What’s a hip-fizz? It’s the insider nickname for a new Philly-centric FringeArts series of six innovative contemporary performances over the next four months – five of them world premieres. The series’ formal name is High Pressure Fire Service, or HPFS for short. Say it “HIP-fizz.”
What will you see if you go? Physical theater, big-issue theater (identity, disabilities, aging, abortion, and more), “devised” theater (created by the entire ensemble), and lots of innovative storytelling by local trailblazers, including A Hard Time, the latest work from the celebrated Pig Iron Theatre (May 1-12).
You can buy a full subscription ($150 for six shows, $120 for FringeArts members), pay as you go ($15-$31 per show), or get a 15 percent discount on packages of three to five shows (30 percent discount for members). Information: 215-413-1318, fringearts.com.
The series’ name is the original name of the FringeArts building at 140 N. Columbus Blvd., which was the country’s first high-pressure pump house.
“In 1903, this building started pumping water out of the Delaware and into fire hydrants all over the city to fight fires, but also to promote expansion and business innovation,” says FringeArts artistic producer Katy Dammers.
“We’re doing the same thing with the work of these Philly artists, trying to pump arts all throughout the city.”
The HPFS season runs March 1 through June 22. Here’s a taste of the first three shows:
♦ A Fierce Kind of Love (March 1-3) is an expanded relaunch of the Suli Holum work, commissioned by the Temple University Institute on Disabilities. It concerns the disabilities-rights movement in Pennsylvania, and people with disabilities more generally.
Directed by David Bradley, A Fierce Kind of Love features a “mixed-ability” cast, both actors and people living with disabilities. “That grew out of a listening session,” Holum says, “in which a person with disabilities asked, ‘Are we going to play ourselves, or will actors pretend to be us?’
“I realized that an actors-only cast would be an act of erasure, and the show evolved from there.”
♦ The Appointment (March 20-31) from Alice Yorke and the troupe Lightning Rod Special, is a satire, Yorke says, “on the absurdities, misogyny, and hypocrisy in the American conversation about abortion.”
Yorke visited a range of Philly-area clinics, “so part of it will take place in the ultrasound room, or the waiting room, but other parts will be more directly satirical, involving music and dance.”
Lightning Rod Special are the same folks who gave us the Obie-winning Underground Railroad Game. “Everyone from the director to the set designers are part of the creative process," Yorke says.
♦ Broccoli, Roosevelt, and Mr. House! (April 12-14) is a family production from the Philly troupe the Berserker Residents (Bradley Wrenn, Justin Jain, and David Johnson.)
“We wanted to do something that satisfies the itch for making a clown show,” Wrenn says, “but also feels like a playground: spontaneous, chaotic fun."