival

With 850 performances by 1,000 artists at 17 locations in just 11 days, there's a lot to pick from.

The performing arts world will take over the state this week when the 24th annual Minnesota Fringe Festival kicks off on Thursday.

Fringe festivals are held all around the world, but ours is one of the biggest, featuring 850 performances of 167 shows by more than 1,000 artists at 17 locations throughout Minneapolis in just 11 days, from Aug. 3-13.

Obviously, no one could possibly see it all. That's why experienced Fringers study the show list and make a schedule of the ones that strike their fancy.

Shows are 60 minutes or less. On weekdays, shows begin at 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. On weekends there are additional shows at 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

A day pass will get you into as many shows as you can jam into that day. It's $16 on weekdays, $22 on Saturdays and Sundays. Or you can splurge for the $200 VIP pass and see as many shows as you want, every day of the festival.

How to choose a show

Your options are very broad. You could pop in on a one-man show, like "Flyer Guy," who tells stories about passing out flyers in Times Square. Or catch a musical, like "RomCom-Con: A Meet-Cute Musical" about two people falling in love thanks to “the formula by which every single romantic comedy has ever been made.” 

All types of dance, from ballet to ethnic, are featured this year. And then there's the "Different" category, where an interactive show called "F@*k the '90s" catches the eye.

Literally anyone can perform at Fringe Festival. Organizers use a "lottery" to choose who gets to take the stage each year.

"Each year the lineup is crafted by placing numbered ping-pong balls into a bingo cage and drawing them out, one by one. From stage veterans to people who are brand new to theater, Minnesota Fringe is a forum for anyone with a story to tell," the website says.

While that sounds very nice, it also means you're really rolling the dice if you don't peek at some of your options beforehand. 

Choosing a genre is a good place to start. Click the arrow at the top of the screen here to sort through them. There's comedy, drama, musical, dance, or different. Then those are broken down into more specific types of performances, such as improv, political, or audience participation.

Reviews and previews can also be helpful. MinnPost picked a dozen must-sees, Twin Cities Arts Reader has video previews of a bunch of the shows, and audience members can review performances on the Fringe website.

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