Preview: Live Arts Kicks Off

Let your freak flag fly with 180 shows in 16 days

When the 15th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival kicks off tomorrow (Sept. 2 – 17), there will be plenty of compelling, and sometimes off-the-wall events, to keep audiences busy for the next 16 days. The multimedia festival starts off with seven world premieres and one Philly premiere at venues throughout the city. There are 180 shows in total this year, making it the largest Fringe in the festival’s history – with everything from theatre, dance and music to film, poetry, puppetry and visual art to keep LGBT-friendly audiences busy.

Each night, the Festival Bar + Social Club also welcomes artists and audiences to the Ruba Club (Fourth and Green) for after-hours shenanigans (10 p.m.) and a late-night cabaret from BRAT Productions.

The festival’s also hosting a photo competition this year with the help of Philly Fun Guide and PNC Arts Alive. Festival goers are invited to submit photos in several categories to win an all-access pass to next year’s events. Click here for more information about to enter the contest.

Here are a few must-see shows:

The Gender Reel Multimedia Festival will be making its appearance at Live Arts this year, notably with A Place to Be from artists Linda Dubin Garfield and Susan DiPronio who invite other artists to create a portrait of “home.”

Heavy Metal Dance Fag” (9:30 p.m.) takes a satirical look at sexual identity, bullying and 80s hair metal told through the story of a tough, blue collar South Philly dockworker with a secret passion at St. Stephen’s Theatre.

The Method Gun premieres in Philly from Austin-based Rude Mechs. The show explores the agony and ecstasy of performing and what happened to Stella Burden, an acting guru from the 1960s and 70s, who mysteriously disappeared after A Streetcar Named Desire.

Brian Sanders’ JUNK does Dancing Dead, a dance-theatre work that explores life underground and influenced by grit, ash, darkness and John Denver.

Burning Sphere invites people to Rittenhouse Dance Mob, a collective dance performance in the park. Details will be posted on YouTube and Facebook.

Look out, really Real Housewives. The Waitstaff introduce us to The Real Housewives of South Philly Jump the Shark!

Philly’s own Spiral Q Puppet Theater perform Let Me Tell You About a Dream I Had, a parade from Broad and Pine to West Philly’s Clark Park with an afternoon of live music and performance.

Pig Iron Theatre’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will rethinks Shakespeare with music, gender bending and erotic twists – and a “gypsy rock” score by festival favorite Rosie Langabeer.

New Paradise Laboratories and Riot Group present Extremely Public Displays of Privacy that begins online and includes a walking tour in Center City to be concluded at a yet-to-be-revealed location. Also look for Act 2 and 3 (Sept. 14).

And finally, have some quirky, thought-provoking Conversations on Cross-Cultural Identity in the 21st Century.

Live Arts Festival, Sept. 2-17, Prince Music Theater box office, 1412 Chestnut St., 215-413-1318.