Kevin J Thornton will perform "I Love You (We’re F*#ked)" at the first Tucson Fringe Fest. Photo courtesy Tucson Fringe Fest. Submitted Photo

Edinburgh has one. And New York City.

Heck, even Phoenix has one.

So it's way past due for Tucson to get its own Fringe Festival.

That's where Yassi Jahanmir and Sara Habib come in.

The two are organizing the Old Pueblo's first Fringe Theater Festival, which launches next week.

"Downtown has really been blossoming, and Tucson has a really good theater scene," said Jahanmir, who volunteered at the New York Fringe Fest when she was studying theater at New York University.

"We saw a good opportunity to bring new theater and new types of performances to downtown and the community."

Fringe Festivals are, basically, a lollapalooza of indie plays not restricted by censorship or judgment. They give playwrights a chance to get their work out there at a minimal cost and to a theater-hungry crowd.

Some plays are serious, some sexy, some gay-friendly, some blasphemous, and some really good ("Avenue Q" and "Urinetown" both had their beginnings at the New York Fringe Fest).

In the spirit of Fringe Festivals (there are about 15 others around the country, according to the United States Association of Fringe Festivals), tickets will be cheap ($10), venues will be varied, and plays are selected by lottery.

"Fringe is about access," said Jahanmir. "It's about allowing performers to present works, and keeping the costs as low as possible. All the money made at the door goes directly to the artist."

This first year, there were 12 submissions, and six of those were selected through the lottery.

Jahanmir and Habib, who have registered the fest as a nonprofit in Arizona, lined up a variety of venues, from a warehouse to a theater, for the artists.

"The venues have been really excited," said Jahanmir.

While the fest is small this year, the two co-founders have big plans.

"Ideally, it will be an all downtown festival," said Jahanmir. "In five years, maybe we'll have 30 plays in 15 venues."

If you go

Tucson Fringe Theater Festival

• Venues:

Beowulf Alley Theatre, 11 S. Sixth Ave.

The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St.

Urban Tribe Collective, 657 W. St. Mary's Road, Unit C-12.

• Tickets: $10. Available at

• Running time: Plays run about one hour.

• Et cetera: Plays are uncensored - some might contain mature subject matter.

• Information:

• Opening gala: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave. By donation.


• "A Passion for Christ" by Alison J. Torba. Performed at Beowulf Alley at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and March 26; 8:15 p.m. next Friday, March 25; 3:15 March 27.

The comedy is, according to press materials, "an exploration into states of intoxication with an Artemisian moon priestess, a female hyokah (ceremonial clown), a Christian minister and a young girl with an abusive past." Expect paint that glows in the dark and the unexpected.

• "Halloween in America" by Fish Karma, who performs the rock opera with his band, The Love Generation, made up of Ed Nossem, Steve Brookbanks, Dante Perna, Kevin Henderson and Al Perry. Performed at The Screening Room 6:30 p.m. Thursday; 8:30 p.m. next Friday; 6:30 p.m. March 26. The 11:45 a.m. March 27 performance will be at Beowulf Alley.

The rock opera is "about a Circle K clerk in Tucson who fails to achieve transcendence."

• "I Love You (We're F*#ked), music and story by Kevin J. Thornton. Performances at The Screening Room: 8:30 p.m. Thursday; 6:30 p.m. next Friday; 8:30 p.m. March 26. The 5 p.m. March 27 show is at Beowulf Alley.

Thornton's play is a mixture of music and stand-up comedy. He calls it "a tale of lost love spun into a hilariously absurd odyssey … a gay man trying to find love in a new century."

• "Where There's Smoke: A Serio-Comic True Story in One Act" written and performed by Lesley Abrams. Performances are at Beowulf Alley at 8:15 p.m. Thursday; 6:30 p.m. next Friday, 8:15 p.m. March 26 and 1:30 p.m. March 27.

The true story of the morning Abrams awoke to find her house on fire after an arsonist had torched the building next door. She plays 48 characters in the play.

• "Blowhole" by J. Dellecave and July Oskar Cole. Performances are at the Urban Tribe Collective at 6:30 p.m. Thursday; 8:15 p.m. next Friday; 6:30 p.m. March 26, and 3:15 p.m. March 27.

The play is a written, spoken and dance correspondence between the playwrights' alter egos, Crystal Goldmind and Zip Shark.

• "White Girl" by Maythinee Washington. Performances are at the Urban Tribe Collective at 8:15 p.m. Thursday; 6:30 p.m. next Friday, March 25; 8:15 p.m. March 26, and 1:30 p.m. March 27.

Press materials say the play "is an examination of love and hate, race, gender, identity, and self-awareness revealed through the story of a young and silent girl bombarded by voices not her own."

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128.