Photo by Michael West

Edgy, unique Nugget Fringe Festival returns to Grass Valley Jan. 18-28

The decidedly “un-boring” fourth annual Nugget Fringe Theater Festival is back, opening January 18 with a free kick-off party at 151 Union Square Event Center. The festival, which runs from January 18 to 28, promises “Theater Unleashed” with one hundred twenty performances of forty different shows from around here and around the world on six stages in downtown Grass Valley.  This is a great addition to the vibrant art scene in Nevada County; which received two Arts Cultural District designations from the California Arts Council last year for both Truckee and Grass Valley/Nevada City.  This year, bold audiences will experience comedy, drama, performance art, stand-up comedy, magic, burlesque and more in this near non-stop theatrical vaudeville, with forty seven original works and twenty one world premiere events. It is a “must-see” festival for local, regional, and even international indie theater where ticket prices are kept to $10 to $20 and you’re encouraged to “Binge the Fringe.”


Like its host company, Quest Theaterworks, The Nugget Fringe Theater Festival is dedicated to creating a larger audience for “small but mighty” theater, bringing audiences and artists together for a broader theatrical experience than the usual fare. It’s an opportunity to experience the next generation of cutting-edge live performance right here locally at the largest rural fringe festival in North America.

The festival has just joined the United States Association of Fringe Festivals and the World Fringe organizations, two groups working to bring focus to the more than two hundred fringe festivals throughout the world. The largest, in Edinburgh Scotland, started in 1947 and boasts over forty thousand performances of over six thousand shows taking place over three weeks in August with two million tickets available. Grass Valley’s Nugget Fringe Theater Festival is part of a network of over three dozen fringes taking place in the United States every year. The local festival joining these two networks has helped artistic director Scott Ewing attract award winning acts from all over North America.

If this year’s offerings are anything like last year’s, audiences are in for some real treats as last year’s festival garnered six nominations for the Sacramento Area Regional Theater Alliance’s Elly Awards with Quest Theaterworks taking home awards for best lead male actor, best lead female actor, best director and best overall production. In addition, many of this year’s shows have won Best of Fringe awards from other fringe festivals all over the world. This year will also feature myriad world premieres of shows sure to go on to tour the world. You can see them here first, right here in Grass Valley.

A few of the acts at the Nugget Fringe Festival include:

Art by Scott Ewing

Accordion Fight Show
Accordion folk-punk raconteur Strangely is back on the road with his newest production: “Accordion Fight Show. His multi-award winning performance style combines with new numbers, stunts, and stories. This promises to be an epic evening like no other, full to the brim with sing-alongs, action and heart. Bring extra pants.

Imagine Charlie Chaplin stumbles into a painting by Salvador Dalí; that should give a sense of the genre-defying show, Figmentally. DIve into the world of a curious writer whose uncontrollable imagination takes over her story and life. Brought to life through comedy improv, magic, unexpected puppetry, acrobatic dance, and playful audience immersion.

Keeping Up with the Jorgensons 
Best of Fringe winner, 2017 SF Fringe Festival.The year is 1982. Reagan is President, E.T. is released, and Jeremy takes a road trip with his week-end father to Orange County. Forced to repeatedly tickle his father’s feet, sleep in his grandmother’s bed and go to an unknown relative’s wedding, he’ll do and say anything that will secure a visit to the most magical place on Earth: Disneyland. Directed by Mark Kenward, and produced by John Hamilton.

Let’s Misbehave -Another Burlesque Experience
Winner of last year’s Best of Fringe, Nevada County’s own Truth or Dare Dance Troupe is back with the Let’s Misbehave sequel. These risqué burlesque artists always make a real impression as they flaunt their unique talents.

sTRUMPpets: Ship of Fools
On treacherous seas, the ship of state sails on with 45, Count Bannoncula, Conway Twitter, and the rest of the sTRUMPpets singing and dancing their Bunraku puppet selves toward the

Art by Scott Ewing

apocalypse. Think Orange Man has made “America Great Again”? This show’s not for you. Or maybe you need it.

And many more….

Venues include the Off Center Stage at the Center for the Arts, two stages at The Holbrooke Hotel, two stages at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains and shows at 151 Union Square Event Center, all within a quarter mile walk of each other in downtown Grass Valley.

For tickets, additional information and descriptions of all the shows, click HERE.

Content and art submitted by Scott Ewing