Founded in 2015 by Dale Heinen and Jeffrey Pence, BorderLight International Theatre + Fringe Festival’s mission is to present visionary theatre and build cross-cultural understanding.


BorderLight Fringe is the third ring in BorderLight’s “target” model.


Inner Core:

International showcase featuring top flight touring works from across the globe

Connective Layer:

Cleveland collaborations between local theatres and visiting international artists

Outer Edge:

Fringe festival featuring edgy, new, experimental work from established and emerging companies

Why Cleveland?

Cleveland has an incredible theatrical infrastructure, ideal for supporting an ambitious theatre festival. Our per capita arts attendance is among the highest in the nation. In fact, in a recent report by the Cultural Data Project (SMU/Arts), Cleveland ranked 5th among the nation’s leading cities for arts and culture, including New York, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Your audience is here.

Playhouse Square is located centrally in downtown Cleveland and is the second largest performing arts center in the country (after Lincoln Center in NYC). Downtown Cleveland’s redesigned Public Square opened in 2016 as an open-air performance complex and was recently designated as one of 5 “Great Public Spaces” by the American Planning Association. Your venues are here.

With the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art, nationally-recognized Gordon Square Arts District (home to Cleveland Public Theatre and others), plus large-scale arts events such as FRONT International and the biennial Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, Cleveland, and its surrounding neighborhoods, is already recognized as a cultural center, featured regularly on national “Best of” lists, including being named by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “Best of the World” cities to visit in 2018. You will love it here.

The Selection Process

The BorderLight Fringe is committed to presenting a wide range of theatrical work representing the best of contemporary theatre from across the country, including work that is new and untried. We are looking for everything from translations to adaptations to musical theatre; from experimental opera to new circus; from physical theatre, to interactive wandering shows, to reimagined classical texts…and everything in between.

Additionally, we will be looking to activate the outdoor public spaces along the downtown Euclid Avenue corridor, so if you are a busker, a living statue, a street musician, juggler or otherwise interested in being involved, let us know!

The inaugural BorderLight Fringe will use a juried application process—and this application serves as the first step. Fringe festival programming will be selected from applications received between October 31 and December 29, 2018. Artists who are not chosen during the initial selection may be placed on a waitlist in the event of a cancellation.

Here’s what we’ll we’re looking for:   

  • Surprise, innovation, and creative risk-taking in the proposed work

  • Artistic quality and style of the proposed work and/or work samples

  • Simplicity and feasibility of your show’s technical requirements

  • Enthusiasm and capacity for self-promotion

  • Preference for shows 45-60 minutes in length; no shows longer than 90 minutes

  • An expressed interest in the work of others, being part of the Festival community, and embracing the collaborative spirit of the inaugural BorderLight Festival

Shows that explore cultural topics, as well as themes of borders (real and imagined) and cross-cultural understanding are encouraged.

Perhaps you are a new or emerging artist, and don’t have extensive materials to share – we still want to hear from you. The spirit of the Fringe is one of risk-taking and development, and we will be looking to program diverse work that represent a wide range of artistic styles, modes, and points of view—including the untested and untried. Share with us your vision and what you hope to achieve with the work—we look forward to hearing from you.

For more information on Production Fees, Box Office Compensation, Production, and Scheduling, see our Information for Artists page.

Applications for the 2019 BorderLight Fringe are now closed.
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