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Five Live Arts-Fringe Shows That Will Move You

Future home of Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe (rendering)

Back to Back Theater's Food Court

New Paradise Laboratories' 27

Headlong Dance Theater's This Town Is A Mystery

Le Grand Continental

Tangle - You Don't Say

“Wait right here.”  In less than twenty seconds, Producing Director Nick Stuccio races from the rear entrance of a 1903 pumping station to emerge from the contractor entrance, opening a collapsible metal gate to reveal an enormous crane, a pulley system, and a series of massive steam and smaller pumps.  “This place could divert 30,000 gallons of water to anywhere in the city.  We are taking these pumps out and will use them as décor.”   

The building, reconverted in 1954 to increase service to city fire hydrants, will undergo eight months of construction to transform it to the $4.7 million headquarters for the Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, complete with three performance and function spaces including a 250 seat theatre and an outdoor plaza with a stage overlooking the Ben Franklin Bridge and the waterfront.  Construction will begin after the remaining $400,000 is raised.

“Every year, we’re very nomadic," Stuccio says. "We pop up some place, some warehouse or some defunct restaurant, and we have our operation.  We knew that we needed our own place, year in year out, where we can have a home base for the festival and then we also we wanted to have a place, week in week out that we can have a place to do the kinds of performance that we do: contemporary dance, theatre, music that we really don’t have thus far all this built out infrastructure of culture in Philly.

"We don’t have a place dedicated to all of the great contemporary dance, all the funky contemporary theatre, the devised the theatre, cabaret in Philly.  It is an awesome site for year round contemporary art presentation.”

For now, the 16th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, which opens Friday, Sept. 7 and runs through Sept. 21, will maintain its uniquely nomadic posture.  The curated material of the Live Arts Festival presents 14 internationally recognized live arts shows paired with the “unfiltered” Philly Fringe material, a diverse “cityscape” of theatre, dance, music, and emerging genre artists that seeks to foster independent productions and to promote the growth of the local and regional performing arts community.  Historically, more than 200 Fringe shows round out the festival.  Underground Arts, located at 1200 Callowhill Street, will be the late night cabaret setting.  

Presenting 5 Live Arts-Fringe shows that will move you:

Back to Back Theatre with the Necks
American Premiere | Theater, 65 minutes
9/20-9/22  8 p.m.
Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
300 S. Broad St.

Set in a suburban mall by the Asian Hut and the Juice Bar, pairing Geelong, Australia’s Back to Back Theatre and experimental jazz band the Necks who perform live, FOOD COURT presents disabled and able bodied actors in an evolving space lit by projection and supertitles, ranging from the food service workers caught in scenes of a desperate commerce to a forest fraught with danger.  Directed and devised by Bruce Gladwin, the experience confronts tensions of comfort, violence, power, nakedness, and oppression.

New Paradise Laboratories
World Premiere | Theatre, 75 minutes
Runs 9/5-9/16
9/13 Post Show discussion with Nick Stuccio, Producing Director, Live Arts Festival
Plays and Players Theater (1714 Delancey Place)

Conceived and created by Whit McLaughlin and New Paradise Laboratories, 27 confronts the iconic age of perishing rock stars and early identity crises,  “If you don’t have a direction in life by the age of 27, you’ve got to wonder if maybe you’re screwed.”  McLaughlin describes the ephemeral setting of the piece, “It’s behind everything.  Between.  A vacant lot after a building has been torn down.”  New Paradise is known for its experimental and visionary work. McLaughlin describes the soundscapes in a punctuated riff, “Mutations and evolutions.  Loops.  Loudness.  Softness.  Sonic grandeur.  Electricity.  Stars exploding.  That sort of thing. A shoegazy "Come as You Are.’”  Travel down a dark crawlspace and re-encounter a zombie Kurt Cobain.

This Town Is a Mystery
Headlong Dance Theater
World Premiere | Dance-Theatre, 110
Four Philadelphia homes (South Philadelphia, Mt. Airy, Tacony, and Wissonoming)

When you buy a ticket for this piece, you’re also going to be making a potluck dish.  You’ll be notified the location of your thirty minute performance and eighty minute dinner in the home of a Philadelphia family in four neighborhoods.  The families perform the show, mixing in their own personal histories, stories about the neighborhood, and tales of the household.   Twelve people will travel to each home, and they will not be able to choose which home beforehand.  Andrew Simonet, co-director devised this show, “I’m curious about who lives in this city, and how little we know about each other.  That’s the mystery.”

Le Grand Continental
Philadelphia Premiere | Dance, 30 minutes
Philadelphia Museum of Art Steps (26th Street and Ben Franklin Parkway)

When he created Le Grand Continental for Montréal’s Festival TransAmériques, Sylvain Émard discovered the momentum that occurs when 200 strangers come together to learn a 30 minute routine.  Philadelphians if various backgrounds and abilities have been learning the dance in various locations to rehearse for the three shows on the Art Museum steps, reclaiming the magic of a dance flash mob and creating community as they work toward these public performances through eighteen rehearsals of sometimes difficult movements.  A dance party follows each show.  A free event, Le Grand Continental brings dance to the people in a universal language.

You Don’t Say
Tangle Movement Arts
Fringe | aerial dance & interdisciplinary performance
September 13, 14, and 15
Philadelphia Soundstages (1600 N. 5th Street)

Surrealism is on the menu as seven women gather for a dinner party through aerial acrobatics, unique since one of the acrobats is seven months pregnant.  Chairs and tables become animated in the air through an elevated dialogue of flirting and friendly angst.  Tangle Movement Arts is an interdisciplinary young movement arts company, working in traditional circus disciplines like trapeze, aerial silks, rope, partner balancing, and acrobatics, as well as music, drama, and spoken word.   This company tells a story in silks and syllables, giving new meaning to rising action.

For tickets to all performances:  (215) 413-1318  www.livearts-fringe.org

BONNIE MACALLISTER is a multi-media artist, grant writer and journalist residing in West Philly. Her work has appeared in Tom Tom Magazine, Toronto Quarterly, Nth Position (U.K.) and Grasp (Czech Republic). Send feedback here.
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