Arts / Events

14 digital performances you can still catch at 2019’s Fringe Festival

Here's what to expect from artists at Digital Fringe, including sculptures linked to audio via QR codes and a hybrid computer game/IRL performance.

Screenshot from the digital experience "Pseudoverse." (Image courtesy of Ricky Brigante)

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the addition of a digital component to the Fringe Festival, the multi-week arts series hosted every fall in Philadelphia.

FringeArts, the fest’s parent organization, has “seen the caliber of digital art continue to increase,” Claire Frisbie, director of marketing and communications at FringeArts, wrote in an email, “as more artists find way to pair a digital component with a live show or continue to refine their crafts from games, to podcasts, to live streams, and more.”

One showcase making an appearance at the 2019 Digital Fringe is “Suspended Lives / Vidas Suspendidas.” The project created by Nora Hiriart Litz, director of art and culture at Latinx arts nonprofit Puentes de Salud, convenes nine Latinx artists whose work hopes to “reclaim the piñata as a common cultural construct.” Through Sept. 22, their sculptures can be found at Cherry Street Pier, the FringeArts building and Christ Church Neighborhood House.

(Photo courtesy of Leah Reisman)

“Each piece uses sculpture, mixed media, and storytelling to tell the story of the artist’s journey to and daily life in the United States and gives voice to their memories, emotions, and fears related to migration,” explained Leah Reisman, coordinator for art and culture at Puentes de Salud. “The self-portraits are each linked via QR code to an audio recording of the artist telling their story in their own words — the sculptures invite the viewer in as a participant in the artist’s lived experience, recognizing and celebrating the complexity and importance of immigrant stories.”

Have you ever pondered the nature of reality? If so, “Pseudoverse” at Digital Fringe may be of interest.

This online experience gives players a choice to “Question Reality,” an original digital game, or participate in a post-Fringe IRL performance of “Dark Passage,” open for 20 nights throughout the Halloween season. Through Pseudoverse, the two worlds collide as one “connected story universe” where players can adventure into unexpected encounters and find intriguing characters.

“Our immersive digital experiences generally begin on the web with a simple signup form,” wrote Sarah Elger, president and creative director of Pseudonym Productions, in an email. “From there, the experience plays out across many forms of digital interaction, that may include websites, email, phone calls, text messages, social media, YouTube, or just about any other method of online/digital communication. It’s not always the same for every player and there is always a possibility for surprises.”

Sometimes a phone call is much more than nagging and personal needs; perhaps the voice mailbox contains a gift, like a vibrant story or a lyrical message. That is the case for one performance called “Voicemail Poems.”

Established in 2012, “Voicemail Poems” is an online magazine and podcast that publishes audio recordings of writers who read their work over voicemail. Editor-in-Chief Amy Saul-Zerby shared a call to action for all who wish to get their work published.

“We just published a new issue last month, and we are accepting submissions for our fall issue until October 15th, so we are hopeful that the Digital Fringe feature will amplify the voices of our recent contributors and also encourage more poets to submit their work,” she wrote.

The following list features all 14 Digital Fringe performances you can catch through the end of the festival and the artists or organizations behind them (with all descriptions provided by FringeArts):

If You Can’t Make ’em Laugh, Make ’em Cum: The Life Story of a Thieving, Whoring Saint

Equal parts hilarious and dark, this autobiography of actor, singer, comedian, and filthy whore James Bradford details a life spent on the TV screen/stage and behind closed doors as an escort. The one-of-a-kind audiobook features traditional readings plus live storytelling, intimate Q&A sessions and comedic retellings of the written version.

  • James Bradford

The Island

Rescue your friends from the peril they encountered on their vacation. You can only use your voice and your wits to uncover the secrets of the Island.

  • Shawn Pierre

Kingdom of Oz: An Immersive Audio Experience

Dorothy’s gone home. The Wizard’s in the wind. Many Ozians seek to claim the Emerald Throne. Will the wise Scarecrow ascend to lead? Does the Tin Woodman’s heart yearn for power? What sinister players lie beyond the Great Sandy Waste? Will you help discover the rightful ruler of Oz?

  • REAL Immersive

Mad Deep Dish

Die casting is a metal casting process that is characterized by forcing molten metal under high pressure into a mold cavity, filling the mold entirely to create a new object.

  • Die-Cast

Ancestral Movements

Highlighting traditional and modern African dance forms of the African diaspora, Ancestral Movements expresses the dance experiences of the enslaved who were forced to dance on the decks of slave ships and on the auction block, and explores how they used dance as a source of spiritual strength.

  • Breanna Moore


ArtDates attempts to stop the cycle of meeting potential collaborators, talking about performing together, and then never being able to make it happen. Collaborators meet for just a few hours on one day and make something from scratch, creating a digital artifact to mark the collaboration’s completion.

  • Miryam Coppersmith

Dear Friend Society

Dear friend,

Have you heard about our new society yet? If you’re looking to spread more positive energy or are in search of a little pick-me-up, feel free to stop by anytime. We’ve saved space just you!

With love, the universe

P.S. You’re worthy just as you are.

  • Loretta Gary / Radical Hearts Print Lab

Grasslands With Out Time

Podcast woven with photography exploring a digital nature-world through surrealistic fiction and images that strike a chord.

  • Katelyn Madara


Concrete poems scripted through randomization and memetic engineering.

  • williamCromar

Thimble Staged

Poetry can be performance. Performance can be poetry. To explore this relationship, Thimble Literary Magazine recorded a series of podcasts in which poets and actors read poetry, discuss the creative process, and explore common ground.

  • Thimble Literary Magazine

The Upstage

New plays from new voices. This podcast is dedicated to telling stories by and about artists of diverse backgrounds. The Upstage produces play readings and interviews with playwrights to aid in exposure for artists and to spread awareness of social issues. Join our community.

  • Ann Marley

Voicemail Poems

An online magazine and podcast that highlights the intimate and raw voices of new and established writers of all styles. Poets submit to the magazine by reading their work to a voicemail box. Our favorites are picked seasonally and published on our website and our Soundcloud. We also publish a specially hosted podcast episode after each issue.

  • Voicemail Poem Literary Magazine


Pseudonym Productions presents an interactive adventure into the unexpected. Join our new layer of reality: the Pseudoverse. A game with no controller. A state of mind. An opportunity to be yourself—or whoever you wish to be. A companion to Question Reality, our physical Fringe Festival experience. Play either or both. Your choice.

  • Pseudonym Productions

Suspended Lives (Vidas Suspendidas)

Every migrant’s story is a beast all its own. Barbed wire to the touch, or marzipan tender. Wrought from brittle citizenship or building shelter in a place where the neighbors call them monster. In Suspended Lives / Vidas Suspendidas, Latinx artists from across Philadelphia shed their favored mediums and reclaim the piñata as a common cultural construction. What emerges are life sized self portraits embodying Mexican iconography and kinetic self realization.

  • Puentes de Salud
Companies: FringeArts

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