In 2009, during the weekly company meeting for our Athens-based video production company Randomosity Productions, a writer in the group announced that he would like to produce one of the plays he wrote for the stage. Willing to put up the money himself, and risk taking a substantial loss to get it to happen, he asked the other members of Randomosity to help him make it happen.
Everyone agreed that instead of simply producing the play ourselves, if Randomosity were to enter a theater festival, some of the financial risk would be reduced. Unfortunately, in Athens, Georgia there was no theater festival at that time. Marty Cronk, the Producing Director of Randomosity, and a native of Orlando, Florida, suggested emulating what he witnessed in his home town; the collaboration of performers throughout the city to create something greater than the sum of their parts – a Fringe Theater Festival. So Randomosity decided to spearhead a community effort to establish a theater festival – in the tradition of the Fringe Festival from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Thus began several years of research, meetings and interviews of Fringe organizers, phone conferences, and visits to Fringe Festivals in other cities. We met and conversed with the organizers of the Atlanta Fringe Festival in 2010. In 2011 Randomosity sent the playwright to represent Athens at the annual Fringe organizers’ meeting for the American National Conference of Fringe Festivals, or USAFF. The playwright moved to the midwestern US and his play was successfully produced at the Kansas City Fringe Festival in 2012, adding to our experience and knowledge.
Throughout our time of researching how to make a Fringe Festival work in Athens we found a surplus of new and unique performers right here in our town. Although Athens is generally thought of as a music town, it also encourages eclectic art of all kinds. As we explored our community to gain support and information we were left with the feeling that we are providing something Athens has been missing: a place for all performers to share their art and actually make money doing art, and for audiences to find something new and fresh.
Shortly thereafter Randomosity Productions began partnering with one of our video clients, Mux Blank, to produce short films, stop-motion animation, and archival videos for the Carnival of Black Hearts. This partnership flourished through the following two years, and in December of 2014 Mr. Blank approached Marty Cronk and Megan Dunn with the notion of working together to develop the Fringe for the Classic City, Athens, GA.
In December of 2014 the founders of Classic City Fringe Festival came together to plan their first Festival year. The community response was overwhelmingly positive. In October 2015, artists, local businesses, vendors, theater groups and venues all came together to support the Fringe vision. In their first year CCFF hosted over 24 hours of performances in eight venues over three days.
The Classic City Fringe Festival is now a magnet of Athens culture, hosting the event annually every October, and bringing together the most daring and creative performers in Athens! We have witnessed so much creativity here in Athens and we want to give these artists the best chance of success. In this we are not alone. We have found many of our community leaders bolstered by the Fringe spirit, welcoming this new outlet for artists. They are discovering what the Canadian Fringe Festivals discovered and continue to demonstrate, that cultural enhancement is a means of economic development.
Want to know more about the volunteers and directors behind the CCFF? Here is a bit of info about the staff of the CCFF and what inspired them to bring the Fringe Festival to Athens Georgia:
Marty Cronk ~ Co-Founder
Marty Cronk has roots in live theater, having taken part in live stage production since the age of 6. He moved into the realm of film and video in high school, then subsequently broadened his knowledge at New York University and Full Sail University. He has worked in various capacities, both in performing and behind the scenes, for such companies as Per4mAnts, Sound “O” Rama, Orange TV, and Virtual Media Communications. He was the writer/co-director/editor for the first-ever kids 4-H television series, “O-Zone” for Orange County Government Television, and Assistant Editor for the feature film “The Essence of Irwin”. He has written multiple scripts for short films, commercials, and public service announcements and has received several awards for his work in government programming. His specialties include directing, editing, lighting and camera operation. Since 2009 he has served as Producing Director for the Athens-based video production company Randomosity Productions, producing videos for local businesses and government entities, as well as promos for local artists, music videos, event coverage and short films.
Megan Dunn ~ Co-Founder
Megan Dunn has been performing since the age of 11 though of course the love of fiction and an active imagination, which is the heart of every artist, has thrived in her for much longer. She is a graduate of Savannah Arts Academy (a high school dedicated to the arts), where she learned the different sides and styles of stage performance, and in her free time she practiced and played with different performing styles such as dance, puppetry, street performance and anything else she could talk her friends into. She took this passion into her adult years where she is a partner in the Athens-based video production company Randomosity Productions. She has emphasized acting thus far in her career, having portrayed a wide range of characters, from classical Shakespeare to comedic improvisatio
n. She is also a gifted fantasy writer, with multiple projects under her belt. In the last few years her interests have moved behind the scenes, where she is rapidly gaining new skills in the fields of post production, camera operation and animation. Her desire to fulfill her own artistic goals have encouraged her to promote and support other local artists. She knows that only by working together with our community of varied performers will we all be able to become the best artists we can.
Mux Blank ~ Co-Founder
Mux Blank has been a Fringe artist for as long as he can remember, and expresses himself in a multitude of different mediums (abstract 2-d/3-d, no-budget filmmaking, experimental music, performance art, sideshow freak, DIY zine publisher, and event organizer). He has lived homelessly in his car and even a mini-storage warehouse space in the past, and until recently (over six years now) he has been living full time out of an old run-down school bus all while ceaselessly creating, touring, performing, and booking events locally and nationally. In the past he opened an all-ages DIY music and performance space called Penumbra. Since then he has traveled far and wide as a Fringe performance artist for over 10 years. He has organized and promoted other Fringe-type performance artists locally in Athens and Atlanta over the last 8 years with his “Carnivale Of Black Hearts” showcases and “Moonlight Gypsy Market” arts and craft festival events. He is well known for his downtown street theater performances as the character called TVHeadGuy, and as a bassist/vocalist in the locally based “doom-psychedelic-noise” touring band Rat Babies. He has released multiple albums with Rat Babies, his solo project simply called Mr Blank, and other side projects (Royal Futility). He has also published multiple mini-comics and zines such as: Blank Culture, Rabblerouser Magazine, Square Bird, Fun With Fire, and more. Currently he is opening up his home as an alternative gallery and underground performance space called the JOKER JOKER Gallery. To Mux’s friends, he is known for his compassion and hard-working demeanor. Mux is a founding member of the CCFF because he hopes to use his knowledge of creating, marketing and promoting fringe performance art to give the Fringe community of Athens a much-needed boost. Email Mux Blank here: firstname.lastname@example.org