Mark Lyon: Why fringe festivals matter |

Mark Lyon: Why fringe festivals matter

Mark Lyon will appear in “’Tween Earth and Sky,” one of numerous performances in the Nevada County Fringe Festival, Jan. 21-31 in Nevada City and Grass Valley.
Submitted photo |


WHO: Quest Theaterworks presents “The Nugget Fringe Festival”

WHEN: Jan. 21-31

WHERE: Venues through out Nevada City and Grass Valley

TICKETS: $10-$35/Individual Show Tickets, Passes also available

INFO: or (530) 366-5888

One of Nevada County’s greatest natural resources is theatrical talent and this year’s upcoming Nugget Fringe Festival will offer some of our county’s most creative and talented performers a stage upon which to showcase their talents.

Each year, from May through September, thousands of highly talented actors, singers, dancers, monologists, standup comedians and other assorted performing artists work their way across North America presenting imaginative, daring and, for the most part original, theatrical performances at one or more of the theatre festivals which comprise the fringe festival touring circuit.

In 1982, Brian Paisley, inspired by success of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, created the Edmonton International Fringe Festival.

The success of the Edmonton Fringe (currently offering up to 220 individual shows and 1,500 performers) inspired other Canadian cities to create their own festivals resulting in seventeen Fringe Festivals across Canada and an ever-growing number of similar festivals in the United States.

Although the “Fringe Festival” concept is not, yet, all that well known here in the United States, in many Canadian communities where the fringe festivals have been going strong for over 30 years, the arrival of the Fringe is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year.

And now, thanks to the efforts of Scott Ewing and Quest Theaterworks and the success of last year’s festival, the Nugget Fringe Festival has been added to the list of annual North American fringe festivals and our community will have the opportunity to see what all of the excitement is about. In the course of performing and producing seven different shows over the years at 18 festivals on the Fringe circuit, I have continually been astounded by the quality of the work produced by my fellow performers. Moreover, I feel that the Fringe offers performers an unparalleled opportunity both to grow as an artist and to expand the boundaries of their creative expression.

Because fringe shows are un-juried and performing artists have the freedom to give free expression to their creative impulses, this year’s Nugget Fringe Festival patrons can expect to see a wide array of productions ranging from traditional theatre to performances which may be considered too bold in concept or execution to ever be seen in either community theatre or professional theatre settings where the requirements of a successful box office all too often inhibit and curtail the very artistic freedom upon which great theatre depends.

And just as the Edinburgh Fringe, years ago, spawned such future stars as Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, the Nugget Fringe will offer its audiences the chance to see new, exciting and often challenging work by performers and writers who may well become the stars of tomorrow!

Perhaps best known locally for his Haunted Nevada City and Grass Valley ghost tours, Mark Lyon has enchanted audiences from Orlando, Florida to Victoria, B.C. and across the Atlantic. See him in “’Tween Earth and Sky” where he portrays 16 different roles, weaving a magical spell through four Irish tales. More info at

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