Now 15 years old, Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe return with month-long performances in theater, comedy and improv, dance, and music at over 70 venues around Philadelphia. This year, our own Rabbi Rayzel Raphael performs in Kabbalah Salon, which is promised to include members of all faiths in interactive storytelling and singing.
The grande dame of arts festival takes place in Edinburgh in August and my family was again privileged to attend this city-wide celebration of the arts dating from 1950. The alternative Fringe Festival has now grown so big that they boasted 2,700 performances this year. The Book Festival spans over two weeks and the Royal Military Tattoo draws a packed audience of 8,800 for its nightly performances, ending with spectacular fireworks that rival those of the Capitol Fourth celebrations in Washington. The evening we were there, the BBC was present to film it for posterity. Our favorite performers were the Top Secret Drum Corps (how secret can they be?) from Basel, Switzerland for their drumstick juggling, drummers' dueling, flag spinning, and neon-lit drums.
The Festival shows that we enjoyed in Edinburgh ranged from a humorous look at sustainable living by Chinese-American comedienne Kristina Wong, the Mongolian throat singing group Anda Union (who can sing two notes at the same time!), the tap dance and live rock/blues/soul/funk band Rhythmic Circus, and a children's ensemble's take on Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.
The sole disappointment was when we tried to buy tickets for the Israeli Batsheva Dance Troupe (to counter the pro-Palestinian demonstrators) but we had the wrong date and we exchanged them for another modern dance performance that was long, incomprehensible, and too loud for comfort. We later learned that the Batsheva performance was sabotaged four times by protesters.
Fringe festivals provide a smorgasbord of artists in often off-beat venues. Reasonably priced, it's lively way to experience diverse talent, who may just be on his or her way to stardom on a bigger stage. I'm glad we got to see Rhythmic Circus before the troupe lands on Off-Broadway this fall.
Kabbalah Salon runs September 7, 8, and 14 at 7:30 pm at Moving Arts Studio, 7425 Old York Road, Elkins Park. Other shows can be listed at email@example.com. The Festival box office is located at 919 North 5th Street (at Poplar), 215.413.1318. From Sept 7-22, the box office hours will be 11am-9pm.
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