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 hundreds of performances and dozens of 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 a local establishment, 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. 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 hundreds of performances and dozens of 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 are live on this website. Fringe is open to everyone, shows are selected by lottery, and you don't even need to have a show ready when you apply.

Volunteer: Our 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 a local establishment, 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, Reservations, and Tickets, Oh My!

In 2018, Fringe will still offer passes but is also re-introducing single tickets options to see shows. We are re-tooling our Box Office policies to reflect our changes. Please check back for more information in the spring.

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The Best of All Possible Worlds

By David Mann
Written by David Mann

Playing at Phoenix Theater


Warnings: Adult language.

Buy a house. Have some kids. Make a living. Lose your mind. This is the hilariously tragic story of David's venture into the exotic land of business speaking, where he failed to achieve work-life balance.

The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 16+


Fri, 8/4 @ 10:00pm


Sun, 8/6 @ 8:30pm


Fri, 8/11 @ 7:00pm


Sat, 8/12 @ 10:00pm

* 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.

Read the reviews

Honest and relatable

by Little Voice on August 13, 2017
This user has reviewed 16 shows

One man telling the story of his life and career and how one got in the way of the other. Heartfelt and moving.

Boy Can I Relate

by Bradley Johnson on August 13, 2017
This user has reviewed 56 shows

I realize that I saw the last show, but David was great! Our life experiences are different, but close enough that I knew just what he had experienced and was feeling. So glad I ended the night with his show!

Funny and honest

by Austin Robinson-Coolidge on August 13, 2017
This user has reviewed 37 shows

David Mann is a very polished performer - this was one of the tightest shows I've seen this year - and his material is a funny and honest look at what we learn about life as we get older. Highly recommended.

Honest Storytelling with Humor

by Sara Robinson-Coolidge on August 13, 2017
This user has reviewed 49 shows

So funny and honest - David is a captivating speaker.


by Mark Webb on August 12, 2017
This user has reviewed 56 shows

Mann gives a polished performance with his honest and often hilarious material. I was captivated throughout. Very uplifting!

First world problems

by Corrie Fiedler on August 12, 2017
This user has reviewed 43 shows

Mann is an outstanding story-teller and his impersonations of motivational speakers were priceless. My fringe partner (and sister) had worried that the performance would be 'just full of clichés'. And it was. When I give ratings to performances such as this, I sometimes wish I had two axes (that looks terrible, I mean the plural of axis, not the wood cutting tool): technical merit = 5; my personal interest in topic = 2. I'll round up and give it a 4.


by Milli Manchester on August 12, 2017
This user has reviewed 12 shows

this was well done. it was clever. pretty much a description of what i consider a personal hell. haha

A little of all of us

by on August 12, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

I defy any adult past 30 to see this honest and thoughtful exploration of what happens when we live the life we thought we should and not the one that is true and not recognize themselves. Mann, in his own witty and intelligent style, challenges his audience to reflect on how we make choices and where they lead us. He repeatedly recognizes the irony in his own story and, through honest storytelling of his own life, taps into the universal. He has proven himself to be both an actor who can draw in a crowd and a writer who knows when to press a nerve and when to let go. I was crying at the end.

Polished, but oh-so raw

by Noah Nieting on August 9, 2017
This user has reviewed 8 shows

Mann writes and performs an excellent tour through our continual struggle with the hallowed and hollow American Dream. He made me laugh at and reflect on my own falsehoods and performances in daily life. Simultaneously a diary and motivational speaking, I was drawn to every word and plot development.

Truly wonderful

by Wendy Short-Hays on August 8, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

David Mann is a local treasure of the one-person-show genre. His writing is magnificent and the ease and honesty with which he performs his story is truly wonderful. He captures your attention with his energy and humor and holds it through the end of this honest journey. Put this show on your schedule.

A Master Storyteller

by Edwin Strout on August 8, 2017
This user has reviewed 24 shows

You might be inhibited by the description, but DON'T be! David Mann keeps it light, funny, entertaining, but, most importantly, honest. You will be engaged in this show for every minute of his story. I have never been more entertained by a man telling an autobiographical story of the dissolution of his marriage and his hopes of achieving the American Dream. Kudos also to the director, Sarah Gioia.

Motivational? Not sure.. but captivating

by Josh Forsythe on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 5 shows

I still remember David Mann from back when he was the "Midwest Wireless guy" back in the early 2000s, and this piece mines that kind of place between acting/art and commercialism, and how an artist navigates it. It was funny, and well-written, and even made me feel at the end of it. Totally captivated for the whole hour.

What happens when . . .?

by Ari Hoptman on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

I always enjoy seeing works by and with David Mann. This one is, I assume, autobiographical and concerns the steps taken toward attaining of a generally enviable lifestyle. Within the story, though, is the age-old question, "What happens when I have what I need and what I want . . . and it still doesn't make me happy?" The show is not "a triumph of the human spirit," but is not depressing either. Well-presented, funny in many places, bittersweet in others, always interesting to listen to. Glad I went.

The Best of All Possible Worlds

by anca sima on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 7 shows

Dave is witty, sincere and smart, as I remember him in real life! He is not afraid to tell his story and to send us an optimist message! A must see!!!


by Mariellen Jacobson on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 38 shows

WOW! What a personal, engaging, hilarious, insightful, poignant and heartbreaking story. It is brilliantly crafted and told by perhaps the best storyteller around. It captured me from the first minute to the last (and all the way home). DO NOT MISS IT!

A good story well told

by Matt Dawson on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

This story is not unique in our national discourse - it's no Howard Zinn, it's not The Birth of a Nation. if you want to be challenged, if you want your activism buttons pushed, you'll have to look elsewhere (which buttons, and the pushing of, I wholeheartedly endorse. Go! Fight! Resist!). But this is a GOOD story, and well told. It is a HUMAN story, and it's performed by a master of the craft. I've produced at the Fringe, I've been a venue tech at the Fringe, and I can tell you with authority that this is a good show. This is worth your precious time. Especially if you have kids yourself, or have ever tried to live the American Dream as a creative person.

Engaging and entertaining show

by Mark Goldberg on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 7 shows

I cam really close to giving this 5 stars but did not because I am a harsh grader. Nevertheless, this is an incredible show that is witty, funny, poignant, and incredibly personal. I attended this show because it fit into my schedule, it was not on my original list but I am very glad I did. David is a real talent and I will be watching for more shows from him in the future.

The Mann in the Grey Flannel Suit

by Reid Gagle on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 14 shows

David here relates the story of how he went corporate. Inevitably, the up front rewards seem increasingly hollow and the hidden costs eventually turn out to be immense. He also provides a very spot-on dissection and critique of motivational speakers. It is a very skillfully done show but one of our best local monologists. Welcome back, David.

Outstanding and Personal Work

by Jamie Jachimiec on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

The sincerity and good humor with which David Mann presents the trappings of "the perfect life" is totally engaging. Excellently written, brave, and personally delivered, I offer a heartfelt, Bravo!


by Tony Meysenburg on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

A funny, relatable, and vulnerable telling of chasing the American dream. David is an excellent storyteller.

Funny, vulnerable, authentic storytellin

by Mo Perry on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

David is a master storyteller, and his chops are on full display in this show. It's the rare writer/performer who can take such an objective look at his own life and choices and share them with such humor, vulnerability, and authenticity. The "content" of this show both amusing and moving, and the delivery is spot-on. You can see why he's achieved such success as a speaker and coach--this is playful, insightful, deeply human work.

1 person found this review helpful

Great Story telling

by Bill Williamson on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Fully recommend. David has crafted a quality one man show, exposing his personal journey to capture the 'American Dream'. Funny, heartfelt, and honest; David's story is human, relatable, and poignantly told from the perspective a midlife white American male.

1 person found this review helpful

Cast and crew

David Mann


Actor, director, and playwright David Mann has been a theatre artist in Minneapolis for over 25 years. He has done 13 Fringe shows since 1999, and he received a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship for Performance Art/Storytelling in 2006. As an actor, David has worked the Guthrie Theater, the Great River Shakespeare Festival, and several Minneapolis-St. Paul theaters. As a director, David directed the U.S. regional theater premiere of Disney’s "Mulan, Jr." for the Children’s Theatre Company, and he is Associate Artistic Director of Torch Theater where has directed many of the theater’s shows including a staged version of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." He has adapted and directed "Romeo & Juliet" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" for Park Square Theater in St. Paul, as well as directing several other shows there. As a playwright, David’s plays "Corleone: The Shakespearean Godfather" and "Queens of Burlesque" have been performed locally and nationally. David is also a speaker and storytelling specialist for legal and professional services.

Sarah Gioia


Sarah Gioia is really happy to be working with David Mann again. She has directed and dramaturged over 80 productions/readings/workshops at theaters such as the The Guthrie Theater, The Children’s Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse, The History Theater, Gremlin Theatre, The Fitzgerald, Pillsbury House Theater’s Chicago Avenue Project, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent and The Playwrights’ Center, where she was also the casting assistant for many years. Her work has been seen in New York, Seattle and Jacksonville as well Sarah has also done freelance casting, radio and video production, and took notes for Tony Kushner in previews. She has been mostly a stay at home mom for the past (nearly) 7 years.

More information

In David Mann's first original one-man show in 14 years, he exposes the truth about chasing the American Dream. Or at least...he shows what happened to him while pursuing it. It's a crazy, funny, weird trip into the jungle of the suburbs, the bizarre world of corporate speaking, and the first years of parenting. 

Mann says, "At age 38 - when we had kids - I immediately started aiming for what so many people of my generation were brought up to want: a stable middle-class life. So I started speaking and consulting in the business world as a way to make a living. But what ended up happening was an exhausting chase for something I could barely even define."

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