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

–Courtney Lau

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