The New York Sun has taken the time to write up a preview of the shows going to the New York International Fringe Festival this year. They make a good point that not all of the shows are worth seeing.
Be that as it may, fringe festivals as one of the most wonderful collections of theatre that we have. With the burden of having to mount a full production and rent a space removed, companies are able to focus on the work. This allows shows that normally wouldn't see the light of day a chance to have a real showcase. Most of them prove to be unstage-worthy, but that's ok. It is in that trial and error that we can truly learn something from the theatre.
On top of that, there are those plays that come from the fringe circuit that become favorites. The Drowsy Chaperone started at the Toronto Fringe Festival and Urinetown came out of the New York Fringe. And while most shows going to the NY Fringe this year will be hoping that they too can become the next big thing on Broadway, most won't.
But it is the hope that you can become the next big thing that makes these festivals special. Everyone has an equal playing field and is hoping to be seen by the right person. And as the community comes together to experience each other's work, we should appreciate how lucky we are to be able to share in the experience together.