This year’s Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe is underway will take over venues in the city through September 22. You can browse the full festival guide online, but with more than 200 events to choose from it’s easy to get overwhelmed. As usual there are lots of performances that promise to bring audiences into interesting places, feature the city as stage, or present ideas about city life. Here are six picks that appeal to the urbanist in me, and as an added bonus several are free:
September 7-22, 7pm daily. Mystery houses A,B,C, and D. Who lives in Philadelphia? Find out by going out for a surprise performance and potluck at a stranger’s house. This Town is a Mystery brings 10 audience members per show into four different homes, chosen from more than 40 applicants, where the household will perform pieces about their neighborhood and life experiences. The goal: meet neighbors you might never have encountered otherwise. Each performance is followed by a potluck meal, where the audience and household blend, so audience members shouldn’t show up empty-handed. $35 tickets available online.
Saturday September 8, 4pm and 8pm. Sunday September 9, 4pm. Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For a half hour 200 Philadelphians of all different ages and abilities will perform a mass dance – contemporary meets line dance – on the Art Museum’s steps. Choreographer Sylvain Émard created the piece for a festival in Montreal, but in each city performers bring out personality of their town. Sounds like something to behold. Free! Get tickets online.
Saturday, September 8, 6:30-8:30pm. (Rain date: September 15) Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue. The Divine Hand Ensemble, a theramin meets an eight-piece string ensemble, will play a rare program of funerary music performed amid the graves of Laurel Hill at sunset. BYO blankets or beach chairs. Refreshments will be served. $25, tickets available online.
Tuesday, September 11, 7-9pm. Broad Street ministry, 315 South Broad Street. Artist and activist Ashley Hunt pieces together documentary sights and sounds with his own memories about experiences and ruin left after Hurricane Katrina in a live performance that “reopens complex questions of race, visibility, and speech, which still beg for answers.” Free! Get tickets online.
September 12-15, 18-20, and 22-23, times vary. The Franklin Inn Club Library, 205 South Camac Street. The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective presents August Strindberg’s Creditors, a tragicomic one-act play about a deadly love triangle, in the intimate confines of the Library at the Franklin Inn Club. That means this show is also a great excuse to get inside one of the private clubs nestled on Camac Street. $20, Get tickets online.
September 20-October 14, 8-11pm. Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Open Air is a participatory, light sculpture created in real time as the movement of 24 robotic searchlights illuminate the skyline interpreting the tones of our voices (via mobile app). What would you say that you’d like translated into light Free!