Go Deeper

Jonathan Stein Tells You What to Do

Posted September 6th, 2009

Broad Street Review writer Jonathan Stein sends out a list of Festival shows he’s especially excited to see to a cadre of his friends. An inside source (ok, it was Ken Finkel) passed the list to us, and it is our duty to share it with you. From Jonathan:

Friends have asked again for some of my picks for the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe, running through September 19. Here’s a rather arbitrary list, weighted to the Live Arts end, thus undoubtedly missing many gems of the Philly Fringe, from the current year’s excellent offerings. There’s a terrific website with lots of helpful info including a list of titles of shows to allow you to get more details on my picks below and many others. You can even determine which performances have nudity—and 5 shows below have nudity. Be warned (or enticed).

Among new bells, whistles, and tweets this year, are, actually, tweets: in TwitterFest, a selected group is tweeting about the shows (look especially for those of Wendy Rosenfeld and Lisa Kraus), and anyone can submit a tweet [by using the hashtag #liveartsfringe] and possibly win free tickets if selected as best of week. Most shows have three or four performances, a few popular ones get sold out early; tickets can be obtained online or at 5th and Fairmount box office.

So here we go:

Picks after the jump…

The Annihilation Point: Could be the underground comedy hit of the Festival, the third year of smart, rollicking, sci-fi and surreal physical comedy from this crew, this year directed by veteran Dan Rothenberg, following up on prior years’ hits, The Jersey Devil and The Giant Squid (see my review of the latter from the 2008 Festival.

STORE: Pew Fellow Kate Watson-Wallace and her latest site-specific, and maybe recession-specific work, in an abandoned West Philly drug store. After HOUSE and CAR, its the STORE, stupid.

Kill Me Now: Melanie Stewart’s anarchic spoof of TV dance contest/reality show mania with some of city’s best dance and theater performers in her cast; here’s a good interview with Stewart about the work.

Urban Scuba: Follow the Momix crowd into Brian Sanders’ latest imagistic dance piece in Gershman Y pool, splashy athleticism.

Welcome to Yuba City: Pig Iron Theater’s latest collaboration of clowning in the mythic West, shades of Buster Keaton? See the Inquirer feature.

TIDE: Myra Bazell and SCRAP Performance Group’s evolving dance with or without environmental themes, but with movement intensity, to be sure.

above under between: Austrian Willi Dorner brings his massed bodies and spatial inventions indoors after his outdoor Festival hit last year, bodies in urban spaces bodies. (See my review of that show here.

small metal objects: Australia’s Bessie Award-winning Back to Back Theatre brings a provocative outdoor interactive piece about audience, performer, and outsider to a Penn playing field.

Mortal Engine: Another Australian award-winning crew, Chunky Move, interactively and unpredictably meshes light, sound, video, and dancers into powerful visual imagery, and using the city’s best indoor theater venue, the Wilma Theater, for their US premiere.

FATEBOOK: Avoiding Catastrophe One Party at a Time. New Paradise Laboratories brings an avant-garde sensibility to the social media compulsion of the present, and if the compulsion extends to you, too(be), try befriending or rejecting the cast members beginning now at

more.: Headlong Dance Theater seeks to reinvent themselves—and maybe us too—in a new work that evolved under the spell of New York choreographer Tere O’Connor. Expect the unexpected.

Operetta: Experience the wild theater of the 1960s in this classic from the Polish writer, Witold Gombrowicz, with new jazz music [from Leszek Mozdzer] and direction from award-winning Swarthmore grad (and Pole), Michal Zadara.

Postcards from the Woods: Merian Soto and crew bring her Wissahickon Creek performance practice, performers, tree limbs and video to a space of mutual performer/audience meditation.

13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. A special one-night-only gig presents original, live music to Andy’s filmed friends, shot at The Factory from 1964 to 1966. Could be one of the memorable nights of the Festival, and we might clamor for more from Nick for next year.

The Last Cargo Cult. One of two works by the much acclaimed monologue performer, Mike Daisey (his other work in Festival is How Theater Failed America). The show is drawn from Daisey’s experience living with an isolated South Pacific people, who for the most inexplicable of reasons, worshiped America. See what the Daisey buzz is about.

MICROWORLD(s) Part #1 and DIGITAL EFFECTS: Both produced by the all-in-one performance wunderkind, Thaddeus Phillips, and his Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. With MICROWORLD(s) we squeeze into surreal Japanese microspaces, and DIGITAL EFFECTS presents New York magician and actor, Steve Cuiffo, a past Wooster Group performer.

It’s Hard Times at the Camera Blanca: Applied Mechanics’s six unemployed circus workers hold down Murph’s Bar at 202 East Girard Ave. and allow the audience to choose which characters to follow. Forget Facebook.

Ok, I’ll include The A.W.A.R.D. Show!: If you go to these, you’ll need to see Stewart’s Kill Me Now (see above) as the antidote. In each of three separate preliminary A.W.A.R.D. rounds of four local dancers each, many stellar performers compete for a final round show, where the winner is awarded $10,000 from sponsor Boeing Aircraft, and, I should think, a ride on a Boeing F/A 18 fighter aircraft. They [Still] Shoot Horses Don’t They?

–Jonathan Stein