< BLOG

Posts Tagged ‘2016 Fringe Festival’

#AllYourMarketing All Day, Every Day

Posted September 24th, 2016

Since the 2016 Fringe Festival opened on September 9, our indomitable marketing department hasn’t just been getting all the words out about it, they’ve been participating in it. #AllYourMarketingpart of Digital Fringe, found the audacious trio of Dan Comly, Anna Kroll, and Hallie Martenson live-streaming themselves at their desk throughout each long, arduous Festival work day. Every crisis, every triumph, every sandwich was on display for all the world to see. Sadly, just as the Festival must come to an end, so must this bold exercise in transparency. The stream will be going offline after today, but if you missed any of the excitement check out some highlights below.

things-are-happening-happy-festival-hallie

THINGS ARE HAPPENING. Happy Festival. — Hallie

listening-to-hold-music-featuring-nick-anna

Listening to hold music [featuring Nick Stuccio]. — Anna

lonely-saturday-in-the-office-keep-me-companyhallie

Lonely Saturday in the office. Keep me company? — Hallie

Read More

Inhabiting habitus

Posted September 23rd, 2016

There’s something special happening across the street from FringeArts. habitus, organized by the Fabric Workshop and Museum and part of the 2016 Fringe Festival, is on view now at Municipal Pier 9 until October 10, free and open to the public during scheduled hours. Visitors have found themselves enraptured by the dreamlike beauty of this interactive interior landscape. Here are just some of the recent posts showing off the serene spectacle of this must visit installation.

Read More

Horsin’ Around at the Navy Yard

Posted September 22nd, 2016

Tonight Julius Caesar. Spared Parts will have its Philadelphia premiere as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival, but yesterday there was some important, neigh vital, preparation to tend to for this play from revered Italian theater artist Romeo Castellucci. You see, this provocative and surreal meditation on power and our collective reliance on a societal scapegoat requires a little nonhuman assistance to fully realize.

No, a goat would be too on the nose, c’mon. We’re talking horses. I even did the “neigh” thing back there. You thought it was just a typo. Nope. Clumsily placed horse pun. I’ll do my best to restrain myself from here on out.

But yes, a horse. Turns out Gala wasn’t the only Festival show that required some local casting. Meet Pete, the horse (and Shane the person). img_4919

As our intrepid production crew was preparing the set inside Building 694 of the Navy Yard, Pete swung by to see if he had what it took to land the role of a lifetime. A vast, mostly empty warehouse previously used as a food sorting space for the navy way back when, Building 694 is just a short stroll away from the Navy Yard’s main entrance, past a fleet of decommissioned navy destroyers. It’s also the perfect space to amplify the sounds of the subtle, but essential movements at play within the show. That, and the click clack of hooves.

untitled-2

Ah yes, the familiar sights of the theater.

img_4936

The exterior of Building 694…

Read More

An International Message for World Theatre Day from Brett Bailey

Posted September 22nd, 2016

untitledCreated in 1961, World Theatre Day, is celebrated annually on March 27 by International Theatre Institute Centers around the world and the international theatre community. Each year, a renowned theatre artist of world stature is invited to craft an International Message to mark the global occasion. In 2014 Brett Bailey, acclaimed South African theater artist and creator/director of Macbeth, shared this message, a rallying cry for performing artists everywhere to truly embrace the power of their platform and wield it for the greater good. Find more info on World Theatre Day as well as messages from years past here.


Wherever there is human society, the irrepressible Spirit of Performance manifests.

Under trees in tiny villages, and on high tech stages in global metropolis; in school halls and in fields and in temples; in slums, in urban plazas, community centres and inner-city basements, people are drawn together to commune in the ephemeral theatrical worlds that we create to express our human complexity, our diversity, our vulnerability, in living flesh, and breath, and voice.

We gather to weep and to remember; to laugh and to contemplate; to learn and to affirm and to imagine. To wonder at technical dexterity, and to incarnate gods. To catch our collective breath at our capacity for beauty and compassion and monstrosity. We come to be energized, and to be empowered. To celebrate the wealth of our various cultures, and to dissolve the boundaries that divide us.

Wherever there is human society, the irrepressible Spirit of Performance manifests. Born of community, it wears the masks and the costumes of our varied traditions. It harnesses our languages and rhythms and gestures, and clears a space in our midst.

Read More

Memories of Dance: An Interview with Faustin Linyekula

Posted September 21st, 2016

Faustin Linyekula is a renowned Congolese dancer and choreographer, and the founder of Studios Kabako, based in Kisangani. Le Cargo, Linyekula’s first and only solo dance piece,  finds him adopting the roles of storyteller and dancer in tandem as he leads his audience on an arresting and deeply personal journey to his homeland—a country marked by decades of violence and unrest that persists to this day—in search of a dance from his childhood that has since been erased. FringeArts recently spoke with Linyekula about the origins of the piece and the role of the storyteller in performance.


FringeArts: What is the origin of the title Le Cargo

Faustin Linyekula: Le Cargo was initially the title of a carte blanche given to me by the Centre National de la Danse in France in 2003. We proposed, over 4 days, a cargo full of artists and artistic proposals from the African continent. I wanted to call it “Cargo nègre” but it was too polemical for a public institution. I kept this title for the solo. It refers to the idea of (shameful?) trade, (easy?) exoticism, travel, and to this journey into my oldest memories of dance.

Le Cargo, ChorÈgraphie et interprÈtation : Faustin Linyekula Studios Kabako - crÈation 2011 - Centre national de la danse

Faustin Linyekula in Le Cargo (photo by Agathe Poupeney)

FA: Can you discuss some of the background of the piece?

Faustin Linyekula: I have never made any solo. Until today, I have only created this very solo simply because I believed and I still believe that the whole point of making work is not to be alone. It’s actually to try and find a place where you share something with people. You doubt together. You dream together.

So it was only in 2011 that I created my first solo. This was my way of celebrating the tenth anniversary of our company, the Studios Kabako, in the Congo. So it was a way of asking myself, “What’s next?”

FA: How did you transform so much personal and national memory and history into art? 

Faustin Linyekula: I don’t have so much imagination, so I take what is around me, what life gives to me.

Read More

Tales of darkness shot through with light: Brett Bailey & Third World Bunfight

Posted September 21st, 2016

This weekend FringeArts and Opera Philadelphia will present Macbeth as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. A reimagining of Verdi’s nineteenth century opera from South African theater company Third World Bunfight, this production brings the classic tale of greed, tyranny, and corruption to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a brutal warlord and his ambitious wife murder the king and unleash atrocities on the crumbling province that they seize. For more info and to purchase tickets click here.


brett-bailey-photo-nicky-newman-copy

Brett Bailey (photo by Nicky Newman)

Brett Bailey and his company Third World Bunfight have been making iconoclastic, politically-charged theatre in South Africa since 1996. Driven to tell “tales of darkness shot through with light” and inspired by what he calls the “addictive funkiness” of African aesthetics, his work concerns Africa’s post-colonial dynamics and the historical and contemporary relations between Africa and the West. His work is eclectic in style and syncretic in form, weaving together African spirituality, a fascination with pop culture, a strong visual design drive, the belief in theatre as a communal space of potential and transformation, and an acerbic political critique. Utterly intolerant of cruelty, oppression and injustice, he believes that theatre has to be rooted in social and political issues, serving a purpose other than pure entertainment, without being the slave of such agendas. And finding a balance between social critique and aesthetic beauty and atmosphere in a work is his constant goal as a theatremaker.

He plays in worlds of risk and liminality, where ritual meets theatre and ceremony and presentation collide. “Liminality, the sacred, places of paradox and confusion, border zones where anything can happen, contested territory and risk are the areas I like to work in,” he says. He aims to inject spirit into theatre and to “unpick the threads” of fear and racism that divide people.

Born in 1967 as a privileged child of apartheid, Bailey studied drama at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and graduated in 1991 into a transforming political climate. After a year of spiritual searching in India in 1994, South Africa’s transition year, he joined the New Africa Theatre Project, whose goal it was to create work that spoke to the burgeoning new democracy. In 1996, Bailey immersed himself in Xhosa ritual, folklore, and performance, training with and living at the rural home of sangoma (traditional healer) Zipathe Dlamini in Port St. Johns in the Transkei.

Read More

Interior Landscapes: An Interview with Ann Hamilton

Posted September 20th, 2016

Ann Hamilton is a visual artist known for her large-scale multimedia installations, flowing fabrics and the immersive atmosphere of her work. Hamilton has filled Pier 9 along the Delaware River with a field of spinning curtains, creating an interior landscape within which, suspended in time, a visitor can be both lost and held. habitus, organized by the Fabric Workshop and Museum and part of the 2016 Fringe Festival, is on view now, free and open to the public during scheduled hours. habitus also includes a corresponding exhibition of historical objects—including literary commonplace books, textile sample books, dolls, and needlework portfolios—at The Fabric Workshop and Museum from Saturday, September 17, 2016 to Sunday, January 8, 2017. We caught up with Hamilton earlier this summer to discuss her interest in fabric, Philadelphia’s textile history and the character of Pier 9.


ann_hamilton_portrait_highres

Ann Hamilton (photo by Michael Mercil, courtesy of Ann Hamilton Studio)

FringeArts: What was the inspiration for this installation?

Ann Hamilton: The Fabric Workshop and Museum began as a place for making. Initially they made a home for students, interns and artists to silkscreen. Pulling color across a screen transformed the surface of a white cloth.  The process repeated made a whole room and changed the way you feel. It is an institution that like FringeArts trusts artists and believes in the power of acts of making and transformation and this is an inspiration.

More specifically, the Fabric Workshop and Museum is rooted in the history of cloth, textile related processes and productions. They make a place for artists to explore and extend their vocabularies, to ask “what-if?” My history also begins with a cloth on my lap and so this project began in response to our shared legacy and collaborations by exploring Philadelphia based textile collections and local industries who have been in production over several generations. Littlewood Dyers does vat dying of raw fiber for a whole host of clients including the intense purple in a Disney costumes and the deep blue/black of Navy wools. The several hour tour of Littlewood, a highlight along with the loom and weaving production at Langhorne Carpet Company—where the scale the reeling of thread and the looms that have been in operation for decades—are inspiration for several project to come. Watching a raw material become a single thread, join other thread to become a warp or weft of a cloth or carpet holds for me all the possibilities for making; sewing and writing are for me two parts of the same hand. In the former the hand directs with subtle sureness a needle through a cloth up, down, up then down again and again and again, a running succession, the trail of thread making one out of what was once two. The pace is regular like walking, like writing. It keeps the body busy so the mind can wander.

wnterthur_doll_1_nored_flat

Ann Hamilton, (habitus • doll ) Doll, 1800–1820. Papier-mâché; Wood; Linen; Cotton; Paint; Silk. Courtesy of Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Gift of Katherine Gahagan, Michael H. du Pont, and Christopher T. du Pont in memory of A. Felix du Pont, Jr., 1999.19.1.

I have long been drawn to textile sample books—the cloth fragments, the hand written notes, the folio sized pages, their gorgeous unintentional compositions, and find in them a relation to the fragments of writing, inspiring to the collector, intentionally gathered into a commonplace book. The liquidity of the copied out text in the handwritten books, or the cut and paste of more contemporary versions are sources stitched into thinking just as the bits of cloth pasted into the textile books imagine a larger cloth or garment. We were shown beautiful swatch, sample, and dye books in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection, Winterthur Library, and Philadelphia University whose archives contain so much of the city’s textile history. The project will include examples from each of these collections. As well as commonplace books from Rosenbach Library, the Philadelphia Free library and others. The history and tactility of these objects began the project.

FA: What was the process from initial idea to installation? 

Ann Hamilton: A project always begins with an intuition, a hunch, a half formed question – these direct the research and through an associative and often circuitous process the project forms from trying to understand them. The challenge is to trust the process and remain open to change, to keep putting your needle down into the cloth and see what is drawn up from underneath. I suppose it is a little like fishing. You have to wait and see what you will find and in waiting you have to pay attention to everything.

Read More

Explore Macbeth, Third World Bunfight, and Congolese history with these events

Posted September 19th, 2016

This weekend FringeArts and Opera Philadelphia will present Macbeth as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. A reimagining of Verdi’s nineteenth century opera from South African theater company Third World Bunfight, this production brings the classic tale of greed, tyranny, and corruption to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a brutal warlord, General Macbeth, and his ambitious wife murder the king and unleash atrocities on the crumbling province that they seize. For more info and to purchase tickets click here. Be sure to check out our timeline of Congolese history as well.

In anticipation of this tour de force opera gracing our city as part of its American premiere tour, FringeArts is hosting several ancillary events leading up to and in tandem with its Saturday and Sunday performances, each tackling different contextual aspects of the show with an overall focus on representation. Below you’ll find a rundown of these events. RSVP here. They’re all free, but those that precede performances are only open to ticket holders.

 

9-owen-metsileng-as-macbeth-and-nobulumko-mngxekeza-as-lady-macbeth-photo-by-nicky-newman

(photo by Nicky Newman)

9/20 @ 6pm:
Panel discussion with members of Macbeth cast
Hosted by WURD’s Stephanie Renée

Join 900AM WURD’s Stephanie Renée at the African American Museum in Philadelphia in meeting the virtuosic cast of Third World Bunfight’s Macbeth. The cast will speak to their own experiences working with classical material, approaching the form of opera, and working with controversial theater maker Brett Bailey.

Stephanie Renée is the host of 900AM’s The MOJO, emphasizing issues of arts and entertainment, cultural identity, education and economics. Renée guides her audience through a daily exercise of finding beauty in the midst of ugliness, hope in the face of strife, and inspiration in moments great and mundane.

At the African American Museum of Philadelphia
701 Arch Street

 

17-owen-metsileng-as-macbeth-and-nobulumko-mngxekeza-as-lady-macbeth-photo-by-nicky-newman

(photo by Nicky Newman)

9/23 @ 6pm:
Performance Provocations: 20 Years of Brett Bailey and Third World Bunfight
Lecture by Dr. Megan Lewis

Third World Bunfight strives to create innovative, multi-layered, deeply considered performance and installation works that reveal the beauty, the wonder, the darkness and the tragedy of our world, with a main focus on the post-colonial situation in Africa, and historical and contemporary relations between Africa and the West. This lecture from Dr. Megan Lewis will engage the history and work of this stalwart and controversial company and its director Brett Bailey.

Dr. Megan Lewis is a South African-American theater historian and performance scholar concerned with the staging of national identity, gender, and race. She is an assistant professor of theater history and criticism at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

At FringeArts
140 N. Columbus Boulevard

Read More

Caught in the Throat: On Romeo Castellucci’s Julius Caesar. Spared Parts

Posted September 19th, 2016

This week acclaimed Italian theater artist Romeo Castellucci will return to Philadelphia (following The Four Seasons Restaurant and On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God) with Julius Caesar. Spared Parts, a re-envisioning of his groundbreaking 1997 production Giulio Cesare distilled to a series of “fragments.” This powerful, visceral work runs from Thursday to Saturday at the Navy Yard, Building 694 as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Daniel Sack was on hand for the original premiere in Bologna back in 2014 and wrote the following essay in response. 


How can we, as Yeats asked us, know the dancer from the dance? Or, for that matter, the actor from the act? Knowing the speaker from the speech presents no such problem. These are the days of speechwriters and teleprompters, but even in those Ancient Roman days of oratorical improvisation, the treatises of Cicero dictated set tropes of persuasion. We have been, and remain, apart from our speech. In the theatre, as always, this division is doubled over. One speaks the speech that precedes and exceeds its vessel – the actor – Shakespeare’s corpse still sound 450 years after the fact. So Artaud wrote with terror about how his voice escaped himself to play a part that did not belong to his whole. Not only because sound cannot stand still or it would cease to be, not only because it must always leave us, but also because the speaking subject does not possess the word “I” it temporarily claims from a common language.

_mg_9371

(photo by Luca Del Pia)

The prophet foretold such a possession of the voice from without. A kind of pre-attic tragic actor, he is reduced to a carrier for the message of those divine playwrights, the gods. He may retain the grain of his voice – those textures particular to a body, a tongue, a throat – but the content belongs to another. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar questions not only the performance of rhetoric but also the disjoined nature of prophecy, a prophecy that visits the dreams of Calpurnia, that stalks the city streets in unnatural omens, that speaks in the mouths of soothsayers – resolutely ignored or misapprehended like all good prophecies (Cicero, the central presence in Castellucci’s first imagining of the play also wrote an extended dialogue On Divination). It asks, then, how power, divine or earthly, speaks through the body of another, that spare but necessary part.

No such speech for the masses in this grand hall at the heart of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna; a host of sculptures surround me like some mute chorus, mythic and familiar characters, Neoclassical fragments of Michelangelo’s David and the Laocoön, reduced to but a head or a father clutching at limbs in place of boys. These parts alone are spared. And yet, they are inversions of the monument. Clearly plaster casts, molded imitations of their more weighty granite originals—theatrical sculptures, perhaps, of accumulation rather than chisel’s negation. Set on pedestals of painted wood, it as if they stood frozen for eternity on a small stage, or what we call “the boards.” They are objects for study and future reproduction. In other words, they are characters in a play waiting for something to happen.

Read More

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Mel’s latest project (featuring Mark)

Posted September 17th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, like the one featured below, which we’ve been sharing throught the month. There are only two opportunities left to see this brave and bold performance in its current form, don’t miss out!

mel-1

This is a still from Mel’s new piece (with her collaborator Kelly Bond). That’s Mark as an animated “disembodied mountain god head.” —Mel Krodman

Athlete/Aesthete: A look at the costume design in Portrait of Myself As My Father

Posted September 17th, 2016
portrait-of-myself-as-my-father-nora-chipaumire-nyc-march-2016-5917-2-xl

credit: Elise Fitte-Duval

In portrait of myself as my father, choreographer Nora Chipaumire stakes out space in the male dominated arena of sport—and fashion. In an interview with FringeArts, Chipaumire speaks about sapology as an aesthetic influence on her work. Sapology is a Congolese fashion trend which gained popularity in the 1960s-1980s. Adherents of Sapology, called sapeurs, repurpose European dandyism to both imitate and differentiate themselves from colonizing cultural forces, while gaining prestige in their community.  Put simply, the sapeur is a Congolese version of the French flaneur. They walk the drab, dusty streets of the Congo-Brazzaville dressed in brightly colored patterns and fabulous textures. Take a look at these photo essays on sapology by Hector Mediavella and the Wall Street Journal

gennadi-novash_msu-dress-rehearsal_0157

(photo by Gennadi Novash)

The Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People (La Sape, for short) is based in Congo-Brazzaville, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At La Sape meetings, rival sapeurs gather to show off their latest fashion acquisitions. La Sape is more than a monthly fashion show, however, it’s a gentleman’s society governed by a code of conduct. In the short documentary on sapology embedded below, one sapeur describes the movement as a “way of being, behaving, and dressing.” For most sapeurs, this lifestyle means putting style before more basic needs. They spend money that they don’t have on credit from the government that they can’t repay. But they have little to nothing to lose, and elegance to gain in their extravagant spending.

—Hannah Salzer

portrait of myself as my father
Friday, Sept. 23 + Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7pm
Philadelphia Museum of Art
$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-under

 

CATCH these performers tonight at BOK

Posted September 17th, 2016

Tonight CATCH—the Obie award-winning, itinerant, rough-and-ready performance series—takes a break from its native Brooklyn to treat Philadelphia to a one-night-only performance showcase, CATCH takes BOK, as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Featuring a roster of some of the most daring contemporary performers from Philadelphia and NYC, what they’ll be doing may be a mystery, but considering the breadth and depth of each’s body of work it’s a safe bet that you won’t want to miss it. Also, your ticket includes free beer, so, yeah.

Not convinced? You’re awfully difficult to please. In that case, why not get acquainted with the evening’s lineup?

Brooke O’Harra is a director and performer based in New York. As co-founder of The Theater of a Two-Headed Calf she has developed and directed all fourteen of the company’s productions, including the Obie award-winning Drum of the Waves of Horikawa. In an interview with the Huffington Post, O’Harra remarked, “I have been drawn to theater because of the live-ness, the weird formal codes of storytelling, the strange intimacy that happens inside of a group experience, the vulnerability foundational to the act – the real possibility that something could go wrong – these things make the experience charged.” Get a taste of O’Harra’s work with this excerpt from Room For Cream, Two-Headed Calf’s Dyke Division’s live lesbian soap opera which she conceived, directed, wrote for, and performed in: 

Cynthia Hopkins is a writer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and internationally acclaimed musical performance artist. Through her songs, albums, and groundbreaking multi-media performance works she intertwines truth and fiction, striving to obscure the distinction between edification and entertainment. “My creative process is a survival technique which alchemizes a combination of inner and outer (personal and socio-political) demons into works of intrigue and hope, for the audience and for myself,” she says in her artist statement. She recently relocated to Philadelphia after twenty years in Brooklyn and has been chronicling the experience with her podcast, Moving to PhiladelphiaSample her stunning musical chops in the video below from her 2013 performance at Celebrate Brooklyn: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4whnVrav9tE

Philadelphia native Kemar Jewel is an award-winning international director and choreographer. They are a founding member and creative director of Xcel Dance Crew, a dance group that incorporates dance and theater and specializes in dance styles such as jazz, hip-hop, African jazz, and, chiefly, vogue. A graduate of Temple University, Jewel gained to national recognition for a 2014 Youtube video, “Voguing Train,” filmed on Septa’s Broad Street Line. Since then Jewel has toured and performed across the US and Europe, including at the recent tribute to voguing icon and pioneer Willi Ninja at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Check out their latest short film, “Vogue Ball Tango,” a spin on Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango” that mixes Broadway with Ballroom: 

Read More

A Timeline of Congolese History

Posted September 16th, 2016
Above: From Macbeth (photo by Nicky Newman)

Next week FringeArts will proudly present two performances that engage the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through radically different perspectives and means of storytelling.

Le Cargo, Chorégraphie et interprétation : Faustin Linyekula Studios Kabako - création 2011 - Centre national de la danse

Faustin Linyekula in Le Cargo (photo by Agathe Poupeney)

Le Cargo is renowned Congolese choreographer Faustin Linyekula’s first and only solo dance piece, created in celebration of the tenth anniversary of his Kinshasa based performance company Studios Kabako. The piece finds Linyekula adopting the roles of storyteller and dancer in tandem as he leads his audience on an arresting and deeply personal journey to his homeland, a country marked by decades of violence and unrest, in search of a dance from his childhood that has since been erased.

Macbeth is South African company Third World Bunfight‘s reimagining of Verdi’s titular opera. Set in the DRC and centered on brutal warlord General Macbeth and his ambitious wife, the opera brings the classic tale of greed, tyranny, and corruption to postcolonial Africa with the help of its astonishingly talented cast and stunning set designs that make the show just as much a work of visual art as it is of theater. Be sure to check out the many ancillary events related to the show as well.

In anticipation of these exciting performances, dramaturg Meghan Winch has provided FringeArts with a timeline of  Congolese history—from the 13th century to present day—sourced from Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja’s book The Congo from Leopold to Kabila.


1400 – 1885
The Kongo kingdom of Central Africa is a prosperous, major force in the region based in agriculture and trade. 1482 brings the Kongo’s first contact with European explorers. Over the course of the next 400 years, the kingdom breaks up into autonomous chiefdoms.

leopold_ii_garter_knight

King Leopold II

1885 – 1908
King Leopold II of Belgium claims the Congo as his own private territory. The Congo is a major source of rubber and other valuable minerals, and the Congolese people are subject to a number of atrocities in order to harvest and export these resources. Beginning in 1891, several local uprisings are fought and repressed, including the Shi kingdom’s resistance (1900-1916) and the Luba-Katanga kingdom’s rebellion (1907-1917).

1908 – 1960
King Leopold cedes his claim to the Congo to Belgium, making it a colony. The effort to assimilate educated Africans into European culture includes the establishment of the “social merit card” and the “matriculation system,” which amounted to making a tiny Congolese elite into honorary Europeans. Established in 1950 to promote Kongo language and culture, Abako (the Alliance of Bakongo) eventually becomes a political force supporting Congolese independence. Workers’ strikes and anti-colonial protests culminate in a 1959 Kinshasa uprising for independence, leading to more rebellions and war throughout the Belgian-controlled region. Belgium agrees to complete independence for the Congo as of Jun 30, 1960.

Read More

You Are What You Eat: FEED at the 2016 Fringe Festival

Posted September 16th, 2016
Above Photo: Brett Ashley Robinson and Mary Tuomanen in FEED  (photo by Tasha Doremus)

 

_fee3052

Brett Ashley Robinson in FEED (photo by Tasha Doremus)

It might not always be considered as such, but food is a profoundly historical, political topic. The way we eat deeply informs the way we interact with our community and planet, the way we pass down traditions and recorded history, and of course, our own quality of life. Presented with the challenge of making a piece of theater that revolves around food, there are few companies in Philadelphia as well equipped as Applied Mechanics to tackle the job. Since their premiere in 2009, they’ve done much to solidify their reputation as an innovative, masterful creator of immersive theater that is as much an intricately crafted story as a lesson in civic engagement.

Their newest work, FEED, premieres in the 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and is a brilliant example of their ability to finely weave multiple narratives together to create an entire world for their audiences to explore. Set in the Independence Foundation Gallery for Visual Art at the Painted Bride, it takes its audience on a journey through the past, present, and future of a society that seems pretty similar to our own, from the point of view of 3 people living at different points on the same timeline, uniting in the gallery’s second level, where the audience and characters come together several times throughout the show to eat together.

The cast is sparse compared to some of Applied Mechanics other work, but what they lack in numbers they more than make up for in ability to connect with the audience in a way that tells not only the story of their characters, but the entire society that surrounds them. Mary Tuomanen plays KRS, a scientist grappling with homesickness and a personal loss while abroad at a new research job at a foreign university. Thomas Choinacky plays LEIF, a motherly figure who talks in a vernacular composed of gestures, sounds, and sensations. Brett Robinson plays BESTBY, a Messiah-like figure who is coming to terms with no longer being wanted in the community she is trying to serve. Audiences decide who to follow and for how long, making every single person’s experience of the show unique.

Read More

2016 Fringe Festival Spotlight: Emerging Artists in the Fringe

Posted September 15th, 2016

Are you looking through the guidebook and not sure what shows to see? Check out these performances by young artists who are producing shows for the first time in the Fringe!

 

IMG_20160612_082923_01

wise norlina @ Sculpture Courtyard
Stacy Collado, Hillary Pearson, Kat J. Sullivan

A compilation of works by Stacy Collado, Hillary Pearson, and Kat J. Sullivan exploring
childlike idealisms in abstracted and conceptual structures. wise norlina uses theatrical sensibilities and an interplay of various ideas to transform space, shape, color, and form. Click here for tickets and more info!

hot-dog

 

Hot Dog @ The Iron Factory
Sassy

A Hot Dog walks into a bar: an exploration, a celebration of sacred space and absurdity. Come one, come all and join us for a night of fun and games, thrills and chills and a few surprises along the way. Click here for more info a tickets!

 

 

the performers

The Performers @ University City Arts League

Ericka Janko

First rule of performing: no one knows what’s going on, but I know what I’m supposed to do. The performance is in progress. The performance is now. Includes movement, projection, discussion, and maybe even dancing. Live electronic music by Nirvaan Ranganathan. The performers will be there. Let’s see what happens. Click here for tickets and more info! 

Read More

The Embedded Joy of The Elementary Spacetime Show

Posted September 15th, 2016

“How can we look at one of the most terrible things that happens in our society and try to find some hope, some way of thinking about it that doesn’t gloss over it but also doesn’t send us all spiraling into sadness?” writer and composer César Alvarez ponders. We’re discussing the great challenge at the heart of his latest production, The Elementary Spacetime Show, a musical that grapples with teen suicide and the difficult questions of existence that arise in the face of an enigmatic universe. Oh, and it’s also a vaudevillian comedy set in an absurd cosmic game show.

img_8107

(photo by Paola Nogueras)

So, how does an artist best address such difficult subject matter with enough gravitas and humor to leave audiences feeling changed for the better? The answer, as Alvarez sees it, lies in the show’s form itself. “No other form has the embedded joy that a musical has, the antidote to that kind of sadness,” he asserts. There’s no doubt that The Elementary Spacetime Show possesses this sense of joy with it’s enthusiastic young cast, uptempo music, and dazzling gameshow set, but in talking with Alvarez it becomes clear just how joyous realizing this show has been. Developed largely in conjunction with the University of the Arts and sporting a cast featuring wildly talented UArts students, the show is the product of a radical experiment in combining education and new musical development. Through its success, Alvarez has helped chart a new path for how great, unconventional musicals like it can get produced.

As an artist-in-residence at UArts, Alvarez and former director of the Brind School Joanna Settle launched Polyphone back in 2015. Conceived as a forum to explore the musical’s creative future, the annual festival creates much needed space for forward-thinking new musicals to develop. Five concert productions are mounted in just six weeks time with the help of UArts students. It’s an intensive process, but one that affords each creative team invaluable time and resources to hone their shows and work on their craft, and it’s time they’ve taken full advantage of. “For every single show there’s been all sorts of new songs written, new things added, huge changes, different big conceptual risks taken, and the students get to be in the room for all of that and be a part of the process,” Alvarez says.

Read More

Overheard at Gala

Posted September 14th, 2016

Last night Jérôme Bel’s Gala had its Philadelphia premiere as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival and for all those in attendance it was a revelatory evening of unabashed dance from some fantastic local dance lovers. For those who missed it, lucky for you there are still two opportunities to see it, tonight and tomorrow night! In case you need any more enticement just check out what audience members had to say post-show:

“Just so much joy.”

“My heart believes in people again.”

“YAAAAASSS.”

“That was like The Sincerity Project… but for dance.”

“My face hurts I’ve been laughing so much. And you can see I’m still crying. Oh, the guts those people have!”

Gala last night… I think my heart exploded! Seriously, I’ve been so stressed lately, and it was just what I needed.”

Gala was moving (all senses of the word) and a total hoot! The entire show is phenomenal on many levels, and a joy!”

Gala in the 2016 Fringe Festival was one of the most joyful, moving, and essential works of art I’ve encountered in my life. Seriously, Philadelphia. This is not a drill. GET TO THIS SHOW.”

Gala just kicked my ass in the best way. If you can get a ticket, do it. I haven’t felt that much life in a theatre in a while. So much joy in one place.”

“I laughed, I cried, I did all the emotions. It was amazing.”

“I think it moved every audience member body and soul.”

“Oh my gosh, yas.”

“I absolutely love it.”

photo by Johanna Austin

photo by Johanna Austin

 

Pandæmonium’s Desert Recollections

Posted September 13th, 2016

Earlier this summer the devisers of Pandæmonium ventured out into the Mojave desert to build a drive-in movie screen, stage a version of the choreography, and collect footage for the live performance. They’ve kindly shared some photos from this endeavor with us as well as some brief recollections of the experience. Consider it a sneak peek of some of the breathtaking imagery this exciting cinematic dance-theater concert has to offer. More info and tickets can be found here.


“The first thing I did in the desert was watch a copperhead rattlesnake get killed. The man who killed it then made us a drive-in movie screen.” Lars Jan (Director, Creator)

img_2806

(photo by Nichole Canuso)

img_2761

(photo by Nichole Canuso)

img_2925

(photo by Xander Duell)

 

 

“The role of the mannequins was born out there in the desert. We found them on craigslist outside of LA and got to know them for the first time through the filming process. They quickly became an important anchor in the project.” Nichole Canuso (Performer, Creator)

Read More

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Mark’s reading

Posted September 13th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them in the coming weeks.

 

markmccloughansincerity_13

Me reading from my first published chapbook of poems in Washington, D.C. — Mark McCloughan

2016 Fringe Festival Spotlight: Solo shows

Posted September 11th, 2016

Taking on Fringe Festival audiences alone may sound like a daunting challenge, but these intrepid artists are doing just that. Check out some of the remarkable solo shows the 2016 Fringe Festival has to offer.

this info

(image by M. McCool)

THIS INFO WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE @ Skinner Studio at Plays & Players Theatre
Mary McCool

You are all here because you seek something. This is very special. In here, tonight, we will seek together… Profundity abounds in this mystical performance-comedy event written and performed by New Paradise Laboratories co-founder and Pig Iron Theatre Company regular, Mary McCool. Visit www.thisinfo.info and click here for more info and tickets.

topaz

(photo by Devon DiMatteo)

 

Walk to Topaz @ Mascher Space Cooperative
Brendan Tetsuo

Like a pebble dropped into a pond, this work begins with a reimagining of a young person’s walk into a Japanese Internment Camp. It then ripples outward exploring how this event impacts the lives of the succeeding generations, as they try to comprehend the weight of this experience on their existence and identity. More info and tickets here.

 

speculum

(photo by David Brick)

Speculum Diaries @ 1fiftyone gallery + art space
Irina Varina

A young woman’s solo about longing. For love, connection, home and understanding of oneself independent of those things. Told through personal/fictional narratives and some dance, it features among other things: an antique speculum found in a basement, babushka, “Brilliant Traces,” voice of Charlie Kaufman. More info and tickets here.

Read More