Gentle readers, Aisle Say issues a warning to all those faint of heart, who feast on lobster dinners and, most expressly, who are life members of PETA. Quickly and resolutely I say, please turn the page from this otherwise trenchant. Provocative and informative column.
The LiveArts-Fringe Festival inhabits Philadelphia and its environs from September 3 – 18. Audience members should be prepared for some of the East Coast's edgiest and creative dance, theatre and multi-media presentations.
I asked co-founder and Artistic Director Nick Stuccio to recollect one of the more outrageous pieces of art from the past 15 years. It seems one Roderico Garcia, a Spaniard, created an interesting take on the world's food chain. In front of a nightly audience, he would bring out a humongous lobster. Garcia would then go into a long dissertation about the crustacean in an attempt to humanize he/she/it to the audience. He even went so far as to put the microphone up to his/her/its armored heart to hear the beat. With that he would pirouette and an assistant would appear from back stage wheeling in a boiling tank of water. Garcia would plunk said crustacean into the steaming bubbles. He would simmer him/her for a time, yank him out and then cut him up. A few minutes Garcia would sit down for din din in front of the stunned audience.
That is what you call Performance Art with an exclamation! (The organizing body was in fact sued by PETA but they held their ground).
LiveArts-Fringe is two different festivals running concurrently over sixteen days. Livearts is a collection of the world’s best contemporary performing artists that are curated and selected by Stuccio. He literally travels the world throughout the year to see groups up close. The mission of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival is to commission,
develop, and present a wide range of the latest cutting-edge, high-quality performance. Many countries, most notably The Netherlands, the UK and Spain, support their artists with plane fare.
The Philly Fringe - 180 degrees away - is an unfiltered festival where new and established artists present their work free of a selection process. For some, participating in the Festival is a once-a-year or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a show; for the many professional companies participating, it can be an opportunity to work through new concepts and ideas and join the fray.
The statistics for this year are impressive. In the LiveArts category there are thirty-nine different artists comprising thirteen in dance, nine in theatre and seventeen in Multi-media. There are fourteen World Premieres and six US Premieres. In Philly Fringe there are a minimum of 199 performances scheduled.
Organizers expect 40,000 guests. LiveArts averages a $25.00 ticket; Fringe $10.00. Splitting the difference, that's $680,000 over two weeks in Philadelphia, not including restaurants, overnight stays and side trips.
Three artists from Delaware are part of the Fringe. Andree Jones of Wilmington wrote Verbalized Ink, a poetic journey of five people who reveal their truth about sadness, joy, pain, fear, and struggle as they experience life.
Two plays by British playwright Sarah Kane will be playing in rotating repertory by Newark's Parallax Players. Kane's works, “Phaedra's Love” and “Psychosis” explore the theater of extremes.
Newark playwright Joseph P. Blake has written “A Separate Sun”, a story of a woman's struggle to overcome abuse, drugs, and depression through music and song. It stars Barrymore Award winner Joilet Harris. Music is by Emmy Award winner Bill Jolly.
To understate, this entire festival is out of the box thinking. Bring your lobster bibs for this very fulfilling banquet. LiveArts-Fringe.org 215.413.1318