The 13th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, which opened September 4 and runs through September 19, 2009, will begin the Festival's second week of performances with the opening of four U.S. Premieres in both theater and dance.
Poland's Michel Zadara will present the U.S. Premiere of Operetta, 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 production opens Thursday, Sept. 10 to a sold-out crowd and runs from Sept. 10 - 13 at The Wilma Theater (265 South Broad Street).
Groundbreaking monologist Mike Daisey returns for his second act of this year's Festival with the World Premiere of The Last Cargo Cult, also opening on Thursday, Sept. 10, running through Sept. 13 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, home of Philadelphia Theatre Co. (480 South Broad Street). Daisey tells the true-life story of his time on a remote South Pacific island whose inhabitants worship America. There he lived with the cult, hunted feral pigs beneath the erupting volcano of Mount Yasur, and learned of the islanders' stories of belief, faith, and sympathetic magic. Part adventure story and part memoir, The Last Cargo Cult weaves these stories with a searing examination of the international financial crisis. From the belief in the infallibility of markets to the ultimate achievement in sympathetic magic - money - Daisey wrestles with what the collapse says about our deepest values. He uses each culture to illuminate the other to find - between the seemingly primitive and the achingly modern - a human answer.
The Live Arts Festival will also present two dance premiers during the second Festival week including the World Premiere of more., Headlong Dance Theater's daring new work (Sept. 10 - 14, Arts Bank at The University of the Arts, 601 South Broad Street). Two years in the making, Headlong uprooted their 16-year collaborative approach to create more., the company's most intense and gripping work to date. Headlong imagines a dance of our bodies after our bodies have gone away. "We are mere bodies and the whole world at once," says David Brick, co-artistic director of Headlong.
Friday, Sept. 11 will see the U.S. Premiere of above under inbetween (Sept. 11 - 12, ICE BOX Projects Space, 1400 North American Street), choreographed by Viennese choreographer Willi Dorner. Dorner worked with a group of local dancers for last year's traveling outdoor dance event bodies in urban spaces. 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.
Several artists and companies will continue their Live Arts Festival runs this week including New Paradise Laboratories with FATEBOOK, kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies with STORE, Welcome to Yuba City by Pig Iron Theatre Company, and Urban Scuba by BrIan Sanders/JUNK.
The Festival Plus program will also offer a new panel discussion. Held at the Arts Bank at The University of the Arts (601 South Street) on Saturday, September 12 at 1pm, Whit MacLaughlin, FATEBOOK director and artistic director of New Paradise Laboratories, will participate in the panel Social Media and the Arts: a conversation on art, social media, and participation. The digital network is the new default cultural metaphor: we understand ourselves and bits of information less as discrete bodies but rather as links in a web of relationships. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the mass of online participation on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter; the citizen journalism of independent media organizations; and the self-published blogs about every topic imaginable. This panel brings together performing arts practitioners and critics to address this phenomenon through the frame of contemporary art. Additional panelists include kanarinka, The Institute for Infinitely Small Things and moderator Jo-anne Green, co-director of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., cofounder of Networked Performance blog.