Watch out for giant puppets and drag queens, the uncurated arts festival Fringe Manila is ongoing until March 3, and you can even get a tattoo while you’re at it.
Festival director Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan brought the open-access festival in the Philippines in 2015 after working in Fringe New York (Fringe, the organization, was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland). His team gathered artists, found partner venues, and now Fringe has a steadily growing following.
“At first, it was just friends watching friends. Now we have a wider audience who wants to watch something outside the malls,” Pamintuan said during the press preview at Pineapple Lab, the festival’s hub in Poblacion, Makati. There is just one rule: Keep up with the deadline. This goes for both the artists and the audience, because some shows are a one-time thing.
Fringe Manila is celebrating its fifth year, and we’re up for a Fringe binge. Over a hundred events covering comedy, theater, burlesque, visual arts and improv are simultaneously happening at several locations in Metro Manila, mostly in Makati, plus food and city tours.
For the theater platform, Fringe is costaging Repertory Philippines’ rerun of “Silent Sky” at RCBC Plaza, Peta’s political comedy “Charot!” at Peta Theater, and The Sandbox Collective’s “Every Brilliant Thing” monologue at Maybank Performing Arts Theater.
The improv group SPIT is debuting at Yuchengco Museum to draw crowds who find museums intimidating.
Watch out for Puppet Theater Manila, a group that tells stories through puppets made of local materials such as rope and abaca. Artistic director Mikayla Teodoro got the idea from working on the set of “The Lion King.” Her giant carabao puppet is meant to be manipulated by two people, pretty much like how the lion and dragon dance works during Lunar New Year.
Brian Moreno is sashaying as drag queen Lucinda Sky at the PARC Foundation in San Juan. He said that while the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is popular, thanks to Netflix, his dance collective would be nothing like it: “‘Lucinda Sky’s Big Opening’ is an autobiographical and experimental show that looks inside a drag transformation process, with some aerial arts and cabaret thrown in.”
Other dance performances: Choreographer PJ Rebullida’s “Alive” at Alliance Française de Manille, Raflesia Chiarra Bravo’s “K’raze” at Yuchengco Museum, Burlesque PH’s “Bodabil” at Pineapple Lab. Canadian dancers Fly Lady Di and Diana David are doing “Third World” and “Move Your Dreams,” respectively.
We are curious about the “Down to Fringe” comedy show at Commune café which is tagged “for mature audience.” Deus Sex Machina comedy group is staging two shows at Yuchengco: “Woke Hard, Play Hard” and “Happy Endings.” Young artist Adam Red is exhibiting his art in “Ang Paghuhubad ni Maria” at Pineapple Lab. Fringe Manila is also uncensored, just please keep it legal.
Hungry? Street artist DeeJae Paeste is doing the “Starving Artist Tour” focused on the food and street scenes of Poblacion.
In Manila, one may join the heritage tour Manila Art Deco Weekend by Old Manila Walks, or the Bambike city tour to rediscover Intramuros on an iconic bamboo bike.
Artist Ilona Fiddy is holding “Tusok-Tusok Vol. 3” tattoo session for those who want a permanent Fringe souvenir.
“Fringe is necessary for Filipinos to have access the arts,” Pamintuan said. “With the government now, it is also important to have a safe space where gender identity is respected and artists can freely express themselves.”
Visit www.fringemanila.com for schedule; www.ticketworld. com.ph for tickets.