FringeArts has always been a bit of a nomad. Each year, the performing arts festival hunkers down in new temporary offices, secures a storefront box office and stages a flurry of shows at venues across the city. While this might be fitting for a young experimental showcase, FringeArts is now in its 17th year — it was time to grow up, get a mortgage and leave the world of short-term leases to the kids.
"We really needed a home base," says president and producing director Nick Stuccio. "It's hard to rent something for three months -- it wasn't sustainable."
As far as first homes go, the FringeArts center is pretty plush. Nestled on the Delaware River at Race Street, the 10,000-square-foot converted warehouse will feature office space, rehearsal studios and a 225-seat theater, which is set to open in the next couple weeks. Come spring, a full-service restaurant and bar will complete the waterfront complex.
While the space will serve as a conveinent hub for the annual two-week festival, it will also present year-round performances, host public art installations and support an artist residency program. "We've been working to build an audience for 17 years now for this work, and now we have it. People really have an appetite for contemporary, alternative, innovative performing arts, and now we can give it to them year-round," says Stuccio. "Crazy, awesome, amazing experimentation — that's what we're in this business for."
On the bill
After premiering at the 2011 Fringe, stars Louie Magic, Dennis Diamond and Daryl Hannah took their wacky magic show on the road. You'll definitely want to catch their Philly encore: While there's a built-in kitsch factor, the theater is sneaky smart and the tricks are impressive. Don't get too comfortable in your seat — they need some lovely assistants, and they sure didn't hire any.
After this Serbian a cappella opera, audience members are invited to a Balkan wedding celebration featuring authentic cuisine and music by the West Philadelphia Orchestra. The performance kick-starts Opera in the City, an annual showcase of opera-with-a-twist.
"17 Border Crossings"
Thaddeus Phillips is something of a Fringe darling. After years of whimsical, subversive shows, his Poe musical, "Red-Eye to Havre de Grace," all but made the New York Times wet their pants last year. it was beautiful, it was disturbing, it was a mandate to see whatever else Phillips is putting out there. This time up, he's looking at the borders we create — geographical, familial, spacial — and how they effect us.