The Philadelphia Fringe Live Arts Festival took place these past weeks from Aug. 30 to Sept. 15, 2007. Originally formed in 1997, the Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe was created experimentally by a group of artist living in Philadelphia in the 1990s. The Fringe provides an opportunity for artists to present their work in a goal to “create a festival environment where artists from all over the world can exchange creative energies and ideas, and share their work with audiences and the international arts community.” The first festival featured a group of 60 artists that created an “inspiring creative environment.” Now, the Fringe features a collection of over 1,400 participating artists, attracting over 45,000 attendees and is thriving better than ever. The Fringe features a variety of arts, theater, dance, and music.
One of the performances taking place in Philadelphia was that of the improv group Tongue and Groove at the Second Stage of the Adrienne. Tongue and Groove is an improv company with a strong focus on realism. The company members possess a wide range of credits from television to film and stage work. The concept of the show was that a member of the audience would choose the theme for the scenes in their cycle at the beginning of every show. The audience member would choose this by picking a fortune cookie and from that fortune the theme of their show would spin off from there. Of course, they added the ever famous ending of in bed to the end of the fortune, kicking off their first scene, which took place in a bed.
Humorous, emotional and real was the improv; their scenes are based off of reality.
The scenes explored different relationships of friends, married lovers, and couples of both hetero- and homosexuality. While full of humor there were also serious scenes, not something you see often with improv. As Bobbie Block wrote in her director’s notes, the performance was “truth based, moment-to-moment discovery of human relationships found in the genre of realism.realistic work often is explored…rarely in improv training.”
The members of Tongue and Groove are Frederick Anderson, Beth Dougherty, Jenn MacMillan, Eoin O’Shea, Carrie Spaulding, Josh Rybinstein, and even producing art director and founder of Tongue and Groove, Block. Two members of Tongue and Groove, Adam Gerlter and Jordan Stalsworth, were not present at all the performance due to other Fringe participation.
The members of Tongue and Groove are an immensely talented group of individuals that were able to achieve a level of improvisation that has not been witnessed before. The group presents an interesting concept that was both original and visibly appealing. The audience interaction really pulls you in and lets you feel like you are a part of the creative process. It was thoroughly enjoyable and given eight thumbs up by myself and my four companions.
Brianna Choynowski is a first-year student at West Chester University. She can be reached at BC622996@wcupa.edu.