The festival, which debuted in 2011, was not only a cultural milestone for the city but also a major economic boost to the tune of more than $55 million. It brings together more than 50 arts partners to create a series of works celebrating a rotating theme. This year’s theme is “If You Had a Time Machine...”
“What we are asking is for the city to join this adventure with us—to take a ride in a time machine and go to different moments that the artists have decided to explore,” says Jay Wahl, director of festival programming and public events for PIFA.
That adventure includes the Bearded Ladies’ opening performance of “Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret,” narrated by a 15-foot-tall drag queen named Dixie, and a play inspired by Frank O’Hara’s famous poem about Billie Holiday, titled “The Day Lady Died.” Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has developed a program that recalls the day before Bastille Day in 1969 and Judy Garland’s 1961 Carnegie Hall show, while tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover presents a solo piece. Other participants include the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Franklin Institute, Stone Depot Dance Lab, and Fly School Circus Arts.
The literal embodiment of this theme will be in the giant time machine constructed in the lobby of the Kimmel Center, which will serve as the centerpiece for the festival. Additionally, on April 27, PIFA will exhibit the “all-out extravaganza” that is the Street Fair. Street performers, musicians, visual artists, actors, and more will take over a closed-down Broad Street for this unforgettable event. The festival runs March 28–April 27