From September 7-24, Philadelphia hosts the 2017 Philly Fringe Festival, a 17-day, genre-bending arts extravaganza. This hotly-anticipated annual event features 130+ performances like adult-only puppetry, fetishy dances, and poetry married with 80s-era answering machines, but there’s stuff for the kids, too.
Highlights of Philly Fringe
Since 130+ performances divided by 17 days equals you can’t get to them all, you’ll have to pick and choose from all the worthy acts. Decision-making can get dizzying, so here’s a smattering of highlights from various genres – even though it’s tough to pick highlights from Philly Fringe’s embarrassment-of-riches schedule of events.
Labor of Love: Waitstaff Sketch Comedy, Philadelphia’s premier sketch comedy troupe, returns for its 16th Fringe Fest performing original sketches that run from “silly to sophisticated” and “rude to ridiculous.” It’s a safe bet the popular Real Housewives of South Philly will show up at some of the performances. (L’Etage Cabaret; 13 performances from Sept. 8-23)
Puppet-delphia Fringe Slam: An adults-only, late-night variety puppet show where both the puppets and their humans get “risky and frisky.” Musical acts and special guest stars join puppeteers from Philly, NYC, and beyond to share the stage with puppets for a wide-range of acts. (The Drake-Proscenium Theater; Sept. 23)
KINK HAÜS: Philadelphia-based choreographer and performance artist, Gunnar Montana, transports the audience to a brutal underground nightclub where “no f*cks are given, and fierceness is always welcome.” Anything goes at this performance of fantasy, fetish, and carnal desire. (The Latvian Society; 19 performances from Sept. 5-24)
Way of Words: Interactive poetry and visual arts collide with the muse of memory and the “urban wilderness” of Germantown where everyone is invited to write and read poetry, paint, collage, or just watch others experimenting with their creativity. A musical performance shows up somewhere in there, too. This is one of the many free events during Philly Fringe Fest. (Herman St. Studios; September 22-23)
Camper Fringe: Inside the Haas Biergarten at FringeArts is a 1962 Nomad camper where some definitely fringe-y action happens before and after various performances. On any given night there are tarot card readings, an interactive experience called Voicemail Poems that travels way, way back to the days of analog voice mail machines, or an oh-so-secret black market operation that sells small, intimate performances. (FringeArts; various days during Fringe Fest)
Sure, there’s a lot at Fringe that goes above the heads of tots, but they don’t have to be left completely out of the fun. Get the younguns excited about the arts with several Fringe performances like the Liberty City Radio Theatre recreating the “golden era of the theater of the mind.” Actors will play multiple roles and create an old-time radio show written for modern audiences. The two performances during Fringe will vary but will include a “dash of superheroes, a pinch of noir and an ample serving of humor.” (Headhouse Cafe; Sept. 8 and 22 at 8pm)
If you’re going
- With so many performances, the Festival Guide is your best friend. It’s online, but guide books are also distributed throughout the city.
- Students, and those 25 and under, can get $15 Presented Fringe Festival tickets and $5 off Neighborhood Fringe Festival tickets, if the original price is $15 or more.
- Get tickets early. About 40,000 fringe-y arts lovers attend the festival, and some events sell out quickly.
- Philadelphia’s St. Benjamin’s Brewing produced a special beer in honor of the fest, Fringe Benefits – a hoppy American ale brewed with heather. It’s available at Le Peg, at FringeArts, and St. Benjamin’s Tap Room, both excellent choices to grab a bite during Fringe Fest.