During the upcoming Philly Fringe and Live Arts Festival, there will be a wide array of performances at venues throughout the city for anyone looking to be entertained by something unique as well as those looking to support local artists.
But, more than that, the festival also opens up spaces across the landscape, allowing performers to bring their vision to new locales while allowing visitors to trek off the beaten path for the shows they hope to see while taking in some of the flair of the local community.
Throughout the river wards, during the 15th annual Philadelphia Fringe and Live Arts Festival, to be held from from Sept. 2 through 17, there will be a variety of events, including a wealth of shows at Fishtown’s famed Walking Fish Theater.
But there will also be a few shows that you might miss unless you know where to look.
One of these shows is A Safe Distance From Oblivion, a new play from local artist Joseph Rosato of Nimrods Theatre. A Fishtown resident who was born and raised in South Philly, Rosato moved back to Philadelphia after spending time in Chicago, Ill., and Brooklyn, N.Y.
Upon returning to the city earlier this year, the playwright began putting together ideas for a performance to hold during the upcoming Philadelphia Fringe and Live Arts Festival and he noticed the new community space of Emerald Street Park at 2317 Emerald St.
Immediately, he reached out to the East Kensington Neighbors Association to discuss the idea.
“I always try to get involved with local groups,” said Rosato. “Also, wild locations can help sell tickets, so I thought, ‘why not?’ ”
After talking with the local group, Rosato said he is ready to bring his play to the park, and it will be a perfect fit, he said. The play is set as a discussion at a diner, so, an outdoor café scene would work perfectly.
“We aren’t going to camouflage it as a diner or anything like that,” he said.
The play, a comedy, concerns a meeting between a tremendously wealthy and successful hedge fund manager and a hard-working day laborer.
Did we mention that the characters are a pig and a donkey, respectively?
“We aren’t going for realism, we are going for crazy,” said a laughing Rosato as he described the play.
In what started as a serious discussion of current events and the state of the world as seen through the eyes of his characters, Rosato said the play soon changed from a drama to a comedy as he worked with a friend to collaborate on the script.
“For the first three months, this was going to be a serious piece,” he recalled. “It’s a serious thing that collapsed into comedy.”
As the play took shape, he started to see that the discussion between the two characters with deeply differing values — one sees the world as “honest work for honest pay,” while the other lives by the motto “honest risk for honest reward,” said Rosato — offered many opportunities for comedy.
“We thought of the insanity on both sides of the coin,” said Rosato.
For the show, the park (a reclaimed vacant lot) will be transformed to resemble an outdoor eatery while two actors, in donkey and pig masks, created by Rosato himself, perform.
Mask making, Rosato said, became something of a hobby of his after he had to learn the skill in order to make needed props for a play he produced in the past, based on the works of Franz Kafka.
“Now that I know how to do it, I tend to like it,” he said.
According to Rosato, anyone looking forward to attending the play should look forward to a play “that’s very now,” which he believes will work well because, in his experience, Philadelphia audiences are very astute to current events.
“In my eyes, Philadelphia is a very contemporary place,” said Rosato.
But Rosato’s play will not be the only play at a unique locale.
In the sub-basement of 444 Lofts at 444 N. 4th St., artist Brian Sanders’ performance company, JUNK, will perform Dancing Dead. According to organizers of the upcoming Fringe and Live Arts Festival, visitors to this show can expect “a tractor, bodies, grass, dirt, digging, stone, grit, ash, John Denver, ten dead, darkness, candlelight, dancing …”
The Fire, a bar and performance space at 412 Girard Ave., will also host performances by local singer-songwriter Heather Shayne Blakeslee and the band Sweetbriar Rose, who will present a spoken work performance of The Articulate Landscape.
This is a reading of “seductive stories woven with earthy illustrations and roots-noir music from Sweetbriar Rose.”
This year, no matter where you are in the river wards, there will be a performance close to you.
For more info or a full list of shows, visit www.livearts-fringe.org.
Reporter Hayden Mitman can be reached at 215–354–3124 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fringe near you:
A Safe Distance From Oblivion
Emerald Street Park, 2317 Emerald St.
Sept. 2, 3, 8, 9, 15 and 17 at 8 p.m.
Brian Sander’s JUNK
$25, 50 minutes.
Sub-Basement at 444 Lofts
444 N 4th St.
Sept. 2–17, times vary.
Venus Dance Company
$15, 55 minutes
Piazza at Schmidts, 1050 North Hancock St., Suite 79
Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.
Song of the Sacred Whore
Monica Day/The Sensual Life
$15, 75 minutes.
Media Bureau, 725 North 4th St.
Sept. 8–10 at 8 p.m.
Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
$15 / 50 minutes
Media Bureau, 725 N. 4th St.
Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sept. 5 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 and 7 at 7 p.m.
$15 / 70 minutes
Media Bureau, 725 N. 4th St.
Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sept. 6 at 8 p.m.
Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.
The Articulate Landscape
Heather Shayne Blakeslee & Sweetbriar Rose
$12, 90 minutes
412 W. Girard Ave.
Sept. 3 at 3 p.m.
Sept. 10 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.