• Exploring the ‘Fringe’

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    Karen Kunawicz

    Karen Kunawicz

    Starting Thursday last week up to next Sunday, March 1, the Manila arts scene becomes even more electric with the “Fringe MNL Festival.”

    The festival’s Facebook page puts it simply as “Manila’s Arts Festival” in these phrases: “open access, non-curated, uncensored.”

    For two weeks, the city will be bombarded by performance after performance in the arena of spoken word, dance, music, film, theater and musical theater. The website currently says there are over two hundred performances listed under Fringe MNL “with performances being added daily.”

    Go to the Fringe MNL Facebook page to see what’s happening for the day.

    While I am typing this, I see among the performances, Ang Sopranong Kalbo at the College of St. Benilde—this being the late great Rolando Tinio’s translation of Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano, “a sojourn to a series of nonsensical life events.”

    The day this column is printed, there’s a Star Wars Fan Party a.k.a. The Bard’s New Hope at the Manila Collectible Co. behind the Manila Cathedral, among many other options.

    Since I’ll be out of the city this weekend, and I wanted to sample at least one of the performances, I made a few clicks online on Friday the 13th and booked myself for last Monday evening’s performance of Taiwanese artist Chun-liang called Strange Intimacies.

    I received instructions via e-mail to show up before 7 p.m. at The Living Room a.k.a. Carlos Celdran’s space in Malate. The mode of payment would be food (nothing raw) and that “interaction and slight body movements may take place during the performance.”

    We began as a group of 10 curious strangers (for the most part) five people arrived alone, there was a group of three and there was one pair (myself and my date for the evening). Chun-liang, our young guide, joined with us as we did seve-ral exercises involving lots of movement, sound, and human contact.

    We went from one phase of the performance to the next. Strange Intimacies is a malleable piece with Chun-liang holding it together. Each one of us in the “audience” became part of the performance, reacting in our own ways to her movements and instructions. No two performances are alike.

    I’ll have to admit my evening at Strange Intimacies was fun, cozy, relaxing and sexy. At one point, there was a group massage on the floor. I had made eye contact many times with Chun Liang and at another juncture of the evening, my companion decided he didn’t need his shirt.

    After the hour-long “performance,” Chun Liang talked to each of us in the audience. The food laid out was ready to be eaten and everyone was invited to linger, interact and await the arrival of other visiting Fringe artists.

    So if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and curious, and if you’re looking for something to feed your head and your senses—go catch something at Fringe MNL.

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    1 Comment

    1. Chun Liang is a brilliant and keen observer to offer such a wonderful contact with each other through her performance. Nowadays we spend a lot of time updating our Facebook, tagging where we’ve been and googling what’s happening, but forget to communicate with friends, neighbors, family members who’re around us. I know high technology makes many thing easier, yet it sometimes bring alienation, too. A common scence in people’s social engagement is a group of people stuck in the world of computer, who are unable to interact with others around.