Philly Live Arts Announces Line-Up


The 13th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, which will run from September 4 – 192009, will feature fifteen cutting-edge works of dance, theater, and music including 12 World or U.S. Premieres. Acclaimed U.S. artists from Philadelphia and New York, along with internationally renowned artists from Poland, Austria, and Australia will present innovative and highly interdisciplinary performing arts events, offering a snapshot of trends at the forefront of the international performing arts scene.

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival has garnered critical praise, national grants, and numerous awards. The Festival runs for 16 days in conjunction with the Philly Fringe, which features more than 200 self-produced artists in both traditional and unusual performance sites throughout the city. Together, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe draw over 40,000 people who come to be a part of “Festival time” in the city – to see innovative work, meet new people, and interact with over 2,000 artists performing in over 1,200 performances. 

Tickets are on sale now for select shows within the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival at A full schedule as well as tickets for the Philly Fringe will be available in July.

The 2009 Live Arts Festival line-up features a survey of contemporary movement, experimental theater, and boundary-breaking performing arts from the U.S. and beyond. “We are extremely fortunate and excited to bring pioneering international artists like Australia’s Chunky Move to Philadelphia,” says Producing Director Nick Stuccio. “In addition to contributions from visiting artists, this year’s Live Arts Festival truly highlights the incredible art being made here in the City of Philadelphia. Over half of the Live Arts artists are Philadelphia-based companies, all of which are producing original new work for the Festival – a testament to the City’s thriving performing arts scene and creative energy.”

Philadelphia artists include Pig Iron Theatre CompanyNew Paradise Laboratorieskate watson-wallace/anonymous bodiesHeadlong Dance TheaterMerián Soto/Performance Practice, andSCRAP Performance Group among others. International artists bringing a diverse range of world views to Philadelphia include Poland’s Michal Zadara, Austria’s Cie. Willi Dorner, and Australia’s Chunky Move and Back to Back Theatre.

more info after the jump….

Poland’s Michal Zadara will direct Operetta, the U.S. Premiere of his reworking of the famed playby Polish literary giant Witold Gombrowicz.
 “Every play demands reinvention,” says Zadara. Music, fashion, dancing, chaos and a cast of 22 dominate this wild fable about the ideological battles that defined 20th-century Poland. For the Live Arts Festival staging, classically trained jazz pianistLeszek Mozdzer has composed an eclectic score that ranges from yearning ballads to punk rock.

The Festival welcomes two of Australia’s leading contemporary performing arts companies to Philadelphia. The highly acclaimed Melbourne based Chunky Move will offer a cutting-edge fusion of technology and dance in the U.S. premiere of Mortal Engine, an intensely physical, sensual, and visually daring work that melds laser and video projections to the shape-shifting motions of live dancers. “My theme… is human duality, trying to come to terms with what seems to be irreconcilable aspects of our one self,” says Chunky Move Artistic Director Gideon Obarzanek.“The video creation of semi-autonomous human shadows and images both entering and emanating from the moving body on stage, provide a unique visual metaphor for this theme.”

Back to Back Theatre of Geelong, Australia, will examine how respect is withheld from “outsiders” in the Philadelphia premiere of small metal objectsperformed amid the surging pedestrian traffic of a public space. Equipped with headphones, the audience is wired into an intensely personal drama. Back to Back’s creations come from the minds and experiences of an ensemble of actors with disabilities, giving voice to social and political issues that speak to all people. 

Several other Festival performances will take place in unique and unusual spaces throughout the city. In the World Premiere of STORE, Philadelphia choreographer Kate Watson-Wallace and her company anonymous bodies occupy an abandoned mega-store. Inspired by how and why we buy,STORE is the third work in Watson-Wallace’s acclaimed American Spaces (Car, 2008; House, 2006) trilogy of site-based performance installations that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Local choreographer Brian Sanders (AdShock, 2006), who builds custom sets and creates performances specifically for each performance space, will also premiere new work.

Philadelphia and Festival favorite Headlong Dance Theater (Explanatorium, 2007; Cell, 2006) will present the World Premiere of More, a daring new work where nothing is deemed impossible, from kissing dolls to dancers morphing into a flock of birds. “The Festival has made a huge impact on my artistry, both by supporting my/our work […] over the past twelve years, and by bringing artists to Philly for me to see,” says Amy Smith, co-Director of Headlong Dance Theater. “Seeing Miguel Gutierrez, Jérôme Bel and Rotozaza last year were highlights [and] I am very influenced by the work of Pig Iron, New Paradise Laboratories, and other works of dance theater and movement theater being made by my Philly peers.”

Festival collaborations between international and Philadelphia artists continue to flourish. Viennese choreographer Willi Dorner, who worked with a group of local dancers for last year’s traveling outdoor dance event bodies in urban spaces, will return with the U.S. Premiere of above under inbetween. The new work features human bodies as architecture, set in home environments, and will be performed by a roster of Austrian dancers with Philadelphia dance artist Megan Bridge

The experimental Pig Iron Theatre Company (Sweet By and By, 2008; Isabella, 2007) will test the boundaries of dance, drama, clown, puppetry, and music in the World premiere of Welcome to Yuba City, a collaboration with composer Michael Friedman and master teacher of physical performance forms Giovanni Fusetti. The cast features James Sugg, who was recently honored with a 2009 OBIE Award for his performance in Pig Iron’s Chekhov Lizardbrain, alongside Hinako Arao,Charlotte FordSarah SandfordGeoff SobelleAlex Torra, and Dito Van Reigersberg

In the World Premiere of FATEBOOK, the OBIE Award-winning New Paradise Laboratoriesexplores how online social networking has fundamentally changed human relationships. A massive undertaking with 15 central characters and 100 secondary characters, audiences join the drama as the production is performed in cyberspace and real space, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. Festival veteran Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre (Babel, 2004) offers a different take on popular culture phenomena in the World Premiere of Kill Me Now, a cultural satire inspired by dance reality shows.

The Festival will showcase the premieres of two dance works by Philadelphia based choreographers exposing environmental issues and the relationship between humans and the universe. SCRAP Performance Group (Between the Pages, 2007) celebrates the company’s 15th anniversary with the World premiere of TIDE, an ever-evolving experimental dance-theater piece examining the disconnection of humans and the natural world. In Postcards from the Woods, Bessie award-winning choreographer Merián Soto/Performance Practice offers a dreamlike installation of light and sound as performers dance with branches, some 25 feet long, set against a backdrop of video projections of nature in extreme close-up, in a World premiere. “I want to bring the outside inside,” says Soto, whose new work is a part of her States of Gravity & Light series that has included the Wissahickon Park Project. 

In a co-presentation with Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Festival will present the World premiere of The Last Cargo Cult and the controversial How Theater Failed America by groundbreaking monologist Mike DaiseyThe Last Cargo Cult has Daisey expounding about the island of Tanna, home to the last of the cargo cults that emerged during World War II when the U.S. military dropped cargo on remote islands in the South Pacific to endear the natives to the Allies. Hailed as a “master storyteller” and “one of the finest solo performers of his generation” (The New York Times), Daisey combines autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted performance to tell hilarious and heartbreaking stories.

New York based songwriters Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips, formerly of the indie band Luna, will perform the Philadelphia premiere of 13 Most Beautiful… Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. The musicians composed an original soundtrack and created, along with The Andy Warhol Museum, a live multi-media presentation, providing a new context for experiencing Warhol’s films. “When you are composing for film, you have to serve the picture,” said Wareham. “Part of our task was to figure out the mood of each Screen Test.” 

The Live Arts Festival has joined with The Joyce Theater Foundation, The Dance Center of Columbia College, and On the Boards in Seattle to present The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009, which will take place in each participating city. In Philadelphia, twelve area choreographers chosen for their ability to create inspirational and inventive contemporary dance will compete to win $10,000. The unique performance-based competition provides a platform for emerging artists to present their work, and for audiences to be exposed to and participate in the development process for the next wave of American choreography.

The Festival will offer numerous opportunities for audiences to learn more about the artists’ work through post-show discussions with the artists and the Festival Plus program, which will host a series of panel discussions about contemporary performing arts. Each night of the Festival will end at The Festival Bar, a unique experiential venue which premiered at the 2008 Festival. Against a backdrop of artist installations, The Festival Bar serves as a versatile after-hours space for Festival goers to interact with artists, socialize with one another, grab a cocktail and enjoy delicious food, music and more at the end of each Festival day.

A full schedule of additional festival events, performance dates, times, and locations will be announced soon.

The Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe Festival runs from September 4 – 19, 2009. Tickets for most shows cost between $10 and $30. Some shows are free. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets to multiple shows can save 20% when they buy tickets to 2 or more shows. Students and Festival goers 25 and younger pay $15 for Live Arts Festival tickets and receive $5 off Philly Fringe tickets which are priced above $10.

Select Live Arts Festival tickets are available for purchase now at, or after August 24, 2009 by calling the Box Office at (215) 413-1318, or visiting in person. The Festival Box Office location will be announced in July. Philly Fringe tickets will go on sale online in July. The Festival Guide, which includes descriptions of each performance, in addition to dates, times, locations, and other Festival information, will be widely available throughout the city beginning in early August. 

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival features performances by renowned contemporary performing artists from the U.S. and around the world who are selected and invited to the Festival by Producing Director, Nick Stuccio. The Philly Fringe is an unfiltered Festival, where new and established artists of all kinds present their own work, free of a selection process. Together, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe establish Philadelphia as a city bursting with wild creativity, bringing audiences sixteen days of the most stimulating, provocative new art being created in Philadelphia, across the U.S., and around the world.


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