Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This weekend kicks off the Live Arts/Philly Fringe Festival, a theater and dance extravaganza that draws performers and enthusiasts from all over the world.
The mainstage event, the Live Arts Festival, features established theater and dance performers.
“All the theater is cutting-edge,” said Elizabeth Stevens, assistant professor and theater department acting chair. “It’s not commercial; it’s art theater and dance.”
The Fringe is more open to growing artists. It doesn’t require an application and is not curated.
“It’s a great place for recent grads,” Stevens said. She described the energy as inventive, creative and playful, and “more likely to be crazy extreme than stuffy.”
Stevens also stressed the importance of getting off-campus into Philadelphia, especially for an event like the Fringe Festival. “The whole city is a little infused with it,” she said.
The Philly Fringe Festival is one of about three festivals of its kind in the United States and attracts more international attention than any other American festivals, and is “one of the only opportunities to see international [work],” Stevens said. “Our festival’s kind of famous. […] People don’t say ‘Philly’s better than New York’ about many things, but they do say it about the Festival.”
This internationally-renowned showcase will also feature some performances closer to home. This isn’t the first year Swarthmore alumni have been involved with the festival; but this year’s festival highlights many former Swatties, including in the mainstage Live Arts productions.
Lori Barkin ’12 will be performing her one-woman show “The Funeral of Enerio López” at the Fringe. Barkin performed the piece this spring for her senior Solo Performance Thesis, “House of Widows.”
Barkin has worked with Assistant Professor of Design Laila Swanson since then to continue crafting and refining the piece. The performances are held at 1325 Randolph St. in the Maas Building. The show runs on September 14th, 15th, and 22nd at 10 p.m. and September 20th at 8 p.m.
Swarthmore involvement in Live Arts performances includes a varied spread of professors, alumni and other affiliates. Sarah Sanford ’99 stars in a devised piece called “Bang,” a comedy about female sexuality. This clownish, farcical, brightly-colored show will make you laugh and make your jaw drop.
Assistant Professor of Design Matt Saunders and Swarthmore’s costume designer Tara Webb ’94 contributed to the show “27,” designing set and costumes respectively. This group-devised piece is the debut of a new company of performers from New Paradise Laboratories, a widely-known theatrical ensemble.
The festival also features Swarthmore alum Jumatatu Poe’s choreographed performance, “Private Places,” as well as Pig Iron Theatre Company’s pieces “Zero Cost House” and “Minister of Mascots.” Pig Iron is run by three Swarthmore alums and has traditionally worked closely with the college.
Other notable performances include “This Town is a Mystery,” a theater/dance hybrid that involves amateur citizen dancers. Audience members go to one of four Philadelphia homes to watch real families perform.
“Le Grand Continental” is a Quebecois international, large-scale dancing event. Choreographer Sylvain Émard gathers over 200 local participants for this free event. This Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m., they will cover the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
For more information about the festival or any of the performances, go to http://www.livearts-fringe.org/.