2018 Theater Preview: FringeArts

dear diary lol antigravity

L to R: Gina Murdock, Megan Thibodeaux, Sarah Knittel, Jenna Strusowski, Alicia Crosby, and Francesca Montanile Lyons in Dear Diary LOL. Photo by Timothy O’Donnell.

The company that brings us the Philadelphia Fringe Festival keeps the Fringe coming all year long with presentations by inventive local and visiting artists. Upcoming presentations include a festival reprise of AntiGravity Project’s hilarious  Dear Diary LOL and a new work by Team Sunshine Performance Corporation. fringearts.com

fashion-machine-kids-fringeartsFashion Machine
January 23-27

A singular theatrical experience from acclaimed Canadian theater company TheatreSKAM, Fashion Machine challenges game audience members to step inside the fashion machine and be forever aesthetically changed by a group of budding fashionistas. 28 local children are trained in fabrication, and educated in the history of fashion all over the course of a week leading up to the performances. The show itself sees them selecting seven willing audience members and redesigning their outfits based on brief interviews. As the kids get to work the audience is free to observe them in their open studio as SKAMartists emcee, video interviews with the kids play, and a photographer builds a real time slideshow of the designers at work. Once time’s up, the fashion show begins.

Dear Diary LOL
January 25-26

AntiGravity Theatre Project invites you to a comedic theater performance born verbatim from real-life tween-teen diaries of middle school girls, most of whom are in the show’s cast. plumbs these tomes of angst and earnestness and terrible poetry, providing an intimate portrait of the ways these young girls come to understand the world around them, form a self, and use their voices as they experiment with their malleable identities and budding adulthood.

February 1-3

“In our age of alienation through technology and political divides, simply being together has become a political act,” asserts Philadelphia-based multimedia dance theater company . Their latest show, Sp3, explores these isolating influences and positions the concept of presence as something radical, and as material to be shaped. Utilizing sound and movement with pattern-based repetitions that loop and evolve, the performers cultivate a sensitivity and increased awareness of time unfolding, environment, and human relation.

Clock That Mug or Dusted
February 22-24

Seattle-based dance artist, director, and drag queen Jody Kuehner brings her drag persona Cherdonna Shinatra to showcase her unpredictable show Clock That Mug or Dusted. This conceptual and inspirational homage to feminist performance artists plays on the body as a canvas for social change, rebellion, and personal expansion. With the help of a birthday cake, paint, found objects, copious amounts of makeup, and spontaneous movement and audience engagement, Cherdonna turns her stage into a chaotic, living canvas in search of what present day queer/drag feminism might be.

The Bechdel Test Fest
March 3

A comedy festival celebrating the diversity of our comedy scene by presenting female and trans comedians of all comedic stylings. Now in its third year, the festival has grown larger than ever, and will be spread across three nights, the second of which will be hosted at FringeArts. Featuring stand-up, improv, sketch, musical comedy, solo character bits, clown, and anything else funny, each showcase exposes audiences to a variety of forms they might not experience otherwise and provides a vital forum for local female and trans comics to meet and connect. In a field dominated by men, where less than 25% of comedy stages showcase women and trans comedians, the festival stands as a vital step towards a stronger, funnier comedy community.

¡Bienvenidos Blancos!
April 18-28

Delving deep into Cuba’s tumultuous relationship with the US—all the cultural exploitation, issues with race, violence, embargos, music, conquistadors, etc—Cuban-American director Alex Torra and Team Sunshine Performance Corporation bring together an international cast of Cuban, Cuban-American, and Caucasian-American theater artists for ¡Bienvenidos Blancos!. Inspired by old-world Cuban entertainment designed to appease white audiences, à la the famed Tropicana Club Floor Show, Torra and his cast struggle to reconcile the opposing identities of a person stuck between opposing states and look forward to Cuba’s continually uncertain future. Performed in Spanish with English supertitles.

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.