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!