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Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

Hello Darkness My Ol’ Chum: REV’s Graveyard Cabaret

Posted September 11th, 2018

Since 2012, REV Theatre Company has brought Fringe Festival audiences into the iconic Laurel Hill Cemetery for a macabre cabaret of music and theater. As Philly Voice put it, Death is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum has become “a consistent favorite and top ticket seller… head to the cemetery for free cocktails and cabaret that spooks and stirs the soul.” The 2018 Fringe show opens this Friday and has four performances through September 22.

REV’s artistic codirector Rudy Caporaso spoke to FringeArts about this years happening.

FringeArts: Describe Death is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum for the uninitiated?

Rudy Caporaso: First of all, the show is listed in the Fringe Guide as a happening because that’s exactly what it is. Audiences will enjoy free cocktails as three “departed souls” appear out of the darkness of historic, iconic, beautiful Laurel Hill Cemetery, to music ranging from Bessie Smith to the Scissor Sisters and Cole Porter to Sonny and Cher. The music is a “Whitmans Sampler” of death-centric songs, all sung by—according to a critic—”performers with killer pipes”. And another critic said they’ve never experienced a more life-affirming theatrical event. An adventurous audience seeking a truly unique and immersive theater experience will like this.

FringeArts: What makes Laurel Hill Cemetery so suitable for this piece?

Rudy Caporaso: The piece was specifically made with Laurel Hill in mind—and I hope this doesn’t seem too terribly self-aggrandizing, but Laurel Hill is tailor-made for this production. It has the prerequisite mysterious and splendid Gothic grandeur. I always think of the Cemetery as the fourth character in the piece.

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Scenes from Opening Weekend

Posted September 10th, 2018

The Fringe is OPEN for business!!!

Opening weekend kicked off with hundreds of performances in every corner of the city, from deep south Philly to the Art Museum steps, from the Delaware Riverfront to University City. Relive some highlights with this photo diary of performances.

 

Anu Tali conducts Heiner Goebbels Songs of Wars I Have Seen at FringeArts. Photo by Joanna Austin, AustinArt.org.

Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium’s production of Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams, at Bethany Mission Gallery through September 23. Photo by Joanna Austin, AustinArt.org.

An audience member experiences Tania El Khoury’s Stories of Refuge, at Twelve Gates Gallery through September 28. Photo by Joanna Austin, AustinArt.org.

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The Plague Comes to Philadelphia: Pestilence: WOW!

Posted September 7th, 2018

Playwright and director Savannah Reich recently moved to Philadelphia after making work with her company Eternal Cult for ten years and touring it to bars, basements and warehouses across the country. Opening tomorrow night, Pestilence: WOW! marks the Fringe debut for her raw and immediate style of theater, produced punk-rock style: collaboratively, accessibly, and strange.

Reich spoke to FringeArts about this new play about the bubonic plague that lives somewhere between a game show and an acid trip.

FringeArts: What’s the worst illness you’ve ever suffered?

Savannah Reich: I was a sickly child and always had some kind of a cold. I have a real fascination with the the intimate nature of illness, and the way it takes away our illusions of control. I did a lot of reading about illness in preparation for this play: Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, and Eula Biss’s On Immunity; An Inoculation are particular favorites. None of this ended up in the play directly, of course.

FringeArts: What brought you to Philadelphia?

Savannah Reich: I graduated from Carnegie Mellon with my MFA three years ago, and I’ve been kind of an art tumbleweed ever since. I lived in Chicago for a few years, and I’ve been bopping around and doing plays in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis and traveling a lot. I think I’m looking for my artistic home.

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Revisiting Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. With a Bear.

Posted September 6th, 2018

This my excavation

In 2006, musician Justin Vernon left North Carolina after two breakups: with his band and longtime girlfriend. Broke, heartbroken, he drove back to his home state of Wisconsin and spent a cold autumn and winter in his father’s hunting cabin. There he cut wood, drank, and wrote and recorded one of the finest, most emotionally moving, rawly authentic albums of this young millenium.

That’s the story.

It’s one that playwright Doug Williams and director Maura Krause wanted to explore and flip over. “We’re both music obsessives, and the story behind Bon Iver’s first album is a modern music legend,” says Williams. “But there are larger questions about the ‘broken male genius’ that feel really primed to be pushed back upon right now.”

These questions get a outlandish treatment in the pair’s world premiere Fringe Festival show, Bon Iver Fights A Bear, which opens tomorrow. “We figured, if we’re really trying to tell this story in the most outrageous way possible, we gotta have this talking bear narrate it and sort of call bullshit on the mythology of the whole thing,” says Williams.

“We want to explore the ways in which we romanticize the story of the white-male-genius-type that retreats to the woods to get over his heartbreak,” adds performer Emily Schuman, who plays Bon Iver, hipster beard and all. (The moniker was taken from French for “happy winter,” a repeated greeting in cult TV show Northern Exposure.) “Really, he was just a 24-year-old kid who was trying to figure himself out but ended up doing something incredibly honest.”

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Tanaquil Marquez’s Passport Across Language Borders:

Posted September 5th, 2018

Heads: English; tails: Spanish.

On select nights, La Fábrica will present Gustavo Ott’s play PASSPORT in a language decided by a coin toss. The concept fits Ott’s kafkaesque tale of miscommunication and unexplainable border discrimination well. For the less adventurous, most performances of the timely work take place in either English or Spanish (see the show webpage for details).

We asked Tanaquil Márquez of La Fábrica about the unusual staging and her attraction to Ott’s absurdist play.

FringeArts: What moved you about the Gustavo Ott’s play?

Tanaquil Márquez: Yajaira [Paredes] and I were sitting in her car outside of Headlong Dance Studio. We just finished rehearsal for Azul, a production we worked on last year, when she pulled up the script on her phone and told me, “Tana, necesitamos hacer esta obra.” (Tana, we have to do this play) My first thought was, “What? We are already in a play, I don’t have space in my brain to think about another one.” But it’s the name that really stuck, PASSPORT. The title already seemed like a demand.

We had a reading a few months later and the message resonated in the room. In a beautiful and violent way. PASSPORT exposes how miscommunication can lead to distrust and confusion. Ott’s poetry is full of imagery and really blossoms throughout the hour while the main character’s situation gradually gets more and more dire. He mixes the two so well that you don’t know if you should be moved by the language or horrified by the action on stage.

FringeArts: What makes it a fitting show for this year’s Fringe?

Tanaquil Márquez: PASSPORT is a very current and important show. It spotlights the current immigration crisis. The long struggle of our community with the immigration issue has currently reached a boiling point. We cannot be but shocked at the actions of ICE against our society and the immorality of the Berks Family Prison in Pennsylvania detaining children as young as two weeks old. By presenting PASSPORT we want to raise awareness and funds to promote immigration rights.

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What Shamus Hunter McCarty Loves About Fringe

Posted August 31st, 2018

Name: Shamus Hunter McCarty

Show in 2018 Festival: Close Your Legs, Honey: A New Musical

Previous Fringe shows: The Jane Goodall: Experience (2010),  Branded (2011), The Playdaters (2012), The Hunchback of Notre Dame…A Mute Play (2014), Animal Farm to Table (2016), Pericles  (2017)

What I Love About Fringe: It’s impossible for me to think about my career as an artist in Philadelphia without acknowledging Fringe.

Fringe was my first gig in Philadelphia and although we were self-producing filled my 22 year old heart with all the confidence in the world that I could do it, I could make it as an artist. I connected with my first cohort of Philadelphia collaborators and whole life and career have put too many miles between us, I stand here, eight years later, nostalgic, proud and ready to unleash a brand new musical on the Philadelphia Fringe audiences. Over the last eight years I have worked on a variety of Fringe projects, grown immensely as an artist and learned a thing or two about how to maximize output and intake without burning out during one of Philadelphia’s busiest performance times.

That’s what I love about Fringe.

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The Complex Yet Simple Messages of For Colored Girls…

Posted August 30th, 2018

A theater professional with over twenty years experience in New York and Philadelphia, Ardencie Hall-Karambe, Ph.D. is an associate professor of English and theater arts at the Community College of Philadelphia and an adjunct professor and the director of theater Arts at Cheyney University. She cofounded and leads Arden Blair Enterprises,  which houses several subsidiaries, including Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective.

The resident theater company of North Philly’s landmark cultural hub The Church of the Advocate, Kaleidoscope presents Ntozake Shange’s seminal work For Colored Girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival. Ardencie talked to FringeArts about the work, its relevance, and the role of art.

FringeArts: What was your introduction to For Colored Girls…. ?

Ardencie Hall-Karambe: I was introduced to For Colored Girls when I was a senior in high school in LaPorte, Texas, a small town outside of Houston. I read some of the poetry in a speech/forensic tournament.

FringeArts: What moved you about it?

Ardencie Hall-Karambe: What moves me about the piece is my relationship to some of the situations the characters go through on their journeys to healing. It was one of the first pieces about black people that I read that didn’t weigh itself down with the history of black enslavement in this country. It’s there, but it is not the focus. It was the first piece that I read that spoke to the conditions of black women with an attitude that I understood. The characters experience every emotion and courageously invites the audience to join them in this communal catharsis, and I love that.

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Happy Hour on the Fringe with Trey Lyford

Posted August 28th, 2018

FringeArts signature podcast continues with new series of enthralling Festival-related shows.

accountant

The Accountant. Photo by Jenna Spitz.

Philadelphia-based theater-creator Trey Lyford is co-artistic director, with Geoff Sobelle, of physical theater company rainpan 43, for which he has co-created Fringe Festival works such as all wear bowlers (2005) and Elephant Room (2011). Lyford also develops and produces works as an individual artist and as an associate artist with the Obie Award-winning company The Civilians. His work has been presented at Center Theatre Group, St. Ann’s Warehouse, HERE Arts Center, Arena Stage, ATL’s Humana Festival, and La Jolla Playhouse, among others.

His new work The Accountant premieres September 6–9 as part of the opening week program of the 2018 Fringe Festival

Listen now as hosts Zach Blackwood and Raina Searles chat with the longtime friend of the Fringe and occasional magician on the nature of memory, Trey’s artistic process, and the story behind his latest work.

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NIGHTMARE FUEL Impresses Edinburgh Fringe Audiences Before Its Philly Fringe Premiere

Posted August 27th, 2018

“dark and demented…. what the Fringe is all about.”
—The Wee Review
“enough energetic idosyncrasy to become a cult hit.” ★★★★
—The London Student

Several entries into Philadelphia’s 2018 Fringe Festival got a full tryout at the mother of Fringes in Edinburgh, Scotland, which concludes today. Chris Davis treated Scottish audiences to his 2012 play Drunk Lion before his world premiere of The Presented this September. Lee Minora received plaudits for White Feminist, part of this year’s Festival in Philadelphia. The pair shared an apartment in Edinburgh with Sarah Knittel, whose NIGHTMARE FUEL is taking #EdFringe Twitter by storm.

“I didn’t expect people to be so on board with the show,” says Knittel. “I thought I would be heckled or hated for being American or saying ‘pussy’ 100x in the show. At first, the audience would respond with super UK-polite smiles and muffled laughs, but, by the end, people are shocking themselves with how much they are willing to play along.”

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Meg and Dana Are Troilus and Cressida in RevShakes Non-traditional Fringe Casting

Posted August 27th, 2018

Revolution Shakespeare’s outdoor performances in Bella Vista’s Hawthorne Park have become staple of FREE Fringe offerings. For their fifth Festival production, the company continues its tradition of producing fiercely modern takes on lesser-known Shakespeare works with Troilus and Cressida.

(l-r) Meg, Dana, and Sol Madariaga star in Troilus and Cressida.

Directed by star Philadelphia director Brenna Geffers, the staging of the Bard’s intriguing piece on star-crossed lovers in the Trojan War sees a gender-defying non-traditional casting, headlined by Meg Rumsey-Lasersohn and Dana Kreitz as the titular characters. FringeArts spoke to the pair about the play, their roles, and the importance of RevShakes’ unconventional casting.

FringeArts: What appealed to you about Troilus and Cressida?

Meg Rumsey-Lasersohn: I think I first read Troilus and Cressida in college, with a professor who LOVED it. And I remember being totally baffled the first time through—like, what IS this? It’s almost historical fanfiction. I was obsessed with Greek mythology and the Trojan war as a kid, so that has appealed to me for a long time, but  honestly, nothing appealed to me about Troilus. I thought he was an absolute jerk. That’s part of why I am excited to play the role—to find what I love in him, what I empathize with.

Dana Kreitz: The play was appealing to me in the way that it dealt with these iconic, fabled characters and Cressida was, and is, so wonderful for me to explore because she’s a woman doing her best with the cards she’s dealt. And she continuously gets some pretty shitty cards. And through it all, she keeps her wit. And she keeps her strength. And Shakespeare treats her with some kindness and mercy, I think, in his portrayal of her struggles and choices, and doesn’t simply write her off as the faithless lover that she’s known as being. She gets to be human.

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Location, Location, Location: Plays & Players Theatre

Posted August 26th, 2018

Location: Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place

Neighborhood: Center City

2018 Fringe Shows: Lay Me Down Softly, Salamander, Shelter, White Feminist

Description: Situated on picturesque Delancey Place in one of Philadelphia’s most coveted neighborhoods, Plays & Players is an attractive unrenovated three-story building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Completed in 1912 by architect Amos W. Barnes, the building was used a dramatic school and a try-out theater for Broadway shows under the name “the Playhouse,” making the building one of the oldest theaters in continuous use in the United States.

Theater company Plays and Players (founded in 1913) bought the building in 1922 and continues to produce theater in the charming mainstage space and the smaller 3rd-floor black box, Skinner Studio, which takes its name from the company’s first president,  Maud Durbin Skinner. Next door Quigs, a private club for P&P members, serves beer and cocktails to audiences before and after most shows beneath theatrical wall paintings.u

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A Love Affair with Sarah Kane

Posted August 24th, 2018

In the mid-1990s, a young playwright took London theater by storm, producing five intense, provocative, controversial plays before she committed suicide in 1999 aged just 28. Sarah Kane divided critics and audiences, works such as Blasted and Crave dropping like powder kegs on the a complacent theater world. By the mid-200s, she was the most produced new playwright in the world. She’s only received a handful of production in Philadelphia, but Svaha Theatre Collective is trying to change that. After producing Kane’s Crave in 2016, the group return to the Fringe Festival with two works, an adaptation of a Shakespeare work and Kane’s Phaedra’s Love. With charged with, this contemporary adaptation of the Greek play focuses the audience’s attention on the cruelty which underlies human relationships.

Director Elise D’Avella writes about her love affair with Sarah Kane and what she finds appealing about her work:

My first encounter with Sarah Kane was at a production of Phaedra’s Love during the early days of my undergraduate career at the University of Pittsburgh when I was still flirting with theater as a mere acquaintance. It was love at first slice . . . I mean sight! I had never experienced anything like that before. I remember just sitting in my chair long after it had ended; short of breath, a little nauseous, nerves shot, and full to the brim with life. Which sounds cheesy, but I’m not sure how else to describe it. Sarah Kane’s plays have a way of stabbing you in the throat, gut, and groin until you are painfully, viscerally aware of your own humanity. It’s a hell of a trip and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.

As a director, I’m very interested in theater that generates a visceral response over a cerebral one. Although I believe theater should ask questions and produce possibilities, I think the danger of theater that is overly cerebral is that it begins to highlight and deepen divisions between opinions, political allegiances, and identity. Theater that attacks the senses and cuts through the surface to our very roots and what drives us as humans to survive can allow us to approach divisions from a place of understanding, empathy, and recognition.

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2018 Festival Spotlight: Family Friendly Fringe

Posted August 24th, 2018

The Fringe isn’t always adults only! Everyone is welcome at these fun, engaging performances suitable for the whole family.

Chichi Chip (an ode to the Gnarly)
Philly Kerplop
An interactive performance featuring hip-hop dance and a live marching band, taking place in Philly’s iconic LOVE Park. Philly Kerplop’s display of humor and daring physical dexterity will activate the park spaces in ways that feel both familiar and awe-inspiring.
More info and tickets here

FIGMAGO
Meg Saligman Studio
FIGMAGO is part art installation, part room escape, and all parts wonderfully immersive. Enter the mind of a muralist as you explore secret passages and mesmerizing art to discover a mysterious mural that comes to life. YOU become the artist as the story unfolds. Hands-on and phone-free fun for all ages!
More info and tickets here

Garden of Vessels
Sina Marie (I Am a Vessel Youth Initiative)
Welcome to the future of the pop-up garden phenomenon. Imagine a garden where imagination and technology fall in love, cultivating the minds and innate abilities of the youth to a full bloom. Visionary Sina Marie creates an interactive experience. A diaspora from the underground up! We welcome you to…the Garden of Vessels.
More info and tickets here

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Chuck Schultz Is That Guy Sketching the Fringe

Posted August 23rd, 2018

Who’s that guy sketching in the back of this Fringe show? It’s probably (though not necessarily) Chuck Schultz, a fine art-trained sketch artist. Schultz’s sketches of dance and theater provide a visual review of Philadelphia performing arts year-round and he brings his talents to bear on numerous Festival shows every year.

Schultz recently sketched FIGMAGO, an ongoing mesh of art and dance which runs as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival. He spoke to FringeArts about how his work intersects similarly with different art forms.

FIGMAGO

FringeArts: What’s your background?

Chuck Schultz: I grew up in New Jersey. I lived on a farm. When my parents divorced I lived on the Jersey Shore. I liked to draw people, or super heroes, and when I met another artist in Toms River, NJ, I decided that is what I am: an artist. I first attended Delaware College of Art and Design in Wilmington and I moved on to get a certificate of fine art painting at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.


When I graduated college I tried to weave myself into where artists could find work. I been fortunate to be able to work with author Thom Nickels, photographer Katherine Weber, Thomas Kerrigan at the Kimmel Center, hairstylist Julius Scissor, and writer Chris Munden. I worked with an exceptional couple in Conshohocken: Jim Victor and Marie Pelton, alumni of PAFA. They are making food sculptures that give you an appetite! It is that effect that I am trying to copy.

FringeArts: How did you get into sketching theater?

Chuck Schultz: I always wondered what was happening inside theaters. I would just walk by while getting from point A to point B and I felt there must be something special inside them. When my father died in 2011, I began spending a lot of my time painting in Ocean Grove, NJ, where I met David Bates, a retired actor from the 60s who worked in movies, theater, commercials, and helped start The Muppets with Jim Henson. It was only natural for me to draw what I saw when going to the theater. It made me feel connected to the artists.

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Sorority of Storytelling: Sisters Combine Choreography and Bodypainting in Paprika Plains

Posted August 22nd, 2018

Natalie Fletcher and Jessica Noel are two talented creative sisters, but they’ve never performed on stage together… until this Fringe.

Fletcher, winner of the inaugural season of the body painting reality competition show, Skin Wars, will team up with Noel, a dance-theater artist who directs performance/education space and performance company Philly PACK, in an interdisciplinary storytelling performance inspired by singer Joni Mitchell’s 1977 album Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter. Paprika Plains will run September 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. at the Philly PACK garage in South Philadelphia.

Natalie Fletcher bodypainting.

“This collaboration is something we’ve wanted to do for a while, but the timing was never right, until now,” said Fletcher.

Fletcher and Noel spent their childhood in Amarillo on the plains of West Texas and the sisters’ production tells a story of two sisters growing up in West Texas, finding their individual paths, but always coming back together with a common language: love. Lily Blaines-Sussman, a member of the Philly PACK company, will dance as the young dancing sister, and Noel will dance as the adult. At various times throughout the production, the dancers will pause and Fletcher will come in to the performance, painting the dancers, the backdrop, while pushing the story along.

“We are attempting to tell a story with choreography and bodypainting,” says Noel. It’s a truly interdisciplinary Fringe performance: There is also a sculptural installation, theatrical lighting elements, and live music—Philadelphia musician Heather Blakeslee of Sweetbriar Rose will play Joni Mitchell covers as the audience enters.

“We want to transport the audience to a very specific world as soon as they enter,” adds Noel. “The world is Joni Mitchell and paint. Heather and the bartenders will be painted by Natalie before the show starts. The whole project is somewhat of an installation.”

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Happy Hour on the Fringe with Heiner Goebbels

Posted August 21st, 2018

FringeArts signature podcast returns with the first episode in a new series of enthralling Festival-related shows.

Frankfurt-based composer and director Heiner Goebbels has had his work produced around the world including his native Germany, Switzerland, England and New York. He taught for nearly 20 years at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen (1999–2018) and served as president of the Theatre Academy Hessen for twelve years (2006–2018). He was the artistic director of the International Festival of the Arts Ruhrtriennale for two years and and received the first appointment for the newly established Georg Büchner Professorship in 2018.

His works Stifters Dinge and Songs of Wars I Have Seen will be produced in Philadelphia in the 2018 Fringe Festival September 7 –9.

Listen now to the conversation between FringeArts president and producing director Nick Stuccio and world renown composer and director Heiner Goebbels covering Goebbels’ seminal works and long career.

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2018 Festival Spotlight: Shakespeare in the Fringe

Posted August 21st, 2018

No theater is more timeless than the work of Shakespeare. The artists behind these Festival shows honor the Bard of Avon’s legacy with new twists on his immortal classics.  

As You Like It
Indecorous Theatre Productions
Do you like the woods? Do you like crossdressing lesbian princesses? Do you like people who are incapable of expressing their deepest emotions? Then pack a picnic and join us for this unconventional production of Shakespeare’s greatest romantic comedy As You Like It in the gorgeous Spring Gardens Community Garden.
More info and tickets here

Long Trouble
Svaha Theatre Collective
Adapted from William Shakespeare and John Fletcher’s Henry VIII, this new work calls attention to the trials and tribulations of Queen Catherine, her daughter Mary, and her lady-in-waiting Anne Boleyn.
More info and tickets here

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Location, Location, Location: The Adrienne

Posted August 19th, 2018

Are you in the market for a Fringe show? Does it have to be close to some good restaurants? Have some great theater? Great amenities? A quality school catchment?

Welcome to our new series of real estate guides to Fringe venues all around Philadelphia.

Location: The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street (Center City)

Peg! by Kylie Westerbeck at the Adrienne this Fringe!

2018 Fringe shows: Peg!, Pillow Talk, Real America, powerpoints for my friends, Quidity: Migration Patterns of Imaginary Things, a PRACTICAL DEMONSTRATION (of the EFFECTS of KINESTHETIC OCULAR NEURO-PSYCHOLOGY and its POTENTIAL as an AID in the DISCOVERY of SELF), Almost Pregnant, The Arcane Mysteries of Vanderslice Manor, Close Your Legs, Honey: A New Musical, Drawn Out, FEEL, Only In Your Dreams, Song of My Self-Care, Villain

Description: Located in the heart of Rittenhouse Square area, Philadelphia’s premiere residential and business district, the Adrienne Theater is a charming yet vibrant three-story performance space. With easy access to public transportation, a parking garage across the street, a myriad of dining options in the immediate vicinity, a wealth of cultural organizations, and the PFS Roxy (movie) Theater on the block, the 2000 block of Sansom Street is the destination of choice for local nightlife.

Named for theater professional Adrienne Neye, the Adrienne has been home to dozens of Philadelphia theater companies, some of which (the Wilma Theatre, InterAct Theatre) outgrew the space including, some of which (Venture Theater, Theatre Catalyst) burned bright and went dark. It’s now the leading center for improv in the city, housing the Philly Improv Theater and ComedySportz Philadelphia.

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How Are You FEELing?

Posted August 18th, 2018

The Fringe wouldn’t be the Fringe without Bobbi Block. The artist and producer has been in EVERY SINGLE Fringe Festival since its foundation in 1997. This year, Block adds two more shows to her impressive Fringe resume: she’s dancing in Sylvain Emard’s Le Super Grand Continental on the Art Museum steps and producing another sure-to-be-a-hit improv theater piece by Tongue & Groove Spontaneous Theater.  

In FEEL, T&G is asking audiences “How are you feeling” and really wanting to know: they will improvise a show based on the feelings of the audience. To put the audience at ease, they’re offering free massages before every show. Now that feels good!

FringeArts asked Block how she was feeling, and other questions about her upcoming Fringe shows.

FringeArts: How are you feeling today and why?

Bobbi Block: Today? Today I’m feeling joyful and optimistic about my current artistic endeavors. You?

FringeArts: Oh, FringeArts Blog is doing just fine. Why ask audiences that question?

Bobbi Block: Well, first I’ll explain why Tongue & Groove asks that question of each other. For eleven years now, T & G begins every rehearsal and performance with an “Emotional Check-in”—we report how we’re feeling. This accomplishes two goals: 1. It “stirs the pot” of emotional fodder so that real feelings are readily available for us to use as inspiration for our improvised characters and scenarios, and 2. Sharing feelings is vulnerable, and vulnerability and transparency builds trust.

So why ask the audience? We’ve asked the audience so many questions over the years: “What secret are you keeping?” “What do you want to do before you die?” “Who are you?” The answers are written anonymously on cards and used to inspire our improvised work. We figured it was time to ask the most basic question—and possibly most difficult to answer. Most people do not get a lot of practice exercising emotional literacy. We are socialized not to talk about our real feelings—and we assume no one really wants to know. Rarely does someone ask “How are you feeling?” (unless you’re ill); we ask “How are you?” or “How ya doin?” The typical answer is “Fine,” and then we quickly move on, thinking we’ve satisfied our social connection obligation. Even if we’re craving to connect with each other, many of us follow this social norm because we’re afraid to speak the truth.

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Can You Feel the LOVE Tonight? Fringe Comes to LOVE Park

Posted August 17th, 2018

Love is in the air at this year’s Fringe Festival. It’s suspended seven feet off the ground and arranged in an instantly recognizable design. That’s right: Fringe is coming to LOVE Park.

Located in the heart of Center City, the park is home to Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE statue, which has become a symbol of the City of Brotherly Love and which serves as the photogenic entrance to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Originally laid out in 1965 as part of an urban development project by city planner Edmund Bacon (father of actor Kevin Bacon), the park was designated “JFK Plaza” to honor the assassinated president in 1967. It became better known by the moniker LOVE Park after Indiana’s famous wordmark sculpture was placed there in the late 1970s.

The park became known as a hub for Philadelphians to meet, chat, take a lunch break, go for a dip in the fountain, and hone their skateboarding skills. Situated just across from City Hall, it serves as a haven from the busy streets of the city and a resting point for workers, residents, and tourists. Closed in 2016 for a $26 million redesign, LOVE Park reopened on May 30, 2018, with a brand new look.

To celebrate the grand reopening, FringeArts teamed up with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (with support from ArtPlace America) to present three FREE shows by leading local arts as part of the 2018 Fringe Festival: An Unofficial, Unauthorized Tour of LOVE Park, Chichi Chip (an ode to the Gnarly), and Same Picture Different Poses.   

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