Friday, August 14, 2009

Labor Day Weekend in Philly

It's time for Catherine and I to make our (somewhat) annual trek down to Philadelphia for the Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe. This year, we've opted to attend the opening weekend so we can also enjoy a little of the First Friday gallery crawl. In the past, we've tended to go down for the second of the three weekends so that our trip coincides more with Catherine's birthday on the 9th but we thought we'd take advantage of the long holiday weekend for a change.

Philly is one of our favorite getaways: it's inexpensive to get there (just over $30 round-trip if you take NJ Transit to SEPTA), the Live Arts festival is extremely well-curated and well-organized, and there are several Philadelphia-based companies and artists whose work we especially enjoy. Finding an affordable place to stay is a challenge, especially since we won't have a car and have to stay somewhere in the Center City; fortunately, Club Quarters offered an exceptional room rate (cheaper even than the festival's package deals) and is conveniently located for us.

We always schedule a lot of shows... and I really mean a lot of shows: seven performances in a weekend was our record high in 2007. Being the coffee overachievers that we are, Catherine and I have tickets for nine—count 'em, 9—productions in just over 48 hours. It's entirely possible that we may have hit the limit of what can reasonably be done in a single weekend. Saturday night is the one that's giving me the most consternation: we left ourselves a mere 15 minutes to get between two productions: Google maps says we can walk it in 8 minutes... assuming the first one starts on time... and really is only 43 minutes long... and we don't need to use the bathroom between the two shows.

Still, Catherine and I are excited about our 2009 Live Arts/Philly Fringe festival:

Friday, 9/4
7pm The Gonzales Cantata
9pm Welcome to Yuba City (in photo)

The Gonzales Cantata is, for us, the bigger risk of these two: Pig Iron almost always hits a bull's eye these days (the only recent exception being their 2007 take on Measure for Measure—set in a morgue and performed almost entirely in the nude—which was, without question, the bravest production I've seen in years but not entirely successful). Two things persuaded us to take a chance on Melissa Dunphy's music piece: first, we've only been to The Rotunda (a former Christian Science sanctuary) once—for a Headlong Dance piece in '07—and I'm curious to find out how well it works for a primarily aural work; and second, a libretto based on Alberto Gonzales' testimony before Congress? If it's done right, that's gotta be slam-dunk funny!

Saturday, 9/5
2pm Urban Scuba
4pm TIDE
7pm daDAda
8pm FATEBOOK: Avoiding Catastrophe One Party at a Time (in photo)

New Paradise Laboratories is the only of these companies we've seen before; we've been fans since we saw their 2003 Rose Selavy Takes a Lover in Philadelphia. The two afternoon shows are both modern dance and just sounded interesting to us. As for Anthology Project's piece: c'mon! It's Dada... of course we're going!

Sunday, 9/6
3pm How Theater Failed America
7pm DIGITAL EFFECTS (in photo)

Catherine pressed to see Mike Daisey's monologue; while I'm interested in his work, he performs regularly in NYC so I was willing to give him a miss this time, but I'm glad we're going. We've both been wanting to see Kate Watson-Wallace's work for a few years, especially last year's Car (sadly, we didn't make it down to the festival last year). Steve Cuiffo is an actor/magician we've seen onstage frequently, most recently in a piece he's developing with Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford; the joke of the title is that there's no technology involved: it's a solo show of him doing card tricks at the Painted Bride, one of our favorite venues in the Old City.

View Philly Fringe 2009 in a larger map

Above is the map I plotted for the festival; on my screen, two of our destinations are too far west to appear on the map in the default view, so you may have to zoom out one click).

The really scary thing is that we seriously considered going to see a tenth piece at 9pm on Sunday but finally decided that catching an 11:30pm train that got us back into Manhattan at 2:50am Monday morning was probably not a very good idea. You gotta know your limits....

1 comment:

Mormolyke said...

I promise you won't be disappointed by the Gonzales Cantata! Our previews have been getting rave reviews.

See you at the show! (we linked this blog entry)