Three Years of X Fest and Counting

June 6, 2012 SIUE kicked off the third year of X-fest, five straight days of one night only alternative theater performances. Still a relatively new festival X-Fest continues to grow with increasing diversity of acts, growing audience attendance, and positive feedback.

“So Far so good,” remarked Chuck Harper (Department of Theater and Dance), “We’ve had great response from the artist we’ve brought in who have universally loved the festival.”

X-Fest came into being when Peter Cocuzza (Department of Theater and Dance) approached Harper about creating an alternative theater festival during the summer. The goal was to take advantage of SIUE’s facilities and fill a relatively empty programming gap with the type of content not normally featured in the region. In order to make the festival a reality the two enlisted the aid of Grant Andre from SIUE Arts and Issues to help make the festival a joint effort between the two departments.

This past year X-Fest featured five varying acts: Squonk Opera, Casey Smith, The Wonderheads, Luis Tentindo, and Theater 310b. Squonk Opera’s act consist of musical performance combined with dynamic lighting elements. Casey Smith’s act described by Harper as “An X rated mime, highly offensive and highly hilarious.” The Wonderheads pefromed Grim and Fisher, a dark live action cartoon told with the aid of larger than life masks. Luis Tentindo presented a shadow puppetry piece. Theater 310b finished the festival off with performances by SIUE alums and professors.

“Everyone of the artist we bring in has a really unique approach to the way they tell a story.”

One of the goals for the festival is to present audiences with accessible alternative theater pieces while still providing audiences with storytelling methods that they’ve never seen anything else like. All of the pieces shown at X fest over the past three years with the exception of Casey Smith’s act have been family friendly by design.

“We realized very early on that the word experimental can be a little bit daunting,” Harper shared, “There’s nothing to be scared of here it’s a lot of fun.”

The festival is run by a combination of students and faculty, with student workers getting credit as practicum hours. Additionally students get hands on workshops with the various visiting artist as part of the festival.

Moving forward X-Fest hopes to further increase attendance by getting word of the festival out to a larger portion of the community. Plans for next year are already underway with the return of the Wonderheads and a performance by Pacific Performance Project already booked.

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