Freewheeling Whinge! Festival ready to launch in Ybor

Around the globe, fringe festivals have a reputation as freewheeling, anything-goes events where acts get the freedom to perform without a net. The annual Tampa International Fringe Festival is no different. The newly launched Whinge! Festival takes that unconstrained vibe to another level.

The new festival from the co-founders of the Tampa Fringe hits the Fringe Theatre and other venues inside the historic Ybor Kress Building on December 16th and 17th. There are only two rules. First, the acts have to be from the area. Roughly half are from Hillsborough. The rest are from Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota and Orange counties. 

“It’s hyper-local,” says Tampa Fringe co-founder Trish Parry.

Second, every performer has to be trying out an act for the first time. Parry and Tampa Fringe co-founder Will Glenn performed at similar “scratch” festivals at the Battersea Arts Centre in London around a decade ago and generated an idea they took on tour as performers on the Fringe circuit.

“It’s a very chill way to be able to experiment with an idea and get some feedback from the other artists and the audience,” Parry says. It’s a place where you can succeed or fail. It’s almost like a breeding ground of ideas.”

And there are plenty of unique ideas. The lineup includes an aerial act, a comedian trying solo storytelling and the pilot episode of a scripted podcast “about a girl in the big city who is trying to make a little extra money by taking people on a walk.”  

There’s an act known as “Raoul the Witchdoctor,” which Parry says, “I’ve been specifically told is not a comedy.” 

Sarasota artist Babs Vitale brings an eight-minute interactive performing arts experience that includes origami art and music to the Whinge! Festival.A comedian is doing a comedy Shark Tank in which four improvised characters present products to the characters, There’s an act that mixes spoken word and juggling light-up neon balls. There’s a performer who will wear an all-black body suit and meander through the audience with origami art. 

“It doesn’t have to be weird but there’s a lot of weird,” Parry says. “I’m excited. I barely know what’s going to happen.”

In total, Whinge! has 15 acts, several with multiple performance times. Each act will last between eight and 30 minutes. With all the venues under one roof, Parry says, “You can really bounce around and check stuff out.”

There’s also a sack lunch for performers and audience members to discuss the acts and what’s new on the Tampa arts scene.

For more information and tickets, go to Whinge!
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.