2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Preview: The shows you can’t miss

2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival
Scott Sheppard in ‘SPEECH.’
Friday Anderson

This weekend marks the official start of the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

Beginning Sept. 8 and running to Oct. 2, the cultural celebration of everything creative will highlight nearly 200 diverse productions and experiences—and we’ve got the scoop on some of the cant-miss experiences that go along with the artistic and energetic ride. 

This year, the festival has amassed a record number of submissions, and those who head out to Fringe in September can expect an assortment of live theatrical and dance performances, art installations, circus arts, and genre-bending experiences that highlight the wide variety of local and national talent that the Fringe Festival continuously attracts.


First up, Geoff Sobelle’s ‘FOOD’ offers a meditation on the ways and whys of eating. And audiences will gather and converse around a white linen-covered dining table throughout this immersive, constantly transforming performance. Sobelle uses sounds, scents, and tactile elements to “shape a conversation about personal memories, consumption, and the evolution of food production over generations” for this particular production. 

2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival
Geoff Sobelle in ‘FOOD.’ Maria Baranova-Suzuki

‘FOOD’ will play Sept. 8 to 18 at FringeArts, 140 N Columbus Blvd. 


Another highlight comes from writer and director Annie Dorsen. ‘Spokaoke‘ brings the atmosphere of a karoke bar, and turns it into a format for audience members to perform speeches. Those who want to participate will be able to sift through what Dorsen calls “spoken artifacts” with over a hundred texts available on the karaoke system and arranged in a catalog that audience members can peruse.

As a release states, some texts are familiar to the point of iconic status (“I have a dream,” “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”), while others are lesser-known. Texts come from a wide variety of sources and eras — Socrates’ trial speech, Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman,” Colonel Qaddafi at the United Nations and more, and all texts are in English. 

‘Spokaoke’ will take place on Sept. 16, at La Peg at FringeArts, 140 N Columbus Blvd.


With ‘SPEECH‘ comes another Fringe Festival must-see. Created by Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Scott R. Sheppard, and Alice Yorke and written by Scott R. Sheppard in collaboration with the ensemble, this Lightning Rod Special Production will premiere later this month. The Philadelphia-based performance company specializes in, as they say, raucous and contemplative works that scramble theatrical conventions and intellectual assumptions—and ‘Speech’ continues that ideology. 

2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival
A scene from Spokaoke. Brittany Buogiorno

Also directed by Shayok Misha Chowdhury, this show offers a satirical scrutiny of the free speech debate and also, the ever-evolving shift of civil discourse within our social-media-centered world. The characters in the production go through different microcosms of American culture, and try to take a more “searing look at how trepidation and performativity infect all aspects of our lives.”

‘Speech’ will play at the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, at the Proscenium Theatre at The Drake, 302 S. Hicks St.

‘SELL ME: I Am From North Korea’

Another unique work premiering this weekend is a show written and performed by Sora Baek. ‘SELL ME: I Am From North Korea‘, as a release states, is inspired by the true stories of North Korean defectors who risk everything to escape one of Earth’s most repressive regimes. The synopsis reads: “On her 15th birthday, Jisun makes the heart-wrenching decision to sell herself to an old Chinese man to make money for her dying mother’s medications.”

In this performance, Sora strives to deliver a brutally honest performance—and that mission succeeds as the production is filled with vulnerability, humor, and energy. Through ‘SELL ME’, Sora explores the nature of a few different viewpoints involving diversity, social justice, human rights, and the struggles of the oppressed.

This 55-minute digital show will play Sept. 8 to Oct. 2 and can be viewed online. 

2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival
Gunnar Montana’s ‘Bath House.’ Joe McFetridge

‘Bath House’

Gunnar Montana‘s ‘Bath House’ is another show that you have to hit while checking out the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Premiering Sept. 8, ‘Bath House‘ is described as a deeply sensory immersive theatrical experience dripping with erotic energy from start to finish. Through this performance, Montana fuses dance and movement, and audiences will be able to indulge in this sensual and immersive performance. 

The show also offers a VIP Table Experience as a way to get up close and personal with Gunnar and the ‘Bath House’ cast. The Experience includes (4) VIP table seats, (4) official ‘Bath House’ t-shirts, a bottle of champagne for your table, and a post-show meet and greet with the cast. Those interested can check the ticket page for VIP options.

‘Bath House’ will play at The Latvian Society, 531 N. 7th St., until Oct. 2. 

To find out more information about the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, visit fringearts.com