From basements to parks, the Fringe is here

East Kens­ing­ton's Em­er­ald Street Park is just one of the many places res­id­ents will find live per­form­ances dur­ing the Philly Fringe and Live Arts Fest­iv­al.

Dur­ing the up­com­ing Philly Fringe and Live Arts Fest­iv­al, there will be a wide ar­ray of per­form­ances at ven­ues throughout the city for any­one look­ing to be en­ter­tained by something unique as well as those look­ing to sup­port loc­al artists.

But, more than that, the fest­iv­al also opens up spaces across the land­scape, al­low­ing per­formers to bring their vis­ion to new loc­ales while al­low­ing vis­it­ors to trek off the beaten path for the shows they hope to see while tak­ing in some of the flair of the loc­al com­munity.

Throughout the river wards, dur­ing the 15th an­nu­al Phil­adelphia Fringe and Live Arts Fest­iv­al, to be held from from Sept. 2 through 17, there will be a vari­ety of events, in­clud­ing a wealth of shows at Fishtown’s famed Walk­ing Fish Theat­er.

But there will also be a few shows that you might miss un­less you know where to look. 

One of these shows is A Safe Dis­tance From Ob­li­vi­on, a new play from loc­al artist Joseph Ros­ato of Nim­rods Theatre. A Fishtown res­id­ent who was born and raised in South Philly, Ros­ato moved back to Phil­adelphia after spend­ing time in Chica­go, Ill., and Brook­lyn, N.Y.

Upon re­turn­ing to the city earli­er this year, the play­wright began put­ting to­geth­er ideas for a per­form­ance to hold dur­ing the up­com­ing Phil­adelphia Fringe and Live Arts Fest­iv­al and he no­ticed the new com­munity space of Em­er­ald Street Park at 2317 Em­er­ald St.

Im­me­di­ately, he reached out to the East Kens­ing­ton Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation to dis­cuss the idea.

“I al­ways try to get in­volved with loc­al groups,” said Ros­ato. “Also, wild loc­a­tions can help sell tick­ets, so I thought, ‘why not?’ ”

After talk­ing with the loc­al group, Ros­ato said he is ready to bring his play to the park, and it will be a per­fect fit, he said. The play is set as a dis­cus­sion at a diner, so, an out­door caf&ea­cute; scene would work per­fectly.

“We aren’t go­ing to cam­ou­flage it as a diner or any­thing like that,” he said.

The play, a com­edy, con­cerns a meet­ing between a tre­mend­ously wealthy and suc­cess­ful hedge fund man­ager and a hard-work­ing day laborer.

Did we men­tion that the char­ac­ters are a pig and a don­key, re­spect­ively?

“We aren’t go­ing for real­ism, we are go­ing for crazy,” said a laugh­ing Ros­ato as he de­scribed the play.

In what star­ted as a ser­i­ous dis­cus­sion of cur­rent events and the state of the world as seen through the eyes of his char­ac­ters, Ros­ato said the play soon changed from a drama to a com­edy as he worked with a friend to col­lab­or­ate on the script.

“For the first three months, this was go­ing to be a ser­i­ous piece,” he re­called. “It’s a ser­i­ous thing that col­lapsed in­to com­edy.”

As the play took shape, he star­ted to see that the dis­cus­sion between the two char­ac­ters with deeply dif­fer­ing val­ues — one sees the world as “hon­est work for hon­est pay,” while the oth­er lives by the motto “hon­est risk for hon­est re­ward,” said Ros­ato — offered many op­por­tun­it­ies for com­edy.

“We thought of the in­san­ity on both sides of the coin,” said Ros­ato.

 For the show, the park (a re­claimed va­cant lot) will be trans­formed to re­semble an out­door eat­ery while two act­ors, in don­key and pig masks, cre­ated by Ros­ato him­self, per­form.

Mask mak­ing, Ros­ato said, be­came something of a hobby of his after he had to learn the skill in or­der to make needed props for a play he pro­duced in the past, based on the works of Franz Kafka.

“Now that I know how to do it, I tend to like it,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ros­ato, any­one look­ing for­ward to at­tend­ing the play should look for­ward to a play “that’s very now,” which he be­lieves will work well be­cause, in his ex­per­i­ence, Phil­adelphia audi­ences are very as­tute to cur­rent events.

“In my eyes, Phil­adelphia is a very con­tem­por­ary place,” said Ros­ato.

But Ros­ato’s play will not be the only play at a unique loc­ale.

In the sub-base­ment of 444 Lofts at 444 N. 4th St., artist Bri­an Sanders’ per­form­ance com­pany, JUNK, will per­form Dan­cing Dead. Ac­cord­ing to or­gan­izers of the up­com­ing Fringe and Live Arts Fest­iv­al, vis­it­ors to this show can ex­pect “a tract­or, bod­ies, grass, dirt, dig­ging, stone, grit, ash, John Den­ver, ten dead, dark­ness, candle­light, dan­cing …”

The Fire, a bar and per­form­ance space at 412 Gir­ard Ave., will also host per­form­ances by loc­al sing­er-song­writer Heath­er Shayne Blakeslee and the band Sweet­bri­ar Rose, who will present a spoken work per­form­ance of The Ar­tic­u­late Land­scape.

This is a read­ing of “se­duct­ive stor­ies woven with earthy il­lus­tra­tions and roots-noir mu­sic from Sweet­bri­ar Rose.”

This year, no mat­ter where you are in the river wards, there will be a per­form­ance close to you.

For more info or a full list of shows, vis­it

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­ 

Fringe near you:

A Safe Dis­tance From Ob­li­vi­on

Em­er­ald Street Park, 2317 Em­er­ald St.

Sept. 2, 3, 8, 9, 15 and 17 at 8 p.m.

Dan­cing Dead

Bri­an Sander’s JUNK

$25, 50 minutes.

Sub-Base­ment at 444 Lofts

444 N 4th St.

Sept. 2-17, times vary.


Venus Dance Com­pany

$15, 55 minutes

Piazza at Schmidts, 1050 North Han­cock St., Suite 79

Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.

Song of the Sac­red Whore

Mon­ica Day/The Sen­su­al Life

$15, 75 minutes.

Me­dia Bur­eau, 725 North 4th St.

Sept. 8–10 at 8 p.m.

Sept. 11 at 2 p.m.  and  8 p.m.


Yael Ra­sooly

$15 / 50 minutes

Me­dia Bur­eau, 725 N. 4th St.

Sept. 4 at 4 p.m.  and  8 p.m.

Sept. 5 at 2 p.m.  and  7 p.m.

Sept. 6  and  7 at 7 p.m.



$15 / 70 minutes

Me­dia Bur­eau, 725 N. 4th St.

Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. and  7 p.m.

Sept. 5 at 3 p.m.  and  8 p.m.

Sept. 6 at 8 p.m.

Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.

The Ar­tic­u­late Land­scape

Heath­er Shayne Blakeslee & Sweet­bri­ar Rose

$12, 90 minutes

The Fire

412 W. Gir­ard Ave.

Sept. 3 at 3 p.m.

Sept. 10 at 3 p.m.  and  6:30 p.m.

You can reach at

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