SCRANTON -- A performing arts festival kicks off Friday night in downtown Scranton. It's the first year for the Scranton Fringe Festival.
The curtain's drawn and the lights are up at the Leonard Theatre on Adams Avenue in Scranton but the seats are empty. That's set to change this weekend as Scranton hosts its first ever Fringe Festival.
A performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest is one of almost 50 theatrical productions in downtown Scranton through Sunday.
"Myself and the cofounder Elizabeth Bohan have been putting in over a year's worth of work. It's been a very long process but we're really excited and we're really hopeful that the community will come out and support it and check it out," said organizer Conor O'Brien.
It's no secret that Scranton has a theatrical past. Two of the venues for this weekend's Fringe Festival are old Vaudeville-era theatres: the Leonard Theater and the Ritz Theater on Wyoming Avenue. Both were closed for years both will be back open as theatres this weekend.
"Businesses are going to be supported. Bars and restaurants will be patroned. There's going to be people and life and activity downtown, the literal commerce it's going to bring, the media attention, honestly, just the self-esteem, I think, that Scranton can host something like this," O'Brien said.
Fringe festivals have been held around the world since the 1940s; this is Scranton's first.
Kim Kulagina makes a living off of supporting the arts with her gallery on Lackawanna Avenue. She thinks a fringe festival for Scranton is a perfect
"I don't see why not. I think people in Scranton are interested in the arts and I think we need more activity here," Kulagina said.