Brian Sanders’ JUNK, THE GATE REOPENED – Philadelphia’s own incomparable dance troupe revisits its site-specific smash hit of 2003, THE GATE, with a new location inside the massive Pier 9 municipal warehouse. Sanders’ thrilling and witty choreography will have eight of his fearless dancers flying through the air and creating exquisite body formations with acrobatic precision, in and around a futuristic 20-foot-high cylindrical jungle-gym construction, replete with water, moving walls, and spinning ladders. With in-the-round seating, you’ll want to see this breathtaking post-apocalyptic vision-in-motion more than once, from a different angle each time.
Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental + The Wilhelm Brothers, RED-EYE TO HAVRE DE GRACE – Based on the bizarre and mysterious story of the last days of Edgar Allen Poe, this hallucinatory “action opera” is informed by Poe’s writings, historical accounts, and 19th-century train routes, as it tracks the author’s ill-fated lecture tour from Virginia to New York in September-October 1849. With the assistance of renowned magician Teller, director/stage designer Thaddeus Phillips makes inventive use of curtains, trap doors, mirrors, and sleight-of-hand illusions to create a visually gripping production. The Minneapolis-based musical duo The Wilhelm Brothers provides the original live score on piano, clarinet, bassoon, harmonica, and flamenco guitar.
New Paradise Laboratories, 27 – Conceived, created, and directed by Fringe veteran Whit MacLaughlin, 27 imagines the afterlife of a group of directionless twenty-seven-year-old deadbeats. In a place where the laws of the universe are ignored and maturity is seen as an enduring tribulation, these deceased slackers party hard and celebrate their own premature deaths. The muscular performance, by a cast of such impressive young actors as Emilie Krause, Kevin Meehan, and Matteo Scammell, is accompanied by the original music of Alec MacLaughlin, crepuscular lighting by Thom Weaver, and an otherworldly scenic design by Matt Saunders. NPL promises “ravishing images, provocative ideas, and high weirdness.”
7 Fingers, SEQUENCE 8 – Following its 2011 Live Arts hit TRACES, the Montreal-based circus company returns to this year’s festival with the US premiere of SEQUENCE 8. The new show is inspired by Carl Jung’s hypothesis that two personalities in an encounter or a relationship have the potential to transform one another, like two substances in a chemical reaction. 7 Fingers’ performers are activated by those relatable Jungian emotions and propelled into beautiful dynamic movement with aerial hoops, Korean teeterboards, cigar-box juggling, Chinese acrobatics, and amazing feats of balance.
Brat Productions, BRAT ROCKPILE – Philadelphia powerhouse Madi DiStefano and an assortment of her audacious Brat all-stars offer up a double-header of rock-n-roll theater, with new remounts of two past favorites. Directed by Matt Pfeiffer, POPSICLE’S DEPARTURE, 1989 is a multiple award-winning internationally acclaimed solo show written and performed by DiStefano, in a virtuoso performance that revisits the end of the punk-rock era in Boston. ETERNAL GLAMNATION is part of Jess Conda’s “Rock & Awe” cabaret series, directed by DiStefano and featuring Conda and fellow Brats Bobby Fabulous, Kevin Jordan, Frances DiStefano, and Erik Ransom, and a Studio-54-style glam-rock cocktail of ‘70s hits mixed by Andrew Nelson.
Found Theater Company, ELECTRIC JUNGLE – Now in its third year of creating experimental ensemble-based works designed to stretch the boundaries of theater, the newest piece by this collective of Temple University students and alumni (among them, Laura Michelle Edoff, Sara Yoko Howard, Sean Lally, and Matt Lorenz) fuses physical action with original music, text, and imagery. In its exploration of both nature and the nature of sound, ELECTRIC JUNGLE promises audiences a visceral musical adventure through a cavernous landscape of microphone vines and radio waves, while positing that the primal and the post-modern are not mutually exclusive or artistically incompatible.
Fur Collective, SCOUT – This is what the original Fringe was all about: a group of emerging artists on a shoestring budget in an alternative space presenting a self-devised work from a fresh young perspective. The original half-hour piece, assistant directed by the delightful Johnny Smith (last seen as Flute in the Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM), considers patriotism and the Boy Scouts, controversy and nuclear energy, and makes a statement about how the American attitude of entitlement impacts the world we inherit, while still recognizing the inherent charms of our culture.
Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, IVONA, PRINCESS OF BURGUNDIA – From the company devoted to producing classics of international absurdist theater comes Witold Gombrowicz’s fractured fairytale about physical appearance, gossip, class consciousness, condescension, and the generally ignoble behavior of nobles. And though the characters’ actions and dialogue are absurd, the play’s message is sage. The cast, directed by founding artistic director Tina Brock, features some of IRC’s regulars (including the always excellent David Stanger), along with some actors making their first appearance with the company (including the always excellent Sue Giddings). Should be absurdly excellent!
Los Jarochos, JEFF COON AND BEN DIBBLE MUST DIE – Three of the wackiest and most irreverent award-winning members of the Philadelphia theater community (Alex Bechtel, Michael Doherty, and Greg Nix) team up in their original multimedia musical satire about a pair of struggling actors who, along with a psychotic killer-for-hire theater buff, plot to assassinate two of their oft-cast rivals. Directed by Amy Dugas Brown (Dibble’s real-life wife), the play considers the ridiculous lengths to which people will go to achieve success, fame, and fortune. Will Coon and Dibble (who recently appeared together in TULIPOMANIA) survive? Expect, according to Bechtel, “training montages, dream ballets, PowerPoint presentations, and actual murders onstage each night.” May they rest in peace . . .
Nichole Canuso Dance Company, AT THE APS MUSEUM (RETURN RETURN DEPARTURE) – NCDC teams up with the American Philosophical Society for this commissioned collaboration between the arts and humanities, concurrent with the APS exhibition “TEMPUS FUGIT: Time Flies” by Chicago-based artist Antonia Contro. The passage of time is analyzed through art, dance, and video, and ponders the human inclination to document our history by recording the present, remembering the past, and preserving them for the future. Canuso and John Luna dance together in the APS garden, and videotape the duets from their own distinct vantage points. Following each performance, the videos will be posted side-by-side in the APS gallery and will accumulate over the period of NCDC’s four Fringe dates.
One-Shot Productions, PAINT THE AMERICAN EAGLE – 2012 marks the 200thanniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, and the Free Library is celebrating its “Year of Dickens” by hosting its first-ever Fringe event, in conjunction with related exhibitions by the Rare Books Department. Based on Dickens’ AMERICAN NOTES (an often unflattering travelogue of his first visit to the USA in January-June 1842), local playwright Reuben Wade examines the author’s conflicted relationship with America, and with his wife Catherine Hogarth-Dickens, who accompanied him on the journey. The staged reading is directed by Dan Hodge (the Barrymores’ Best Actor of 2011), and features Philadelphia favorites Brian McCann and Steven Wright.
Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, CREDITORS – Making her Philadelphia directorial debut, Charlotte Northeast leads her acclaimed fellow PAC members Krista Apple, Damon Bonetti, and Dan Hodge through August Strindberg’s unnerving 19th-century drama about a love triangle and its fatal repercussions. Staged in the intimate historic space of the Franklin Inn Club’s second-floor library, the PAC’s site-specific production will feature sculpture by collaborating artist Roger Wing, and, judging by their past performances, some of the best acting you’re likely to see here or anywhere.
Philadelphia Opera Collective, THE CONSUL–American Opera – Gian Carlo Menotti’s first full-length opera, about the plight of political dissidents and the nightmare of life under a European police state, had its world premiere at Philadelphia’s Shubert Theater in 1950; the dark and moody three-act tragedy won both the Pulitzer Prize for Music and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Musical that year. The Philadelphia Opera Collective, a group of young emerging professionals, is bringing the English-language work back home to Philadelphia, in its efforts to make chamber opera more accessible to those unfamiliar with the art. Under Brenna Geffers’ powerful direction, THE CONSUL should retain all of its original edge, grit, and relevance.
Theatre Exile, THE EDGE OF OUR BODIES – In its Philadelphia premiere, the extended monologue by playwright Adam Rapp (of RED LIGHT WINTER, BLACKBIRD, and NOCTURNE fame) examines the life-altering situation and inner turmoil of a teenage girl on the threshold of womanhood. Matt Pfeiffer directs and Nicole Erb (captivating as Juliet in Lantern Theater Company’s spring production of ROMEO AND JULIET) stars as the anguished boarding-school student, reading from and acting out her diary. You can be assured that this provocative coming-of-age character study is in the very best of hands at Exile.
Tiny Dynamite/Extreme Measures, THE END OF HOPE, THE END OF DESIRE – A second helping of one of the delectable offerings from Tiny Dynamite’s popular happy-hour series, A PLAY, A PIE, AND A PINT, this 50-minute dark rom-com by Belfast’s David Ireland takes a hilarious and poignant look at two strangers hooking up and opening up. Extreme Measures’ Jared Michael Delaney and Corinna Burns reprise their 2011 roles (directed by Inis Nua’s Tom Reing), as their characters try to connect in the urban dating scene through their nocturnal musings about God, fame, and Tony Blair, and under the curious mask of a mouse costume!
For more information about the shows, dates, venues, and ticket prices, log on to the website at http://www.livearts-fringe.org/, call the Festival Office at 215.413.1318, or visit in person at 919 N. 5th Street (at Poplar), with free on-site parking. Note that this year all ticketing will be handled online through TicketLeap, with a $2 service charge per ticket. The Festival Office will serve as an information center only; tickets will not be available for purchase there. Pre-Festival office hours (August 30- September 6) are noon-7 pm; hours during the Festival (September 7-22) are 11 am-9 pm.
2012 PHILADELPHIA LIVE ARTS FESTIVAL AND PHILLY FRINGE
September 7-22, 2012
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