FringeArts Blog

REACTION: Sebastienne Mundheim’s Sea of Birds

Posted September 1st, 2008

Upon entering the room, it’s clear Sea of Birds will be a magical piece. The seating is a good indicator of the sense of intimacy within the space: two lines of chairs, several rows of cushions cut from aerospace material, then a series of large beanbag pillows are arranged neatly across the floor. Of course those are taken quickly. As the crowd filters in and chooses to sit, perch, or sprawl, we all gaze up at the huge, spanning material that runs to the ceiling. It’s thin paper, like parchment or boat sails, that sways slightly as it reflects the cooling light projected onto it.

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REACTION: Welcome to Jo Strømgren’s The European Lesson

Posted September 1st, 2008

Welcome to The European Lesson. This theatrical lecture, delivered by an amateur anthropologist (Jeb Kreager), gives spectators an inside look at quotidian family life in Slovakia. He cites the World’s Fair exhibitions in which imitation American Indian villages were built and actors were hired to portray tribespeople, all for the sake of the viewers. “For shame,” he says. He explains that his lecture will feature real Slovaks, and that the most valuable anthropological research can be done by observing the subjects in their natural habitat, as they move through their quotidian routines. He acknowledges that he does not have a degree, but believes that one can learn more in the field than in the academe.

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< %image(20080901-JJ Euro Catharine + Cromie.jpg|350|233|Photo: Jacques-Jean Tiziou/>

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PHOTOS: Sonic Dancing on Broad Street

Posted August 31st, 2008

Group Motion dancers helped us kick off the Festival with a reprise of Sonic Dances. The dancers started at Dilworth Plaza (west side of City Hall) and crowds followed as they dodged traffic and danced down the center of the Avenue of the Arts. They concluded their dance in front of the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, just in time for the official premiere of Karen Getz’ Disco Descending. Here are a few photos of the event by Festival Photographer Bill Hebert.

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PHOTO: IN FLUX at the Arts Bank

Posted August 31st, 2008

Choreographers Rebecca Lloyd-Jones, Erica Saben, Sarah Gladwin Camp, and Kathryn TeBordo presented their work in Mascher Space Coop’s IN FLUX at the Arts Bank this weekend. Here are a few photos by Festival Photographer Elizabeth Hershey.

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John Beauregard and Laura Neuman in Sarah Gladwin Camp’s Not on Tuesday.

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Erica Saben’s Inside.

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REACTION: the mysterious world of Wandering Alice

Posted August 31st, 2008

Since late spring, the cast, crew, and creative team for Nichole Canuso Dance Company’s Wandering Alice have been rehearsing at Christ Church Neighborhood House. Through a process that began over a year ago (a lucky few saw the work-in-progress presented at the 2007 Live Arts Festival), the group has transformed the building into what feels very much like another world, a place that outsiders (the audience) can visit and enjoy, but perhaps never be a part of.

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Every element—set pieces, props, costumes, the looks on the performers’ faces, and the words they speak—carries a dreamlike quality that makes you feel like there’s more to the scene than what meets the eye. You start to wonder what kinds of secrets might be buried in the hundreds of notes that fill the stairwell, the strings that connect audience members to dancers, or the tiny luminaire umbrellas that lead us through this mysterious little world.

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REACTION: Smell the sweat at Miguel Gutierrez’ Everyone

Posted August 30th, 2008

When you arrive at the Mandell Theater to see Miguel Gutierrez and his company, the Powerful People, perform Everyone, you don’t have to worry about finding a good seat. The house manager escorts you backstage. You’re under the heat of the lights, within a few steps of the performers. One by one they enter in jeans and t-shirts with a fixed, yet vacant gaze, to the beat of pre-recorded cymbal that seems endless. Their stare is startling, if not alarming, as the Powerful People seek your attention. Now, you are no longer a passive spectator, but rather a prop in Gutierrez’s artistic vision.

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Sirens singing, sirens blaring: Leah Stein’s Urban ECHO

Posted August 29th, 2008

Leah Stein’s latest Live Arts work, Urban ECHO: Circle Told, will feature eight of Stein’s dancers and 100 members of the historic Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. This enormous cast will move together through one of the city’s true architectural wonders, a former Christian Science church at 40th and Walnut that is now known as the Rotunda.

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PHOTOS: Disco Decending at Suzanne Roberts

Posted August 29th, 2008

Festival friends, donors, and staff gussied up for the preview of Disco Descending last night at Suzanne Roberts Theatre on Broad Street.

Click below (read more) to see more pics and click here to read a quick review in the City Paper. Deni Kasrel writes: “…the sly boogie-down disco inferno soundtrack elicits smiles, as this zany Underworld truly turns the beat around on a classic myth.”

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Photos by JJ Tiziou. Visit JJ’s website:

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PRESS: We’re on page one!

Posted August 28th, 2008

Page one of The Philadelphia Inquirer no less! Howie Shapiro writes: “The Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe, launched modestly if ambitiously 11 years ago, is now one of the nation’s powerhouse arts events.” Click here to read more.

A powerhouse arts event AND a powerhouse taxidermy event? You decide.

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PRESS: City Paper is covering us from head to toe

Posted August 28th, 2008

City Paper is really outdoing itself this year–Check out their official Festival page for all of the latest reviews, interviews, and articles about Festival shows and artists. This week, you’ll find articles on store, The European Lesson, louder, and the latest exploits of Pig Iron’s membership.

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“With 22 Live Arts performances — half of them international — and a whopping 172 Fringe happenings, there are literally thousands of creative bodies descending on Philadelphia and brightening up our urban spaces. Even if it means lying facedown in the middle of the sidewalk, playing dead.” –Carolyn Huckabay (read the rest of the article here)

PRESS: Five Pages of Nick Stuccio

Posted August 28th, 2008

Philadelphia Magazine followed our producing director around for an entire day and they learned a lot!

“As the wild, unpredictable Fringe Festival — this month staging its 12th season — has grown into an internationally acclaimed event, co-founder Nick Stuccio has become Philly’s arbiter of the avant-garde.”

Click here and read on.

PRESS: We’re on the A-list

Posted August 27th, 2008

Take a break from the convention coverage and grab a copy of this week’s Philly Weekly ( or click here if you’re lazy) and check out all the Festival shows that made this week’s A-list: Sea of Birds, Wandering Alice, Pig Iron’s Sweet By-and-By and Wawapalooza.

IN FLUX: after fantastic, there’s tiny

Posted August 26th, 2008

I visited Kathryn TeBordo’s rehearsal for After Fantastic, one of four short works billed for Mascher Space Coop’s IN FLUX, which will premiere this Friday night at the Arts Bank. After Fantastic will present physical renderings of five of Dorothea Lasky’s poems, from her first collection of poems, AWE. Kathryn is generating her phrase work from Dorothea’s poems, and she is working with tiny.

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Swimming in a sea of birds

Posted August 26th, 2008

The set for Sebastienne Mundheim’s Sea of Birds is a sight to behold. Two enormous paper curtains greet me. They seem to billow even while still. Beyond the curtains is an enormous, teepee-like tent structure that Sebastienne and her creative team built this summer, using bamboo, tracing paper, and cheesecloth. Around the inner perimeter of tent sit different set pieces: bundles of sticks wait in the corners of the tent; three pairs of large boots stand to one side; life-sized papier mache puppets lie in the foreground. Beside the tent, a group of tiny puppets, made out of wine bottle corks, lie on a miniature bed with a patchwork blanket.

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VIDEO: this Disco Descending preview is on fire

Posted August 25th, 2008

Check out this new video preview of Karen Getz’ Disco Descending by Woodshop Films. Opening August 28 (THIS Thursday!), this sequel to Karen’s Suburban Love Songs (Live Arts, 2006) will run through September 7. Descend the spiral staircase and let your hips get busy.

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VIDEO: Woodshop Films unveils the secrets behind The European Lesson

Posted August 25th, 2008

Brush up on your Slovak and watch this new video preview of the uber-anticipated world premiere of Jo Stromgren’s The European Lesson, by Woodshop Films. Výkrièník!!

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It’s more than just a bar

Posted August 24th, 2008

If you’ve been feeling caught up in a swath of confusion over the departure of the Late Night Cabaret, worried that you’ll have nowhere to hang out after each night at the Fest, you owe it to yourself to read this. This year, we got some feedback from friends and artists, and decided to change things up a bit–so we created the Festival Bar. You’ll find a lot of things you like at the Festival Bar–drinks, dancing, friends, artists, music, Fergie, endless pieces of Festival publicity, and irrational behavior of all kinds.

BUT THERE’S MORE!! You’ll also find…

Turkish food from Konak Restaurant in Old City (new dishes every night)

A nightly visual media installation by Lars Jan (designer/director of James Sugg’s The Sea, Live Arts 2006)–this will include everything from cinematic mash-ups of classics by directors like Fellini, Hitchcock, and Disney, to stop-motion, dancefilms, and machinima. Here are just a few images you might find wandering along the walls of our warehouse:

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< %image(20080825-La Dolce Vita.jpg|350|222|From Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita.)%>

Arcade games like pinball and Wii Boxing (!!!!)
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Crayons and paper for the traditionalists among us
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(red + blue = Purple Mountain’s Majesty?)

Half of the Festival Bar will contain all of the wonderful things listed above–the other half is a black box theater where we’ll present two Live Arts shows–The European Lesson by director/choreographer Jo Stromgren (premiering August 29), and louder, a sound and sight installation by Norwegian art collective, Verdensteatret. Don’t worry, there is a very sturdy wall separating the two spaces.

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FINAL Philly Fringe Preview + another crazy video from last week!

Posted August 22nd, 2008

The last and FINAL Philly Fringe Preview Series event at Plays and Players is happening this Monday. This is the last dose of previews before the real thing comes and smacks you in the face–we’ll see previews of 4×4 by Philly Dramatists, A Streetcar Named Durang by The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, Have a Nice Life by Nice People Theater, and a special premiere of Brat Productions’ Martha and Dotty: Microwave Mambo!

8pm * $10 at the door
Plays and Players Theater at 1714 Delancey Place in Center City

If you need further encouragement, check out this excellent video from last week’s event, courtesy of the folks at Street Talkin’.

The Philly Fringe Preview Series is sponsored by WPRB public radio. Tune into 103.3 FM or from anywhere in the world via streaming audio at Read More-->

Why is the Atlantic so freaking cold this year? Ask Thaddeus Phillips.

Posted August 21st, 2008

THE MeLTING BRiDgE features one of Phillips’ trademark uber-transformable sets combined with expert film technology that takes audiences on a wild ride from Mexico City to the Amazon Basin and up to the Bering Strait in a work that looks at our current climate crisis in relationship to the Mayan calendar, which prophesied a world apocalypse for the year 2012.

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This will mark the third work in Phillips’ Americas trilogy, which has given audiences a transnational creative perspective on the people of the Americas and how our cultures have combined and taken shape over generations.

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More Fringe previews tonight at L’Etage

Posted August 21st, 2008
$10 cover at the door
8pm – 11pm (performances begin at 9)
at L’Etage, 6th and Bainbridge, above Beau Monde

Come and get a taste of the outrageous, thoughtful, and fun LGBT-themed work you can see in this year’s Philly Fringe! Hosted by George Alley, this event will feature previews from…

Sex, with Benefits, Daniel Solon
The Maguffin, Stone Soup Theatre Arts
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, To The Wall Productions
Waiting for the Show, Theresa Diamond/Tender Thread Productions

and more!