In 2009, a small group of theater enthusiasts decided Key West was ready for something new. They envisioned a theater "of the people by the people," and so they called it The People's Theater of Key West. The collective became a 501 (c)(3) under the leadership of Connie Hurst, Tammy Shanley, Chris Tittle, and Judy Hadley. The group successfully staged plays, created improv, and grew within the community until they realized a more centralized structure was needed. In 2011, they approached local playwright and philanthropist Monnie King who rebranded the organization: Fringe Theater Key West.
"Expect the Unexpected" became Fringe's motto and plays were staged in churches, museums, art galleries, and more. Original plays like Conch Republic, the Musical , captured Key West history, and educational programs like Shakespeare in Schools kept a focus on the future. In 2016, Monnie and (board president) Peter King decided to retire from Fringe. Janet Bengel stepped forward as the new board president, and she had a plan!
Rebecca Tomlinson was hired as the Managing Artistic Director. PhD in theater and (muffled) years of nonprofit management were a good match for Fringe. Very quickly, Fringe expanded its season, its audience base, and its commitment to developing Key West talent and offering a way "in" to theater. Inclusive theater became a major theme for Fringe, and Fringe's reputation grew as Key West's community-focused theater. And amidst all the development and growth, Fringe found a home at the Armory!
So now what? We're keeping it fresh with a little switcharoo this season as our board president and board secretary are (cue music) trading places! So that's exciting. We also have a full season of great plays -- including two new plays (with lots of new faces), readings, outreach, and education programs. So now, we just need you! It's 2022-23, let's play!
Fringe 2022-23 Board: Jim Argoudelis (president), Sue Lynch (treasurer), Janet Bengel (secretary), Glenda Donovan, John White with Rebecca Tomlinson (managing artistic director)
Production Team: Don Lynch, Charlie Bengel, Aramis Ikatu, Kendall Cameron, Su Nubia, Amber Nolan, Jim Beyl and our volunteer construction dream team!
Fringe honors Aramis Ikatu as our 2023 Unsung Hero
Fringe Board 2022-23 Sue, John, Jim, Janet, and Glenda