Posts Tagged ‘2015 Fringe Festival’

Closing Time

Posted September 19th, 2015

thadeus-copy1And so it winds down. I feel like this go-round of the Fringe Festival has been particularly terrific. Martha’s closing up late night (sold out, sorry) but there are still seats for ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE at 2:00 and 8:00 pm today.

As we reach the end of the road, let’s have a little Leonard Cohen to bring us home, shall we? It’s been grand, friends.

“I think I’m a full-time movement researcher”

Posted September 18th, 2015


Did you get tickets for David Zambrano’s Soul Project, up tonight and tomorrow at Christ Church Neighborhood House? No? Sorry, it’s sold out. Your humble blog manager won’t even be able to go . Lucky for you, whether you have tickets or not, we’ve gotten permission to run an interview from Nouvelles de Danse 32/33 with David to give you some insight into his processes. The interview was conducted by Agnès Benoit in May 1995, during the workshop “La Composition Instantanée — Approches et techniques d’improvisation,” organized by Mark Tompkins at the TCD (Théâtre Contemporain de la Danse) in Paris.

How would you define yourself as a performer? Do you consider yourself as an improviser?

Yes, before anything else I like to see myself as an improviser. I like improvisation a lot. That’s what I’ve been doing since I started, somehow without knowing what I was doing until I met Simone Forti and other people, but especially Simone. When I saw her doing… (David imitates animal sounds), I said — “that’s what I love to do.”

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Posted September 17th, 2015

feastivalOh hi there, we’ve been getting ready for our big party tonight. Tickets have sold out, we’re afraid. But if you want to support us, you can still bid in the benefit auction! And late night tonight is the after party on Race Street, closed off for us because that’s how we do. See you!

Big Voices: Suite n˚2, Saul Williams

Posted September 15th, 2015

encyclop--diedelaparolecbeaborgers_small-1024x683Since working here, one way I’ve come to think about the Fringe Festival is as an assembly of voices, juxtaposed and recombining in different ways to different ends for each of us who goes to the shows. And tonight, we have some strong voices coming through the Festival.

First, Suite n˚2 opens tonight at 7:00 pm at Christ Church Neighborhood House for shows tonight and tomorrow. Found words juxtaposed as choral, it’s among the more innovative compositions that FringeArts has brought through.

Then late night: freaking SAUL WILLIAMS with Nguyen Smith, and then King Britt spins until closing time. Starts at 9 pm. See you at both? Yes, I will.

On “Available Light”

Posted September 13th, 2015


Perhaps I’m a wee bit emotionally fraught, but I almost cried twice at the beauty of Lucinda Childs‘s Available Light during opening night. The sold-out run closed Saturday, but we have a great interview that Lucinda did with Alisa Regas of Pomegranate Arts, below for your perusal. Whether you saw the piece or not, they offer an excellent overview of its creation, Childs’s collaborations over the years, and the processes of remounting past works. They spoke in October, 2014:

Alisa Regas: I’d like you to describe some of the history of Available Light and what the work is.

Lucinda Childs: In 1983 I choreographed Available Light, a 55-minute work with music by John Adams, décor by the architect Frank Gehry, and costumes by Ronaldus Shamask. And this was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, in particular by Julie Lazar, who came to BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music] in 1979 and saw Dance, my first major collaboration after working on Einstein on the Beach in 1976 with Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. In any case, once she saw Dance, which had a film décor by Sol LeWitt, and music by Philip Glass, she had the idea to commission a work for the west coast, and we met, and she said to me, “Do you know John Adams, by any chance?” And I said, “Yes, I know John Adams,” I knew perfectly well who he was, and had some of his recordings, and she also mentioned Frank Gehry, another very famous person on the West Coast, and the idea of a possible collaboration between these artists, the three of us, together. I thought it was a marvelous idea, and I came out to MOCA to meet with them, and we sat and we talked about it. John was very interested in the idea of creating a work for a dance company, and we talked about the fact that dancers, my dancers in particular, are used to working with a certain kind of pulse, or a certain kind of rhythmical structure that we can follow, which is very much the case with the music of Philip Glass. He more or less abided by that with his music, which is completely different from Philip Glass, but there are some parts of the music, which actually don’t have a metrical base, but they’re very beautiful passages, so I learned to work with my company in a special way regarding the music. Frank Gehry said, “I really need to meet with you, I really need you to come back out again, we need to talk about this and figure out what we are going to do.” So I came back out to Los Angeles, to his wonderful office in LA, and I said, “I like the idea of something perhaps on another level, perhaps on the sides,” and he liked this idea very much and did some drawings and sketches and we finally decided that this split level would be a lovely idea for the piece.

After the jump: set, materials, site-specificity, and returning to past work.

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“Very Provocative and Rude”

Posted September 10th, 2015

Still-Standing-You_pers-2---PhileDeprez7522-202x300Did you catch the excellent interview with Pieter Ampe in Philadelphia Magazine‘s “The Ticket”? No? You should. Sarah Jordan talks to him about the intensity of Still Standing You, which has it’s last performances tonight and tomorrow at the Painted Bride. There are promises of ball-tugging. Tickets here.

Photo by Phile Deprez.

Aww, You Like Us!

Posted September 8th, 2015

FringeSocialScreenShot9-8For staff here, there’s not much else like seeing the breadth of the 2015 Fringe all pulled together on our page aggregating the #phillyfringe15 tag (well, I mean all the shows, but besides those). Jeez. Y’all have made your blog manager a little weepy, actually, as he’s been thinking a lot on how much he loves being a part, in his small way, of all that goes on during these few weeks every fall. Keep ’em coming, kids.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Now For A Brief InternUption

Posted September 8th, 2015

PurgatoryMany of the people who make the Fringe Festival happen are interns. I know, because I, your humble blog manager, once was one, hired into a grant-funded seasonal intern position in 2009 to overhaul this blog and envision what it could be for moving forward. Somehow, I’ve tricked them into letting me do it ever since. Interning and working here, I’ve had the chance to see transcendent work (Dance, for example), meet great friends and colleagues (like our information manager Josh McIlvain, who’s written some of the funnier stuff I’ve seen on stage), and convince people to share their ambition and fear and excitement and exuberance with me, and thus with you (like Adrienne Mackey, who just wrote a beautiful piece for us on what it means to be a theater artist). And me? I was able to write the article of which I’m perhaps the most proud of anything I’ve ever written: Contemplating audiences and terrorism, I had the revelation that by coming together, again and again, in public, to share and to celebrate and just to be together with performance and each other, performance spaces have a heightened sense of communion and indeed have become de facto radical spaces where we can, and do, resist the death cult of the American gun. But enough with my tendentiousness. Let’s just say the experience has left its mark.

After the jump, two of our interns, who are beloved at least as much as this skeleton, share their experience executing a Scratch Night. I can only hope that their time here will be as formative as mine has, and that the passion that brought them to us sustains them in where they head next. And as we always do, to give credit where credit is due, the title for this post came from Marly Logue, our development intern.

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Because Your Nights Belong To Us

Posted September 4th, 2015

Jaamil-Kosoko-Head-shot late night post 300x296A few years back, your humble blog manager ran posts called “Today at the Festival, Last Night at the Bar,” documenting performance and drinking and drinking in performance and performing drinking. That was when his apartment was across 5th Street from that warehouse, remember that spot? His small child makes that lifestyle less tenable–but I bet you can swing it for the next three weeks. You can do it. You can!

King Britt and Kate Watson-Wallace have put together an absolutely insane lineup for the 2015 Festival Late Night afterparties. Check out the schedule here, and the playlist we threw together over here. Tonight we blow up opening night with Red 40 and the Last Groovement! See you soon.

Jo Strømgren on “The Doll’s House”

Posted September 4th, 2015

StromgrenFor9-4A while back, Festival information manager extraordinaire Josh McIlvain caught up with Jo Strømgren about A Doll’s House, which opens tonight. Advance tickets for tonight and tomorrow afternoon are sold out, but tix for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon are still available. And hey, it’s at our pretty new(ish) home! Catch up with Jo below, about what it means to interpret and interpolate Ibsen today.

Why did you feel compelled to do a version of A Doll’s House? And now that you’re in it, what has emerged as the most compelling aspect of doing it?
A Doll’s House is probably the most frequently performed play in history, which means that audiences around may be familiar with the story or at least the theme. Common references are always good for directors as it allows them take the audience on off-piste hikes without necessarily causing confusion. In other words, a classic can often give more artistic freedom than new plays.

How are you treating the script? And what does this allow you to do?
A classic text, like Ibsen, can easily become archaic if one has to much respect for the words. By not treating it as literature but as spoken dialogue, I have of course made major changes. Nevertheless, I feel this production is far more true to the original text than many other versions of the play. I have not made major cuts, nor have I chosen to focus on certain scenes to pursue statements or interpretations. It’s Ibsen to the core, and he is not a hostage for my own personal ambitions and ideas. I hope the balance between respect and disrespect will be appreciated.

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Adrienne Mackey on Fear and Pleasure in Performance Life

Posted September 4th, 2015

stars surviveWe’ve been running a number of pieces on the artistic life lately, in the context of After the Rehearsal/Persona. To wrap them up, we reached out to Philadelphia’s own Adrienne Mackey, who’s been involved with all sorts of wonderful, adventurous, collaborative and indeed critical work on her own and with her company, Swim Pony. She wrote movingly for us about life as a theater artist and how theater forms and informs the lives of those who create it:

By Adrienne Mackey

There’s a common stereotype of theater artists as loud, brassy, attention-loving people. This image that those who would associate themselves with the stage must be naturally larger than life, filtered down from Broadway’s multimillion-dollar enterprise all the way through the nooks and crannies of high school musical theater, is a false one, I think. I think this size and showiness is a put-on. I think it hides a deeper layer, one that is common in a great number of theater makers, of uncertainty and fear.

For a lot of us who actually go on to make a career in the arts, theater begins as a kind of training ground for being human.

In middle school I was shy and intensely quiet. My mother likes to point out how all the pictures I drew of myself in this phase of childhood show a figure with massive eyes that take up half of my face and a tiny and tight little mouth. I was a thinker, an over-feeler, a not-quite-sure-how-to-connect-with-the-world-around-me-er. I was fundamentally uncomfortable in my own skin, uncertain about how to express the person I felt myself to be, afraid of showing too much lest I do it wrong.

After the jump, theater and transformation:

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ICYMI: We Aggregate You

Posted September 3rd, 2015

FringeAggregateRemember: mark yourself as ours.

We will collect you.

That is all.

Department of Pocket Guides: Fiorillo’s Must-See Independently Produced Shows

Posted September 3rd, 2015

Over at Philadelphia Magazine‘s “Ticket,” Victor Fiorillo rounds up nine independently produced can’t-miss Fringe Festival shows. Spoiler, I will list them, but go visit “Ticket” to see why Victor says you need to go:

901 Nowhere Street

Andy: A Popera



Exit the King

Damned Dirty Apes!

The Empty Air and Animina

It’s So Learning

The Shoplifters

Like Pokemon, gotta catch ’em all!

Schedule of a Master Fringer

Posted September 2nd, 2015

brett-mapp-headshot.300.170.sBrett Mapp, man about town and all around superb friend and friend of the Festival, attends so many things. And they’re almost always all awesome. I tried to keep up with him for a couple years, and I couldn’t. But you can try!

He shared his schedule with me a while back, but Phindie beat me to the post. Head there for Brett’s plans, which are a pretty good guide to some must-see shows. (And btw, Phindie is another super great resource to help you navigate/survive the next three weeks.) See you out there!

Howie Shapiro’s Want-to-See Shows

Posted September 2nd, 2015

Alias Ellis Mackenzie for Howie link cred Melibea Garavito_675-146
Mother of God, the Festival is about to begin. Your humble blog editor is listening to Run the Jewels to get hyped, and preparing some posts to help you wend your way through the fest.

First up? In case you missed it, Howie Shapiro of Newsworks and WHYY rounded up some shows he wants to see here. (And there’s a convo between him and Peter Crimmins as well, for your edification.) Enjoy! And we welcome your picks in the comments!

Under the Spell of Ivo van Hove, Ingmar Bergman Has His Say

Posted September 1st, 2015

Persona2By Randy Gener

Forget the sanctified Image Maker. Don’t bother to bone up on Ingmar Bergman’s films before seeing Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s raw and urgent twofer, After the Rehearsal/Persona, which will have its U.S. premiere in the 2015 Fringe Festival in Philadelphia. What’s the point of seeking to certify a heartbreaking work of stagecraft by comparing it to Bergman’s cinema aesthetics?

Allow me to press the point. Shortsighted comparison freaks come in two rabid forms. Film devotees tend to hate on Bergman movies-to-play forays because they can’t help but be sincere to a thudding fault. And then there are bleary-eyed critics — Christopher Isherwood’s New York Times review of van Hove’s Cries and Whispers being a prime example — who lazily argue that “Bergman’s use of dramatic magnifying close-ups is more or less impossible to translate effectively.” To which we can only say, well, duh. What of it?

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Tonight! Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium Opens “Exit the King”

Posted September 1st, 2015
The Royal Scam: (clockwise from left): Patricia Durante as Queen Marguerite, Robb Hutter as King Berenger, Anna Lou Hearn as Queen Marie, Jenna Kuerzi as Juliette in Eugene Ionesco's classic.  Not pictured: Susan Giddings as The Doctor, Bob Schmidt as The Guard. Photo by Johanna Austin.

The Royal Scam: (clockwise from left): Patricia Durante as Queen Marguerite, Robb Hutter as King Berenger, Anna Lou Hearn as Queen Marie, Jenna Kuerzi as Juliette in Eugene Ionesco’s classic. Not pictured: Susan Giddings as The Doctor, Bob Schmidt as The Guard.
Photo by Johanna Austin.

One of my favorite groups of absurdists (and the one that gives me the greatest problems with proofreading) is back! Tonight, the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium returns to preview its latest dive into the absurd with Exit the King. The play opens Wednesday, September 2 and runs through September 20.

First staged on Broadway in 1968, New York Times critic Clive Barnes called Exit the King a “masterpiece . . . incomparably, Ionesco’s greatest work.” Exit the King tells the story of megalomaniacal ruler whose incompetence has left his country in near ruin. Despite the efforts of the Queen and the loyal members of his court to help him reconcile his remaining time, he refuses to relinquish control, attend to matters at hand and make peace with his destiny. The play saw few productions in the 40 years following its 1968 premiere until a stunning Broadway production in 2009, directed by Neil Armfield, featuring Geoffrey Rush in the lead role for which he won the Tony Award for Best Actor. The critically-acclaimed revival also featured performers Susan Sarandon, William Sadler, Lauren Ambrose, Andrea Martin and Brian Hutchison.

Exit the King was conceived during a period of illness when the author was consumed with fears of death. The playwright’s inspiration was borne from a childhood obsession that one could avoid being sick and simply live forever: “I told myself that one could learn to die, and that I could learn to die, that one can also help other people to die. This seems to me to be the most important thing we can do, since we’re all of us dying men who refuse to die. This play is an attempt at an apprenticeship in dying.”

Watch the beautiful cast pose below, while thinking about how to die lively, and think about which show you’re going to hit up. (Pro tip: opening night (Wednesday, September 2, aka tomorrow) has “wine and such.”)

Exit the King preview is tonight at 7:30 pm ($10-15). Opening night is tomorrow at 7:30 pm ($20-25; 9:00 party), and then runs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm, through September 20. All shows at Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio on 3, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. Tickets here.


Posted July 31st, 2015

“We think of it as adding another layer to the Fringe Festival—a Digital Neighborhood.”


#prettygirltips, Dan Hart

The 2015 Fringe Festival is introducing a new component, Digital Fringe, an online platform where artists working in digital media can share their work. The artists provide a URL or another method to access their technologic creation on the FringeArts website and in the Festival Guide. This year, as long as audience members have access to the internet, they can experience the Fringe Fest even when they are tucked away in their cozy kitchens scarfing down last night’s leftovers. “We were inspired by several artists from previous festivals, including the app Mike Kiley created last year, which used GPS tracking technology to guide listeners through a cinematic soundscape,” says Jarrod Markman, Fringe Festival Coordinator at FringeArts. Fringe artists lean against the boundaries of their mediums and Digital Fringe provides a space where artist can continue expanding those borders. Anna Kroll, a 2015 Digital Fringe artist shares, “By integrating web and app based work into the Fringe Festival, it opens up this work–that’s exploring similar ideas– to new audiences who might not know a lot about what’s happening in this medium.”

The multitude of Digital Fringe shows reflects the radical ways art is expanding. Martha Stuckey, Ilse Zoerb, and Douglas Williams take us on a journey to space and back in their show, @AstroJennie. The group follows Jennie Stuart as she returns to North Philly from space. The whole story is captured on Instagram! Liz Goldberg of Lowell Boston is an internet diva. She is also creating a website for the 2015 Fringe Festival that explores the dynamic between painting and animation while unpacking the theme of the diva and female archetypes. Digital Fringe ventures into unknown territory, and Adam Rokhsar, another artist with a Digital Fringe work in the 2015 Festival, created 404 not found, a website that imagines an alternate experience for internet dead ends or encountering a website that does not exist.

aqueousnessAnna Kroll, creator of aqueousness, is drawn to Instagram as artistic medium. At first, her project began on her personal account. Aqueousness captures Kroll’s experience of the bodies of water around her through fifteen second videos. “The project originally started on my personal Instagram and took it over because I didn’t want to post anything else and break up the collection. Finally I shifted the idea to a dedicated account so I could continue to post funny cat photos, but keep the collage growing,” she describes. Digital Fringe encourages artists to pursue unconventional projects. Kroll says, “Digital Fringe gave me an excuse to develop the idea, refining my purpose and language around it as well as how I wanted to present the videos as a collection.” Further dwelling on her project meant thinking about Instagram from a different perspective. “There are a few reasons why I stuck with Instagram as a platform. One, I really wanted the videos to square. I didn’t want the wide screen dimensions that connote film or cinema,” she explains. Kroll simultaneously acts as a museum curator and Avant Garde artist. As she catalogs and displays her experiences with water like archaeological objects placed within glass cases, she also flips Instagram upside down, turning it into a medium like no other. Check out her work @aqueousness.

prettygirltips1Daniel Hart, a Digital Fringe artists and creator of #prettygirltips for 2015 Fringe Festival, never pictured himself as a live performance artist. “I never really saw myself a live performer because of anxiety but I pushed myself. Before performing live I would mostly do internet art and some video work,” he says. Through Digital Fringe, Hart can store away his nerves and return to an art form that works better for him. Hart created #prettygirltips, a website that smashes our notions of beauty and drag. The website, which will include pictures and videos saturated in beauty, smeared lipstick, and newport100s, is “inspired by the daily struggle and pain of being a member in the lgbtq community.” Hart shares, “Imagine if you got off at the Somerset station at 3am and got most of your makeup tips from the first pretty girl you saw. I’m trying to challenge everyone’s concept of what beauty is in the drag community. It is as if burn victim high fashion or Texas chainsaw leather face opened up a beauty salon.” Visit prettygirltips.com during the festival or check out the Pretty Girl’s Instagram now @melissajoanshart.

Producing Digital Fringe has been an adventure. “Our registration process is not set up for digital based artists, so we have had to make several adjustments to how we obtain information from them,” Markman says. Producing live arts and structuring the multitude of performances is already hard. Adding another piece to the festival, a layer that occurs in the alternate universe of the digital realm, which is slightly removed from theater, dance, and music, came with new challenges. Markman has courageously taken on these difficulties and stretched the ways artists can participate in the Fringe Festival. He is already thinking about how Digital Fringe will grow in the future, “I would love to juxtapose digital art being made in Philadelphia against digital art from other countries under the umbrella of the Fringe Festival.”

Thank you, Jarrod, Anna, and Dan! I love the Internet, so I can’t wait.



–Courtney Lau


The Making of Slaughter/ette, or Binge Watching Season 19 of the Bachelor

Posted July 27th, 2015

Slaughter ette_Butter & Serve Theatre CompanyThe homemaker discards her personal aspirations for her husband’s. The exoticized woman of color is only loved for her otherness. The waitress and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl ooze desperation as they pine after the same man. We hate these stereotypes of women, yet they remain, permanently sewn into our collective understanding of the female species. Eight members of Butter & Serve Theatre Company bring these stereotypes to their upcoming 2015 Fringe Festival show Slaughter/ette at Mascher Space Cooperative. Influenced by the reality television series, The Bachelor, Slaughter/ette is a theater piece that stars these caricatures of women, but set within a slaughterhouse! “The spectacle will include everything we’ve come to know and love about guilty pleasure television: tears, glitter, wine, heartbreak, drama and often sloppy declarations of love. It will include the unmissable bending of reality that we love to hate and the bloodthirsty and cutthroat women that we love to condemn,” says co-founder of Butter & Serve Theatre Company, Sara Vanasse.

slaughter ette photo 3“After being sucked into this past season of The Bachelor, we were intrigued by the idea of using this material as a starting point for a larger conversation.” Slaughter/ette began as a guilty pleasure. Reality television with nonsensical stereotypes are surprisingly magnetic. Vanasse and the ensemble used their interest in The Bachelor as a springboard into the contradictions and confusion tethered to femininity. Rehearsal is marked by improvisation techniques to break down these tensions. “We use active long form improvisations around our theme, which will always yield a kernel of something we’d like to explore further, which in turn shapes our next exploration, and so on,” Vanasse explains.

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UNARMED: Realizing Race and Racism

Posted July 22nd, 2015

boyflag“Before we even get to move, the bodies just existing together in space is getting at American politics.”

Bodies reflect history. They carry remnants of slavery, disintegrated yet still existing walls of segregation, and the weight of World Wars in their bones and postures. Bodies reveal upbringing, education, the houses they grew up in. I recently reached out to choreographer, Arielle Pina, to talk about what happens when our volatile bodies burst into movement. Pina choreographed UNARMED, a dance coming to the 2015 Fringe Festival, about race relations in America. She describes the general parts of her work, which will be performed at Shiloh Baptist Church in South Philly, and says, “The roles are the fallen black man, cultural reformist, cultural influence, appropriator 1 and appropriator 2. Specifying each body in this way allows us to explore stereotype and racism.” UNARMED strives to expose and explode America’s destructive power relations and racial barriers. “The piece is about the black relationship with white America and many frustrations that the cast and I are trying to air out.”

chelsea_400UNARMED did not begin as a dance. In response to the Michael Brown incident, Pina created UNARMED, a photo series installation presented at Headlong Performance Institute’s final show (to see the collection of photos click here). The spectators of the installation responded to the photographs of individuals standing with their hands glued behind their heads in the dark. After the photo exhibit ended, however, Pina transformed her images into movement. “The work is so relevant to the time that it felt absolutely necessary to continue. So I registered for Fringe and created a cast of people I felt could dive into something almost impossible with me.”

The movement of UNARMED embodies specific rituals and tasks. “If I were to describe some of the states the bodies go through I would say: jam, DSC_0045exhaustion, intimacy, superiority, death, and mourning,” Pina expresses. She also describes gestures that are embedded into mundane life experiences as roots of her choreography: “I created the movement by putting the bodies in a specific context. For example, what does a body do at funeral or when it is in mourning? We bow our heads, hold hands, pray, cry. And then we choreograph what that is.”

By using familiar movement, Pina’s goal, “is to spark community dialogue about race and issues of difference. I’ve learned that everyone has a lot to say but it takes a certain environment, or specific question to get people talking.” Of the venue, Shiloh Baptist Church Attic Studio, Pina adds, “The space is a bit haunting in vibe so this definitely amplifies the content we’re exploring.”

DSC_0047Rehearsal is a collision and a celebration of experiences. Pina’s project is complex. Rehearsal is not necessarily marked by constant dancing or music playing, but instead, discussion. “We spend a lot of time talking and unpacking our belief systems around race and privilege.”As Pina works on the music and the movement, she also carefully considers multiple experiences of social difference. “I’m working with musicians and dancers so it feels like I’m speaking multiple languages when we’re all together. Whenever someone has a video or survey, we all participate collectively. I think the work feels challenging and very important to all of us. . . . It is also terrifying.”

2015 Fringe Festival
Arielle Pina
$15 / 50 minutes
Shiloh Baptist Church
2031 Montrose Street
Sept 11–13 at 7pm

–Courtney Lau