Live, in U. City

Experimental dance, a stage set reminiscent of a World Trade Center stairwell and an electronic/classical music fusion are just some of the highlights to hit University City stages during this year’s Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe, which began Sept. 1 and runs through Sept. 16.

In essence, it’s two festivals in one. The Live Arts shows are juried dance and theater performances by cutting-edge local, national and international artists. The Fringe is open to all, and features more than 200 performing artists from across the country. Ticket prices range from free to $20 and some shows are family friendly.

University City this year boasts four Live Arts shows and 20 Fringe shows, says Andrew Zitcer, cultural asset manager in Facilities and Real Estate Services.

First up is the Live Arts show “House,” by performer Kate Watson-Wallace—one of two Live Arts works that takes place in a private home. Zitcer explains that Facilities deliberately left the student row home at 3922 Sansom St. unrented this semester in order to make it available to the Festival. Watson’s elegiac show features intricate choreography, dancing, video installations and soundscapes in every room of the house. Remaining performances run Sept. 7 through 10.

Also in the dance category is the experimental “Lie to Me,” performed by Miro Dance Company and inspired by classical ballet, French film and the writings of Franz Kafka. This show runs at The Cinema Sept. 7 through 9 and Sept. 14 through 16.

Another show in residence at the refurbished Cinema (formerly the Cinemagic theater at 3925 Walnut St.) is “Love Unpunished,” a physical theater show by the Pig Iron Theatre Company. “It transforms the space into yet another incarnation,” says Zitcer. “This is the last performance we’ll have in there.”

Pig Iron’s production should be a memorable one. “They basically constructed in The Cinema a staircase that’s two stories,” made out of concrete and steel, says Zitcer. “The entire show takes place on a staircase in a building during an attack not unlike 9-11.” Shows run Sept. 10 and 11, and Sept. 14 through 17. A discussion follows the Sept. 11 performance.

For the second year in a row, The Rotunda will open up its sanctuary to a major show. This year’s performance harkens back to one from the very first Live Arts and Fringe Fest. Renowned New York-based DJ Spooky joins with local house and electronica musician King Britt, with help from artist and composer Bora Yoon and Tim Motzer, to create “Mind Over Matters” on Sept. 16—a retooling of their show from the first year of the Festival.

The musicians will spin, play alongside classical musicians and present live electronic beats from samplers and a laptop. “It’s really different for the festival in one way,” says Zitcer. “It’s also a return to the beginning.”
Fringe shows run at local venues International House (3701 Chestnut St.), Community Education Center Meeting House Theatre (3500 Lancaster Ave.), Philadelphia Cathedral (3723 Chestnut St.), Jumping Bean Acoustic Bar & Stage (40th and Spruce sts.) and The Rotunda, which features two plays by Philadelphia writer Robert Zaller. The Theater Cooperative performs “Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?” an exploration of the famous unsolved disappearance of the Teamsters’ leader, and “The Shrink,” about a patient who turns the tables on his megalomaniac psychiatrist. The double bill runs Sept. 8 and 9 and Sept. 15 and 16 in Old City.

For ticket information and a full list of Live Arts and Fringe shows around the city, go to www.livearts-fringe.org.

Originally published on September 7, 2006.

Originally published on September 7, 2006