Since the beginning of September, city locals and world–famous performing arts groups have graced Philly stages in nearly 200 cutting–edge productions. With only three days of the festival left, Arts presents you with just a few of the most striking and provocative. So burst out of the Penn bubble for a night — you might be shocked by what you see, but we promise you won’t be sorry.
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1. TRACES Seven uncannily flexible circus artists from Montreal tell emotionally gripping stories through expressions of skateboarding, theatre, contemporary dance and circus feats like hoop–jumping and high–risk acrobatics. As the verbal accounts grow more personal and the risks more daring, the show becomes as suspenseful as it is entertaining. Featured on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” this summer, “TRACES” is predicted to bring in some of the biggest crowds of the festival. Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St, $15.
2. Zon–Mai Translated as at home, elsewhere, “Zon–Mai” — the first visual arts exhibit in the festival’s history — is the dual vision of a choreographer and a filmmaker. Inside a dark, old pumping station stands the illuminated shape of a basic house made from 20x20–foot projection screens. Meant to represent a home turned inside out, the screens host dozens of dancers performing in living rooms and on beds of their individual homes across the world. Rarely does such sacred intimacy thrive in a public space; “Zon–Mai” does so gracefully. Former Pumping Station, 140 N. Columbus Blvd, Free.
3. The Devil and Mister Punch Co–creator Julian Crouch said, “We can promise puppets and pianos, fingers and hands, crocodiles and sausages. It’s a beautiful and dirty show about love and fighting — not for the squeamish.” Described by critics as both refreshing and offensive, this puppet show incorporates murder, family feud and parody of theater production. Nothing beats the irony of seemingly juvenile paper mache figures drenched in the darkest of humor. Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American St, $25.
4. X/Y Remember when J. Michael DeAngelis edited your resume before OCR? Thank the Career Services guru for landing you the perfect internship by seeing “X/Y,” the show he wrote, directed and acts in alongside Penn alumna Kate Davis. In three plays, the two Quaker actors hilariously explore romance and the workplace. Responsible for last year’s Fringe hit “Signs from God,” the award–winning team is sure to engage and entertain in their new world premiere. The Raven Lounge, 1718 Sansom St, $10. 5. Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead In the dank, haunted cellar of the CEC, New York playwright and NYU professor Jeffrey Stanley presents a one–man autobiographical show with a supporting cast of ghosts summoned by audience members on a homemade Ouija board. Stanley courageously bares his soul, divulging family secrets, haunting dreams, interpretations of Nietzsche and his ideas of human happiness. Get your tickets as soon as possible; only 16 are sold per show in order to involve and affect every member of the audience. The Blue Grotto in the CEC Cellar, 3500 Lancaster Ave, $20.