The 16th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival is less than two weeks away. The 16-day Festival, running September 7-22, 2012, kicked off opening week with 4 world premieres from celebrated Philadelphia artists at venues throughout the city. Opening-week performances explore everything from women in comedy and writers in transit to rock ’n’ roll funerals and the art of public practice, plus much more. The Live Arts Festival, which runs in conjunction with the Philly Fringe, features cutting-edge dance, theater and multidisciplinary works by renowned artists from the U.S. and international contemporary arts scene, alongside a host of talented members of Philadelphia’s dynamic arts community.
The largest work in the Live Arts Festival’s 16-year history, Sylvain Émard Danse’s Le Grand Continental (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th) brings together more than 200 Philadelphia-area residents of all ages and backgrounds to learn a 30-minute contemporary dance that displays the talent, charisma and personality of “ordinary” Philadelphians. Originally created for Montreal’s internationally renowned Festival TransAmériques in 2009, the free-to-the-public Philadelphia version of Le Grand Continental will be the largest presentation of its kind in the world.
Bringing the Live Arts Festival close to home in the most literal sense, Headlong Dance Theater’s groundbreaking world premiere of This Town Is a Mystery (Sept. 22) is a multidisciplinary performance conducted in the living rooms of four participating Philadelphia households. This unprecedented project will journey into culturally and geographically diverse private spaces, transforming each home into a theater and its inhabitants into performers. According to Headlong co-founder/co-director Andrew Simonet, “Every home has its own universe. What mysteries reside in these households, and what conversations might happen if we open our doors a little?”
Philadelphia’s much-loved Pig Iron Theatre Company once again pushes the envelope of traditional theater expectations with Zero Cost House (Arts Bank at the University of the Arts, 601 S. Broad St., runs Sept. 11-16 and 18-22), a world-premiere collaboration with renowned Japanese playwright/director Toshiki Okada. Directed by Dan Rothenberg and featuring James Sugg, Dito van Reigersberg and Alex Torra, this quirky, idiosyncratic yet incredibly moving autobiographical tale looks at the after-effects of the March 2011 Japanese tsunami on Okada’s family and friends as they gather together in a makeshift artists refugee camp in western Japan.
Philadelphia’s New Paradise Laboratories’ world premiere of 27 (Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, previews Sept. 5-6, runs Sept. 12-16) considers the afterlife — where life is brilliant and brief, the laws of the universe are ignored and warriors party hard, celebrating their way-too-early deaths. Unlike the company’s previous Festival works that focused on the realm of social media (FATEBOOK, Extremely Public Displays of Privacy), 27, directed by Whit MacLaughlin, occurs in real time, a muscular performance with an otherworldly live score.
Another Festival favorite, Charlotte Ford is working with a who’s-who of female Philadelphia theater artists — performers Sarah Sanford and Lee Etzold and director Emmanuelle Delpech — for Bang (Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St.,runs Sept. 12), a work of theater in which three distinct characters fall accidentally onto the stage, setting out to show the world their wants and desires with wild abandon. This trio of comedic clowns will explore the idea that women — especially women on stage — can be beautiful and funny at the same time.
Philadelphia’s Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental teams up with Minneapolis-based duo The Wilhelm Brothers for RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE (Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St., runs Sept. 11-16). Directed and designed by Thaddeus Phillips and created in collaboration with Geoff Sobelle (Elephant Room, all wear bowlers) and Sophie Bortolussi (currently playing Lady M in Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More in New York City), this musical investigates Edgar Allan Poe’s final days, before he was found unconscious on a Baltimore street, wearing a stranger’s clothing.
The Festival Bar, home of the Late Nite Cabaret, will be located at Underground Arts (12th and Callowhill streets) and will be open at 10 p.m. every night of the Festival. Admission is free and 21+. Visit www.livearts–fringe.org for schedule of performers.
Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe tickets are available for purchase at www.livearts–fringe.org or at the Box Office at 215-413-1318. Tickets to Sequence 8 and Food Court, co-presentations of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, must be purchased at www.kimmelcenter.org.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
The Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival runs from September 7 – 22, 2012. Tickets for most shows are priced between $10 and $30; some shows are free. Students and Festival-goers age 25 or younger pay $15 for Live Arts Festival tickets and receive $5 off any Philly Fringe tickets priced above $10. Discounted tickets are available to Festival Members. Festival Members save 20% on all shows, can exchange tickets, receive admission to exclusive special events, and save 10% at top Philadelphia restaurants. A Festival All-Access Pass ($400 for a one-person pass, or $800 for a two-person pass) grants admission to every Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe show, 20% for up to 3 additional tickets per performance, and ticket exchange service up to 48 hours prior to show time. Groups of 10+ save 25%.
PNC Arts Alive is the 2012 Presenting Sponsor of the 16th Annual Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe.