Web Original: Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe 2008 Preview

"What torments people have to go through when they leave the safety of their homes to become embroiled in mad adventures." — Jose Saramago

The Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe is upon us, with a slew of talented Philadelphia artists showcased. A peek into some of the theater featuring local talent that will be performed throughout our fair city:
From the curated (i.e., relatively reliable) Live Arts portion:

The ever-talented Geoff Sobelle and Charlotte Ford bring us Flesh and Blood and Fish and Fowl. Replete with taxidermy and animation, the natural world of Sobelle and Ford is one of a topsy-turvy nature in this fable where animals, humans, life, and extinction collide.
Master storyteller and puppetress Sebastienne Mundheim explores a child’s memory of leaving Latvia during the Second World War through puppetry, dance, sculpture, and live music. Sea of Birds promises a three-dimensional storybook come to life in this fairytale adventure that is sure to enthrall children and adults alike.
Out of the grand mind of Emannuelle Delpech-Ramey comes Oedipus at FDR. Greek theater is revived as FDR Park becomes an urban amphitheatre in which this unique re-imagining of Sophocles’ epic tale takes place. Skateboarders round out the chorus.

Disco Descending, the most recent piece from Karen Getz, showcases seasoned comedians playing 40-year-olds exploring contemporary themes of heartache, identity, and death after the passing of a good friend. The Big Chill set to Abba instead of Motown, perhaps?
In Sweet By-and-By, the beloved Pig Iron Theatre collaborates with Swedish independent musician Daniel Rudholm (also member of the music-spectacle group Teater Slava) with the promise of taking its audience on an all-acoustic whistle stop tour of America through the eyes of Swedish immigrant, radical songwriter, union martyr, Seventh-Day Adventist, and general lost soul Joe Hill.

Marking the festival’s first international commission is The European Lesson. Acclaimed Norwegian director/choreographer Jo Stromgen created this piece while in residency with many of Philadelphia’s finest actors. Four Europeans and one American comprise this tale which promises to vanquish anyone’s desires to visit Europe. Not a bad idea considering these troubled times and the current state of airway travel.

And from the unpredictable world of Fringe:

The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Theatre Company performs A Streetcar Named Durang, playwright Christopher Durang’s loving and hilarious sendup of some of theatre’s heavier heavyweights.

In Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh, Azuka Theatre takes us on a quest wrought with pleasures and perils, innocence and experience, as perceived by a prodigy child.

Portraits of veterans speaking on loss, duty, and life after combat is tackled in Temple Theater‘s presentation of In Conflict.

Brat Productions has brought the loveable (and widely popular) Martha Manning back in Martha and Dotty: Microwave Mambo! back in

Iron Age Theatre gives us Waiting for the Ship from Delos: The Last Days of Socrates, a play that questions whether the convicted Greek philosopher (it appears he was a critic of democracy) was a victim, martyr, or just plain fool.

Tongue & Groove riff on all aspects of modern relationships (information supplied by you, the audience), creating one-of-kind productions with each performance.

If you are still in the mood for some live improv, don’t miss two of Philadelphia’s funniest groups — Meg and Rob and Rare Bird Show — in theater that has been called "smart," "unique," and "absurd."

The sketch comedy group The Sixth Borough presents World Crisis, a play that will make you laugh at the worst of what’s all wrong in the world today.

Veteran improvisers LunchLady Doris create smart, funny, strange and breathtaking theatre in LunchLady Doris (well, that was easy).

Four 20th-century icons — Coco Chanel, Natalie Wood, Greta Garbo, and Marion Davies — reveal their true selves in Les Femmes by the Starving Actors Society.

And for those blood lusting (and impatiently awaiting HBO’s True Blood), you’re in luck: Straight Up Vampire by Terrible Baby tells the history of vampires in colonial Pennsylvania set to the music of that 21st-century icon Paula Abdul.

But my money is on To the Wall Productions‘ production of New York’s Charles Busch’s cult classic Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, the riotous love story of two narcissistic lesbian vampires vying for the spotlight in a rivalry that spans 2000 years.