Anyone who says that Philadelphia is provincial hasn’t attended the annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival, which has grown to include artists from 18 different countries. Here’s the latest sampling of shows, performances, playwrights, and artists from around the world. Phindie writer Henrik Eger bids all of them a hearty WELCOME to Philadelphia in their own language.
Khosh amadid خوشآمد to Afghanistan’s Rumi in Nighthawks, va/und Willkommen to Georg Büchner’s Lenz by Estranged Seekers—a collection of four plays, including humor from Franz Kafka’s work—with William Burrison, Ross Lipton, Michael London, Susan Miller, and Marlene Sider.
Welgekomen, Pieter Ampe, en/e bem-vindo, Guilherme Garrido, your partner from Portugal, in Still Standing You. The two of you sometimes shock American audiences because of the intimacy of your naked grappling match and dance, reminiscent of D.H. Lawrence’s famous wrestling scene in the nude with Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in Women in Love. You bring to the stage the often undiscussed issues of male relationships and the wide range of experiences and feelings that they can evoke in almost magical ways.
Bienvenida CINEtica (Columbia), Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental (USA), y bienvenido Thaddeus Phillips, one of the stars of the TV show Alias el Mexicano, for allowing us to look behind the scenes of the manipulation of the American public by the highest power players in the US during the Iran Contra Affair, and the relationship with Columbian drug lords and the people caught in this dangerous trade for weapons and killer drugs—all presented in a highly creative studio production, bringing the reality of those days into our own time.
Bienvenu, L’Encyclopédie de la Parole, Joris Lacoste, Pierre-Yves Macé, Vladimir Kudryavtsev, Emmanuelle Lafon, Nuno Lucas, Barbara Matijevic, et Olivier Normand. Your team of social linguists, poets, actors, directors, and visual artists have recorded an index of spoken language in such a way that everyday language now opens doors to possibilities never heard before, creating sounds from Sprechgesang and recitativo to a choral suite of multiple tongues (with English supertitles) in Suite n°2.
Willkommen, Georg Büchner’s Lenz, und/va Khosh amadid خوشآمد to Afghanistan’s Rumi. (For details, go to AFGHANISTAN.)
Welkom, Toneelgroep Amsterdam, and dankjewel for After the Rehearsal, your work that shows the illness of normality, the normality of illness, the art of reality, and the reality of art—allowing us to see water that broke through the dykes and Elektra crossing the waves.
Velkommen, Jo Strømgren Kompani from the country that gave us Henrik Ibsen, the Nobel Peace Prize, and now three separate shows:
A Doll’s House as wondrous as that of the world of Alice in Wonderland—with battles fought, both inside and outside the small and restrictive Helmer’s house, supported by a wild and unruly cast of American actors, giving us a new look at Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece that has led to more discussions since its opening in 1879 than most other plays.
There, an amazing play that takes us into the world of Soviet dissidents who, Beckett-like, live inside a world of crates rejoicing and rejecting, wrestling and dancing, trying to find their place in life.
The Border, reminiscent of Sartre’s No Exit, except that the two outcasts don’t speak each other’s language and are experiencing the hell of irrational expectations and territorial demands in an emotional dance of human relationships.
Powitanie to Soldier Bear, a moving story of two orphans during World War II: a Polish soldier and a bear cub whom he adopts—both bonding and becoming a family across two species. The Jim Henson Foundation, impressed by the work ofLeila and Pantea Productions, funded this puppet dance and shadow theater.
Bem-vindo, Guilherme Garrido from Portugal and your dance partner, Pieter Ampe. (For details of Still Standing You, go to BELGIUM.)
Dobro pozhalovat’ добро пожаловать toAnton Chekhov in Lancaster County, PA, with the Three Sisters and a Wolf by the Wee Keep Company with singers, dancers, dreamers, and binge eaters creating a montage of imagined memories and responses to Russia’s influential playwright.
Bienvenida, Spanish mezzo-soprano Doña Anna Maria Ruimonte, taking us on a musical journey through the Spanish Baroque with puppets in period costumes and paintings from 17th century Spain in The Cart of Love/El Carro del Amor.
Muchas gracias, Doña Anna Maria Ruimonte, and welcome American Jazz bassist Alan Lewine, for taking us on a musical marathon through eight centuries of music in 75 minutes—from ancient Sephardic and medieval songs through the Baroque, all the way to opera, lieder, and boleros—blending the Spanish classical voice with the American jazz sensibility and heating up the Philadelphia Art Alliance with flamenco fire.
Welcome, Ant Hampton and theater-goers to the Philadelphia Fringe Fest, many of whom are going to become The Extra Peoplein every show, walking through the deserted large Merriam Theater, watching a performance by another group of spectators, only to become unrehearsed ‘guest’ performers themselves for the next group—all via instructions received through earphones. (Alert: only 15 people can get tickets for each of the ten shows. Therefore, book your tickets ASAP.)
Hampton’s work and that of his collaborators (sound design and composition by Sam Britton, technical design by Hugh Roche-Kelly, and other artistic collaborators) has been so successful that it now exists in over 48 different language versions.
Welcome to the Shadow Company of Yes! And . . . Collaborative Arts, a performing arts company made up of talented and dedicated high school students from the Philadelphia area, who are using masks from around the globe in The Fall—a modern allegory that weaves together human history and contemporary events—showing how one moment of temptation can change the world.
VENEZUELA, the NETHERLANDS, MOZAMBIQUE, SLOVENIA, SLOVAKIA, SOUTH KOREA
Bienvenidos, David Zambrano; Welkom, Mat Voorter en Ellen Knops; Bem-vindo, Edivaldo Ernesto e Horacio Macuacua; Dobrodošli, Nina Fajdiga; Vitajte, Milan Herich a Peter Jasko; and 환영, Young Cool Park.
Soul Project spans four continents with choreographed and improvised dances from the Americas (with soul music by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, et al.), dances from Africa, Europe, and Asia. All we need to span the globe completely would be a theatre artist from Australia—perhaps at the Philadelphia Fringe Fest 2016.
A hearty WELCOME to all playwrights, artists, dancers, directors, writers, performers and, above all, the many theatergoers supporting cutting edge theater in Philadelphia at the 2015 Fringe Festival. The 2015 Philadelphia Fringe Festival runs September 3-19, 2015, at locations around the city. Tickets and info at fringearts.com.