A guide to Fringe Fest in Northwest Philly [Part 2 of 2]

 The playwrights (left to right): Douglas Williams, Bruce Walsh and Chris Davis. (Courtesy of FringeArts)

The playwrights (left to right): Douglas Williams, Bruce Walsh and Chris Davis. (Courtesy of FringeArts)

The Neighborhood Fringe Festival continues this week and next with another set of shows and producers based out of Northwest Philly. Locals can get a taste of a highly non-traditional Cinderella, a new twist on Capote, and the launch of Manayunk-based COSACOSA Art at Large’s North Philly Unity Garden.

‘A community field day’

Seven years ago, a community neighborhood film project led to a brainstorm about a vacant lot in Nicetown Tioga, spearheaded by COSACOSA. The Healing Garden was born, a site for gardens, art-making, and monthly community events. In 2012, COSACOSA landed a $75,000 matching grant from the Knight Arts Challenge to add a sound installation as well as expand the project to two more sites: a “Unity Garden” at Old York Road and West Venango Street, and next spring, a larger “Hope Garden” at 20th and Tioga Streets.

Speaking with NewsWorks by phone as she prepared the latest garden space for its Fringe Festival opening on Sept. 21, an event dubbed “Home/Away from Home,” COSACOSA director Kimberly Niemela said the three gardens got their name from a community-authored poem: “Healing, hope and unity grow with our community.”

With a solar-powered, motion-activated sound installation already in place at the Healing Garden, playing stories and memories recorded in community members’ own voices, the Unity Garden’s Fringe Festival opening will offer locals their first chance to participate in a similar project for that site.

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Drummer and storyteller Ron Carter will “get the storytelling juices going” with interactive multicultural tales, “and then we’re going to start our collection here in the neighborhood for those [sound] installations,” Niemela said.

Participants can perform their own true-life and historical anecdotes for the audience, or share in one-on-one recording sessions with COSACOSA staffers.

Niemela called the event “a community field day” open to families across the city, with field activities, art-making, food and live entertainment.

“We hope that other Fringe attendees will come on up and check out what we’re doing, and enjoy the day,” Niemela said.

COSACOSA Art at Large, Inc.’s Home/Away from Home is coming to the North Philly Unity Garden at Old York Road and West Venango Street on Sept. 21 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entry is free.

A homey feel

This weekend, the Festival comes to Manayunk, but you won’t know the exact location until you buy a ticket. That’s because the show is happening inside Philadelphia playwright Douglas Williams’s apartment.

“Holly’s Dead Soldiers (A Breakfast Play)” is the brainchild of Williams and fellow playwrights Bruce Walsh and Chris Davis. This show is touted as “a one-of-a-kind interpretation of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

The playwrights realized they had always wanted to cook for the audience, and decided to adapt an original in-home performance inspired by a great American novel with “breakfast” in the title. This will be performed while the writers make breakfast for the audience.

Last weekend, the show premiered at Graham’s Northern Liberties home; this weekend it’s coming to Manayunk for two performances on Saturday. Also appearing in the show are Andrew Carroll as the narrator, and Kristen Bailey, co-founder of the Applied Mechanics theater troupe, will play Holly Golightly.

Holly’s Dead Soldiers (A Breakfast Play) is coming to Doug’s house in Manayunk on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $17.

A new take on a classic

Finishing out the Fringe Festival in the Northwest this year will be the Philadelphia Performance Project’s world premiere musical comedy, “If the Slipper Fits.” Instead of the traditional glass-slippered damsel, the Project presents “a hot-blooded heist” in the guise of a fairy tale, complete with the Fairy Godmother’s ex-husband, a Godfather “a la the Mob.” Protesters fed up with the feudal system occupy the palace grounds and love triangles abound while Cinderella attends the ball, “but not for the reasons you might think.”

The Philadelphia Performance Project’s “If the Slipper Fits” is coming to St. Pauls’ Episcopal Church Hall at 22 East Chestnut Hill Avenue on Sept. 19-21 at 7 p.m. (not 7:30 p.m., as listed in the Festival catalog). Tickets are $20.

For more information and tickets to any Festival performance, visit the FringeArts website.

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