With a new home nearly finished and a new name: FringeArts is back for its 17th annual festival starting this week. Out of the 150+ shows this year, here are 10 picks for some "Fringe Presents and Neighborhood Fringe shows that promise to take you to interesting spaces throughout the city - from a South Philly rowhouse synagogue to Laurel Hill Cemetery, from the Free Library to Smith Memorial Playground - for provocative performances that offer opportunities to see Philly anew. The festival officially takes off Thursday, September 5 and runs through Sunday, September 22.
Thursday-Sunday, September 5-8 and September 12-15, 8pm and/or 10pm. (Times vary) Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue. Swim Pony Performing Arts heads to the echoing confines of Eastern State Penitentiary for a reprise/reinterpretation of the 2006 Fringe show, The Ballad of Joe Hill, featuring the words of union bard Joe Hill, and boisterous songs telling the story of Hill’s trial and execution. Tickets are $20-$29.
Friday, September 6, 2pm, Saturday, September 7, 2pm and 7pm, Friday, September 13, 7pm, Saturday, September 14, 8pm. Taller Puertorriqueño, 2557 North 5th Street. Power Street presents its first production, MinorityLand, exploring issues of place-based and ethnic identity in a tale of displacement and the fragility of community. Tickets are $10.
Saturdays and Sundays, September 7-22, 10am, 11:30am, 1pm. Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, 3500 Reservoir Drive East Fairmount Park. Go on an interactive, imaginative, and unexpected adventure with Dragon’s Eye Theatre through Smith Playhouse to help solve a mystery. Appropriate for kids aged 4-104. Tickets are $10.
Saturdays, September 7, 14, and 21, 10:30am-4:15pm. Sundays September 8, 15, and 22, 1:30-4:15pm. Monday-Thursday, September 9-12 and 16-19, 5:30pm-8:15pm. Free Library of Philadelphia, Pepper Hall, 1901 Vine Street. Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells have audience members tune in as performers and spectators at their “automatic” piece in the Free Library. Two audience members will sit side-by-side for 45-minute stretches, listening to a recording on headphones that gives cues as they explore the shared space of “silent reading.” Tickets are $15.
Saturday, September 7, 6-7:30pm and Sunday, September 8, 2-3:30. Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue Manayunk Roxborough Arts Center bring the voices of Laurel Hill’s permanent residents back to life through an interpretation of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology (1915). BYO picnic, seating/blanket. Tickets are $15-$20.
Sunday, September 8 – Tuesday, September 17. No shows Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Sunday shows at 2pm, others at 8pm. Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, 2015 South 4th Street. Finale Wednesday, September 18, 6:30pm. Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue. Down in the little shul’s coal cellar join Jeffrey Stanley for performances of his “metatheatrical monologue” that “resurrects and converses with the cavdaverous,” from Laurel Hill to ancient Greece. The final performance will be held at Laurel Hill itself. Tickets are $10.
Wednesday, September 11 and Thursday, September 12, 7pm. Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey Place. Liz Magic Laser recruits audience members to perform in live interviews and tableaux in a staged, filmed, and simulcast TV news production interpreting local current events, such as school closures. Tickets are $20- $29.
Thursday, September 12-Saturday, September 21. No performances Monday or Tuesday. (Times vary.) Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street. Christ Church Neighborhood House will be filled with boxes of stuff and theater artist Geoff Sobell will explore these forgotten objects and our relationships to “stuff” in a search for meaning amid these stray everyday things. Tickets are $20-$25.
Saturdays, September 14 and September 21, and Sunday, September 15, 2pm, 4pm. Shiloh Baptist Church, 2040 Christian Street. Leah Stein Dance Company created a new site-specific work drawing inspiration from the architectural elements of historic Shiloh Baptist Church. Tickets are $15-$20.
Saturday, September 14, 5-11pm. 12th and Noble streets. Callowhill Neighborhood Association and Friends of the Rail Park are throwing a block party benefit for Phase I of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park complete with food, performances, video projections, and a dance party. Tickets are $10-$30.
Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.