On The Fringes: Can’t Miss Asheville Fringe Shows (Free and Ticketed)!

Has 2020 already got you overwhelmed?

I consider myself one who supports the arts and performances of our ‘city of weird’ called Asheville!  But every year Asheville’s Fringe Arts Festivals challenges me to break down expectations, my notions of what I believe art is, and envy the vulnerability of the performers who pour their heart and soul into what becomes the lifeblood of the Asheville Fringe.

Reboot 2020 by heading to the dozens of Fringe performances across our city.  There are both paid and free fringe events happening.  See the calendar of events to see what tickles your fancy and fits your budget.

Fringe History

My first experience with Fringe was producing a show for the Edinburgh, Scotland festival with comedian Paul Ogata entitled USAhole! To be in the Mecca inspired me to seek out all things Fringe.   Edinburgh is the home base of all things Fringe back in 1947.  The origin of the Fringe was when eight performing groups were excluded from the mainstream annual arts festival. They decided to perform anyway, finding inexpensive or free venues on the fringes of the city.

As the website details, our own Asheville Fringe now in it’s the eighteenth (18) year!

Asheville Fringe asks artists to explore the edges of their work, to collaborate across genres and to bring new and innovative performances to culturally adventurous audiences.  Remember each show is eccentrically different from the next.

So as a Fringe participant you should schedule to see at a minimum of two events per festival to get a small taste.  Or if you are looking to feast on all the creative works, try to see one every night.

Highlights of Free Asheville Fringe 2020

That’s right free means free!  No tickets are necessary.  Just show up and join the show! 

Tuesday, 21 January from 7 PM to 10 PM – Opening Party featuring Lara Nguyen and Strange Daughters Butoh at Zapow Gallery.

Wednesday, 22 January from 10 PM to 10:30 PM – Solidago: A Laundromat Installation at Lt Laundry.

Thursday, 23 January from 10 PM to 1 AM – AFTERPARTY with DJ Nex Millen at The Block Off Biltmore.

Friday, 24 January from 7 PM to 7:30 PM – Flying Catastrophe Circus with Aerial arts! Juggling! Cats on roller skates! Tap dancing contortion!  All at Empyrean Arts.

Saturday, 25 January from 1 PM to 2 PM – Asheville Moth StorySLAM winning storyteller Mandy Gardner can teach you how to write in 6 minutes. This fun 60-minute Random Act of Fringe is part performance, part creative writing workshop, and part spontaneous writer’s group at The Block Off Biltmore.

Sunday, 26 January from 7 PM to 10 PM – CLOSING PARTY featuring Accidental Wedding (A Reprasial) The Accidentals are Asheville’s Creative Collective of Improvisational Dancers Exploring Noise Time Audience Levels and Space. In this site-specific piece we’ll explore the awkwardness of matrimonial mayhem.

Highlights of the Ticketed Asheville Fringe 2020

Get your Freak on with these ticketed Asheville Fringe shows with those who pay money to support the arts and support those artists who make Asheville weird and wonderful!  

Thursday, 23 January – DOUBLE FEATURE at The Block Off Biltmore

  • Son of a Man chronicles the true story of an aging Father who reaches out to his estranged son asking forgiveness with a million dollar apology resulting in unforeseen consequences for both men.
  • Big Tits 69 tells the story of a non-binary transgender person with G-cup breasts, desperate to finance gender-confirming surgery. Empowerment comes in unexpected places when objectification turns into monetization.
    Directed by Andrea Fiorentini.   WARNING: This performance has depictions of sex, nudity, sexual assault.

Friday, 24 JanuaryLAZOOM FRINGE FESTIVAL TOUR (2 hours) –

Local comedian and performer, Kelly Morgan, will lead the Fringe audience through the different and daring destinations that is the LaZoom Fringe tour.  Featuring –

  • Pagans and Androids: Glambot 3000 has escaped! Hunted by their Authoritarian Creators, the fugitive Disco-Droid hides amongst the fringe; a creature strange & estranged. Yet, are they truly alone, or are there other sorts of monsters hiding amongst the sprawl, sounds & shadows of the city? A Particular Sort of Creature is a psychedelic electro-pop fusion trauma healing love story; with a side of costumery, theatrics, lyrics & dance.
  • Inherit / Inherent: In the style of a theater in the round, the audience will sit/ move around the performance at will. A two-sided mirror sits in the middle of a room, lit by a single light from above. The performers are positioned on opposite sides of the mirror, and the mirror is a barrier, they cannot see each other. One is wearing a tux, one is wearing a dress. Behind each, a chair, upon which sits the spare article of clothing. They both face the mirror, and moving in precisely mirrored movements, try out the clothes they are in; it is a personal, vulnerable, caught moment, unique to each of them, yet universal in the way that their movement is mirrored.
  • Smile Pretty And Watch Your Back: The road to Bellydance success isn’t always paved with glitter and rhinestones. In fact, it’s often a gritty and dangerous trail. With weapons are drawn and skirts hiked high, Black Heart Bellydance cuts more than a path…
  • Performance by Adair Arbor of Haegtessa
  • Landing: Innocence and neglect conspire in a drama of idealism. The composure of numbness dulls each moment’s potential; an intensity that belongs to no one lost in a world of images.

Saturday, 25 January

At the Be Be Theatre 

  • Dinner Bell: A Field Guide To Impolite Southern Dinner Conversation: There are many things that divide us but our love for southern food, soul food brings us together. Join TAPROOT ensemble as we wrestle with what it means to be southern women, we tell stories, dance and sing about all those things “you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table”. Dance, storytelling, live music and southern treats from Early Girl Eatery.

And at the Magnetic Theatre

  • URIKUBU is a multidisciplinary show of physical theatre with actors and puppets, the purpose of the project has always been to perform a show that caches all the senses from the viewer because visually, Kinesthetically and hearing wise Urikubu takes the public through a fantastic trip, the language of URIKUBU was created through a vocal workshop with produce a language based on guttural sounds  full of expression and emotivity.  WARNING: Use of strobe lights and fog machine.

Sunday, 26 January – DOUBLE FEATURE at Sly Grog

  • Ripper is a take on why Jack the Ripper’s killing spree suddenly ended, and why his identity was never uncovered. Using both readings and fictional content, Ripper touches on the cultural factors that make women susceptible to violent crime. It’s also a satisfying revenge tale. It will have a penny dreadful aesthetic, a somber tone, and a bit of bloodshed.  WARNING: Contains violence against women, screaming, and potentially blood.
  • Abomination: Memoir of Ambiguity: What happens when your multiracial, multi-sexual, multi-passionate, not queer enough, too gay for others identity gets decamped to isolation? This one human memoir reinvents identity with spoken word poetry and stylized storytelling to understand what it is to be named Abomination.  WARNING: Conversations on sex, violence, mental health, and drug use.


You think you got what it takes to say you are a supporter of the arts with a slew of shows, performances, music, puppetry, and cats on roller skates! Or are you too busy?

To quote Sigmund Freud,  “Time spent with cats is never wasted.”

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