A guide to Fringe in NW Philly: Poe, ‘colored girls,’ Pandora’s Box

 Germantown's SHADOW Company of Yes! And... Collaborative Arts brings young performers to the Fringe. (Courtesy of Michael Brix)

Germantown's SHADOW Company of Yes! And... Collaborative Arts brings young performers to the Fringe. (Courtesy of Michael Brix)

For the second year in a row, Northwest Philly gets its own pages in the 2015 Fringe Festival catalog. From juggling to Edgar Allan Poe to a Steampunk opera to a performance about living with endometriosis, patrons in Germantown, Mt. Airy, Manayunk and Chestnut Hill won’t have far to go for a wide range of performances. The festival runs from Sept. 3-19.

 

Poe in the Wissahickon

Check out Dissever My Soul ($15) from Widener University’s Lone Brick Theatre Company. It’s the Lone Brick’s Fringe debut, and the company says the Wissahickon is the perfect backdrop for a show that takes a new look at this iconic literary figure who often walked here when he lived in Philadelphia.

This original play was inspired by Poe’s life and work, and “infused with a hint of dramatic conspiracy theory,” according to the company. Director Robert A. Reutter developed the play along with a team of Widener students.

The show is coming to Historic Rittenhouse Town, 208 Lincoln Drive, on Sept. 4-19. It runs for 1.5 hours, and is intimate and interactive: Only 15 tickets are available per performance, and theater-goers should be prepared to stand, walk both indoors and out, climb stairs, and “be left alone, in the dark, or in confined spaces for brief periods.” Performers will also offer food and drink during the show. Be warned: Latecomers won’t be admitted.

‘The Colored Girls Museum’

Another interactive experience aiming for little-known truths is The Colored Girls Museum ($15), a premiere from Vashti Dubois’ FortMom Productions and the “Colored Girls Collective.” The hour-long show is a “salon-style installation, exhibit and performance [that] re-imagines the museum as sanctuary, underground railroad and historical record,” according to the production company. The exact address of the venue, Dubois’ home on the corner of Newhall and Apsley Streets, is provided with ticket purchase, and the show is happening Sept. 11-13.

Visitors are invited “to tour, to touch, to wander, to sit a spell, to mourn, to imagine, to listen, and to dine” in a space modeled on a bed-and-breakfast full of curated artifacts and stories about the “experience and herstory of colored girls.”

A revamped Pandora’s Box

Germantown’s SHADOW Company of Yes! And… Collaborative Arts brings young performers to the Fringe. Pieces developed and performed by its high-school-aged members have been appearing in the festival for the last few years. This year, The Fall ($7) incorporates a new focus on handmade masks and movement theater to weave current events and diverse cultural stories into “a new take on the old tale of Pandora’s Box,” according to Yes! And….

“The Fall addresses how we, as humans, use our senses to create unfair evaluations of the world and people around us,” according to the company. It looks at humanity’s good and bad sides to explore life’s full potential. Audiences can see the show in two different venues: Arch Street United Methodist Church at 55 N. Broad St. on Sept. 11-12, and the group’s home space at 21 West Washington Lane on Sept. 18-19.

Exploring a life with endometriosis

Personal experience and modern medicine combine for poet Holly Bittner’s ENDOME ($20). Bittner was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 29, and her experience living with the condition inspired this “multimedia memoir.” One in 10 girls and women in the United States have endometriosis, a chronic illness in which tissue that normally lines the uterus appears in other parts of the body, causing severe pain, cysts and in many cases, infertility. It has no known cause or cure.

The show combines material inspired by medical records and surgery reports with immersive light and sound design, and the poet’s memories, songs and dreams. It’s directed by Catherine Pappas, known to audiences of Stagecrafters in Chestnut Hill.

ENDOME will be offered at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave., on Sept. 11-13. Five dollars from each ticket sale will be donated to the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

Other shows of interest

Also coming to Mt. Airy is Stilt: A Play In One Act ($15) from Mitchell Bloom and Megan Diehl at Allens Lane Park, 601 West Allens Lane, Sept. 11-13.

Manayunk Theatre Company’s The Dolls of New Albion is a “Steampunk opera” that explores a strange question: “Can you resurrect a person’s soul and place it in a machine so it can live on?” It’s coming to Venice Island Performing Arts Center, 1 Rector St. in Manayunk on Sept. 3-12.

Germantown juggler and former Cirque du Soleil performer Greg Kennedy’s Innovative Juggler promises a one-of-a-kind spectacle through his expertise both as an engineer and a circus artist. See the show at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, 5900 Greene St., on Sept. 4-13.

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