Houston Fringe Festival: 6 Days Of Not-To-Miss Arts

A documentary about the wild days and wilder nights of Numbers is part of the Houston Fringe Festival lineup.
A documentary about the wild days and wilder nights of Numbers is part of the Houston Fringe Festival lineup. Photo by Carolyn Sue Lander
If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. The Houston Fringe Festival, a celebration of art that lives nearly entirely on the performing arts periphery will run November 1 – 6 at The MATCH, 3400 Main.

This year’s artist line-up is full of cutting edge and experimental performances. Audiences can catch unique acts such as Cai Circus, original songwriting and storytelling from award-winning artist Ryan Adam Wells, and the return of the festival’s popular closing night showcase of independent artists, “Anything Goes.”

Festival organizer and executive director Adam Castañeda offered insight into what makes this lesser-known festival something worth paying attention to.

“I would reference the original fringe festival that originated in Edinburgh, across the pond. The idea of a fringe festival is really to elevate performing arts voices that either are working in non-traditional forms or are working with material that may not necessarily be produced by an established organization or a traditional performing arts festival,” he said. “A lot of the larger festival programming tends to be oriented towards more traditional forms…opera, ballet, classical theater, classic film. A fringe festival is really kind of the in-between space.”

It's those artists who sometimes fall between the cracks of the mainstream – or who create in the fringe – who are also the producers of material that captures our collective hearts.

Among the festival’s featured works is a screening of Marcus Pontello’s “Friday I’m in Love: The Numbers Documentary.” Pontello, an LGBTQ visual storyteller and clothing designer tells the story of the legendary Numbers Nightclub. The documentary covers one of the longest-running clubs through the AIDS crisis, police brutality against LGBTQ patrons, the rise of hate crimes in the ‘90s, and the personal stories of club-goers and iconic musicians who ignited and sustained Numbers’ legacy of musical history and acceptance.

Nia’s Daughter’s Movement Collective will also be joining the roster, performing "The Fairytale Project", a historically inspired tale of a young African American family reconnecting with their East Texas roots by dance artist and educator Stacey Adams.
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Who wouldn't want to hang with this motley crew? Find out more about their story this week at the Houston Fringe Festival.
Photo by Carolyn Sue Lander
Fringe festivals, as Castañeda says, allow for an exploration of arts while also removing some of the financial burdens that producing material can involve.

“It's really an opportunity for an artist to be experimental and make the creative risk without the financial overhead of self-production. That's what makes a fringe festival special is that essentially they involve in a co-producing model, which removes a lot of the financial strains from the artist so that they can do something out of the box. I'm really excited to see the festival as a viewer who's going to be there every night,” he said.

The full lineup is as follows:

Tuesday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m.: The 500 List
Wednesday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m.: Decision Trees
Thursday, November 3 at 7:30 p.m.: Moroccan Dance Live
Thursday, November 3 at 9 p.m. and Friday, November 4 at 7 p.m.: Friday I’m In Love: The Numbers Documentary
Friday, November at 9 p.m.: The Fairytale Project/Pneuma
Saturday, November 5 at 4:30 p.m.: We The People
Saturday, November 5 –at 6 p.m.: Dead Drunk at the Resurrection
Saturday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m.: The Collection
Saturday, November 5 at 9 p.m.: Each New Journey: The Poetry of the Fabulous Billie Duncan
Sunday, November 6 at 4:30 p.m.: Who Yo’ People?
Sunday, November 6 at 5 p.m.: Re/Membering Bamboula/Embodying Home
Sunday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m.: Anything Goes

The format removes most of the barriers that artists face, and instead allows them to spend their efforts on their craft.

“First and foremost, we're very lucky being in Houston and having such a strong and vibrant arts community. In addition to that, our wonderful city of Houston government has a lot of funding opportunities for both visual and performing artists. With that, though, comes a lot of responsibility. A lot of times, artists are not equipped with the business skills or the fundraising skills to pursue self-production on a large scale, especially production in a professional venue such as The MATCH,” Castañeda said. “This festival gives artists, whether they be established, emerging or mid-career artists, the opportunity to create without the stress of self-production. That extends to the marketing, the infrastructure, the technicians and all the small details. The artists can focus on being an artist.”

Usually a multi-week festival, this year’s fringe festival will run only one week. However, it marks a more robust schedule than the previous years’ programming which were truncated due to COVID-19.

“Prior to the pandemic, this was a three-week program. We utilized multiple spaces at The MATCH, and we had over two dozen individual shows performing multiple times a week. It was a pretty big affair. We had funding from several local and state agencies, and when the pandemic hit, we had to do a lot of soul searching, brainstorming and figuring it out,” Castañeda said. “We presented an online digital festival in the fall of 2020 which was which was successful. We had about 5,000 people interact with the festival online. We had never seen those numbers before, so we were really happy about that. In 2021 we were planning to go back full steam ahead, but as we got closer to the fall, we found ourselves in the middle of a surge and a spike in infection.”

But even if only one week, it will still be a showcase style stretch of days filled with the best and brightest of Houston’s artistic talent.

“These are all people with many years of experience who have jumped into the fray because they wanted to be a part of it. I think that's what I want people to take away. I like to say that I'm producing this because of my own gumption and initiative, but really, it was in response to the artists who wanted to move forward. I really do hope that they all have a wonderful audience.”

The Houston Fringe Festival runs November 1 – 6 at multiple times at The Match, 3400 Main. For tickets or information, visit or $15 – 20 per event.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd