This summer is going to be a circus

Andrea Murillo
Maike Schulz

Live in-person events are back for the summer season, with safety at the forefront of course. With the temperature rising and Philadelphians flocking to the outdoors, it’s apparent that the city will be coming alive even more over the course of the next few months, and there’s plenty to look forward to….even a circus.

FringeArts (Philadelphia’s home for contemporary performance) and the Circadium School of Contemporary Circus (a non-profit vocational college, with the mission of cultivating, inspiring, and innovating contemporary circus performance in America) have announced the return of the third annual Hand to Hand circus festival, which will take place from June 3-13. The event spans the course of 11 days with a mix of socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances and workshops by innovative, local company 3AM Theatre and Philadelphia’s most talented up-and-coming circus artists. The extravaganza’s offerings will span from aerial acrobatics, juggling, tightwire, and more.

Maike Schulz

“The health and safety of our audiences, artists, and staff remain FringeArts’ greatest concern, and we continue to watch the situation closely,” says FringeArts President Nick Stuccio in a statement. “That being said, we’ve eagerly awaited the time when we could come together again and do what we love—connect with another other through live art. With protective measures in place, we are confident in our ability to safely welcome audiences back into our space and excited to experience the joy of live circus as a community.”

According to the release, the 2021 Hand to Hand lineup both celebrates the return of in-person, communal art and explores how we relate to ourselves and the world around us. Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary performance company 3AM headlines the festival with Eventide (June 11-13), a tender, multidisciplinary piece that uses expressive movement, object manipulation, and contemporary, surreal scene-setting to expose the challenges we face in relationships with ourselves and others. The piece will be performed live, indoors at FringeArts. The piece is also a perfect ode to 3AM’s mission which is partly to create a place in time where dreams blend with reality, where strange things happen, and latent truths can emerge.

Daniel Kontz

Test Flights is another event to look forward to, and it kicks off on Day 1 of the festival. Performed indoors, this particular event is a special circus-themed edition of FringeArts’ monthly works-in-progress series Scratch Nights hosted by Zak McAllister and featuring the work of emerging Philadelphia circus artists. Philadelphians can also look out for Heliopause, a collaboration between the 2021 Circadium School of Contemporary Circus’ graduating class and circus veteran Molly Saudek. This event kicks off June 4-6 and will be performed indoors as well while investigating the relationship between self and community through movement.

The release also states that Hand to Hand partner Vernon Park will host Monday is Years Long on June 5 live, outdoors. In the piece, Circadium students blend circus, dance, and theatre to examine the contradictions and overlaps between isolation and virtual closeness. Circus Midway on June 12 is another day of free outdoor workshops and pop-up performances by the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts at the La Peg Biergarten. Attendees of all ages and abilities can learn basic aerial acrobatics, juggling, tightwire, plate spinning, and more from the school’s teachers and performers.

With the addition of new performances also comes guidelines to help keep everyone—from performers to the audience— safe and happy while enjoying the festival. According to the release, for indoor and outdoor events, FringeArts will adhere to all capacity recommendations set by the City of Philadelphia at the time of the performance. Patrons can expect significant reductions in the maximum number of tickets available, especially for indoor performances in the theater and at the Circadium School campus. FringeArts will abide by all mask and face-covering recommendations set by the City of Philadelphia at the time of the performance. Additional masks will be available for any guest who needs or wants one. Social distancing will be encouraged during outdoor events. Indoors at FringeArts, seats will be pre-set according to the party’s size to ensure social distancing requirements are met. Patrons will be expected to reserve tickets for everyone in their party at the time of purchase.


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