It’s not every day you can see a 16-hour musical based on a telephone conversation or Norwegian actors emoting in fake Chinese or Yale trained musicians playing a desk. If you like your theater with an edge, if you prize innovation in dance and music, if you enjoy the unexpected onstage or at an out-of-the ordinary performance site, then FringeArts is for you.
This year is the 17th annual Philadelphia Live Arts/PhillyFringe Festival (now simply called FringeArts). This year’s fest runs now through September 22nd at venues around Philadelphia, including site specific works at Eastern State Penitentiary and the Free LIbrary. Shows from eight countries were chosen by FringeArts cofounder, president and producing director Nick Stuccio and there are scores of works presented by mainly local artists themselves.
There are new works from some returning favorites, like Philadelphia choreographer Brian Sanders, whose innovative shows feature awe inspiring, athletic dancer/aerialists, with a world premiere based on nursery rhymes called Hush Now Sweet High Heels and Oak. Also returning is Geoff Sobelle with another world premiere The Object Lesson. Geoff is a consummate actor who has explored the history of comedy and surgery (separate shows!) in past festivals and this time around he takes on our love of stuff.
Music figures importantly in almost all shows and there are some that are music centric, like So Percussion’s use of household furnishings as musical instruments, Jonatha Brooke’s new one-woman show called My Mother Has Four Noses, and 1 Hit Wonder, an interactive sketch comedy about the music industry.
It’s difficult to summarize the wonders of the FringeArts Festival, there’s so much happening, some 150 shows in all! In addition to performance there’s visual art and a tasty benefit for FringeArts called Feastival on September 12.
There’s big news ahead, too…starting after the festival this year, Philadelphia will have a permanent home for year round fringe performance at the renovated 1903 city pump house on Columbus Boulevard, the new FringeArts headquarters, which will house a restaurant, bar, and theater. We’ll be able to see acts from around the world that previously had no place to perform if they were touring before or after the festival.