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August 29, 2019

Fringe Festival 2019: How to find the right shows for you, highlights, and more

The three-week festival features 1,274 performances of 179 shows at 102 venues across Philadelphia

Entertainment Festivals
Carroll - Cherry Street Pier Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Cherry Street Pier, 121 N. Columbus Blvd.

Philly's Fringe Festival will, as usual, be overwhelming in terms of its sheer magnitude. 

This year's festival — which kicks off on Thursday, September 5  features 1,274 performances of 179 shows at 102 venues over the course of three weeks. Whew.

There is so much good theatre to go see. This list is just the tip of the iceberg, but here are some very quick tips to find and see the right shows for you. 


- FringeArts has an app that you can use to schedule your festival experience. Browse through the shows by type, read artist bios, check out prices and see what you might like. 

- Diversify your choices. Don't put all cabaret on your list and don't put all 90-minute dramas on your list. There is so much to choose from — from single-person shows performed headphones to 70 minutes of exploratory dance in the dark. 

- Do some research about each artist or company to learn more about their mission. It'll make the experience that much richer.

0829_Fringearts AppScreenshot/FringeArts

The FringeArts 2019 Festival app allows users to schedule and learn about events during the three-week festival.


Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants

Mariana Arteaga
Begins on 5th Street between Shunk Street and Oregon Avenue, South Philadelphia

Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants is an ambulatory dance performance created by the audience and enacted by residents representing its diverse population.

Learn more here.

As part of the performances, the creators have made a Spotify playlist inspired by the performers and show.

Emergency Contact

Ann Kreitman
Good Karma Cafe at The Wilma Theatre

Jenny has been summoned and you agreed to help. Retrace her steps and listen to her final dispatch to discover how we break the cycle. Emergency Contact is an immersive, traveling experience for a solo audience member.

Learn more here.


- FringeArts has opened up the Fringe Festival Bookstore in partnership with Head House Books at Cherry Street Pier for patrons to browse book and publications by, and about, the artists participating in this year's festival. There will also be a series of live podcast tapings and conversations facilitated in the bookstore.

Running throughout the Fringe Festival in a refitted East Passyunk industrial space, Late Night Snacks, presented by The Bearded Ladies cabaret, are after-hours performances which will feature different artists — from opera singers to drag queens, cabaret stars to art clowns, and everything in between — every night.


Siren Songs 

Amanda Shaffern, Theater Oblivion
Cultivated from first-person interviews, the show follows seven individuals on their journeys through addiction and recovery. Free Narcan workshops are available prior to performances on September 6, 10 and 13. Learn more here


Pig Iron Theatre Company

This visual theater driven by award-winning designer Mimi Lien explores urban infrastructure and the human body's place within it. A companion work — "Section, Void" — will be on display at Cherry Street Pier throughout the festival. 

Learn more here.

Operation: Wawa Road Trip

Tribe of Fools

Siblings take a road trip from Dayton, Ohio to Philadelphia to scatter their late father's ashes in a meaningful place: the Wawa parking lot. Featuring Dungeons & Dragons, sibling rivalry, rest stops, tunnel wizards, soda cave wisdom, and a disgusting hoagie legacy that must be upheld. You can read an interview with the show's creators here.

Learn more here


Annie Wilson, Theatre Exile 

Wilson, a local choreographer, is presenting three genre-bending short works with Theatre Exile that examines grief in community. It's performed completely in the dark. 

Learn more here

And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens

EgoPo Classic Theater

Candy Delaney is a “New Orleans queen”  approaching her 35th birthday. While Candy is looking for romance, her newest pickup is looking for his next drink. Audiences are welcomed into Candy’s apartment, champagne in hand, for a portrait of unrequited love. This rarely seen Tennessee Williams chamber play is co-produced with Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival.

Learn more here

Note from the editor: Emily Rolen is a participating artist in this year's Fringe Festival with Juniper Productions' "Destiny is a Careless Waiter" at the Trolley Car Cafe in East Falls. 

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