Swarthmore Alumni, Faculty Well-Represented in Philadelphia Live Arts Festival

By Erin Kelly

Several Swarthmore alumni and faculty members will perform at the citywide Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe - a three-week September festival designed to challenge, stimulate, entertain, and educate diverse audiences by presenting the work of new and established artists in an unfettered creative atmosphere. The Live Arts Festival is a curated event that presents more than a dozen Live Arts shows; the Fringe is unfiltered. In past years, the Fringe has presented hundreds of self-produced shows by thousands of artists.

The premiere arts festival, which opens tomorrow and runs through Sept. 22, positions Philadelphia as a cultural mecca by featuring the world's most talented, insightful and skilled artists across virtually all artistic mediums. Alumni and faculty participating in this year's event include, but are not limited to:

  • Kate Speer '08, co-choreographer of Sticks & Stones, a full-length dance work of craft movement poetry depicting shifting relationships among a cast of five women. Sticks & Stones unites Speer's grounded momentum work and loosely flung body with the clear, intriguing gestures of her co-choreographer. Coverage of Speer's show appeared in the Daily Gazette.
  • Jumatatu Poe '04, choreographer of Private Places and assistant professor of dance. Private Places is a visceral work that plays with the stylized movement of the service industry and the high-powered approach of J-Sette, a dance culture developed in African American gay clubs with roots in drill team and majorette events of historically black universities of the South. Private Places examines notions of order through subtle interaction and impactful theatrical expression. Coverage of Juma's new show appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News.
  • Tara Webb '94, costume designer for 27, a debut work presented by experimental performance ensemble New Paradise Laboratories.  This production is third in a trilogy of pieces focusing on parties as an integral part of culture - in this case, funerals celebrating absence. Webb is a theater artist and currently costime shop supervisor at Swarthmore. Assistant Professor of Design Matt Saunders will serve as a set designer.
  • Dan Rothenberg '95, director of Zero Cost House, a production of Pig Iron Theatre group he co-founded. Zero Cost House, created in collaboration with Toshiki Okada, is a play about moving out of Tokyo and re-reading Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Zero Cost House will also present Rothenberg's fellow Pig Iron co-founder Dito van Reigersberg '94.
  • Sarah Sanford '99 of the Pig Iron Theatre company will appear in the premiere of Charlotte Ford's BANG, an all-female comedy featuring themes like female identity, sexual freedom, and desire.
  • Conrad Bender '88, set designer for Brian Sanders' JUNK, an invented production that features choreography with found objects and discarded debris. The show is notable for its feats of physicality and creativity.
  • Lori-Felipe Barkin '12 will appear in The Funeral of Enerio Lopez, produced by Laila Swanson, assistant professor of design. Swarthmore served as the premiere venue for Barkin's show, an interactive solo performance that takes audience members deeper into the inner lives of Cuban-American women left to their own devices. In this, magical realism meets Miami.
  • Allen Kuharski, department chair of theater at Swarthmore, is dramaturgical consultant for Ivona, Princess of Burgundia, presented by the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consotrium. The production is a modern absurdist fairy tale that tells the story of Prince Philip, who plans to wed Ivona.
  • Corinna Burns '96 will appear in David Ireland's The End of Hope, the End of Desire, a comedy about two strangers who meet up for a night of "anything goes" and are surprised where it takes them.
  • Aaron Dinkin, visiting assistant professor of linguistics, will appear in Antony and Cleopatra: Infinite Lives, a play-within-a-play adaptation of Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra that examines the question of how the stories we tell affect the way we understand ourselves.