Online, The Fringe Has Already Begun: An inside look at medical gender transition now live as part of 2015 Digital Fringe

This Damned Body Week 1: Year One from [redacted] Theater Company. Part of the 2015 Digital Fringe.

The featured shows for the this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival were just announced, with the 2015 festival set to run September 3-19. But online the Fringe has already begun. This festival will include a new component, the Digital Fringe, which provides a platform and promotion for digital artists featuring apps, online games, interactive websites, web series, and podcasts.

“We are committed to breaking down the barriers between artist and audience, which digital media does so deftly,” says Jarrod Markman, Neighborhood Fringe coordinator at FringeArts, describing the new Digital Fringe. “We were inspired by several artists from previous Festivals including the app Mike Kiley created last year, which used GPS tracking technology to guide listeners through a cinematic soundscape as they strolled along the Race Street Pier.”

As part of this new festival component, [redacted] Theater Company, who have previously performed intimacy-centered live shows (such as 2014′s Earnestness #2 and Juniper Street), announces a two-year long project  overlapping art and life. This Damned Body: A Living Archive of Transformation will give viewers an inside look at the victories and tribulations of co-artistic director Swift Shuker’s medical gender transition. The archive, at thisdamnedbody.com, went online December 1, 2014 and will be updated daily until January 1, 2017.

“Transition is often a deeply private and sometimes lonely (although exciting and fulfilling) process for a lot of trans people,” says Swift Shuker, “This project is saying that we are not alone, that we can be proud of the bodies and lives that we create for ourselves. We need to hear that as a society, and I need to say it, for myself.”

Digital FringeThe archive features photos, videos, audio, and text dissecting the experience of the gender transition. Videos focus on such aspects of the process such as “The First Appointment” or “How to Tuck”. Combined, the various media provide a complete picture of a medical gender transition. Just like Swift’s body, the website (designed by co-artistic director Joshua McLucas) undergoes major transformations at key points in the process. A countdown ticks away the hours until it becomes something brand new, revealing secrets and creating new discoveries. The next major transformation will occur on August 28, 2015, days before the Fringe.

This Damned Body will also includes three live performances written, directed, and performed by Swift Shuker and their partner Naia Poyer, one per year. The first, This Damned Body is Carved Out of Meat, will be performed August 28 – 30, 2015, at the MAAS building in Philadelphia.

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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.