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 the City of Brotherly Love exemplifies in an interactive and highly personal way. This weekend marks the final weekend of the spirited festival, and Metro has the scoop on which shows you should be checking out.
“Pursuit of Happiness”
Saddle up on a hilarious and uplifting journey following a Mexican barman and an Australian sales rep on their trip to Baghdad following their pursuit of the American Dream, featuring magic potions and high-energy cowboy dances. According to the website, “Pursuit of Happiness” plays with language, movement, setting, and genre through an endlessly morphing folk tale of ultraviolent Western expansion, taking on the myth and legacy of the American Dream and its aspirational aftermath. This hilarious showcase comes from Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper of Nature Theater of Oklahoma (named after the theater in Kafka’s novel “Amerika”) and the internationally renowned Slovenian dance troupe EN-KNAP Group. Sept. 20-21, tims vary, Mandell Theater, 3220 Chestnut St., $2-$39
“Un Poyo Rojo”
This mesmerizing show examines the range of possible relationships among men. “Un Poyo Rojo” takes place in a locker room where two men stand side-by-side, and even though there is virtually no dialogue (just the sound of their bodies and the noises of a portable radio) the tension between them is more than clear. Using expressive forms such as dance, athletic movement, clowning, martial arts, acrobatics and more, audiences will dive into a world of provocation and self-acceptance. Please note the performance on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. will be audio-described for patrons who are blind or have low vision. Through Sept. 21, times vary, Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St., $2-$35
“Let Me Die”
This world premiere performance from Joseph Keckler combines death sequences drawn from the canon of classic opera with original narratives and music. According to the website, this show acts as a festive meditation, a strange ritual and a morbid medley of epic proportions. “Let Me Die” features full-length arias and snippets of music performed by the three-plus-octave voice of a classically trained bass baritone with the style of a rock star. The title “Let Me Die” also drew inspiration from “Lasciatemi morire,” the Monteverdi death song which is itself a fragment from a lost opera.
Sept. 21-28, times vary, FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd., $2-$60
“Sunset CypHER” showcases a colorful collaboration from three Philly-based female artists. Ani Gavino (movement artist), Latreice Branson (percussionist) and Jasmine Lynea (director) will deliver an improvisational performance between dance, drums and the sunset. Audiences will also be a part of the communal and expressive show. Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd., $10
“I Know It Was the Blood”
This award-winning show from Tara Lake has already taken the country by storm in other cities such as Chicago, Baltimore and Rochester, and now is making its premiere in the City of Brotherly Love. “I Know It Was the Blood” embraces Lake’s Southern roots through storytelling, theater, song, gospel rhythms, queer identity and poetry. Sept. 20-22, times vary, The Whole Shebang, 1813 S. 11th St., $13
“Beyond the Light”
This stunning showcase of dance, puppetry, shadow work, and lighting effects was called “pure enchantment” by Jane Henson, co-founder of “The Muppets.” According to the website, in this one-hour work one soul torn into two must find its way back together again. “Beyond the Light” is an exploration of the power of love, hope, and determination that blends four different forms of puppetry to explore a world rift with drama and comedy. The show is not recommended for children under the age of 6. Through Sept. 22, times vary, Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th St., $10
“There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and of the Other”
This visually progressive show comes from Wilma Theater’s innovative artistic director Blanka Zizka and arts pioneer Rosa Barba, and aims to bring a seminal work of contemporary poetry to life on stage. A group of talented Philly-based actors will be performing a full-bodied interpretation of Etel Adnan’s book-length meditation on conflict and identity, and the show also explores what we all yearn to discover for ourselves and on our quest for love. “There: In the Light and the Darkness of the Self and of the Other” opened last week and also features original music by Alex Dowling. Through Sept. 22, times vary, Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St., $2-$52