The Squeaky Wheel Fringe Festival Returns to the Cook Theatre in June

A wide range of acts will entertain over a six-day fest.

By Kay Kipling May 14, 2024

"Ed's Shed" will perform during the Squeaky Wheel Fringe, at the Cook Theatre.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the Squeaky Wheel Fringe Festival gets a second season June 4-9 at Sarasota's Cook Theatre, bringing audiences a six-day, 20-plus performance event featuring local, national and international artists.

Squeaky Wheel founder and board member Megan Radish has a background in theater, spending eight years on the road regionally as a theater technician, props artist and stage manager. But she’d never seen a fringe festival until about a decade ago. Her first reaction was, “What is this?” she says. Her second was, “I wanted to see more of it.”

Fringe fests have sprung up around the world, with the biggest and most established scene in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the fest can be weeks long and present hundreds of acts in multiple venues. But whether big or small, like Squeaky Wheel, the intent is to offer works that are, per Radish, “100 percent uncensored, with artists getting an opportunity to do things that move them. Everything we do is original. The artists write, they cast, do the sets, props, everything. Some people make their career going from festival to festival.”

Squeaky Wheel’s promotional materials say the fest provides “an inclusive and accepting artistic environment that is unafraid to be loud, push boundaries, and to challenge artists and audiences alike.” The result is a smorgasbord in its variety, with 100 percent of the base ticket price for each show going back to the artist. (The fest does add a small fee to the ticket price online to support itself.)

Natalie Hunter and Connie Perry in "The Lonely Death of L. Harris," an improv piece from New York.

Image: Roberto Tobar

If you’ve seen shows like HBO’s Fleabag or the stage musical Six, you’ve seen shows that started in fringe at Edinburgh. Radish says the fledgling Squeaky Wheel fest is “kind of a rare breed in fringes, in that we are adjudicated. We put out a call for applicants and then have a team of local artists look at all the applications and arrange our festival. Most fringes are based on the lottery method; you just pull names out of a hat. Since we are newer and getting to know the audience and they are getting to know fringe, we thought adjudication was the way to go.” She adds that about 450 people showed up for performances in the first season last year.

The material is all over the board—a blend of dance, spoken word, plays, musicals, improv, etc. One of this year’s performances, I’m Fine, is a dance theater piece from Sarasota-based Moving Ethos.

Moving Ethos' Leah Verrier-Dunn

“We thought the fringe festival would be a perfect place for it,” says the company’s artistic director and co-founder, Leah Verier-Dunn. She’s the director-choreographer of I’m Fine, which she’s been working on with collaborators for quite some time. She says the piece is loosely focused on ideas of grief and how everyone seems to process that differently.

“The initial seed started many years ago when my brother passed away suddenly from cancer,” she explains. “I started to feel very curious about grief processes. And then we went into Covid, a massive worldwide shutdown, and I was curious to watch how people dealt with this really hard thing. There’s a lot of avoidance, pretending, putting on a face, where it seems the only way to survive is to say, ‘I’m fine’ and just keep going.”

There are lots of other shows on the fringe schedule, including The Lonely Death of L. Harris, an improv piece from New York; Ed’s Shed, a mashup of puppetry, poetry, standup and more from Tarpon Springs; My Year of Saying No, a one-woman play from Palm Harbor; and Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life, a one-man musical show from Vancouver, British Columbia. Some audience members will see multiple shows over the festival run; others may pop in for just one or two depending on their likes.

Tickets are available now online at, where you can also find the full lineup of shows.

Filed under
Show Comments