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Making Art in 2017: Nate Barnett and Nick Schwasman on Wedgwood on the Green

Posted September 11th, 2017

Image by Jordan Schellinkhout.

Name: Nate Barnett and Nick Schwasman

Company: Drip Symphony

Show in 2017 Festival: Wedgwood on the Green

Role: Co-Directors, Performers

Past Festival Shows: Millennia, Damn Dirty Apes, Pay Up!

FringeArtsTell us about your show. 

Nick SchwasmanWedgwood started as poetic memoir that Nick wrote in 2014. We mounted it in the 2015 Solow Festival as a live radio play. Now we’re collaborating with a variety of artists to create a fully visual show. The story deals with a group of young men who are discovering dark truths about their supposed masculinity as they approach the threshold of adulthood. We tell the story in and out of the round: the audience is seated in a circle of swivel chairs. A narrator sits in the middle, but all around is the world of Wedgwood. They choose what they do and do not see.

FringeArtsHow have your interests in or approach to art-making changed in the last year? 

Courtney Cooke and Devin Preston. Photo by Nate Barnett.

Nick Schwasman: I think the two of us are feeling like we are coming out of a part of our life where we were holding tight to our training and technique. We spent quite a few years admiring the complexities of artistic traditions, studying in discipline and reverence, the music of Leonard Bernstein, poems of WB Yeats, artists whose work have become sturdy pillars by now. I think lately, we’re less interested in the classic stuff, we’ve become obsessed with experimental techniques. For us, the clearest way forward to making new and better art is by bringing an almost scientific attitude towards its creation—testing new ideas rigorously, imagining future possibilities based on experience. It’s the artists that have done this whom we most admire, and how we intend to move forward.

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2017 Festival Spotlight: Free Fringe

Posted September 9th, 2017

Seeing groundbreaking performance art doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out these free or pay-what-you-want shows at this year’s Fringe Festival.

 

Borderlands @ Studio 34
Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed

“To survive the Borderlands you must live sin fronteras be a crossroads.” — Gloria Anzaldúa. Come break the fourth wall as Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed explores the personal journeys of immigration & homecoming from prison. Devised & performed by formerly incarcerated Philly women who have reentered society. More info and tickets here.

 

 

Monarch @ Fleisher Art Memorial
Christine Doidge, Amanda Holston, James Miller

Monarch is one woman’s retelling of the story of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Fleisher Art Memorial’s beautiful sanctuary sets the stage for past to become present. Fill in the blanks of history (with an irreverent dose of fiction) as a centuries old rivalry comes to a head. Queens will rage. Crowns will fall. Heads will roll. More info and tickets here.

 

 

Perspectives @ The Galleries at Moore
AIM Academy Drama

“You look at me. What do you see? You don’t know who I am.” Young writers share their perspectives on body shaming, gender identity, anxiety, online personas, loss, and ADHD and invite the audience to join them as they confront preconceived ideas, assumptions, and judgments. More info and tickets here.

 

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Destruction, Renewal, and Creation: A Conversation with Tania Isaac

Posted April 24th, 2017

“I started to imagine all of these natural cycles of pressure and release that have created incredible phenomenon and the fact that natural forces woke in cycles of destruction, renewal and creation.”

Once called a “one-woman powerhouse of dance fusion,” Tania Isaac is bringing her fresh solo movement drama crazy beautiful to FringeArts for the first time. We got to have a quick conversation about her work and her process.

FringeArts: What made you think up the title crazy beautiful? Do you remember where you were?

Tania Isaac: I don’t remember where I was, but I had noticed one of those emoticon charts where you move the magnetic frame to the mood you’re in. I was trying to imagine creating a grid of moods using objects, then began to wonder why we spent so much time trying to be in the “right” mood all the time. I’m always plunging down a rabbit hole of questions about why everything exists as it does. I call it my eternal toddler. I started to be more curious about how anger and frustration and confusion and sadness became things we avoided and tried to fix rather than experience fully. Some time later I was in my kitchen watching my four-year-old old have a compete meltdown and was so envious for a moment that she got to feel all fully into it with every fiber of her being—and remembered that she laughed the same way.  Everything she was feeling she was fully experiencing viscerally. So while I’m not advocating adult tantrums, I wondered what happened to all of that sensation and power as we got older. And if it didn’t go away, what did we do with it when we learned to behave? Who decided what was appropriate and when and how it was best to express it? THEN I started thinking about volcanoes—which I’ve loved since I was twelve—and the pressure and nature of eruptions. I started to imagine all of these natural cycles of pressure and release that have created incredible phenomenon and the fact that natural forces woke in cycles of destruction, renewal and creation. Balance—of a kind? Could we do it? So I started to imagine what it might be like.

FringeArts: Can you describe the open notebook process you’re created?

Tania Isaac: The open notebook has been my way of sharing the questions I try to answer (that eternal toddler). The questions are usually about how we choose to respond to something within our society. I am curious about how others see the world and wanted to create a space we could step into that would allow us to be immersed in what we were thinking about and reading and how that might become translated into movement, action, imagination, and performance. I tried to create a space that could explain to my family what I did, how I did it, and why I insisted it was important. And it was about the space for exchange, expression, and conversation. I wanted to give the people interested in my work or simply curious and questioning about the world, a chance to play with this platform. I wanted an immersive world where ideas could float in space and on a paper and be available to everyone—where we could respond and could be archived. So the notebook is a room divided and created by hanging paper walls, with notes and ideas collected in rooms. It shows videos and photos and asks questions and invites you to write and record and respond. It’s a small maze and a place to indulge and sink into your thoughts.

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A Ride on the Irish Valentine

Posted February 14th, 2017

So we’re not exactly mushy-gushy here at FringeArts.  Don’t get us wrong, we love love, and all the wonderful beautiful forms in which it comes, but we’re not ones to, say, spend Valentine’s Day watching 27 Dresses and weeping into our prom outfits.  That’s for another Tuesday.

Maybe that’s exactly why A Ride on the Irish Cream is the perfect Valentine’s Day show for us.  It’s beautiful, musical, strange, rejects hetero-normativity, and most importantly, involves horses.  So in the spirit of all-encompassing love, we made some Cream-themed Valentines that you can share with all the sweeties in your life to your heart’s content.  Plus, they’re free!  Because who needs another reason to spend money on Valentine’s Day?

 

 

Valentines by Patricia Wakelee.  Click here for tickets/more info to A Ride on the Irish Cream.

All or Sans Everything?

Posted February 1st, 2017

Lightning Rod Special is no stranger to innovation—their most recent work Underground Railroad Game just wrapped a wildly successful stint in New York after two sold-out runs here in Philadelphia.  Founding company members Alice Yorke and Scott Sheppard were kind enough to sit down to chat about the genesis of their new world premiere,  Sans Everything – a collaboration with Strange Attractorrunning at FringeArts February 9-11.

FringeArts: What was the initial inspiration and where did that take place for Sans Everything? And what was the moment that you realized this could be made into a full-length show?

ALICE: A few years ago Aram Aghazarian (of Strange Attractor Theatre Co.) visited Pig Iron’s Dan Rothenberg while Dan was in New York City working on a production of As You Like It in New York. The studio was in a crazy high-rise building and the rehearsal room was tense–everyone was angry at each other but still working, still doing As You Like It. Aram talks about looking out the window at the vast sky and while listening to AYLI. The absurd thought struck him, “As You Like It in space.” Not setting AYLI in space, but doing it in space–more to the point, a big, outside force compelling a group of people to do it. That maybe there was some voice forcing you to do something frivolous as if it was serious. Though it would be easy to make this prompt a high-camp romp, the show has taken on real themes of life and death, due in no small part to the fact that we took a year-long hiatus from the piece when Rebecca Noon (of SATC) was diagnosed with cancer. When we returned to the piece last year, we wanted to make a show that didn’t acknowledge that directly but that explored questions Rebecca had been asking herself– why do we artists DO this? Why do we make new work and, even more so, why do we return to centuries old work when we have boundless creativity available to us? For us in Lightning Rod Special, those questions were just the kind of juicy, investigative line of thinking we love sinking our teeth into.

SCOTT: On a legendary day in Alaska, when Strange Attractor Theatre Co. was dreaming up ideas for future shows, Aram Aghazarian, resident provocateur, proffered a mystifying dare: “What about, As You Like It…in space?” As absurd as this idea sounded, over the past few years Strange Attractor Theatre Co. and Lightning Rod Special stirred this mad dramaturgical cocktail until an alluring logic began to form. As the groups obsessed over 1970’s sci-fi films, the singularity, and the themes of As You Like It, we began to dream up a world. As it does for so many readers, Shakespeare’s “All the World’s a Stage” soliloquy compelled us, and we began to imagine it as a sometimes brilliant, sometimes faulty guidebook for non-human life to understand humanity. This made us wonder, what if in the future, disembodied artificial intelligence decided to return to the relative simplicity of the human form. What would surprise “them” about experiencing life at such a slow place from a fixed and carnal point of view? What if they unabashedly fell in love with the nostalgia of humanity? What if they fell in love with theatre? With Shakespeare? When we peer into the future, we are always, inevitably, examining something from our past.

FringeArts: Tell us about the world of Sans Everything. What do you  find compelling about this world?

SCOTT: The world of Sans Everything is alien, stark, and working desperately to be human. The timbre is that of a thriller, but it wavers with tense fragility between the comedic and the uncanny. We witness all the things that make us human: rage, fear, passion, love, and art, but they are enacted by beings who do not fully understand human life. The characters’ struggle is both deeply empathic and terrifyingly unfamiliar.

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Nowhere Fast: Woman Crush Wednes(every)day

Posted November 16th, 2016

What more is there to love about a production that is scored by a live set of gritty, guitar-fueled rock n’ roll? Perhaps that it features an all-female, all-Philly cast of dance-theater badasses.

To properly welcome the ladies that will take over the La Peg stage for one more show in November, here are a couple things you need to know about them (or watch out for) as told by their supporting characters.

Kit Loupez

“Kit kit kitty kit kit. Georgia’s ruthless right hand. I encountered her once and I hope never to see her shade of red ever again. Don’t tempt her with a good time, because that night will be your last.”

– Michelle Flynn

Winona Cross

Winona Cross, aye? I never met a more slim-slicking canary with such a lust for a thrill. She’s willing to slide herself into any tight spot, so long as there’s some green cush waiting to catch her fall.

— Georgia St. Regis

Maxine Malloy

Oh, my dear dear Max. Maxine. She’s my number one gal, the most loyal woman I’ve ever met. Sometimes that means she’s an absolute doormat, a real kitten in a lion’s den. But boy oh boy, can that broad hold a crowd when she’s got a hot mic.

— Winona Cross

Georgia St. Regis

Georgia will either pull you out of the gutter, or toss you in it. She’s the mother I never had and the sister I never wanted. She’s mean. She’s my queen. 

— Kit Loupež

Michelle Flynn

That’s one hard boiled broad at the bar. What’s she doing here? She ain’t no pigeon cabaret audience member, that’s certain. I’ve seen that look before–that’s a woman on a mission. Or a Case. Or both. 

— Max Malloy

 

Photos by Chris Koontz

Blurbs provided by the lovely ladies of BRAT Productions and Sam Tower + Ensemble.

BRAT Productions and Sam Tower + Ensemble present Nowhere Fast; November 11+17, 10:30pm.  Click here for more information and to buy tickets!

The CRUX of Digital Fringe

Posted September 8th, 2016

Before 2014 Andrew Cameron Zahn was looking for a studio space and a way to build relationships with other digital artists after completing his MFA. He came across a space too large to serve as a personal studio, and after some deliberation and conversation with colleagues and friends, Zahn created CRUXspace, Philly’s only New Media Art gallery.

Zahn and Brickley at CRUXspace

Zahn and Brickley at CRUXspace

“Most of our shows are experiments,” he laughs. In the two years since its opening the gallery has featured an exhibition of work by internet provocateur Molly Soda, a collaboration with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program and several other shows exploring the boundaries of new technology. This Friday, as the Fringe begins, Zahn and Kim Brickley open the gallery’s doors for Digital Fringe @ CRUXspace.

After the success of last year’s premiere Digital Fringe there was one piece of feedback that many artists repeated: there should be a place for digital artists to meet, experience each other’s work. Echoing the interest of Digital Fringe Artists, Zahn and Brickley explain that having a physical space can be more impactful to audiences of digital art, that interaction with people in the space is nearly as important as interaction with the works of art themselves. They both agree that gallery openings are very important to them as ways of meeting interesting people and gaining new perspective on what they display. On the other hand, Brickley, head curator of CRUXspace, believes that “the beauty of digital art is that you can question traditional work, and physical location becomes obsolete.” Audiences around the world can participate in Philly Fringe as well as those who are able to make it to Kensington.crux

Zahn and Brickley curated some artists into Digital Fringe in an effort to present more interactive work, things that push the envelope. “There’s a performance element to interactive art,” Zahn explains in discussing the reason for collaboration with FringeArts. See the Digital Fringe display experiment at CRUXspace Friday, September 9.

–Emily Dombrovskaya

Daniel Fishkin’s Tinnital Sound Maker

Posted August 29th, 2016
photo by  Samuel Lang Budin

photo by Samuel Lang Budin

In 2008, composer and sound artist Daniel Fishkin’s ears began ringing. He had developed tinnitus, a condition that affects the processing of acoustic signals in the brain. No longer able to compose and perform music in the same way, Fishkin redirected his energies towards studying circuity and building sound sculpture installations. During a residency at Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, N.C. Fishkin built the Lady’s Harp, a twenty-foot long electro-acoustic harp. Fishkin realized that the Lady’s Harp’s self-sustaining feedback system modeled the workings of the inner ear and was an instrument by which he could explore the sounds of tinnitus.

Since then, Fishkin has composed several performances with the Lady’s Harp entitled Composing the Tinnitus Suites. Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2016 is the fourth iteration, installed in the Rotunda Sanctuary this Fall. It is a four part concert series, premiering in the Fringe Festival and continuing through October.

“Tinnitus distorts and problematizes the listening experience,” explains Fishkin. Tinnitus is not an acoustic phenomenon, but a perceived phenomenon. Which is to say, the ringing he hears is a phantom sound with no spatial dimensions. “Tinnitus is an extra thing,” says Fishkin. “The question is do you ignore it? Does the excess corrupt the experience? Is it an intrusion?” Rather than brush the condition aside, Fishkin places it in the foreground of his work. His compositions respond to the need to create a situation where tinnitus is relevant. “What would a music be that is enhanced by tinnitus?” he speculates. “Does it exist?” He calls this possible music “tinnitus music.”

photo by Samuel Lang Budin

photo by Samuel Lang Budin

For Fishkin, composing begins with instrument building. This process requires “a different kind of attention” than playing, where he is “thinking but not hearing sound.” The Lady’s Harp is a generative system where the sounds are not created by players, but shaped. The strings of the harp are activated by a mixer feedback system using guitar pickups and a pressure transducer. Players rub and bend the strings of the harp with wooden tools, but do not pluck like when playing a slide guitar.

Fishkin’s sound mixing technique is slow and careful, allowing him to listen to “what’s happening in the long phrases” and to “talk to the tinnitus,” he says. The audience is part of the conversation; the sounds change with their movements as they explore the installation. His compositions situate the assemblage of audience, musicians, and installation in an unstable relationship to sound.

“To make ‘Tinnitus Music’ is not just to compose sounds, but also to compose situations that can break the isolation of its experience,” Fishkin stated on the Bowerbird website for the event. It’s about finding a way to talk to people without tinnitus about tinnitus. 

Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2016 is a collaboration between “allies across mediums,” explains Fishkin. Collaborators for the series include Philadelphia artists Philadelphia Hearing Damage, sound artist and instrument builder Ellen Fullman, musicians and performance artists Cleek Schrey and Ron Shalom, and the New York based collective ensemble mise-en. Fishkin suggests that the purpose of this collaboration is not primarily about healing or coping, but about taking “aesthetic action.” Fishkin is recognized as a Tinnitus Ambassador by the German Tinnitus Foundation Charite.

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Fishkin calls this project a “lifework,” in homage to performance artist Tehching Hsieh. Like Hsieh, who is known for a series of year-long durational performances, Fishkin approaches his art as a commitment. Undergirding his art practice is the question of how to deal with the lifelong condition of hearing damage. He describes his work as “asserting an allegiance to the situation” and the very real problems caused by tinnitus.

Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2016 is supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and is presented in partnership with Bowerbird. More info at dfiction.com.

The Rotunda Sanctuary
4014 Walnut Street
Admission is free for all events
Philadelphia Hearing Damage, Friday, Sept 23 at 8pm
Ellen Fullman with Daniel Fishkin, Friday, Sept 30 at 8pm
Daniel Fishkin, Cleek Schrey, Ron Shalom, Sunday, Oct 2 at 8pm
ensemble mise-en, Sunday, Oct 16 at 8pm

—Hannah Salzer

Fringe Festival 2016 Spotlight: Philadelphia Museums in the Fringe

Posted August 17th, 2016

Museums come to life in these upcoming Fringe shows! Be sure to catch them all before the exhibits run away.

The Eumenides @ The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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White Box Theater, directed by Marcia Ferguson

Third in Aeschylus’ classic Oresteia trilogy, performed amidst extraordinary ancient artifacts in Penn’s Museum. A story about mother-murder, the foundations of our juried justice system, and shifts in world order—gorgeous, and elegant, a substantial work. More info and tickets here.

Colored Girls Museum Presents A Good Nights Sleep_The Colored Girls MuseumThe Colored Girls Museum Presents: A Good Nights Sleep

The Colored Girls Museum

The Colored Girls Museum is an apostate arts colony, headquartered in the backwoods of Germantown. Settled by a collective of nomadic travelers, the Colored Girls Museum (CGM) re-imagines the museum as an imaginative & restorative temple that nurtures and celebrates the “Ordinary, Extraordinary Colored Girl.” More info and tickets here.

 

Room 21 @ the Barnes Foundation

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Jace Clayton

This site-specific performance is an inspired musical response to the artworks of Room 21 at the Barnes Foundation and Albert Barnes’ extensive record collection. The actual Room 21 displays an eclectic mix of Pennsylvania German furniture, Modigliani’s painting Reclining Nude from the Back, African masks, religious works, and paintings by Barnes students. Composer Jace Clayton (also known as DJ /rupture) plays on ideas of adjacency between vastly different artists and cultures. Carefully choreographed, Clayton’s concert rewards roaming through the performance, much like visitors roam through the art collection. More info and tickets here.

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Layers of Onion Dances at SoLow Fest

Posted June 10th, 2016

“After slicing bags of onions, I still hadn’t cried. For most this would be a good thing, but for me, it was disappointment.”—Talia Mason

In preparation for her SoLow Fest performance, Onion Dances, Talia Mason chopped onions, attempting to cry while talking about family memories and associations with onions. “I was interested in it because of how onions make people cry and allow for vulnerability,” Mason explains.talia mason poster

Mason’s piece draws inspiration from a Headlong Performance Institute (HPI) exercise, a constellation, in which students create a work based on collections of objects that interest them. The unpeeled whole onion which Mason chose for her constellation became the starting point for a semester of intense performance making the result of which debuts at Headlong Dance Studios June 17th, 18th and 26th. Similar to the structure of an onion, the use of onions has multiple layers in Mason’s work. “They are central in my research but they also live on the periphery as part of the landscape of the piece,” she describes.

In the spirit of the SoLow Fest theme Signs of Life, Talia says, “Onion Dances is about my family stories and our family’s collective memory of history.” The piece is as much about childhood as it is about adolescence, adulthood, and the universal experience of learning and coming to terms with understanding death. In Onion Dances Mason incorporates play, dance, song, and storytelling.

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A Story Without the Truth Behind It

Posted April 29th, 2016

Noelle Mercer and Julian Shapiro-Barnum, besties who saw Underground Railroad Game during the 2015 Fringe Festival, reached out when they heard about the remount, excited to help us promote it.  Luckily they’re total geniuses.  We sat them down to have a conversation about race, friendship, education, and why they think teenagers need to see Underground Railroad Game.*

Underground Railroad Game runs at FringeArts May 11-21.  Get tickets/more info here.

*Note: Underground Railroad Game contains brief full nudity and content for mature audiences.  Parental discretion is advised.

Announcing the 2016 Fringe Festival!

Posted April 1st, 2016

We are shockingly ahead of schedule here at FringeArts, and are ready to announce a few of our 2016 Festival Shows!  Here’s a sneak peek for you, our stalwart audience.

 

img_0279DICTIONARY
Stunning solo performer Radon Mackelroy reads all 171,476 words in just under 6 hours.  “A triumph of audience endurance!” —The New York Times

 

 

 

Background for festival scooterDOG
No script.  Just a dog, a stage, and you.  “There has never been a cuter performance.” —Washington Post

 

 

 

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The three souls that comprise FringeArts’ marketing department publicly live-stream their image via webcam as they market the 2016 Fringe Festival.  Will they survive?

 

 

 

2012_Ben_Franklin_Bridge_and_Race_Street_PierSUSPENSION
Seven dancers are suspended over the Delaware River from the Benjamin Franklin bridge, without safety harnesses (because risk). The dance-theater work that follows tests the boundaries of decency and safety.

 

 

 

APRIL’S FOLLIES
Gotchya!  Only one of the above shows will be included in the real 2016 Fringe Festival.  Which one?  You’ll have to keep an eye out for the Festival Guide to find out!

Register now for the 2016 Fringe Festival!

Posted February 29th, 2016

It’s that time of year, artists. Registration is now open for the 2016 Fringe Festival, and we at FringeArts are itching to see what you all have in store. While we expect to see a lot of old friends staging new works, we also welcome newcomers with open arms. We don’t bite, and if we do it’s just in a playful way, promise not to break the skin. For those of you out there who still might be apprehensive about registering, I’m here to help demystify the lofty institution that is the Fringe Festival, because if you don’t think your work has a place in our cavalcade of culture, you’re probably wrong. Don’t feel too bad though, being wrong is the first step towards being right.

So, what mediums of art are you looking for?

I’m glad you asked. We’re looking for theater, dance, music, visual art, digital/web art, and everything in between.

DSC_0453

FIFTY DAYS IN ILIAM from Hannah Van Sciver, part of the 2015 Fringe Festival

Want to stage your latest five hour theatrical saga about the life and times of a three toed sloth? Hey, you can do that. Want to rattle some crowds with your new band’s brand of barnyard inspired abstract noise rock? You can do that too. Want to smash every artistic medium you can conceive of together into one overstimulating extravaganza in praise of the late, great Robert Loggia? Go right ahead, and best of luck to you.

If you feel so inclined, don’t be afraid to take your medium to some far out places. Last year’s Festival alone saw a host of artists bringing unconventional works to our fair city. Conceptual artist Brian Feldman went to ticket-holders homes to wash their dishes and perform a monologue of their choosing. Tangle Movement Arts mounted a production that combined dance, theater, and circus arts, staging their performance high above solid ground. Performance artist Brian Shapiro revisited a show he created in 1995 predicting how technology would impact human interaction, informed by twenty years of paradigm shift after paradigm shift. The possibilities are truly limitless.

But what exactly does it mean to register for the Fringe Festival? Why put down a pocketful of cash when you can just stage your show in my friend’s unfinished basement in early September and tell people you’re a part of the Festival? Well, for one, that basement has some serious water damage and that mold smell is becoming a bit too overpowering. But more to the point, just take a look at all the benefits that come with registration:

  • Box office, public relations, marketing, and admin support
  • Listing in the 2016 Festival Guide (distributed to nearly 20,000 people in Philadelphia and its environs)
  • Dynamic show page on the FringeArts website
  • Venue signage
  • Annual two- ticket membership to FringeArts programming
  • $5 rush ticket to all Fringe Festival shows
  • Free workshops and invite-only networking events

How about that? Showing your work can be a major undertaking, but at least doing it with Fringe comes with all those cushy benefits.

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DAMNED DIRTY APES! from The Renegade Company, part of the 2015 Fringe Festival

We are truly excited to see what you all have in store for us and the city of Philadelphia. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the festival and everyone here is working hard to ensure it will be a celebration you won’t forget. Seriously. The 2016 Fringe Festival will haunt you for the rest of your days. But in a good way. The Casper way. Positive hauntings all around.

To register for the Festival click here. You have until June 1, but if you register before March 18 you’ll save $75, and if you miss that deadline getting your registration in before April 18 will save you $50. So don’t drag your heels. You’re already, like, 86% sure you’re going to do it anyway. I’ll toss you that extra 14%.

— Hugh Wilikofsky

FringeArts In a World Without Donors

Posted November 17th, 2015


Have you ever wondered what FringeArts would be like in a world where no one supported the arts? FringeArts Interns Alex and Dan use their handy-dandy Alternate Reality Machine to find out!

Hungry from their trip through the wormhole, Alex and Dan decide to visit La Peg for a bite. They’re in for a rude awakening when they see what the fabulous restaurant would be like in a world without donors.

YOU keep the lights on.  YOU keep tickets affordable.  YOU bring great art to Philadelphia.  Show your support this #GivingTuesday.

givingtuesday call to action2

 

Completely non-phony book picks from the HOLDEN cast & crew

Posted October 8th, 2015

84a165af34f972c32caf0c3bd9ac4e1eWith the opening of HOLDEN upon us – the delirious devised work about obsessed super-fans of the Salinger classic The Catcher in the Rye – we have been reflecting on the deep effect literature can have on our lives. So we asked the cast and crew share adolescent experiences they had with the books that fundamentally changed the makeup of their being … or just books they really liked a lot.

 

Madeline Charn (Dramaturg)51IOhGAQ6hL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I think The Van Gogh Cafe is the book that influenced me the most. I believe I read it for the first time in 2nd grade, but to be honest I don’t really remember a time it wasn’t on my bookshelf. The Van Gogh Cafe is about a diner that exists in a building that used to be a theater. It’s about everyday kinds of magic–little odd things that most people take for granted or don’t notice. It made me believe that magic existed in the world. More importantly, it made me believe in the magic comes from the theater and the power that an audience’s shared belief in one thing can bring to a building.


f4d02c98ba4db85754ad0582c1fce6a6Scott Sheppard (Performer, Hinckley)

When I was in 9th or 10th grade I remember falling in love with Catch-22. It was the first book that made me laugh out loud, and its critique of war continues to resonate for me to this day.

 

41cSHC9y2SLWilliam George (Performer, Salinger)

When I was really young I was very taken with Winnie the Pooh. It just seemed so “nice” in the English sense. Not that I understood what it was I was attracted to.  I think when I was 11 or 12 I loved The Black Stallion.

I didn’t read The Catcher in the Rye until college and then I remember telling the professor I thought Salinger got in the way – – why did he keep messing up Holden’s story with those stupid contrived symbols and metaphors?

Anisa George (Director)

Franny & Zooey. For a long time I had never read a book more than once, but I’ve read that book about nine times. Can’t remember when or why I first picked it up, but it felt incredibly important to learn (and to be reminded) to “do it for the fat lady.”  tumblr_mkt2eco9481rujvn5o1_500

Cem Ozdeniz (Properties Designer)

200px-PaulStreetBoysBookCoverIt is difficult to pinpoint one book that influenced me the most as a child. However, the first book that I remember reading and re-reading was The Paul Street Boys by Ferenc Molnar. It is a Hungarian novel from 1906. I must have been 8 or 9 when I read the Turkish translation. It is about how class warfare plays out among two street gangs made up of kids in Budapest in late 1800s. Its significance for me is two-fold: 1) The author’s writing: this was the first time that I remember being conscious of the art behind the written word while reading; and 2) The book’s shockingly bleak ending.

I read The Catcher in the Rye in high school. I remember being the only person in my class that could not relate to Holden.

Matteo Scammell (Performer, Zev)

41MLmRwc4VL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects. It’s basically a play-by-play of the band Nirvana from the early-early days until the aftermath of Cobain’s death. I read it the summer I turned 14, going into my sophomore year of high school. It made me want to be like Kurt, it made me isolate myself and be an introvert. It made me ultra sensitive. It made me want to be different for the sake of it. In retrospect it was a devastating book and I wish I had never encountered it…

 

What a brilliant, well-read cast and crew!  We can’t wait to see what has emerged from those beautiful brains.  HOLDEN runs October 8-17 at FringeArts’ waterfront headquarters.  Click here for tickets and more information or call 215-413-1318.

 

HOLDEN and its Unwanted Relevance

Posted October 6th, 2015

We at FringeArts have been struggling with our duty to respond since the horrific shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon last week, considering that the next show we are presenting has themes of gun violence at its very core – Holden by George & Co.

Our Producing Director Nick Stuccio said in an interview last month, “We do it to give people…an opportunity to learn through the lens of artists” (Bill Chenevert, South Philly Review). With that mantra as our guide, we turned to Anisa George, the director of Holden, to speak to the point-of-view and relevance of Holden, in light of the recent tragedy in Oregon and the mass shootings that seem to be all too common in this country:

“I think every artist makes work hoping that it will be relevant to a larger cultural conversation, but in terms of the themes of violence and specifically mass shootings that are central to Holden, it is our ardent wish that our play would eventually become irrelevant and obsolete.” 

The sudden painful resonance of this piece is not something we relish. We wish it weren’t so. But such is the function of art; to explore realities too painful to begin to comprehend.

And perhaps this artistic exploration can help us heal. Or help us understand. Or maybe, just maybe, be a step toward its own irrelevance.

Anisa George Plumbs the Darker Side of Super-fandom

Posted October 2nd, 2015

About Anisa GeorgeAnisa George – Founder and Artistic Director of the Philadelphia-based company George & Co – is no stranger to the power of art.  She grew up performing with her parents’ theater company, Touchstone Theater, and her short films and plays have traveled the world.  In Holden, coming to FringeArts October 8-17, she explores the darker side of artistic impact.  Salinger’s obsessed super-fans have taken up residence in his writing bunker, dead-set on convincing him to publish again.  As the play unfolds and violent impulses are revealed, their mission spirals into a bonfire of longing and delusion.  We caught up with Anisa earlier this year, before Holden premiered in New Ohio Theatre’s Ice Factory Festival in New York City, to ask her what inspired her to create this dark and extraordinary play.

FA:  Why is the title Holden? Where were you when you thought of it?

AG: Holden comes from Holden Caulfield, as in the protagonist of J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye. Not that the play is so much about Holden, as it is about a number of people who were obsessed with him, and believed that they were him. Starting with Salinger himself, who said that if Catcher was ever adapted into a play or film he’d have to play Holden himself, but he’d never do that because he feared “that would make Holden unhappy”. I don’t know where exactly I was when I thought of it, but it’s been called that since the very beginning of the piece’s development. We’ve never wavered.

FA: What’s the world of the piece? Both literally (as in the set/setting) and the “world” the characters inhabit mentally.

AG: Well those two things go hand in hand, because the world of the piece is very much a mental space and not a literal space. I mean, on one level you could say it takes place in Salinger’s writing bunker, which he built for himself in Cornish, NH – but our bunker is very much a bunker of the mind.

FA: How much are you playing off the book, and how so?

AG: We’re not quoting the book at all, nor are we playing characters from the book. That would be highly illegal, and a sure way of insuring that our play had no future. The book basically changed the lives of many of our characters, and that gave us a point-of-view when we were creating them. It was like a dowsing rod in sourcing the wellspring of their rages and their obsessions.

Holden_Jaime Maseda _photo by plate3.com IMG_7912

Pictured: Jaime Maseda, Photo by Plate 3 Photography

FA: What led you to be interested in the obsessed fan, particularly the literary obsessed, who seem to be their own brand of weird?

AG:  Yeah, it’s a very specific brand of weird, but I think as an artist they appeal to me because their lives testify to the power of art, even if it’s a negative, corrosive kind of power. We’re much busier in our culture talking about the transformative power of art in a positive sense, but transformation can look destructive as well, and I’ve always been interested in people’s shifting relationship to authoring art with that kind of negative potential. Like the fact that Jonathan Demme didn’t want to direct the sequel to The Silence of The Lambs after he had kids. It’s very inspiring to me that acts of fiction can feel so consequential – that art is not just for inspiring dinner conversations, but can bound into the world like a slobbering beast.

FA: What are you (or what do you think you will be) fine-tuning in the latter parts of putting the show together?

AG: Well, we’re making changes all day every day right now. Changes that feel both big and small. I think the basic world of the piece, and the constellation of characters that exist within it, will remain the same – but because it’s such an unconventional world – that dwells within this impossible time and place that is both real and psychological – clarifying the logic of the words and actions of our characters is very complex. Most of what they do and say needs to mean two or three things simultaneously. We’re anchored to real history, but we’re not making a historical drama. We spend a lot of time sifting through possible layers of interpretation, and every time we show the piece to some new people more layers emerge and have to be integrated.

Thank you Anisa!  Can’t wait!

 

Monday Night is Scratch Night: the Itch Returns!

Posted August 24th, 2015

Welcome back to Scratch Night at FringeArts!

Come see a roster of Philly’s most talented artists perform new material from shows they are working on in this fast-paced sampling of contemporary theater, dance, performance art, and everything in between. Scratch Night features short performances by four-to-six companies/artists, offering an inside look at the future of performance.

This week’s lineup includes artists from our 2015 Northern Liberties Fringe, South Philly Fringe, and Fishtown-Kensington Fringe festivals. Performances begin at 7 on our main stage at FringeArts at 140 N. Columbus Boulevard. Admission is free!

MONDAY, AUGUST 24 LINEUP:

Gunnar Montana: PURGATORY

hires_purgatory-5Gunnar Montana takes us to church with another wickedly beautiful production – his most mature and thought-provoking work yet. Be baptized in this raw and sometimes uncomfortable exploration of the state of Purgatory, examined through a series of very human struggles that bring people to their knees each and every day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Sanders’ JUNK: American StandardAmerican-Standard_JUNK-crop-300x141

Escape the crush of urban living and be transported to a more bucolic way of life; American Standard mulls JUNK’s evocative style with the twangs of bluegrass, the sweet smell of rotting hay and bare flesh atop a shaggy Hereford. Where will a quest for a more tranquil existence lead us? Our roots hold a certain veracity…

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Center City Fringe: Get into the GROOVE!

Posted August 17th, 2015

Philadelphia Fringe Festival favorite Tongue & Groove, Philly’s cutting-edge critically-acclaimed unscripted theater company, announces a first-time collaboration with blues dancers and musicians for a unique improvised performance based on personal information from the audience. Founded in 2006, Tongue & Groove has created nine unscripted show formats, including their popular SECRETS, in which the actors are inspired by the audience’s true secrets. Tongue & Groove has been invited to perform at the Kimmel Center for both Philadelphia International Festivals of the Arts. For PIFA 2013, Tongue & Groove collaborated with dance company RealLivePeople and developed THAT TIME. That collaboration was so successful that Tongue & Groove Artistic Director, Bobbi Block, was eager to find another project in which improvisational dance and music could share the stage with the actors. That desire is being realized with GROOVE

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FringeArts: What can audiences expect when they come out for a performance of GROOVE?

Bobbi Block: When the audience arrives, they will be asked to anonymously write on a card their response to this prompt: “Describe a specific time when you were in the groove…with yourself, a partner, a group, or something you were doing.” The ensemble will draw random cards, read them aloud, and begin riffing off of the themes and characters submitted. Tongue & Groove is dedicated to exploring the collaboration between artist and patron, reflecting the spirit of each audience at every one-of-a-kind performance.

FringeArts: How do you use music and dance in the show?

Bobbi Block: GROOVE will follow Tongue & Groove’s signature format, creating a montage of scenes and monologues, both comic and dramatic. Interspersed in the montage will be blues dances that comment on and interpret the themes and characters created by the actors, inspired by the audience.

Read More

Got an Itch? Come to Scratch Night!

Posted August 17th, 2015

Tonight is Scratch Night at FringeArts!

Come see a roster of Philly’s most talented artists perform new material from shows they are working on in this fast-paced sampling of contemporary theater, dance, performance art, and everything in between. Scratch Night features short performances by four-to-six companies/artists, offering an inside look at the future of performance.

This week we are hosting 6 artists from this year’s Center City Fringe, South Philly Fringe, Fishtown-Kensington Fringe, and Fairmount Fringe lineups. The performances begin at 7 on our FringeArts stage at 140 N. Columbus Boulevard. Admission is free!

So, what’s on tap?

MONDAY, AUGUST 17 LINEUP:Loves-Labours-Lost_Revolution-Shakespeare-271x300

 

Revolution Shakespeare: Love’s Labour’s Lost

“To fast, to study, and to see no woman,” (IV, iii) agree the gentlemen of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy of love, clowns, and wit. RevShakes’ second free fall outdoor production will be directed by Samantha Bellomo, and feature live, original music. Shows will run Fringe and post-Fringe, through Sept. 27th.

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Photo Credit: Geoff Sheil

New Street Dance Group + The Radical Sound: Structurally Sound
NSDG and new music ensemble The Radical Sound bring you a performance experience that begs the question, “Just what are we made of -and how stable is it, anyway?” Featuring choreography by Krista Armbruster and Shannon Dooling, re-imaginings of historic music, and a world premiere commission by composer Tomek Regulski.

Haygen Brice Walker: Spookfish11707785_10153020872795980_2634809601896238907_n

A haunted house that’s not a haunted house… until it is. A play
about slasher flicks, the horrors of high school, firework accidents, cat colonies, and a Canada Goose. The meanest play in this year’s Neighborhood Fringe will have you guessing who’s the Spookfish until the end. *Audience members must sign a waiver.

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Photo Credit: Kaitlin Chow

Olive Prince Dance: Of Our Remnants

The stage is set with a collection of chairs, empty frames, and abandoned objects for a dance of expressive physicality to emerge. Of Our Remnants is an intimate site-specific work where visual art and dance collide. The viewer is immersed in the installation creating an absorbing impact from all vantage points.

 

Brian Shapiro Presents: A Few Thousand Upgrades Later

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Photo Credit: Kevin Monko

In 1995, nobody downloaded, payphones existed, and performer Brian Shapiro created a show on how people predicted computers would impact human interaction. 20 years later, we download daily, payphones died, and Shapiro revisits that show to raise questions in an era where waiting 15 seconds for answers is wasting time!

Ferdinand Presents: NOT FOR PROFIT

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MJ Kaufman
Doug Greene
Jennifer MacMillan
Christina May
and Jack Tamburri
The theater is dying. Only three actors can save it by playing dozens of roles and telling all of their stories, from the box office to the boardroom, from the page to the stage, everything you love and everything you hate about theaters and theater people will be NOT FOR PROFIT.
Catch a glimpse of these performances in their infancy before they get all grown-up in September!

60 minutes

FREE / $5 Suggested Donation

140 N. Columbus Boulevard (at Race St.)
Philadelphia, PA 19106

-Brendan Farrell