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PortFringe rises from COVID’s long performing arts shadow with Pop-Up ‘Inferno’

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PORTLAND — PortFringe, Maine’s Fringe Festival, will produce its sixth annual fundraising event, POP-UP Dante’s Inferno, on April 3at 7 p.m. via a live watch party online. To buy tickets or for more information about streaming-on-demand after the event, please head to

The pandemic has cast a long shadow over Portland’s usually vibrant performing arts community. Artists, companies, and venues have shuttered or are struggling to stay afloat. With shows cancelled for most of 2020 and into this year, performers of all stripes have been forced to go dormant or reinvent how they create. The unique energy of POP-UP has brought a new level of connection and invention to PortFringe. These fearless artists have stretched their skills and responded to the call to create art in a digital medium, some of them for the first time. PortFringe is back with the fierce injection of creativity that we’ve all needed.

“PortFringe is our home fringe. We love the philosophy of Fringe, the chance to make new work in different formats and to experiment, and the full-on encouragement to find new ways to break the mold.”

—       Chris DeFilipp, Chimera Theatre Collective (Portland, ME)

POP-UP is an “exquisite corpse” style show where local performance artists, chosen by random lottery, are each assigned one section of a classic work. Every section must be performed in just a few minutes, and with no coordination with the other artists or scenes. What results is usually a raucous, bawdy sell-out, live event — but this year, PortFringe is bringing the weirdness straight to you. POP-UP INFERNO will premiere in a live, online event on April 3, and then be available for streaming video rental through April 15.

“PortFringe (in all its forms) has become a much-needed creative outlet for each of us, especially after the past year. Since it began it has become an event to look forward to every year and a chance to present an original piece of art to the public. We were pleasantly surprised last year with POP-UP how much fun it was to amend our piece to a video format- it was very Fringey! We’re excited to try again- this time, planned for video from the beginning.”

—       Ashley Kotzur, Mark Magee, and Philip Hobby of Always Happens! Productions (Portland, ME)

When Dante Alighieri penned his “Inferno” in 1300, the world was no stranger to plagues or political upheaval. Dante wrote his most iconic work to give many of his political enemies (and some of his friends) the punishments that he felt they deserved, and to reflect on the nature of punishment, the divine, and justice. Though the work has been a classic for centuries due to its poetic description of the netherworld, it is strikingly relevant to today. The denizens of the nine circles of hell seem as good company as any with whom to spend a Saturday night in 2021. And though we perhaps should abandon all hope as we enter here, we know that Dante’s epic of eternal (but surprisingly contemporary) retribution will bring out the messy and joyous PortFringe spirit.

(CONTENT NOTE: POP-UP INFERNO features depictions of violence, partial nudity, substance use and may offend religious viewers. Please use viewing discretion.)

This year’s lineup of all local Maine artists include:

  1.     FrostHEAVE (Augusta, ME)
  2.     Fitzwilliam (Mineola, NY)
  3.     Always Happens! Productions (Portland)
  4.     Shakespeare and Shenanigans (Portland)
  5.     Tandem Theatre Collective (Portland)
  6.     Brynn Lewallen (Portland)
  7.     Allen Adams (Bangor, ME)
  8.     Chimera Theatre Collective (Scarborough)
  9.     Generation Z (Portland)
  10.   Dumpster Fire Productions (Portland)
  11.   Apparatus Movement Arts (Portland)
  12.   Mackenzie O’Connor (Portland)

What is PortFringe?

PortFringe is a low-barrier, uncensored, and unjuried 10-day performing arts festival run entirely by a team of dauntless volunteers, bold artists, and daring audiences. It’s a celebration of the weird, the touching, the wild and the new. PortFringe thrives under the deeply prized belief that anyone should be able to produce art, anyone should be able to experience art, art can be everywhere, and artists deserve to be paid. PortFringe is a celebration of creative expression, artistic activism, cultural connections, and community building, and welcomes artists from across the state, the nation, and the world.

The 10th annual PortFringe Festival will run June 11 – 19, 2021 and will consist of 21 fringe-on-film events, presented in a series of live, online, watch-parties, with the potential for in-person events during the week if safety allows.

Last modified on Friday, 02 April 2021 10:17


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