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Performa 11 Opens

ming wong-500

Performa 11, the biennial of new visual art performance presented by Performa, will be held in New York City from November 1–21, 2011. The three-week event will showcase new work by more than 100 of the most exciting artists working today, in an innovative program breaking down the boundaries between visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design, and the culinary arts.

Presented in collaboration with a consortium of more than 50 arts institutions and 25 curators, as well as a network of public spaces and private venues across the city, Performa 11 ignites New York City with energy and ideas, acting as a vital “think tank” linking minds across the five boroughs and bringing audiences together for brilliant new performances in all disciplines.

Read more: Performa 11 Opens

Curtain Goes Up Again for NY Musical Theatre Festival

The 8th annual New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) 2011 is taking place nymusical-Madame-XSeptember 26 - October 16, 2011 at several venues in Manhattan, New York City.

New York Musical Theatre Festival is the largest annual musical theatre event in America and is widely regarded as the essential source for new material and talent discovery. NYMF provides a launching pad for the next generation of musicals and their creators to ensure the continued vitality of one of America's greatest art forms.

Only 30 new musicals are selected to perform during the three-week festival, so one can be sure they are among the very best. Some of them are:

Date of a Lifetime
Book and Lyrics by Carl Kissin
Music by Robert Baumgartner Jr.
Directed by Jeremy Dobrish
With Farah Alvin, Jamie LaVerdiere
During a speed date, both parties fantasize about what life might be like with that person.

Read more: Curtain Goes Up Again for NY...

Philly Fringe & Live Arts Festival

The 15th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe is being helphilly-fringe-LadyMd September 2 - 17, 2011 at the Prince Music Theater, Independence Black Box, The Rotunda, and numerous other venues in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe supports artists in a wide array of projects, performances and presentations in a something-for-everyone event.

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival is "a curated festival of the world’s most cutting-edge, high-quality performing arts groups," with more than 13 Live Arts shows being presented.

The Philly Fringe is "an unfiltered festival, where a platform is provided for new and established artists to present their work free of a selection process. For some it’s a once-a-year, or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a show; for professional companies, it can be an opportunity to try something new."

The event encourages artists to "give expression to and develop their talents and artistic visions in total artistic freedom without any curatorial barriers in bringing that work to an audience; to help artists become successful independent producers; and ensure the growth and continued health of the local and regional performing arts community." More than 200 shows are expected to perform.

This Event promises a lot, and definitely delivers. The range of unusual, off-beat and downright groundbreaking performance pieces is staggering.

The Live Arts Shows include:philly-fringe-traces

  • A collaborative new work that "captures the wonder of the ineffable" by choreographer/director John Jasperse and company
  • A play in 3 acts, with Act 1 online, Act 2 as part of a free walking tour, which reveals the secret location of Act 3
  • a lecture performed entirely in dance
  • a play combining dance theater, art installation, silent films, vintage Donkey Kong, and Mars
  • a trio of illusionists in collaboration

The Fringe productions include such innovations as

  • the one-night mini-festival that is the Alternative Theatre Festival
  • theatre meets therapy as Angry People encourages the audience say what makes them angry and then channels that rage into improv
  • a treasure hunt with teams of 4-6 audience members
  • an audio podcast with live stage show
  • 5-minute plays
  • black light theatre, a popular, innovative Czech style rarely performed in the States

In addition to a wealth of new and original material are works by such established playwrights as:philly-fringe-lord-flies

  • Shakespeare (Coriolanus and Henry IV)
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • Bram Stoker
  • James Baldwin
  • Sam Shepard
  • Neil LaBute

there are performances of such tried and true offerings as:

  • The Bacchae
  • The Dutchman
  • Woyzeckphilly-fringe-slaying-dragon
  • Ubu Roi
  • Debbie Does Dallas, the Musical
  • Eurydice
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Max Frisch’s The Arsonists (The Firebugs)
  • Kathryn Watterson‛s Not By the Sword rendered as opera, Slaying the Dragon
  • Georges Rodenbach‛s 1892 novella Bruges-la-Morte
  • Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters
  • another rendering of Jason and the Argonauts
  • the only surviving play from Eugene O’Neill’s Obit Cycle, which O’Neill said was meant to be read, not performed
  • oh, yes -- and The Bible

Other events include

  • Gender Reel, the East Coast’s first and only multi-media festival
  • Symposium: Conversations on Cross Cultural Identity in 21st Century Performance – A discussion of inter-border influences and collaborations with dancers and artists Ralph Lemon, Nora Chipaumire, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Shantala Shivalingappa, Jayachandran Palazhy
  • a Dance Flash Mob

The dazzling -- one could say exhausting -- array of performances cover so many mash-ups: dance with film, music with art, theater with acrobatics, tap dancing to heavy metal, and so many more. Two weeks is not enough.

For more information, go to

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe
September 2 - 17, 2011

Prince Music Theater
Independence Black Box
1412 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19110

The Wilma Theater
265 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 1910

Plays and Players Theater
1714 Delancey Place
Philadelphia, PA 19103-6715

Live Arts Studio
919 N. 5th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

Arts Bank at the University of the Arts
601 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147-1811

Emerald Street Park
2317 Emerald Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Philadelphia Museum of Art, east staircase
26th & Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19101

The Shubin Theatre
407 Bainbridge Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Columbus Memorial
South Columbus Boulevard at Dock Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

William Way Community Center
1315 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-5601

The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3514

Walnut Street Theatre-Studio 5
825 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 1910

plus other venues in and around Philadelphia

The Shaw Festival @ 50

Heartbreak HouseBernard Shaw 1922 courtesy Shaw Festival
Written by George Bernard Shaw

On the Rocks
A new version of Shaw's play by Michael Healey

My Fair Lady
Music, lyrics & book by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner
based on Shaw's play Pygmalion

Since 1962, the annual Shaw Festival has consolidated its reputation as an unparalleled repertory company by presenting a dozen plays (and, more recently, musicals) by George Bernard Shaw, his contemporaries and others.

In picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of Canada's loveliest towns, the Shaw Festival is a premier summer theater destination. And its current season is crammed with must-see works, including a trio of Shaw comedies and a classic musical based on a Shaw play.

Heartbreak House, one of Shaw's supreme masterpieces, is a bitter, biting display of vitriol aimed at what the playwright perceived as Great Britain's stupidity during World War I. In his obvious allegory about ignorant, deadly behavior, Shaw creates an arresting comic drama about clueless characters who, tellingly, are reluctant to admit their own moral failings.

Christopher Newton's adroit staging brings out Shaw's keen senses of humor and irony. Thanks to the usual excellent Shaw Fest ensemble, led by Michael Ball as Captain Shotover and Benedict Campbell as Boss Mangan, Shaw's lacerating depiction of an empire in eclipse is vividly on display.

Too bad Leslie Frankish's visually ingenious but heavy-handed set pointlessly literalizes Shaw's description of the play's setting as a rotting ship. In Shaw's astonishing final act, Frankish's house "hull" makes Shaw's finely-tuned dialogue more explicitly metaphorical than deeply probing.

On the Rocks, Shaw's penultimate play, is an impenetrably dense anti-government screed with characters that are mere mouthpieces for the playwright's unapologetically leftist politics. Canadian playwright Michael Healey has streamlined the play to make the dialogue more straightforward and the motivations of the British prime minister, his associates and opponents more palatable.

While the story moves faster and more succinctly, I have doubts about flip-flopping the action so the second act becomes a flashback to what occurred previously, but I guess it's permissible to toy with lesser-known Shaw.

Joseph Ziegler's staging works well enough on Christina Poddubiuk's smart 10 Downing Street set, with the skillful comic cast giving its all to this clash between conservative capitalism and utopian socialism. It would be instructive if the Festival presented Shaw's original play, denseness and length be damned, but for now Healey's version will do.

Candida, Shaw's splendidly sophisticated chamber comedy about a minister and his wife whose relationship is complicated by the presence of an 18-year-old poet who adores her, is given an adequate if unilluminating revival by director Tadeusz Bradecki.

As Candida, Claire Jullien catches the subtle nuances of one of Shaw's most charming, independent and intelligent female characters, but she's the center of a lopsided trio. Wade Bogert-O'Brien overdoes the quirky teenage poet Marchbanks and Nigel Shawn Williams is a woefully unconvincing Reverend Morrell, whose speaking brilliance in the pulpit is at odds to his neediness at home.

An inspired musical choice this season, My Fair Lady is Lerner & Loewe's masterly adaptation of Shaw's Pygmalion about Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle and her stern mentor, the arrogant linguist Henry Higgins. The staging by directors Molly Smith and Paul Sportelli is sometimes too frantic, as if they wanted to ensure their spectacle would fill the large Festival Theater stage.Book

But the show itself (with classic songs ranging from "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" and "I Could Have Danced All Night" to "The Rain in Spain" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face") is foolproof, and the leads are performed with animated gusto and strong, clear voices by terrific Deborah Hay and always astonishing Benedict Campbell (perhaps the most versatile of the Shaw's talented troupe). My Fair Lady remains as indisputably great as the plays by the Festival's namesake.

For those who want to take a piece of this memorable Festival home, the new coffee-table volume, The Shaw Festival: The First Fifty Years, is an indispensable trip down memory lane. Written by L.W. Conolly, the book recounts the Festival's humble origins as "Salute to Shaw" in 1962 right to the 4-stage, 12-production juggernaut it is now.

The photos of the eminent actors and actresses who have graced the Shaw's stages in the master's plays over the past half-century are worth the price of admission by themselves.

Shaw Festival
10 Queens Parade
ON L0S 1J0, Canada

Opened April 7, 2011; ends October 30, 2011

For more by Kevin Filipski, visit The Flip Side blog at


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