After the 2014 New Orleans Fringe Festival — a five-day binge of alternative theater shows and artistic indulgence — organizers announced the event would change its name and grow. The Faux/Real Festival of Arts kicks off Wednesday with an opening night party at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and features three weeks of performances and culinary events (see Previews, p. 8).
Fringe was known for its performance genre mashups, experimental and multimedia productions, risque and mature subject matter and whatever other projects fit under the bohemian big tent. Those types of shows form the backbone of the Faux/Real schedule. There's everything from Terminator: The Musical to the multimedia dance/narrative solo travelogue piece Looking at a Broad to comedy, drag shows, "nerdlesque" and more. Some programming is directed at children, such as the whimsical drama Miss Gracieux's Garden at Treme Community Garden Sunday morning.
There are shows by local and visiting producers, and several local arts organizations are including their seasons' offerings in the festival. The New Orleans Opera Association's production of Die Fledermaus falls under the festival umbrella, as does Southern Rep's world premiere of Song of a Man Coming Through, a story of Angola state penitentiary death row inmate Earnest Knighton Jr. and his quest for redemption.
Fringe's schedule features days packed with one-hour shows, staggered so diehards easily can catch four in an evening. Faux/Real spreads hourlong and full-length shows over three weeks, and productions may run during the entire festival or only for one weekend. The Theatre at St. Claude is home to the NOLA Nerdlesque Festival (www.nolanerdlesque.com) — sci-fi-, fantasy- and pop culture-themed burlesque shows — by local companies, and one highlight is Sexpelliarmus, an immersive Harry Potter-themed nerdlesque show by Atlanta's Hysteria Machines collective. It runs for three performances only (Nov. 20-22). There also is a slate of dance–based shows at Dancing Grounds called eDGe Festival (www.dancinggrounds.org/edge), and Razor's Edge (www.razorsedgefestival.com) is a collection of solo shows presented at the Fortress of Lushington and Byrdie's Cafe and Gallery.
Faux/Real executive director Ben Mintz added food events to the festival, and they embrace the craze for craft cocktails, pop-up restaurants and more. On Sunday, Nov. 8, Cure bartender Braden LaGrone hosts a rare agave spirit pop-up at Sidney's Saloon. Also Sunday, Courtyard Brewery founder Scott Wood leads a French Quarter pub crawl visiting his favorite frozen drinks and barroom jukeboxes. Cane & Table chef Jason Klutts offers French country fare at a pop-up at Faubourg Wines Sunday evening. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, Barlesque is a cocktail competition featuring local mixologists Paul Gustings, Chris Hannah, Nick Detrich and Lucy Weed. Some food events, such as the bar crawls, have limited space and require tickets; others, like the pop-ups, are a la carte but require a Faux/Real button.
Festivalgoers need to make a one-time purchase of a $5 festival button in order to attend events. The button supports Faux/Real, and ticket fees go to event producers. Buttons also are good for food and drink specials at more than 50 participating bars and restaurants. Many nights feature after-party events, most of them at venues in the Marigny and Bywater near festival events. Complete information is available on the festival website and at the festival box office at the New Orleans Healing Center.