Rockford Fringe Program | Schedule & Bios


Thank you for coming to the Rockford Fringe Festival! We have a fantastic lineup of unique, deep talent for you including theatre, music, comedy, drama, dance, stretch, radio plays, creative dramatics, parkour and poetry.

We hope you stay all day, but of course you are welcome to come and go as you please.

Our performers have been working incredibly hard. Please be respectful during their performances and give them your full attention. If you need to leave, please wait for the breaks before and after each act.

The Fringe is free but bring your own chair and snacks; and please remember if you pack it in you must pack it out. This includes your recyclables and litter. We want to leave Walker Park looking better than the way we found it.

With those housekeeping items in mind, please get comfortable and enjoy the Rockford Fringe Festival! -Connie Kuntz



The Rockford Fringe Festival Podcast, hosted by Connie Kuntz, is another way to get to know the artists. It’s free and available on Apple, Spotify, Anchor and Google.


Follow the Fringe on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Nick Barelli is an actor/director from Rockford. He studied at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) under the tutelage of Yasen Peyankov, Zeljko Djukic, and Derrick Saunders. He gives his thanks to the Rockford Fringe Festival and to Carl Maronich for the awesome opportunity to be a part of these plays.

Rock Island native, Aubrey Barnes, also known as “Aubs.,” is a poet, spoken word artist, author, battle rap enthusiast, Emcee, teacher of the arts and podcast host of Black Thoughts Podcast. Aubs. has performed and taught workshops all over; from Chicago, Atlanta and outside the country such as Haiti. His third book It is Good, It is Written was published April of this year.

Kate Blair is delighted to be part of this year’s Fringe Festival. She has enjoyed learning Nikki’s choreography & collaborating with both Nikki and Emily in preparation. She currently works as Outreach Coordinator & Instructor at Rockford Dance Company. She is certified in Movement Fundamentals®, a holistic movement/dance training.

Rebecca Ann Carver (host) is a Chicago-born actress, model and comedian. She’s been seen (and worked on) shows for MTV, Netflix and Amazon. She’s modeled for large companies like Staples and Shure to small local and women-run businesses. She performs regularly throughout Chicago and the suburbs.

Emmy Daniels (she/her) is a rising senior Music Theater major from Naperville, IL. Past productions include June by the Sea, Spring Awakening (Ilse), Jesus Christ Superstar (Disciple/Judas u/s). Being queer herself, she is excited to tell a queer story that is both lighthearted and unabashedly honest. No more hiding!

Alyse Dionne is a Chicago-based actor with Promote Talent Agency playing Josephine “JoJo” D’Angelo. A member of the ComedySportz Rec League, Alyse played Helena in a virtual adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the radio play Emperor of the Moon on Spotify. Insta: A.M.Dijon

Robbie Ellis is a comedy songmaker who’s birthed one album with a second on the way. He performs at Chicago shows like The Paper Machete and Tuesdays@9; he’s been an improv music director at The Second City and The Annoyance; he’s a composer; and he presents classical music radio on WFMT Chicago.

Tera Flores writes, “I am honored to be making my directorial debut in Lady Balls. It has been a blast and I am truly honored to be working with such a collaborative group.”

Allison Fradkin has a ball creating satirically scintillating stories that (sur)pass the Bechdel Test and enlist their characters in a caricature of the idiocies and intricacies of insidious isms. An enthusiast of inclusivity and accessibility, she serves as Literary Manager of Violet Surprise Theatre, curating new works by queer playwrights; and as Dramatist for Special Gifts Theatre, adapting scripts for actors of all abilities. Allison’s auxiliary activities include vintage shopping, volunteering, and tending to her thespian tendencies.

Gerri Hood writes, “I am 50-ish. I am the mother of 6 children and 15 grandchildren with 2 more on the way. I’ve been writing most of my life but didn’t read my work publicly until February of 2020 when I read a poem for the City of Rockford’s Black History Month celebration.”

Emily Klonicki works, plays and creates in Rockford, IL. She is the executive director of Alignment Rockford. She loves to dance and create other kinds of art in her free time. She has two children who are also young artists.

Angelo Kuntz is going into 7th grade at West Middle School in the Creative And Performing Arts Program. He enjoys reading, volunteering at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, running and playing chess. Angelo danced at Hubbard Street Youth Dance Program and later at Ruth Page Center for the Arts and is excited to lead Creative Dramatics with Fern.

Connie Kuntz loves producing safe, inclusive and unique art-based public events. Some favorites: Now What Pop-Ups; Winter Solstice Poetry Caroling; The “On Your Mark” 5K; and the “March for the Arts” Parade. A former WNIJ environment reporter and host of State of the Artist, now Connie’s a playwright, Rockford Fringe podcast host, the music and comedy director for Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 Chicago, and a sometimes-instructor or moderator at Chicago Dramatists. She says, “Thank you to everyone who took at chance on the Rockford Fringe Festival.”

Essamuel Kuntz will be a sophomore at Guilford this fall where he is part of Scholastic Bowl and runs track. Sam enjoys volunteering at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, reading, making music and editing / creating videos.

Fern Kuntz will be a freshman at Guilford in the fall. She enjoys volunteering at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, and playing cello and chess. Ferm danced for several years at Hubbard Street Youth Dance Program and later at Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

Jesse Kuntz is a freelance technical director and production manager for live events. When Connie learned about the City of Rockford’s “Forward For Fun” initiative, she thought about producing a writing event but Jesse said, “You need to go bigger and it needs to be theatre.” They walked over to Walker Park and immediately envisioned the Fringe. The Rockford Fringe is an awesome collaboration but it is Jesse Kuntz who made it possible for us to see, hear and experience this safe, beautiful day of original performances.

Jocelyn Kuntz will be a senior at Guilford in the fall and is currently part of the International Dance Experience at Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Prior to Ruth Page, she trained at Hubbard Street Youth Dance Program for several years. Jocelyn is the past youth poet laureate for the City of Rockford and enjoys boxing and Muay Thai.

Jim Lichtscheidl is a creator, director, choreographer and performer from Minneapolis. He enjoys writing, tennis and playing competitive Scrabble. Other shows Jim has created include Huh?, The Hoopla Train, Knock!, and archie and mehitabel: life in lowercase.

Mannarzm says his mission is to inspire and impact people. He is also a media producer (music for spoken word artists, scoring for film or television), video production and post production. Mannarzm is the founder of the open mic

A playwright with a background in radio, and plenty of experience shopping in small town grocery stores, Carl Maronich combined these interests to create Sack Merriweather – Bag Boy, Do-Gooder and All-Around Nice Guy. The radio play originally aired on WKAN in Kankakee in 2015. Audio Biography is a radio feature that never quite made it onto the air, but has been called brilliant…or probably would have been if anyone actually heard it. Carl’s writing career started in journalism, including a dozen-year stint with the Dixon Telegraph, a few miles south on the beautiful Rock River.

Sharon Nesbit-Davis is the author of the memoir Intended: A Marriage in Black & White and the past executive director for Rockford Area Arts Council.

Rich Rankin is a Chicago-based musician, producer, audio engineer and photographer. He has produced, recorded and performed on numerous albums, performs live, and also scores and produces ad music, audio branding and sound design. His photo work captures inspired people; musicians, dancers and artists of all kinds.

Rockford Writers’ Guild is an international writing organization that nurtures and publishes writers of all levels. The Guild has been around since 1947 and puts out two editions of The Rockford Review every year. They also publish the monthly newsletter Write Away, host monthly meetings, regularly promote their writers and maintain a lively social media presence. Rockford Writers’ Guild is the official sponsor of the Rockford Fringe.

Nicole Rundall-Royal writes, “As a dancer, I believe in the power of the arts to evoke emotion and passion. As a social worker and therapist, I find inspiration in the music of artists who use their craft to bring social justice to the forefront. The life of Nina Simone and the music that she has created through her love, anguish, and courage inspired me to choreograph a piece to the song “22nd Century.” There are many layers and elements in this lengthy piece of music and it lends itself to different stories being told through movement. I am so very thankful for the two creative souls who have supported, collaborated and danced alongside of me on this piece. We are very excited to be a part of Fringe Fest.”

Karen Saari is an award-winning playwright who enjoys getting a chance to perform once in a while. Residing in Madison, WI, she recently played Mrs. Chumley in a Madison College production of Harvey. Other favorite Madison acting credits include roles in Bonnie and Clyde and The Sound of Music (Music Theatre of Madison), The Odd Couple (Alley Stage), Cat’s Paw (Strollers Theatre) and You’ve Ruined a Perfectly Good Mystery (Mercury Players). By day she works in PR and teaches Speech at Madison College. She sends love to Dave, Max and Ginn. Don’t mind this shameless plug for the world premiere of her musical (book and co-lyrics) Ten Days in a Madhouse, Aug. 19-27 at Wisconsin Union Theatre! (Learn more at

Kim Schultz is a writer, actor, improvisor, storyteller and activist. She has worked at many national theatres as an actor and writer. In 2009, she was commissioned to travel to the Middle East to meet with Iraqi refugees. Out of that came the solo show No Place Called Home and the memoir, Three Days in Damascus. (Palewell Press, 2016). Up next: a new play she wrote called The Root Beer Lady. It is the story of a maverick woman who lived alone in the Boundary Waters for 50 years being performed at the History Theatre in St. Paul, MN, January, 2023.

SigFreed (Parkour) is a group of parkour athletes, explorers and artists traveling and creating content while documenting their adventures. They are based out of Beloit, Wisconsin. Members: Nathan Sill, Max Saladar, Devon McIntyre and Evan Rusmisal.

Christopher D. Sims is a Rockford born and raised writer of poetry, performance spoken word poet, and a hip-hop MC and recording artist. Heavily engaged in and committed to the 1980s rap genre and the 1970s Black Arts Movement, his poems and rhymes either educate, inform, or uplift. As a poet, he covers social justice issues to continue the conversation and push this country towards justice and equity. A multi-threat artist, Christopher D. Sims is all about entertainment and education.

Schann Stewart currently performs in nursing homes but is striving to take her show into other venues. Originally from Nebraska, she now lives in Freeport, Illinois where she is pursuing her dream of being a voice actor. She hopes to be in animation someday.

Kankakee, IL is where Bill Yohnka hosts the morning show on X-Country 106.5 FM, is the voice of the Kankakee Farmers Market and works in community engagement for Kankakee School District 111.

Forward for Fun.

The Rockford Fringe Festival was made possible by the City of Rockford’s Forward for Fun initiative.

Rockford Fringe Podcast | Aubs., Gerri Hood, Nathan Sill & Max Saladar, Carl Maronich, Robbie Ellis, Schann Stewart, Jim Lichtscheidl, Ethan Watts, Alyse Dionne, Kate Blair

Nathan Sill and Max Saladar at Walker Park

We’ve been cranking out the content on the Rockford Fringe Festival Podcast! You can listen and subscribe via Apple, Google, Spotify and Anchor or just listen from my blog. Here are the latest episodes.

Episode 4: My 10-minute interview with rap artist Aubs.


Episode 5: My 5-minute interview with poet Gerri Hood.

Gerri Hood.

Episode 6: My four-and-a-half-minute interview with parkour performers Nathan Sill and Max Saladar of SigFreed.

Hear the Parkour Episode.

Episode 7: My 13-minute interview with playwright Carl Maronich.

Episode 8: My 8-minute interview with comedy songmaker Robbie Ellis.

Robbie Ellis.

Episode 9: My 6-minute interview with comedy jazz artist Schann Stewart.

Schann Stewart.

Episode 10: My 8-minute interview with Minneapolis artist Jim Lichtscheidl.

Jim Lichtscheidl.

Episode 11: My 9-minute interview with college student Ethan Watts.

Episode 12: My 6-minute interview with Chicago actor Alyse Dionne.

Alyse Dionne

Episode 13: My 7-minute interview with Rockford dancer Kate Blair.

Kate Blair.

Thanks for listening and see you at the #RockfordFringe on Saturday, July 9, 2022 from noon to 6:00 p.m. at Rockford’s Walker Park. Bring a chair or blanket for sitting. Pack a picnic. It’s a rain or shine event, so consider wearing a hat, sunscreen and packing an umbrella. It’s also an environmentally friendly event so if you pack it in, pack it out. We don’t want to leave even a hint of litter at the park, plus the park only has one garbage can so in order to keep the park clean, we ask you to pack neatly and if you have any garbage, dispose of it at home. Thanks for keeping the earth clean and healthy! -Connie

It’s free!

Rockford Fringe Podcast Episode 3 | Rebecca Ann Carver

Hear the 7-minute interview right here or on Apple, Spotify, Anchor and Google Podcasts.
Rockford Fringe Festival Host Rebecca Ann Carver.

Get to know a little bit about the Rockford Fringe Festival host here. Then come to the #RockfordFringe on Saturday, July 9 from Noon-6:00 p.m. at Walker Park in Rockford, Illinois. It’s a free celebration of theatre and the performing arts and it will take place rain or shine! Thanks for listening! -Connie

Rockford Fringe Festival Podcast | Episode 2 with Christopher D. Sims

I interviewed the ever-evolving poet and spoken word artist, Christopher D. Sims in this five-minute podcast. Listen here or the various podcast formats: Apple, Spotify, Google and Anchor FM. Thanks and see you at the #Rockford Fringe! -Connie

The Rockford Fringe Festival is Saturday, July 9, 2022 from Noon-6:00 p.m. in Walker Park; 1500 Myott. It’s a free event that celebrates theatre and the performing arts.

Rockford Fringe Festival Podcast

The Rockford Fringe Festival has a podcast! I’ll interview artists and share Fringe info every week in short, fun episodes.

Meet the talent and the team by listening to our first episode here. I edited the audio from the Community Info Session that was broadcast on Facebook Live into a delightfully informative and entertaining 14-minute podcast.

Counterclockwise from left to right: That’s me in the upper left corner, then Aubs, then Jesse Kuntz. That’s Sharon Nesbit-Davis in the lower right corner and Rebecca Ann Carver in the lower left corner.

After you listen, let me know if you’d like to be on the podcast.

If you are comfortable doing so, please like, rate and / or subscribe to the Rockford Fringe Festival podcast. We greatly appreciate it! -Connie

Thank you to our community partners and sponsors, especially Rockford Writers’ Guild, the official sponsor of the Rockford Fringe Festival!

Meet the Host of the Rockford Fringe Festival

Rebecca Ann Carver is a Chicago-born actress, model and comedian. She’s been seen (and worked on) shows for MTV, Netflix and Amazon. She’s modeled for large companies like Staples and Shure to small local and women-run businesses. She performs regularly throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Learn more at! Then come see Carver host the Rockford Fringe Festival from Noon-6:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at Walker Park.

Thanks for reading and see you at the Fringe! -Connie

Happy Mother’s Day to all the…

Artists! Yes! Happy Mother’s Day to all the artists who are interested in performing at the Rockford Fringe Festival! I freaking love you creative mothers! Keep those submissions coming!

Look: I know it’s Mother’s Day, but I simply don’t care. I can’t think of anything else except the Rockford Fringe Festival. Once I *know* I have a lineup and have the festival organized and safe, I will resume being normal. Until then, I am strictly fringe. I have fringe on the brain. Fringe fever. Frinnnnnnge.

Reminder: It’s easy to submit your script or pitch. Just fill out this jotform. And hurry because there are a limited amount of spots available. The artist lineup will be announced on or before June 15.

Thanks for reading. Happy Mother’s Day! -Connie

P.S. Please like / follow the Rockford Fringe Festival on Facebook.

Omigosh you won’t believe what these kittens JUST DID!

Boy howdy, these kittens sure are adorable! Not only that, they have secret talents. We caught up with Lieutenant Kitten (the kittens’ leader) and asked her what makes the kittens so special.

“We’re artists,” she said, “and we’ll be performing in the Rockford Fringe Festival!”

Awwwww. Doesn’t that make your HEART MELT?

The lieutenant said her crew of kittens is mostly interested in theatre but they also sing, act, dance and recite poetry.

“Each kitten is poised to share their unique talent,” said the lieutenant. “Just like the humans who will be performing at the Rockford Fringe Festival!”


Shame on me (Connie) for using kitten click bait to get you to read this story about the Rockford Fringe Festival. But desperate times call for desperate measures!


Shame on me again for using emotional, over-the-top language. These aren’t “desperate times” and I’m not interested in pursuing “desperate measures.” Here’s what I’m interested in: producing this fringe festival!

As you know, the performing arts add so much to a community. Likewise, a healthy, unique and robust community adds so much to its performers. It’s a symbiotic relationship and cultivating it takes some effort.

How can you help?

Click “like” on social media posts. Every time you share, follow, comment, retweet, etc., you are building a robust online community – one like at a time.

Volunteer. You don’t have to commit hours of your time! Simply committing 20 minutes of your time helps immensely! Help us cross our ‘t’s’ and dot our ‘i’s’ by signing up to volunteer.

Submit your idea or script. The shorter the better as that will allow more performers to share their unique talents. The lineup will be announced on or before June 15, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

Save the date! Got plans for July 9? Unless those plans involve the Rockford Fringe Festival, cancel them immediately and plan on attending the Fringe instead. Thanks for reading! -Connie

Meow! This kitten can’t wait to perform at the Rockford Fringe Festival!

You asked, we answered (updated)

Listen to the 14-minute info session and meet some of the team and talent. Contains pertinent information for artists, the audience and volunteers.

Q. What is the Rockford Fringe Festival?

A. A one-day outdoor celebration of the performing arts.

Q. When is it?

A. Saturday, July 9, 2022 from noon-6:00 p.m.

Q. The event lasts six hours. Do I have to stay for the whole thing?

A. It’s up to you. Some people will pack a picnic and make a day of the event. Others will come for a specific show or maybe a couple shows. And there will be some people who come and go throughout the day. All we ask is that you’re not disruptive during a performance. Please wait until a break to move around and talk. Most acts will be 10 minutes long but some will run as long as 45 minutes.

Q. How much does it cost to attend?

A. It’s free.

Q. What should I bring?

A. A chair or blanket. Consider wearing a hat and sunscreen. An umbrella.

Q. Will there be food?

A. It’s a pack-it-in-pack-it-out event. It’s also environmentally friendly. Though the event is free, audience should bring their own snacks and water AND a little bag to take away your trash.

Q. I want to perform. How?

A. Fill out this jotform. Hurry because there are a limited amount of spots available.

Q. Before I fill out the jotform, what kind of acts are being considered?

A. Theatre, dance, music, comedy, poetry, performance art. The shorter the better because that will allow more people to perform, but we are considering shows and acts that run up to 45 minutes.

Q. What does the set look like?

A. The OPEN Stage is two feet off the ground. It has two stair units, one that is stage left and the other is stage right. The stage is 12 feet wide and eight feet deep. It is safe for dancers. There is a hidden entrance.

Q. Tell me what kind of tech you have to offer.

A. There is one handheld mic with a mic stand and two lavaliers available that will be shared from performance to performance. There will be four speakers in the audience so up to 300 people will be able to hear. And there will be playback speakers on the stage. Performers are to bring their own music, cued up and ready to plug in. Do not bring CDs, bring music that you can plug in, like from your phone.

Q. When are you announcing the lineup?

A. On or before June 15, 2022.

Q. How much does it cost to submit / perform?

A. It’s free but artists are responsible for producing their own shows on their own time. There will be a brief partial run-through the morning of the event so everyone will be able to get familiar with stage and the order, but there will not be enough time to rehearse everyone’s full acts.

Q. Where do I go to stay up-to-date with the #RockfordFringe?

A. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast via Apple, Spotify, Anchor FM or Google.

Q. You have a podcast? May I be on it?

A. If you are a performer, a member of the artistic team, a volunteer or a Fringe audience member, we want you on the podcast! Each episode sheds insight into the Fringe community and is less than 15 minutes long. Email Connie to set up your Zoom or phone interview.

Q. Who is sponsoring the Rockford Fringe Festival?

A. This is made possible by a grant through the City of Rockford’s Forward for Fun initiative. Several sponsors and community partners are supporting the Rockford Fringe Festival. A complete list is at the bottom and you can see all of the logos at the bottom of the graphic.

Q. Where is the Rockford Fringe Festival taking place?

A. On an outdoor stage at Walker Park in Rockford; 1500 Myott Ave.

Q. Will the streets be blocked off? Where do I park?

A. The streets will not be blocked off and there is plenty of off street parking. Walking, biking and taking a Bird to the #RockfordFringe are other options.

Q. Is there a theme?

A. This year’s theme is ‘Rain or Shine’ and the event will take place rain or shine.

Q. Is this event for any particular demographic?

A. The Rockford Fringe Festival is for everyone.

Q. Why are you doing this?

A. To safely and intelligently share original theatre, music and dance on an outdoor stage with the community.

Q. I’d like to volunteer. How?

A. Fill out this volunteer jotform and we’ll hook you up with a fun task.

Q. Who are the sponsors?

A. There are several tiers.

Rockford Fringe Festival Official Sponsor: Rockford Writers’ Guild.

Community Sponsors: City of Rockford; Community Foundation of Northern Illinois; Hard Rock Casino; Fehr Graham; Hard Rock Casino; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Northwestern Illinois Building Trades Unions; Rockford Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; Rockford Mass Transit District; Rockford Plumbers and Pipefitters.

Community Partners: 89.5 FM WNIJ; Chicago Dramatists; Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 Chicago; Rockford Area Arts Council.

Q. Who do I contact if I have any questions?

A. Email Rockford Fringe Festival producer Connie Kuntz at

Rockford Fringe Festival is a GO!

Rockford Fringe Festival host: Rebecca Ann Carver.

The Rockford Fringe Festival will take place on Saturday, July 9 from noon-6:00 p.m. at Walker Park in the city’s 3rd Ward. This free outdoor event is part of the City of Rockford’s Forward for Fun initiative. If you are interested in performing, fill out this form. Hurry! The official lineup will be announced on or before June 15.

Shorter performances work best, but you can submit a show that lasts up to 40 minutes. You are encouraged to submit plays or performances that explore serious topics but we this is an outdoor event and we will not tolerate profanity or any content containing vulgar, racist, sexist or supremacist language. All plays, performances, and content must be your original work.

The Rockford Fringe will be hosted by comedian, actor and model Rebecca Ann Carver. Comedy songmaker, music director, composer and broadcaster Robbie Ellis will be featured as the opening musical act.

Comedy songmaker Robbie Ellis will kick off the Rockford Fringe Festival with a free all-ages performance.

There is no fee to participate and the festival is free and open to the public.

Thank you to the following sponsors and community partners for their support: Rockford Writers’ Guild (official); City of Rockford; Community Foundation of Northern Illinois; Hard Rock Casino; Fehr Graham; Northwestern Illinois Building Trades Unions; Rockford Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; 89.5 FM WNIJ; Chicago Dramatists; Naked Angels Tuesdays@9 Chicago; Rockford Area Arts Council.

If you have any questions, email the Rockford Fringe Festival producer at Learn more on our Facebook Page at Rockford Fringe Festival.