Philadelphia is a city full of culture, artistic expression and passion. Every year, FringeArts, the city’s premier establishment for contemporary performances, streamlines all of those attributes to produce a 17-day extravaganza featuring 1,000 curated and independently produced performances — the Fringe Festival. The annual event highlights the incredible talent that abounds in the City of Brotherly Love, in an interactive and highly personal way. 2020’s Fringe Festival is going to look a bit different with every performance being conducted virtually, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some gems that will be just as moving and bombastic as ever before.
One new piece to this year’s Festival comes from Die-Cast, a local genre-breaking theatre company, titled “Temporary Occupancy.” The new immersive digital creation will receive a limited performance run with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival starting September 10th through October 4th.
“Temporary Occupancy” is a digital piece that opens up the privacy of the hotel room for public display. The piece is centered around the idea that there is something so secluded in the very nature of a hotel room. As the release describes, “It is a place where normal life is disrupted and a new temporary and isolated existence is suddenly born. The many lives that have existed in this room quietly accrue like ghosts. But yet, the vivid present is all that matters for the person who has taken temporary occupancy in a place that is designed to never be a home.”
Philadelphians will be able to view ten short pieces exclusively through a single website, all of which take place in the singular room. Each piece ranges in terms of experience. Viewers can watch a couple who just decided to get back together and are spending their first night trying to deduce the state of their relationship, or, audiences can tune in to a story featuring two men who are in the same place but not at the same time. The story-lines are not the only changing aspect, each piece will also range in style: Some will be more verbal, some stylized and some with movement as its storytelling.
According to the release, “Temporary Occupancy” was originally commissioned for a public works festival slated to be performed in person in a Miami Beach hotel in May, 2020. When COVID-19 hit, and live performances became impossible, the members of the Die-Cast team began to imagine the piece as a digital performance. Having already created a digital performance work called “Mad Deep Dish” for last year’s Fringe, as well as a digital piece called “Phyre” this past April, the company had some experience working remotely and creating digitally. Writing prompts and recorded physical explorations were shared on a private Facebook group in the early summer months with no certain plan as to exactly where the piece would end up.
That uncertainty was answered after Die-Cast Co-Founder Brenna Geffers received a call from an old friend who now runs a theatre company on the West Coast who had seen the groups’ performance of “Mad Deep Dish.” The friend, artistic director and previous Philadelphia artist, Mat Wright, was inquiring whether or not Die-Cast could create a virtual piece for his audiences. From that interaction, collaborating artists both in Philadelphia and Seattle began to work on the show, and “Temporary Occupancy” got its first home and premiere with the ArtsWest Playhouse in Washington last month.
“It has been a peculiar opportunity,” says Geffers “Connecting with friends and collaborators who live on the other side of the country, creating something together over Zooms and sharing movement sequences self-recorded in small bedrooms, imagining an outcome that is hard to predict, it is all both completely strange but also thoroughly normal.”
“Temporary Occupancy” was created by Die-Cast Co-founders Brenna Geffers and Thom Weaver as well as Anthony Crosby, Colleen Corcoran, Jahzeer Terrell, Keith Conallen, Steven Wright, David Strattan White, Andrew Carroll, Meg Rumsey-Lasersohn, Niya Colbert, Sean Lally, and Chris Sannino. The show will premiere on September 10th, with tickets available on Fringe Arts’ website.
For more information, a full list of all the Festival’s shows and to purchase tickets, visit fringearts.com