GREENFIELD — For Carrie Fedor, this time of year always feels a little like Christmas.
Ninety-degree temperatures and start of school aside, August also welcomes IndyFringe, an 11-day celebration of all things theatrical.
For Fedor, of Greenfield, a stage regular in area theater productions, IndyFringe is like one big present, wrapped and delivered in the middle of summer.
“I love it,” said Fedor, who is doubling as both performer and spectator this year. “It’s called ‘Fringe’ for a reason; it’s theater on the fringe. It’s things you’re not normally going to see.”
Fringe festivals occur throughout the country and give artists a chance to produce and perform their own shows in front of theater fans hungry to see something new and inventive.
Locally, arts enthusiasts descend on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis every August for the event, which this year includes 384 performances put on by 64 companies across eight stages.
This weekend marks the final opportunity to enjoy the festival, which runs through Sunday.
Fedor will be catching shows in between her own performances in “The Great Bike Race,” a comedy written and directed by Zack Neiditch of Indianapolis. It is being staged at Theatre on the Square.
The show features a cast of characters portraying the competitors in the 1904 Tour de France.
While loosely based on the historical event – marked by scandals including allegations of cheating – the show takes a modern spin on the race and its participants.
Several women are playing men, which only adds to the hilarity, Fedor said.
“We’re using these very over-the-top, very deep voices,” she said. “It’s definitely very … vaudeville and silly.”
No topic is off-limits for the festival. That always makes for some outrageous performances, but there are also many family-friendly shows. Whatever the subject matter, it must be presented in a bite-sized format; no show may be longer than an hour.
“There’s something in IndyFringe for everybody,” said Frankie Bolda, who is also appearing in “The Great Bike Race.” “It’s like if you took all of the theater community and put it in a blender and poured it out, that’s what you’d get.”
Bolda, a Greenfield native, has been performing in theater since she was 6 years old. She had a hand in most of the productions put on during her years at Greenfield-Central High School, and after graduation in 2009, she went on to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York.
Bolda describes the stage as a place that feels like home.
Performing in the festival this year has given her a chance not only to hone her acting skills but to learn from others whose shows she has been able to see.
Every performer receives a pass to attend other Fringe shows for free, which makes for a readymade audience for many productions. For the general public, tickets are $15, with $12.50 of each purchase going back to the performers.
Production slots are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, for a $550 entry fee, and there is no jury process to evaluate the shows beforehand.
That means a range of talent hits the stage each season. Some actors are emerging, others long-established.
“It’s not nearly as polished as some people may like things, and you know, you pay your $15 and take a chance,” said Zach Rosing, producer of “The Great Bike Race.” “That’s part of the fun of it.”
And as always in the theater community, word of mouth is gold.
By the end of the first weekend, it’s common knowledge which are the shows to see.
“Our first audience, the house was half full; by the second performance, it was sold out,” Rosing said. “We got a couple good reviews, and that’s what it takes.”
But Fringe regulars say there’s more to the festival than just its shows. The event is also about the people you meet.
Many of the same actors and audience members return each year, which makes Mass Ave. the scene of an 11-day reunion.
“There’s a great sense of camaraderie and community,” Rosing said. “The atmosphere is just as much a part of it as the actual show you put on.”
Bolda encouraged both theater regulars and those new to the arts to step out of the comfort zones and experience something different.
“Come see ‘The Great Bike Race,’ but don’t stop there,” she said. “See as many as you can. There’s nothing like it.”