2017 Fringe Festival Picks


So many great shows, so little time

By Grid Staff

If Climate Change and Politics Haven’t Already Filled You with Existential Dread...

A Period of Animate Existence

Sept. 22–24

The sixth extinction is upon us, and as we watch the lights of other species go out around us, we can only wonder whether our own will dim and blink out forever. Pig Iron Theatre Co. wants to tap into that feeling of unease—and dread—with its large-scale multimedia piece “A Period of Animate Existence.” Three generations of aged-based choirs, a chamber orchestra and actors will take over the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts stage to proffer the uncomfortable question: Are we next?


Sept. 13–16

Part generational tale of beginnings and endings, lives and deaths, and part “homespun engineering” feat, Geoff Sobelle’s “HOME” invites the audience to participate in the building of a house onstage at the Prince Theater while pondering issues of immigration, gentrification, place and space—and what makes a house a home as generations pass through.

Americana Psychobabble

Sept. 16–23

So, we’re just going to quote from the memorable description here: “A delirious anti-narrative of American emptiness, violence and nonsense—part exorcism and part enema... ‘Like Kellyanne Conway woke up from a coma after overdosing on sleeping pills and reading too much Gertrude Stein.’” Hello, zeitgeist! Meet your fellow inmates at the Berks Warehouse for this one. 

If You Only Go to Events with Food...

The Meatball Chronicles

Sept. 10–12

Calling South Philly: Spaghetti and meatballs is a comfort food for many, and Debrianna Mansini (“Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”) is centering her one-woman performance, “The Meatball Chronicles,” around its better half as she explores the immigrant experience of her Italian-American family. If you want to taste a dish inspired by the performance, you can head to Casta Diva (227 S. 20th) before or after the show at the Adrienne Theater to try out the (local and grass-fed—we checked!) fare created by chef Stephen Vassalluzzo. 

If You Can Only Commit to Happy Hour...

Camper Fringe

La Peg, the bar in the FringeArts building at 140 N. Columbus Blvd., has one of the best happy hours in the city. Get ready for $3 wine and beer and $5 appetizers (try the cheese fries with short ribs) with big portions that might just replace dinner. Outside, that cute 1962 Nomad silver camper, nominally the box office, will also be converted into a one-on-one performance space where you can dip in during drinks and then tell your friends that, yes, you went to a Fringe show.  
If You Want to Bring the Kids...

A Billion Nights on Earth

Sept. 14–17

Starring a real-life father and son, writer Thaddeus Phillips says “A Billion Nights on Earth” was inspired by his own experience with fatherhood. “When you become a parent,” he says, “you are reminded more than ever as you explain to your child about the stars and planets, about the fantastic and sheer shock of how amazing and unexplainable it all is.” Set designer and collaborator Steven Dufala (of Philadelphia’s Dufala Brothers) will bring the piece to life at its world premiere at the FringeArts building. Audience members 3 to 99 are encouraged to attend. 

If Having Kids Means You Can’t Make It Out of the House...

Digital Fringe

Digital-only Fringe is here. About 20 shows are available online as websites, apps, podcasts and more. So, really, there’s no excuse. Check them out and get details on any of these Philly Fringe shows online: fringearts.com