Preview: BorderLight International Theater and Fringe Festival

Last week I was invited to a media preview for Cleveland’s very FIRST International Theater and Fringe Festival, that coincidentally kicks off on my birthday so clearly this multi-day event is an extended celebration for me. But I digress…

Founded in 2016 by Dale Heinen and Jeffrey Pence to celebrate Cleveland’s strong arts community, BorderLight’s vision is to establish Cleveland as America’s International Theater City. You may read that and go “well, that’s nice” but you may not be aware that Cleveland has a thriving theater scene. Besides the major Playhouse Square theaters, Cleveland has several thriving theaters that can allow for the creation of a festival around theater. So this year, Dale and Jeff and the entire BorderLight team endeavor to do just that.

The inaugural festival (July 24th - July 27, 2019) will span from Public Square to Playhouse Square, featuring 100 performances over 40 productions, presented by over 100 artists across 9 countries including Bolivia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Syria, and of course, the United States. It’s basically a mini global getaway right here in Cleveland!

BorderLight will also feature Cleveland’s very first Fringe Festival. But what is a Fringe Festival?! Fringe theater is broadly experimental, immersive theater that may take many forms like traditional theater, dance, visual arts, puppetry, and spoken word. Fringe also equates to uncensored, so not every presentation may be suitable for children. If you’ve been hesitant to embrace theater because of long show times, fringe productions tend to be shorter, typically less than 60 minutes, and also feature more streamlined sets.

I’ve never been to a fringe production myself, but a few BorderLight productions have captured my interest.

Accidental Comedy Presents: Che Guerrero - NYC comedian Che Guerrero talks about race, marriage and being an undocumented immigrant in the U.S.

Uncle Toots’ Pasta Dish - the cast and 17 guests sit around a table and eat pasta while performing an improvised theater experience. This whole thing sounds so weird and outrageous that I can’t help but be intrigued by this!

Anywhere But Here - This is a 15 minute one-on-one theater experience. Just you and the artist.

2 the Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes: [A short personal story] We got MTV in India in the early ‘90s - and I distinctly remember listening to TLC’s What About Your Friends, and absolutely loving it. It’s my first memory of a hip hop song. So naturally, I’m VERY interested in this production.


The BorderLight International Theater and Fringe Festival is presented July 24th - July 27th 2019 in downtown Cleveland. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 17th, and range in price from free - $30. All fringe festival tickets are $12 each, and multi-tickets packages are available for a discounted rate. These tickets will go quickly, so please take a few moments to highlight shows that interest you and grab your tickets on Friday!

I’m so excited about this event - what a fun way to spend a few days of summer! Hope I see you out and about enjoying it too!