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International Fringe 2018: A Welcome to Artists from Around the World

Posted September 2nd, 2018

The United States government may be pursuing an isolationist policy but the Philadelphia Fringe is doing the opposite: opening its doors not only to the most creative American performers and performances but also to the best and most creative theater artists and their productions from around the world—overcoming the ancient fear of the symbolic Tower of Babel with people not understanding each other.

To show the worldwide scope of the 22nd Philadelphia Fringe Festival, we offer this spotlight on performers from abroad and productions by American artists that present a global perspective.

Theater writer Henrik Eger, editor of Drama Around the Globe and contributor to Phindie and Broad Street Review, among other publications, has lived in six countries on three continents and has visited Africa and Australia as well. He bids everyone a hearty WELCOME to the City of Brotherly Love—this year in 18 different languages: Arabic, Celtic, Chinese, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Latin, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish.

We start this year’s overview with a special welcome to two programs featuring a wide range of global creators:

INTERNATIONAL CREATIVES

  1. le super grandBienvenue & welcome to Montreal-based choreographer Sylvain Émard and Le Super Grand ContinentalLe Grand Continental wowed audiences during its run at the 2012 Fringe Festival and has garnered enthusiastic response across the world. Fully realizing a blissful marriage between the pure delight of line dancing and the fluidity and expressiveness of contemporary dance, the celebratory event enlists hundreds of local people to perform its synchronized choreography in large-scale public performances. The world’s most infectious performance event returns to the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in an even larger spectacle of dance.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bonvenon, willkommen, bienvenido, witamy, bienvenue & welcome to Do You Want A Cookie? from The Bearded Ladies Cabaret—a world premiere with an international cast. Do You Want A Cookie? serves up a delicious romp through cabaret history, with an international cast of artists performing a live revue of cabaret from the Chat Noir to Weimar nightlife to 21st-century drag. The all-star cast comes draws from around the world, including Bridge Markland (Berlin), Malgorzata Kasprzycka (Paris/Warsaw), Dieter Rita Scholl (Berlin), and Tareke Ortiz (Mexico City).

More info and tickets here

REFUGEES and EXILES

  1. ear whispered

    As Far As My Fingertips Take Me. Photo by

    وسهلا اهلا (ahlaan wasahlan) & bienvenu. Welcome to Tania El Khoury who lives in Lebanon and the UK with her multifaceted program ear-whispered. Little is known about Palestinian refugee camps and their communities. El Khoury presents her Fringe work in five parts through interactive performances and installations at Bryn Mawr College:

    1. Gardens Speak, an interactive sound installation containing the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in Syrian gardens. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    2. Camp Pause, a video installation that tells the stories of four residents of the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    3. As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, an encounter through a gallery wall between a single audience member and a refugee. (Old City & Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.  
    4. Stories of Refuge, an immersive video installation that invites audiences to lay down on metal bunk beds and watch videos shot by Syrian asylum seekers in Munich, Germany. (Old City.) Read more.
    5. Tell Me What I Can Do, a newly commissioned work featuring letters that audiences have written in response to Gardens Speak. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bienvenido & welcome to the bilingual (Spanish & English) cast of La Fábrica performing Gustave Ott’s Passport. Lost in a foreign country, Eugenia is detained and thrown into a vicious maelstrom of miscommunication. This poetic and immersive Kafkaesque thriller delves into the question of immigration—exposing the mechanics of language and power. Some performances will be presented in English, some in Spanish, and some will be decided at the toss of a coin.

More info and tickets here

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Splash Zone: Water Puppets in Vietnam

Posted May 31st, 2012

Ellen Freeman is a freelance writer and former Festival Blog intern who is based in Oregon.

Here come the puppets. Photo by kkinjo.

On my list of must-sees for the week I spent in Vietnam last month (or, as the itinerary turned out, must-eats), temples, conical hats, and sidewalk noodle stands figured high. The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre did not. Puppets? I mistakenly thought. That’s kid stuff.

But after dark in Hanoi, Vietnam’s historic capital, my travel buddy and I found ourselves looking for something to do. We’d been playing rummy and drinking bia hoi, or glasses of fresh draft beer that local watering holes serve for pennies (literally, it’s about 20 cents a glass). But the amount of tourists that were as thrifty as they were thirsty meant that the kegs had run out almost as soon as they’d been tapped. (This happens every night. I don’t know why they don’t just make more beer.) With no desire to head back to our stifling fourth-floor walk-up, we thumbed through the Lonely Planet looking for something exciting to do.

Ranked #1 in the Hanoi entertainment section was the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, a show that the writers of our guidebook did not advise you to leave Vietnam without seeing. If we didn’t get lost in the Old Quarter trying to find the theater, we could still make it to the last show.

According to our map, the theater was right on Hoan Kiem, a small lake filled with giant turtles in the heart of Hanoi. Of course! I thought. It’s water puppetry so it must be performed in the lake. Puppets in a lake sounded slightly more appealing than plain old puppets, so we set off for the theater. Ignoring the many offers of rickshaw rides—getting there on time didn’t seem worth the public humiliation of being a tourist paraded on a rickshaw and then paying exorbitantly for the experience—we made our way on foot.

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