About Minnesota Fringe

There is one big thing that makes Fringe different from any other event in town: All the shows you'll see at Fringe were selected randomly by lottery.

Yep. That's right. 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. We also provide the necessary support to make producing a show as easy as possible, regardless of where you land on the artistic spectrum.

Anyone (yes, anyone) can apply to have a show in the festival. If you'd like to have a show in our next festival, applications will go live in November here on our website. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a reminder as well as information about other theater events happening around town.

The mission of the Minnesota Fringe is to promote creative freedom and diversity of artistic expression by linking adventurous artists with adventurous audiences. Thank you for joining in this adventure!

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Shows start and end on time at Fringe. With 850 performances of 167 shows in just 11 days, we have to run a tight schedule to avoid descending into chaos. Performances are no more than 60 minutes long with a half hour between each show.

On weekdays shows begin at 5:30pm, 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm. On weekends there are additional shows at 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm.

Late seating: There is NO LATE SEATING at Minnesota Fringe. In addition to keeping our schedule, late seating is a safety issue for artists and audiences.

Safety for artists: Some of our theaters require that patrons walk across parts of the stage to reach the seating area, and many of our production companies’ stage work encompasses entrances and exits from the house.

Safety for audiences: Entering a darkened theater, possibly for the first time, and trying to find open seats puts patrons and volunteers at unnecessary risk.

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Fringe Central

Fringe Central, sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by Grumpy's Bar & Grill - Downtown, serves as the late-night watering hole for artists, staff, volunteers and audience members alike. Come in after a day full of shows to grab a beer and some bar food. Talk about what you loved and what you didn’t. Meet the artists behind the scenes and actors on the stage. Find out what you should see tomorrow or dream up your own idea for next year. You never know what will happen during Fringe, but dropping by Fringe Central gives you a serious head start.

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What to Wear

Shorts and a t-shirt. Seriously. Also, a pair of comfy shoes will serve you well in case you have to wait in line. Pro tip: Most Fringe shows take place indoors in air-conditioned venues, so having a layer to throw on in case you get chilly is also advisable.

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Choosing a Show

With 850 performances of 167 shows, it's scandalous to see just one. But how to choose the perfect lineup?

Search by genre: You can filter for genres when trying to decide what to see.

Talk to people: It only sounds scary. Just look for the folks in lanyards. Lanyards are worn by Fringe artists and there are at least a thousand of them dying to tell you about their show.

Read and write reviews: See what audiences are raving about on our audience review page, then return the favor and let others know what you thought.

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Get Involved

Fringe isn't just a festival - it's a community, and it couldn't exist without people like you.

Create: Applications for the 2018 festival will go live mid-November on this website. Fringe is open to everyone, all shows are selected by lottery, and you don't even need to have a show ready when you apply.

Attend: Thanks to the new day pass system, attending Fringe is easier and cheaper than ever.

Volunteer: Our 400+ volunteers are near and dear to our hearts and make our festival go, so we shower them with lots of love and complimentary seats! Sign up for a shift now!

Socialize: Join us any night of the festival at our official hangout, Fringe Central sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by Grumpy's Bar & Grill - Downtown, for a beer, a burger and maybe even some late-night shenanigans.

Support: Help us create Minnesota's Summer Theater Crawl by donating to or sponsoring our annual festival. Gifts of any size make a large contribution to our ability to meet our mission.

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Box Office Info

Pass + Token = Your Admission

Everyone needs a valid pass to see a show. In addition to your pass, you will receive a token at the venue which guarantees you a seat. Turn in your token to the usher when you enter the theater.

More information about passes and policies here.


Optional reservations guarantee a seat for a particular performance and can be purchased online in advance. You must also have a valid to get in. Day passes can be bought online with a reservation to save time, and can be picked up at the venue box office 30 minutes before the performance.

More information about reservations here.


For everyone's safety, Fringe does not allow late seating or re-admission. Photos and video are prohibited without written permission from the production staff. Fringe cannot provide refunds or exchanges.

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Spy in the House of Men: A One-Woman Show With Balls

By Penny: For Your Thoughts
Written by Penny Sterling

Playing at Bryant-Lake Bowl


GLBT content, Solo show, Storytelling/Spoken word, First-time Minnesota Fringe Festival producer


Just so you know, this show contains Adult language.

Transgender writer and performer Penny Sterling's award-winning, laugh-out-loud theatre engagement maps her journey through a life-long coming-out process.

The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 12-15 and up


Thu, 8/3 @ 5:30pm


Sat, 8/5 @ 8:30pm


Sun, 8/6 @ 8:30pm


Tue, 8/8 @ 7:00pm


Sat, 8/12 @ 4:00pm
ASL interpreted

* Reservations not required, but a Day Pass is. Find out more below.

Ticket Options

Day Passes are $16 on weekdays; $22 on weekends. Day Passes serve as entry to any show in the festival on a given day. Optional reservations to guarantee a seat for a particular performance are available by clicking the "reserve" button above. Day Passes can be purchased in advance with a reservation or at any venue box office during the festival.

Weekdays 1pm-3pm and Weekends 11am-1pm we'll also open an Alternative Box Office at Fringe Central so you can grab a Day Pass and skip the lines at the venue before the show.

Day Passes for kids 12 and under are available at any box office during the festival just $5 every day.

A 2017 Fringe button isn't required for entry, but it does get you access! Wearing it not only identifies you as a part of a fabulous Fringe community, it also entitles you to special deals at local bars and restaurants and access to reduced ticket prices at various theaters throughout the year. Get your 2017 Fringe button for only $4 at any Fringe preview event or Fringe venue during the festival.

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Cast and crew

Penny Sterling


PENNY STERLING hasn't always been Penny, but she has always been funny. She received her BA in Drama from Ithaca College in 1981, and has performed on stages and in comedy clubs across New York and in Canada--as an actor, stand-up comedian, and as a member of several improvisational troupes. Penny has also been the principal writer for The North Pole Times website. Penny is also an Emmy-nominated television producer/director/editor.
When not performing, Penny is usually either riding her bicycle, in her kitchen, searching for the best local coffee shops, or hanging out with her children (when they are not in college) or her cat, Neil (who has no interest in higher education).

Lynne Sánchez-Fries


Lynne Sánchez-Fries is honored to make her directorial debut with this meaningful story. Acting credits include work with Black Sheep Theatre, Geva’s Young Writers Showcase, Hourglass Play Reading Series, Screen Plays, and others. A recipient of a TANYS award for Excellence in Acting, Lynne is proud to support this theatrical endeavor and the woman who brings it to life during every performance. “Thank you, Penny, for your trust and collaboration.”

More information

SPY IN THE HOUSE OF MEN premiered to sold-out performances at the 2016 Rochester Fringe Festival, was an Audience Favorite at this year's Ithaca Fringe, and the Cincinnati CityBeat made it a Critic's Pick, calling it a heartfelt, comedic confessional....Sterling’s talent is in subverting expectations while garnering a lot of serious laughs. The (Washington) DC Theatre Scene agrees, saying Her perspective as a trans woman, a parent, and an addict all build into a rich, heart aching narrative that keeps the audience hanging on every word.

And yet Sterling brings to the stage a story just as fun as it is dramatic!

This show started out as a series of Facebook posts where I tried to explain to my friends who I was, what I had been through, and what it means—and maybe more importantly, what it doesn't mean—to be transgender,” says Penny. “People responded positively, asked me questions, and told me stories of friends and relatives who were also struggling with issues of gender identity. They told me what I wrote helped them better understand the issue. ‘You should write a book,' they'd say,” recalls Penny. “‘I don't wanna write a book,' I'd reply. But I could make a show about it.”

Penny received her BA in Theatre from Ithaca College, but made her living behind the camera as an Emmy Award-nominated photographer, editor, producer and director. In the 1990's, she tried her hand at standup comedy, but gave it up in order to raise a family. Coming out as transgender when her youngest child was a senior in high school, Penny thought about going back into standup. “I made it to the semifinals of the 2016 ‘Funniest Person' competition, but my heart wasn't in it,” she says. “I realized I was sacrificing truth for jokes, and that's not what I wanted.”



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