Our Festival Culture

PortFringe. This isn’t theater. This is fringe.
We are not boring theater. Go find that on some real stage somewhere else.
We’re also not used-up theater. Bring something new to PortFringe, or don’t bring anything at all.

Fringe is not a practice space. Fringe is where you find the claws, the teeth, the dirty underwear. You are grinning.
Fringe left the establishment on purpose, with purpose. Fringe is about taking risks. Fringe is being experimental and outside the norm. Fringe would prefer to offend than placate, prefer to ignite than pacify, prefer to stretch your limits beyond the comfort of the safe little black box and into the great big scary world.
So if you are seeking theater with a gold star, or a blue ribbon, or lodged inside the comfort zone, there are many fine establishments out there to hold your hand. Here at PortFringe, we flex our performance muscles beyond strained. We want to hear your laughter and screams over the din of the city. We want you to be turned on by something you didn’t know existed. We want you get a little uncomfortable, and maybe have a good time doing it.
There is too much mediocrity in the world. Bother to fight against it.

Welcome to PortFringe, sweating and raw with light.

We are a by-lottery, non-juried fringe festival.
We support new, edgy, and experimental work.
We celebrate the imaginative and the weird.
We are inclusive, intersectional, and unafraid.
We seek to eliminate financial and logistical barriers so that artists can focus on their work.
We celebrate and contribute to Maine’s vibrant performance art community.
We do this out of love and passion – for theater, for creativity, for cardboard props, and packed houses. We are over one hundred performances crammed into the Arts District of Portland, Maine.

Plus, it’s super fun.


What We Do

PortFringe – Maine’s Fringe Festival: PortFringe produces one annual Fringe Festival event in June each year — a ten-day celebration of creative expression, artistic activism, cultural connections, and community building. We welcome hundreds of Artists each year – from all over Portland and Maine, and from all over North America (and beyond).

POP-UP PortFringe: Each spring, PortFringe produces a POP-UP PortFringe fundraising event – an opportunity for 12 Artists/Companies to take on one section of a well-known work (past POP-UPs include Hamlet, The Odyssey, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…), and turn it into a 5 minute piece of weird and wonderful performance art. The final product is a madcap, frenetic live mashup of all 12 scenes in order before an audience.

Off-Season Events: In our non-festival months, as opportunities arise, PortFringe participates in community events, and helps past PortFringe Artists continue to develop their work by making connections with theaters or producers in our area. We also maintain a strong connection with our peer festivals around the world through our membership and active participation in World Fringe Network, the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF), and the United States Association of Fringe Festivals (USAFF). PortFringe hosted the annual USAFF conference in 2013, and 2019.

Our History

PortFringe launched in 2012 as a five-day, scrappy little cutting-edge fringe festival with 40 acts ranging from serious to silly and everything in between. With generous support from our community, an army of volunteers, and a pool of talented actors, directors, designers, and producers, PortFringe has grown into an annual 10-day event featuring hundreds of Artists from all over North America, showcasing an impressive depth and breadth of genre-defying performance work. As we enter our second decade, PortFringe looks to keeps things fringey, expand our audience base, and be a force to reckon with.
Click here to see information about past (2012-2019) festivals!

Our Festival City

If you didn’t know, Maine is perfect during the summer, and our festival city is at the bustling heart of it all. Portland (the largest municipality in Maine at just 65,000 residents) is a vibrant coastal city bursting at the seams with character and charm. From the colorful working waterfront, to the cobblestone streets of the historic Old Port, to the sweeping panoramic ocean vistas of Munjoy Hill, and all of the quirky neighborhoods in between – you will be smitten with Portland
. The words “Buy Local” and “Small Business” still mean something here in this fiercely independent, authentic city. PortFringe venues – all walkable from one another – are tucked into architecturally stunning historic buildings surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, microbreweries and independent retailers. PortFringe is proud to be part of what keeps Portland weird.


Want to know more? Contact PortFringe – we’d love to hear from you!