Edgy, unique Nugget Fringe Festival returns to Grass Valley Jan. 17-27

The decidedly “un-boring” fifth annual Nugget Fringe Theater Festival is back, opening January 17 with a free kick-off party at The Holbrooke Hotel. The festival, which runs from January 17 to 27, promises “Theater Unleashed” with around eighty performances of thirty 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 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 twenty seven original works and several world premiere events. It is a “must-see” festival for local, regional, and even international indie theater where ticket prices are kept to $10 or so 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 is a member of both 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.

This year will 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:

Miss Fitts

Miss Fitts Debuts at the Nugget Fringe Festival.

Best of Fringe winners Figmentally are back with another “gut-bustingly funny,” genre-defying show. Meet Miss Fitts: eccentric seamstress, human pincushion and daydreaming cabaret diva. Will an ominous new client alter her whole reality? “Most beautiful production” told through HILARIOUS theatrical CIRCUS, MAGIC, unexpected PUPPETRY, artistic JUGGLING, and acrobatic DANCE!

Red Bar – A world premiere play by local Scott Ewing that asks the question, “Where lie the limits of your compassion?”  “A few years ago, I asked a leader of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition where men go to seek help diverting themselves from committing heinous acts. This play is borne of her answer – “PRISON!” It’s a disturbing, oddly compelling play that will have you questioning the dark crevasses of your soul.


Clownfish is your typical exploration of sex, gender, identity, and other black-and-white topics. Trevor Wade shares tales of misguided affection, botched relationships, and observations about how we treat this weird divide between “man” and “woman”. It’s honest, glam as Hell, and also happens to rhyme.

HMS Euthanasia

Set sail on the HMS Euthanasia

“Welcome Aboard Jacob’s Final Sunset Cruises. One-way tickets are now available.” THE HMS EUTHANASIA is an entertaining and respectful musical about a cruise ship for terminally ill passengers. Meet Jacob, his crew, and a few voyagers. Created by a geriatric physician and repeat Reno Artown performer.

Rare: A New American 80s Hip Hop Musical One Man Workshop

In the late 70s a new form of music erupted from the underground of Hollis D. Kintamba, a rare white tiger in the forest of Hollis D, has fallen in love with this new sound. Aching to find his place in this hip culture, Kintamba becomes obsessed with every aspect of this new music form. Along his journey Kintamba struggles with regular life as he is bullied because of his beautiful white skin.

Hedging The Edge – Surviving the 1970’s

Take a deep dive into a dirty but glamorous chapter of San Francisco history: the roaring 1970’s. A performer with the iconic “Angels of Light” – a sister troupe to the famous “Cockettes” – Denham takes us on a rollicking Volkswagen ride through the San Francisco underground arts scene. This is a survival story, set against the colorful background of drag queens, pansexuality, and post hippie counterculture. With bravery, humor and skill, Randy openly and freely examines his fraught sexual past. His stories help us begin to heal our collective sexual wounds. Join us for a riveting evening of live theater.

And many more….

Venues include Courtyard Suites, two stages at The Holbrooke Hotel, two stages at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains and even a séance in a motorhome, 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