BY LINDSAY HARRIS-FRIEL FRINGE CORRESPONDENT The Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival has been a local institution for long enough, loudly and proudly enough, that we almost take it for granted. In the past 12 years it’s grown from a few blocks in Old City to a festival encompassing the city, all genres of live performance and performers from all over the world. Shows in the past have been so diverse and varied that the word “Fringe” has become synonymous with the strangest and most alienating of performance art. However, the Festival itself is one of the most welcoming and inclusive events you’ll ever experience.
The Live Arts/Philly Fringe Guide is distributed in print copies all over the Greater Philadelphia area. If you can’t pick up a physical copy, the website, livearts-fringe.org, is just as comprehensive and will contain the most recent updates for all of the shows. You can search by type of performance discipline, by schedule, or by quantities such as “nudity,” “unusual spaces,” or “high tech.” For those who aren’t recession-proof, 14 of the shows this year are FREE. Many are less than $15 a ticket. For the cost of two martinis and a tip, you can get a buzz that will stick with you a lot longer than those drinks will.
When you go to see live theatre, there are just as many risks being taken in that performance space, if not more, than in any sports event. Every word, movement, and sound has been rehearsed, but will they all fit together in the planned way this time? Will all the lights work? Will someone get injured, the electricity stop, will they make you cry or laugh? No two play performances (even of the same play) are exactly alike, just as the structure of a baseball game is always inches from chaos. Even at its worst, you can walk out at the end knowing that you saw something live, your dollars went to help someone realize their dream, and you have something to talk with people about. Then go see something different.
People engage in the practice of “going out” for many reasons. Almost any form of entertainment you could ever want can be received in one’s own home. Leaving one’s home and mixing with others for diversion satisfies deeper needs, which are harder to define. We want to interact with other people to be entertained, feel validated or comforted, be educated, sometimes feel superior, and sometimes be surprised. You can achieve all of these things at the movies, at a restaurant, a bar or a sports game. Although Philadelphia is one of the top cities in the country for theatre, not enough of us are supporting our own arts scene. Now is your chance to dig into it and see what all the fuss is about. The Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe runs from September 4 through 19. No matter where in the city you live, there is an event happening near you. Many people have put a tremendous amount of work and effort into getting up in public to say something that they want you to hear. Give them a chance to be heard. Here are some quick suggestions to get you started:
13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests: Dean Wareham (ex Galaxie 500/Luna) and Britta Phillips perform a live soundtrack for 13 Warhol screen tests. [pictured, above]
The Breakup Booth, by The Missoula Oblongata: A 3-8 minute public installation/private performance. A portable booth is a romantic restaurant with one table set for two. A waiter seats one audience member, who is presumably waiting for his or her date. Momentarily, a performer joins the audience member at the table. A breakup ensues. This event is free. Breakups are the dark night of the soul, so why not turn them into art?
The Brothers Flanagan, by The Flanagan Project: The Flanagan brothers have run a Philly pub for decades, but a degenerate serial killer is ruining their business as frightened customers cower at home. Add an arrogant drunk and a cop desperate to land the killer. John Bellomo directs Chris Fluck, Jerry Rudasill, Michael Toner and H. Michael Walls, and all have a history of delivering excellent theatre. Not only that, but it’s at Fergie’s Pub. How can you go wrong?
Fractured Fairy Tales, by B. Someday Productions: Got kids? Be the best grownup that your kid has ever met by taking them to experimental theatre for all generations. A cast of two adult and two kid actors, together with director Michelle Pauls, have created this fun and exciting spin on traditional fairy tales. You’ll definitely be your favorite kid’s hero.
It’s Hard Times at the Camera Blanca, by Applied Mechanics: Six unemployed circus workers seek refuge in the Bar Camera Blanca when economic collapse lays waste to their country. Think you’ve got the economic blues? Rebecca Wright directs what happens when push comes to shove and they send in the clowns. And, this is another play in a pub. How cool is this?
7(x1)Samurai by David Gaines: One man performs all of Kurosawa’s classic film Seven Samurai. I’m not making this up.