On Stage This Fall: Immersive Works from Artist Tania El Khoury, Choreographer Boris Charmatz at the Barnes Foundation, International Contemporary Ensemble at Christ Church and More

07 Aug 2018


Tania El Khoury, Gardens Speak. Photo by Jesse Hunniford.

The fall performance calendar is rich with exciting performances from Center grantees. Theater productions, concerts, interactive installations, and large-scale public performances offer audiences a wide range of cultural experiences. Get a preview below, and look for our roundup of fall visual arts exhibitions and events coming soon.

Visit our events calendar for a full list of programs this season.

ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury
September 6–23

Bryn Mawr College presents an extensive survey of artist Tania El Khoury’s work, featuring five interactive performances and installations. A self-described “live artist” working between Lebanon and the United Kingdom, El Khoury creates works that engage the audience in multi-sensory interaction and address issues of displacement, political oppression, and justice.

  • Gardens Speak, an interactive sound installation that invites audience members to dig in the dirt in order to listen to oral histories collected from the early period of the Syrian uprising.
  • Camp Pause, a video installation tells the stories of four residents of the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon.
  • As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, an encounter through a gallery wall between a single audience member and a a Syrian refugee.
  • Stories of Refuge, an immersive video installation in which audiences lay down on metal bunk beds and watch videos shot by Syrian asylum seekers in Munich, Germany.
  • Tell Me What I Can Do, a newly commissioned work featuring letters that audiences have written in response to Gardens Speak.

The Accountant
September 6–9

Theater artist Trey Lyford premieres a visual theater piece that tells the story of a life remembered in the forgotten office of an aging clerk. The Accountant blends physical theater, vaudeville routines, illusion, origami, and slapstick to create a dreamscape of memory and loss, inviting audiences to consider the seemingly minute moments of everyday life.


Trey Lyford, The Accountant. Photo by Paula Court.

Heiner Goebbels: Songs of Wars I Have Seen and Stifters Dinge
September 7–9

FringeArts presents the Philadelphia premiere of two works by Heiner Goebbels: Songs of Wars I Have Seen and Stifters Dinge in conjunction the Center-supported project Heiner Goebbels: Imaginary Stages. A work of both music and theater, Songs of Wars I Have Seen joins members of baroque ensemble Tempesta di Mare and the Philadelphia Orchestra and incorporates text by Gertrude Stein, to create what FringeArts describes as “a bittersweet lament on war’s insidious effects.” Stifters Dinge is a performative installation driven by a large-scale set—including five mechanically operated pianos, movable walls, and projections— that creates a landscape, without commentary, from which the audience must draw its own conclusions.

In Plain Air
September 22–23

Christ Church Preservation Trust marks the installation of a new, custom-built pipe organ with world premiere performances of In Plain Air, a program of original compositions by Phyllis Chen and Nathan Davis, members of the highly acclaimed International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). The performances by the church’s director of music and organist, Parker Kitterman, and twelve members of ICE will guide audiences across the entire church campus, including a section of Independence National Historical Park. Open rehearsals will be held by ICE during their final week in residence, complemented by educator-led programs on the history of music at Christ Church.


Opus 150, 1:16 model. Photo courtesy of C.B. Fisk, Inc.

Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul: McCrary Sisters and St. Thomas Gospel Choir
September 22 and October 20

WXPN explores the roots of gospel and its influence on secular popular music through an ongoing series of live performances, a media-rich website, and a radio documentary. On September 22, the American-Christian gospel music quartet the McCrary Sisters will perform at World Café Live. Then, see a live performance from the St. Thomas Gospel Choir at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, October 20.


The McCrary Sisters–Ann, Deborah, Regina, and Alfreda. Photo courtesy of the artist.

October 5

Composer, tabla player, and artistic director Lenny Seidman presents an original, evening-length performance suite for one night only at Swarthmore College. ARC brings together the drumming traditions of tabla from North India and taiko from Japan, with contemporary Western, African Diasporic, and Asian Pacific dance. The cast consists of three tabla players directed by Lenny Seidman, three taiko players under the direction of Joe Small, and three movement artists: Laurel Jenkins, Ani Gavino, and Orlando Hunter.

Philadelphia Museum of Dance
October 6

Drexel University Westphal College’s Philadelphia Museum of Dance, co-curated by acclaimed French choreographer Boris Charmatz, examines the presentation of public performance in relationship to the exhibition of visual art objects. On October 6, Charmatz transforms the Barnes Foundation with a one-day, free exhibit of live dance featuring performers from Philadelphia and New York. Prior to the day-long event, Drexel University Westphal College partners with FringeArts to present two performances of Charmatz’s piece manger on September 22–23.


Philadelphia community and professional dancers performing Boris Charmatz’ Levée des conflits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2016. Photo by JJ Tiziou.

The Anchoress
October 17

The world premiere of composer and 2018 Pew Fellow David Ludwig’s The Anchoress, a song cycle for soprano presented with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, explores the medieval mystic tradition of anchorism and its relationship to contemporary society. Set to poetry by Katie Ford and performed by Piffaro, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, and soprano Hyunah Yu, the program merges the sounds of ancient and modern worlds to explore issues of faith, isolation, and social power.

Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer
October 28

Philadelphia Folklore Project presents a one-night-only, world-premiere concert of new compositions, written and performed by three generations of women and led by Susan Lankin-Watts, a 2015 Pew Fellow. The project brings together twelve musicians whose work breathes contemporary life into the centuries-old tradition of klezmer, an Eastern European Jewish folk music form.