Theater festival brings on-the-fringe shows to the main stage

The Vegas Fringe Festival, the valley’s two-weekend live theater festival, is scheduled to return to the Las Vegas Little Theatre for its third year.

Las Vegas Little Theatre President Walter Niejadlik said the festival provides a rare opportunity for people to experience a variety of what the valley’s live theater scene has to offer in one setting.

"It’s an outlet that is maybe more accessible to folks," he said, "an economically friendly way to fulfill that artistic need."

The festival also provides an opportunity for local artists to network.

"It gives some of us exposure to new audiences," said Troy Heard of Table 8 Productions. "We’re trying to get our name out to the community, and this is a good way to do it."

Isolation can be a problem for some Las Vegas artists, according to local theater producer and director Timothy Burris.

"There’s tons of stuff going on here, but we don’t always know what the other artists are doing," he said. "From the start, (the festival) has been a band of different groups working together as a community, which helps everyone understand that there is a bigger scene in Las Vegas."

The Vegas Fringe Festival, scheduled for the first two weekends of June, will feature local theater production companies performing established works and new plays written by local playwrights.

Heard is directing the original play "Roles for Women" written by local playwright Erica Griffin.

A number of the companies are performing original works from local playwrights, which speaks to the experimental nature of fringe festivals.

"I often tell friends Las Vegas is the Wild West of theater – anything goes," Heard said. "It is very dynamic and eclectic."

The past two festivals netted the Las Vegas Little Theatre approximately $4,000, according to Niejadlik, and each of the participating companies receives 50 percent of their respective ticket sales.

"We’d like to see attendance grow a little bit each year," Niejadlik said.

This week, the nine groups will descend on the theater in a last-minute attempt to iron out any technical problems.

"The urgency comes (in) wanting everything to go OK with tech work, media stuff and making sure the actors are doing what they’re supposed to," said Burris, who has participated in the festival since its inception. "It builds into a fever pitch around this time."

All nine productions will be performed five times over the course of two weekends and on only two stages, posing a hectic schedule for performers.

Only 10 minutes is scheduled between performances, so the technical aspect has to be minimal. Sets, lighting and sound constitute the bare minimum, Burris added.

"It’s truly a unique experience," he said. "We’re used to moving into a theater space and staying for a while."

The excitement around the theater has been growing, Burris said.

"Doing a play is something bigger than you already," he said. "But being a part of a festival like this is something else entirely."

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Nolan Lister at nlister@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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