Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe


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As the artist sits on his stool surrounded by his own paintings, his hand hurts from the hours spent fervently searching to find the perfect shade of blue. Across the street, the dancer moves around in her studio, enclosed by mirrors, repeating her twists and turns until they are seemingly perfect. The speakers in the corners play upbeat music that a musician or singer produced after spending long hours in the recording studio.


The endless hours of work spent by the “starving artists” can finally pay off during the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, taking place September 4-19, 2009. The festival aims to showcase talented Philly-based performers. However, artists from around the world are also invited to the festival, adding some international flavor to the streets of Philadelphia.

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The festival’s website outlines its’ goal to “create a cityscape filled with theater, dance, music, and everything in between for audiences to enjoy. Encourage artists to give expression to and develop their talents and artistic visions in total artistic freedom without any curatorial barriers in bringing that work to an audience. Help artists become successful independent producers. Ensure the growth and continued health of the local and regional performing arts community.”

As 2009 marks the festival’s 13th year, Howard Shapiro of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the festival “has dramatically changed the region’s artistic ecosystem, giving performers (and set, costume, and light and sound designers) a visible platform.”

However, aside from providing opportunities for artists to showcase their talents, the festival provides great entertainment for the audience.

It is not difficult to imagine the creativity that will be present at the festival, with shows such as “Urban Scuba,” which the website describes as “the newest creation from choreographer Brian Sanders [which] uses wild illusions created with movement and fantastical costumes over water. Humor, extreme physicality, and stunning imagination will be at the forefront of this world premiere.”

On the other hand, if you are more of the comedy-type, the “24 Hour Improv. Marathon” in which eight improvisers work together for 24 hours to entertain the audience, may intrigue you. There is something for everyone among the medley of artistic performances.

Last September, the weeklong festival hosted over 170 shows—a number that the organization hosting the festival hopes to achieve again this year.

Each show typically costs about $15 per student, while some are free and others are more expensive. For a complete list of events, the festival’s website provides a daily schedule, as well as detailed descriptions of the shows and other important information about the week.

Just across the bridge, the Philly Fringe and Live Arts Festival can provide a brief escape from the start of the school year. The next VanGough may be resting against the façade of a building next to his artwork, or a dancer may be leaping across the cracks in the sidewalk with music thumping in the background. Who knows, it could even be you.