Friday, February 12, 2016

Fringe Time

A Flash of Teen Talent at the Philly Fringe

Fringe Time


This was the view late last week as I walked back to the office AFTER photographing high school actors from the theater group SHADOW Company. When I first received the assignment to photograph the outdoor evening rehearsal of their performance-art piece "Flash!" the only thing I envisioned was great sunset lighting. 

However, their "stage" was below street level under Dilworth Plaza at City Hall, which never sees the sun after noon when it is completely hidden behind the skyscrapers of Penn Center and West Market Street.

So I didn't get the nice light, which is one of the great things about working a night shift (it was a bland uniform shade). But I did get to shoot some exciting and vibrant teenagers.

Just as it is infectious to be around positive and creative people, it is reinvigorating to photograph those full of energy and youthful enthusiasm. Could even say it's more inspiring than great light. It was a lot fun, as they didn't have any problem getting dirty crawling, dancing and rolling on the concourse flooring.

The student-written piece was inspired by flash mobs - the large gatherings of young people that turned violent several times this year on Philadelphia's streets. But as co-director Colleen Hughes told Inquirer reporter Troy Graham, one of the things they started off talking about when creating the piece was "creativity vs. destruction." She says they "wanted to bring the same force, the same momentum, the same energy into the space and have it be a creative force, not a destructive one."

Their piece was staged over the weekend as part of the Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe, one of the 200 diverse performances scattered throughout the city through Sept. 18.

Flash! will be performed again Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18. Just like a "normal" flash mob, they will not reveal the location of the show prior to the evening of the performance. So, ticket buyers must e-mail with their name, cell phone number or email address and they'll let you know where to go.

An Inquirer review of some the first weekend performances is here.  More of my photos from their rehearsal can be found here.

Inquirer Staff Photographer
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About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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