Fringe Festival 2021: What shows to check out

A scene from ‘Stellar.’
Maria Baranova

The 2021 Philadelphia Fringe Festival is now in full swing, and with so many shows to choose from in almost every artistic category, it can be hard to pick just what to experience. Luckily, each week throughout the duration of the festival, Metro will highlight standouts to make your viewing experience that much easier. 


According to the official site, ‘Stellar’ is a dance film of speculative fiction inspired by afro-futures, the echoes of jazz, and the stars within us. Performers Bree Breeden, Kyle Marshall, and Ariana Speight gathered for virtual improvisation sessions during the second spring of the COVID-19 pandemic and online conversations led to in-studio embodiment, where they developed scores of improvisation and theatricality informed by gravity, ritual, and planets. The film features an original score inspired by the transcendent music of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, performed by Kwami Winfield. 

‘Rise’ on the other hand is said to have been inspired by the “shout traditions of the Black church, the transcendence of club music, and holds the joy that dancing brings to our lives.” This dance, which will be performed live by four dancers is an ode to celebrations of life in our flesh, makes space for the spirit, and honors the power of witnessing by reflecting on our time of pandemic isolation, the website also states.

This production premieres Friday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. 

A scene from RISE.Pauline St. Denis

Saving Wonderland

Alice, we’re not in Wonderland anymore. Winner of No Proscenium’s 2020 Audience Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Live Action Gaming, ‘Saving Wonderland’ comes from Gamiotics (what they say is the future of interactive entertainment.) While in this new Fringe production, audience members will play as Alice in this fantastical re-thinking of the popular classic.

As the official description says, harnessing the power of your phone, you’ll interact with beloved characters, work together to solve mind-bending puzzles, and search for missing watch gears to save Wonderland while in the production. Numerous possibilities lead to multiple potential endings, and every screening is different as your choices determine what happens live and in real time making this a self-proclaimed “new family-friendly adventure unlike anything you’ve experienced before.”

Philadelphians can join in on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 for a double feature including the in-person premiere of their audience-immersive D&D style experience, ‘The Twenty-Sided Tavern’ as well.

Sun & Sea 

This five-hour opera was produced with Arcadia University. This particular project, which features 13 singers from Eastern Europe, is touring around the world and will only hit four cities globally, including Philadelphia. For the Philadelphia stop on the production’s U.S. tour, a portion of the former Budd railcar plant will be transformed into a bustling beach with singers and beachgoers sourced from the community, all viewed from above on a four-sided mezzanine.

The Philadelphia presentation of Sun & Sea is the second stop on a national tour now through Oct. 16 that begins in Brooklyn (BAM), and continues to Bentonville, AR (The Momentary), and Los Angeles (The Hammer, MOCA, and CAP UCLA).

A scene from ‘Sun and Sea.’Andrej Vasilenko

The Beardmobile Fall Love Tour

The Bearded Ladies Cabaret Company, along with a few partners, will be hitting the road with their Beardmobile once again for the 2021 Fringe Festival. Continuing this weekend, audiences can catch the 15-foot box truck in different parts of the city with performers from the cabaret group entertaining alongside neon LED lighting, high-powered speakers, a 6-foot retractable stage and room for a three-piece band. According to the release, the 4-week Fall Love Tour will mount pop-up performances designed to be enjoyed at a distance all over Philadelphia.

Partners include Vox Populi and the moon baby, ILL DOOTS, William Way, dain saint, Wilma Portable Studio, and more. Returning to help steer the Beardmobile are hosts Anthony Martinez-Briggs aka US of ILL DOOTS, Sam Rise of Girls Rock Philly, and other award-winning performers such as Cookie Diorio, Jess Conda, Eric Jaffe, Brett Robinson, and Bearded Ladies Artistic Director, John Jarboe (she/her). Upcoming shows will take place at the William Way LGBT Community Center at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26, back to FDR Park again on Sept. 29 at 4 p.m., at Cherry Street Pier on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., at Bartram’s Garden North at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 9, and finally at Love City Brewing Company on Oct. 16 with the time TBD. Tickets for these performances are Pay What You Can.

Plate 3 Photography