On the Edge: Fringe Festival Returns 

It's sometimes helpful to remember how so much of what's mainstream now was once edgy and shocking. Filmmaker John Waters built his reputation as cinema's king of trash and bad taste, but this week, his hit musical Hairspray opens on the often-family-friendly main stage at Theatre Memphis. Meanwhile, at Circuit Playhouse, The Legend of Georgia McBride provides something more provocative, with the story of an Elvis impersonator turned drag superstar.

While these shows represent a mix of style and substance, if you're interested in what's next — and what our area innovators are up to — Voices of the South's annual Memphis Fringe Festival is a chance to sample work by artists in physical, experimental, and traditional theater forms, the kind of work being done just outside the mainstream. Last year's offerings ranged from a high school production of The Laramie Project to a show about the alleged healing powers of John Cusack movies.

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This year's programming will showcase 50 performances over two weeks. New works include The Earthworm by Quark Theatre co-founder Adam Remsen and Professor Myz N. Szenikals Profundikal Pedagogikal Spectakle, a collaboration between Weightless Ariel and Homemade Theatre. Rhodes College professor Joy Brooke Fairfield's contemporary performance series will feature a trio of artists working in the creative traditions of postmodern drag, dance, and hip-hop/spoken word. And that's just a taste of what you'll see at this eclectic event featuring music, comedy, plays, poetry, and dance.

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