The stage is set, only it’s not a stage at all; it’s a narrow alleyway with sound equipment and some fold-up chairs. Three women of distinctly different ages emerge from around a corner; all wearing the same bob-cut white wig, and begin performing a spirited dance. Either this is one of the most ingenious stage setups ever, or recklessly unorthodox theater. It’s both; it’s the Philly Fringe Festival! Every September, the two-week barrage of theatrical productions offers a rare artistic experience and reminds us why Philadelphia is so culturally rich.
The aforementioned performance, entitled “Three Ladies in Waiting,” was a presentation in last year’s Fringe Festival and truly demonstrated the unique array of theatrical performances the festival has to offer. Typical of Fringe, it uses the area as its theater – Philadelphia is the stage. The benefit of this technique is that the production is stripped down to its fundamentals; here, the talent is the only thing that is being showcased. This is what separates Philly’s Fringe from other venues. Broadway, of course, is fantastic; and while students should be thankful to receive the experience of the Great White Way, Fringe offers forms of theater that can be seen in few other places.
The Fringe Festival is a learning experience. It can teach so much about the worlds of theater and dance because of its variety. In one day, a person could view a demonstration of the Brazilian Copoeira dance in a storefront, famous plays such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in a small park or countless versions of revamped Shakespeare vignettes in the Triangle Theater, a stunning building fashioned after New York City’s Flatiron. Students should be taking advantage of the Fringe opportunity as much as they can.
Bearing witness to these unique art forms where the talent and creative power are the true demonstrations is beneficial to students whether they have theatrical interests or not. The cultural experience has the power to broaden the minds of its audience.
Many Temple professors require their students to attend Fringe performances, which is a great way of getting students interested who don’t know much about theater or the festival. In addition, all Fringe shows are either free or cost fewer than ten dollars, which enables everyone an equal opportunity to experience a show.
The monetary aspect of the Fringe Festival is perhaps its best quality. It shows that the events are not about making money, but about evoking the unique cultural experience. What is striking is that the theaters, actors and producers comply with this mission statement instead of demanding the big bucks. It’s just another example of true Fringe talent.