The 13th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, which will run from September 4 - 19, 2009, will feature fifteen cutting-edge works of dance, theater, and music including 12 World or U.S. Premieres. Acclaimed U.S. artists from Philadelphia and New York, along with internationally renowned artists from Poland, Austria, and Australia will present innovative and highly interdisciplinary performing arts events, offering a snapshot of trends at the forefront of the international performing arts scene.
The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival has garnered critical praise, nationAl Grants, and numerous awards. The Festival runs for 16 days in conjunction with the Philly Fringe, which features more than 200 self-produced artists in both traditional and unusual performance sites throughout the city. Together, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe draw over 40,000 people who come to be a part of "Festival time" in the city - to see innovative work, meet new people, and interact with over 2,000 artists performing in over 1,200 performances.
Tickets are on sale now for select shows within the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival at www.livearts-fringe.org. A full schedule as well as tickets for the Philly Fringe will be available in July.
The 2009 Live Arts Festival line-up features a survey of contemporary movement, experimental theater, and boundary-breaking performing arts from the U.S. and beyond. "We are extremely fortunate and excited to bring pioneering International Artists like Australia's Chunky Move to Philadelphia," says Producing Director Nick Stuccio. "In addition to contributions from visiting artists, this year's Live Arts Festival truly highlights the incredible art being made here in the City of Philadelphia. Over half of the Live Arts artists are Philadelphia-based companies, all of which are producing original new work for the Festival - a testament to the City's thriving performing arts scene and creative energy."
Philadelphia artists include Pig Iron Theatre Company, New Paradise Laboratories, kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies, Headlong Dance Theater, Merián Soto/Performance Practice, and SCRAP Performance Group among others. International Artists bringing a diverse range of world views to Philadelphia include Poland's Michal Zadara, Austria's Cie. Willi Dorner, and Australia's Chunky Move and Back to Back Theatre.
Poland's Michal Zadara will direct Operetta, the U.S. Premiere of his reworking of the famed play by Polish literary giant Witold Gombrowicz. "Every play demands reinvention," says Zadara. Music, fashion, dancing, chaos and a cast of 22 dominate this wild fable about the ideological battles that defined 20th-century Poland. For the Live Arts Festival staging, classically trained jazz pianist Leszek Mozdzer has composed an eclectic score that ranges from yearning ballads to punk rock.
The Festival welcomes two of Australia's leading contemporary performing arts companies to Philadelphia. The highly acclaimed Melbourne based Chunky Move will offer a cutting-edge fusion of technology and dance in the U.S. premiere of Mortal Engine, an intensely physical, sensual, and visually daring work that melds laser and video projections to the shape-shifting motions of live dancers. "My theme... is human duality, trying to come to terms with what seems to be irreconcilable aspects of our one self," says Chunky Move Artistic Director Gideon Obarzanek. "The video creation of semi-autonomous human shadows and images both entering and emanating from the moving body on stage, provide a unique visual metaphor for this theme."
Back to Back Theatre of Geelong, Australia, will examine how respect is withheld from "outsiders" in the Philadelphia premiere of small metal objects, performed amid the surging pedestrian traffic of a public space. Equipped with headphones, the audience is wired into an intensely personal drama. Back to Back's creations come from the minds and experiences of an ensemble of actors with disabilities, giving voice to social and political issues that speak to all people.
Several other Festival performances will take place in unique and unusual spaces throughout the city. In the World Premiere of STORE, Philadelphia choreographer Kate Watson-Wallace and her company anonymous bodies occupy an abandoned mega-store. Inspired by how and why we buy, STORE is the third work in Watson-Wallace's acclaimed American Spaces (Car, 2008; House, 2006) trilogy of site-based performance installations that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Local choreographer BrIan Sanders (AdShock, 2006), who builds custom sets and creates performances specifically for each performance space, will also premiere new work.
Philadelphia and Festival favorite Headlong Dance Theater (Explanatorium, 2007; Cell, 2006) will present the World Premiere of More, a daring new work where nothing is deemed impossible, from kissing dolls to dancers morphing into a flock of birds. "The Festival has made a huge impact on my artistry, both by supporting my/our work [...] over the past twelve years, and by bringing artists to Philly for me to see," says Amy Smith, co-Director of Headlong Dance Theater. "Seeing Miguel Gutierrez, Jérôme Bel and Rotozaza last year were highlights [and] I am very influenced by the work of Pig Iron, New Paradise Laboratories, and other works of dance theater and movement theater being made by my Philly peers."
Festival collaborations between international and Philadelphia artists continue to flourish. Viennese choreographer Willi Dorner, who worked with a group of local dancers for last year's traveling outdoor dance event bodies in urban spaces, will return with the U.S. Premiere of above under inbetween. The new work features human bodies as architecture, set in home environments, and will be performed by a roster of Austrian dancers with Philadelphia dance artist Megan Bridge.
The experimental Pig Iron Theatre Company (Sweet By and By, 2008; Isabella, 2007) will test the boundaries of dance, drama, clown, puppetry, and music in the World premiere of Welcome to Yuba City, a collaboration with composer Michael Friedman and master teacher of physical performance forms Giovanni Fusetti. The cast features James Sugg, who was recently honored with a 2009 OBIE Award for his performance in Pig Iron's Chekhov Lizardbrain, alongside Hinako Arao, Charlotte Ford, Sarah Sandford, Geoff Sobelle, Alex Torra, and Dito Van Reigersberg.