Philly’s Epic Performing Arts Fest PIFA Returns With 50+ Shows & A Huge Street Fair

Critically acclaimed artists, world-premiere performances, a giant street fair and more land in Philadelphia for PIFA 2018...

Attention, performing arts lovers: There’s a lot to see in Philly this June.

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) returns from May 31 to June 10 with over 50 captivating performances curated by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to transfix audiences at venues and public spaces citywide.

PIFA 2018 FAST FACTS

  • Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts runs from May 31 to June 10.
  • The 11-day festival includes 50-plus performances and a huge street fair.
  • Award-winning and critically acclaimed artists from all over the world showcase their work.
  • Shows range in price from free to $300.

The festival, the fourth since 2011, occurs every two years to tout Philadelphia as a premier destination for highly compelling performing arts experiences. Of the hundreds of thousands of people anticipated to attend this year, more than half are expected to be from outside of Philadelphia.

This year’s lineup features critically acclaimed works by national and international artists like Pulitzer-prize-nominated performance artist Taylor Mac, award-winning choreographer Ann Carlson and — a fan favorite from PIFA 2011 — French aerialist troupe Transe Express.

The festival culminates with the sensational PIFA Street Fair on Broad Street on Saturday, June 9. The outdoor block party — a cherished PIFA tradition — fills seven blocks on Broad Street (between City Hall and South Street) with fantastic art, energetic entertainment, flavorful festival food and more.

Read on for 10 highlights from PIFA’s 2018 lineup.

Cristal Palace by Transe Express

Transe Express performing at PIFAPhoto courtesy Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

The French aerial performance troupe that dazzled a crowd of more than 200,000 at PIFA 2011 returns with the world premiere of Cristal Palace, an outdoor dance party on the banks of the Schuylkill River featuring musicians and acrobats atop a giant chandelier. Get there early and see Nobunto, an all-female, Afro-jazz a capella group from Zimbabwe, open the show.

Cristal Palace by Transe Express

When:June 1-10 (excluding June 4), 8 p.m.
Where:On the banks of the Schuylkill River, 2501 Walnut Street
Cost:$25

www.kimmelcenter.org

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music by Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac performingPhoto by Teddy Wolf

Pulitzer-Prize-nominated performance artist and 2017 MacArthur fellow Taylor Mac brings his critically acclaimed spectacle, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, to Philly for the first time during PIFA 2018. The captivating performance art concert explores the last 240 years of history, music and theater in two electric and immersive 12-hour shows. Guests can purchase tickets to Part I (1776-1896), Part II (1896-present) or both. There won't be an intermission, but guests can use the restroom, purchase food and drinks from concessions and leave the theater at their leisure (ticket required for reentry). Check here more useful information about what to expect.

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music by Taylor Mac

When:Part I: Saturday, June 2, noon-midnight; Part II: Saturday, June 9, noon-midnight
Where:Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street
Cost:Part I: $45-$300; Part II: $69-$300

www.kimmelcenter.org

Water on Mars by Plastic Boom

Water on Mars performancePhoto by Patrik Rio Monka

Gravity is no obstacle for Plastic Boom. The back-flipping, high-flying bowling-pin-tossing acrobats from Stockholm present the Philadelphia premiere of their high-energy kids show Water on Mars on stage at the Kimmel Center for PIFA 2018.

Water on Mars by Plastic Boom

When:June 1-3
Where:Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street
Cost:$19-$39

www.kimmelcenter.org

My Organ My Seoul by Ambiguous Dance Company

My Organ My Seoul PIFAPhoto by Sang Hoon Ok

World premiere alert! My Organ My Seoul, a quirky and provocative performance piece from former K-pop artists Boram Kim and Kung-min Jang, lands stateside from South Korea for PIFA 2018. Featuring critically acclaimed organist Ahreum Han, the show examines personal rhythm and freedom of expression in today’s world.

My Organ My Seoul by Ambiguous Dance Company

When:Sunday, June 3, 3 p.m.
Where:Kimmel Center, 300 S.Broad Street
Cost:$29

www.kimmelcenter.org

Doggie Hamlet choreographed by Ann Carlson

Doggie Hamlet performancePhoto by Kelly Fletcher

Based on the book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, award-winning choreographer Ann Carlson’s Doggie Hamlet takes over Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park to tell the story of a mute boy and his family of dog breeders. Five performers, three herding dogs and a flock of sheep star in this outdoor theatrical performance that invites the audience to sit upon hay bales and explore feelings like instinct, sentience, attachment and loss as they watch this Philadelphia premiere.

Doggie Hamlet choreographed by Ann Carlson

When:June 3-4, performance times vary
Where:Belmont Plateau, 1800 Belmont Mansion Drive
Cost:$20

www.kimmelcenter.org

SEA (Singular Extreme Actions) by Streb Extreme Action

SEA Singular Extreme Action performancePhoto by Teresa Wood

In the adrenaline-fueled, action-packed SEA (Singular Extreme Actions), developed by MacArthur Genius Award-winner Elizabeth Streb, the daredevils that make up Streb Extreme Action challenge the laws of physics with their extreme brand of acrobatic artistry. The stunt-work specialists take the stage at Perelman Theater for the Philadelphia premiere of this action-packed performance.

SEA (Singular Extreme Actions) by Streb Extreme Action

When:June 5-7, 7 p.m.
Where:Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street
Cost:$29-$39

www.kimmelcenter.org

Tape Riot by Asphalt Piloten

Tape Riot performancePhoto by Anna Anderegg

Experience unforgettable performance art executed in Philadelphia’s urban public spaces during the U.S. premiere of Asphalt Piloten’s Tape Riot. The stateside debut features four artists who — utilizing electronic soundscapes and dynamic choreography — lead audiences around the city from a mystery location with inspired movements and a trail of tape. The unexpected theatrical piece that manifests is always different and unique to the public space where it was performed.

Tape Riot by Asphalt Piloten

When:June 5-8, performance times vary
Where:Mystery location (TBA)
Cost:$20

www.kimmelcenter.org

The Fever by 600 HIGHWAYMEN

The Fever performancePhoto by Wahleed Shah

Reviewers rave about the moving experiential show The Fever, which comes to Philadelphia for the first time for PIFA 2018. The intimate, interactive performance by contemporary theater artists 600 HIGHWAYMEN incorporates the audience and examines many profound and timely themes, like the connectedness — and disconnectedness — of the human existence and our willingness to be there for one another.

The Fever by 600 HIGHWAYMEN

When:June 6-10, performance times vary
Where:SEI Innovation Studio, 300 S. Broad Street
Cost:$29

www.kimmelcenter.org

The Joke Is Mightier than the Sword by Bassem Youssef

Bassem Youssef perfomingPhoto by Sunny Martini

The creator and former host of the first political satire show (now off the air) in the Middle East shares personal stories and thoughts about the Arab Spring, the current state of politics in America and more in his stage show The Joke Is Mightier than the Sword.

The Joke Is Mightier than the Sword by Bassem Youssef

When:Wednesday, June 6, 7:30 p.m.
Where:Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street
Cost:$45-$120

www.kimmelcenter.org

PIFA Street Fair

PIFA Street Fair on Broad StreetPhoto courtesy Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

Once again, PIFA ends with a fabulous free block party that takes over Broad Street (between City Hall and South Street) with compelling street performances, interactive experiences, delicious street-fare food, carnival rides and more. Check here for more details about this can’t-miss event as they become available.

PIFA Street Fair

When:Saturday, June 9, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where:Broad Street between City Hall and South Street
Cost:Free

www.kimmelcenter.org

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