CHESTER, Pa. — The city of Chester is experiencing a Culture and Arts Renaissance, which a collaborative theater group will showcase at this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival through the performance piece A Bridge Apart. This marks the first time the Philadelphia Fringe Festival will extend its territory to feature performances in Chester.
Widener University’s Lone Brick Theater Ensemble has partnered with The Artist Warehouse in Chester to produce A Bridge Apart, which candidly explores university-community or “town-gown” relations. Performances take place in Widener’s Alumni Auditorium Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are free, but they must be reserved on the Philadelphia Fringe Festival website, http://fringearts.com/event/a-bridge-apart-2/.
Devon Walls, artist and proprietor of The Artist Warehouse and an artist in residence at Widener, spearheaded efforts to develop this piece. Walls facilitated walking tours of the Widener University campus and city of Chester with Widener staff, faculty and students and Chester residents, business owners and city officials. Along the way, he interviewed participants about both real and perceived boundaries separating the campus and the Chester community. The narratives from those tours have been combined with spoken word, photography, actor interviews and improvisations, in addition to musical performances of Chester-based artists on the theme “boundaries and bridges,” to create A Bridge Apart.
“The performance itself acts as a new bridge between university and community as it brings Widener student actors together with youth and adult actors in the Chester community to enact stories, spoken word, music and other artistic reflections on the boundaries that hinder mutual respect and collaboration between the university and the city and on what it takes to bridge stronger partnerships,” said Sharon Meagher, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Widener University.
Both Meagher and Walls are primary investigators on a larger collaborative project titled Boundaries and Bridgesthat utilizes creative placemaking workshops and activities to strengthen connection to community and place in the city of Chester. Funded by a 2015 Catalyst Fund from the Barra Foundation, the Boundaries and Bridges initiative is led by a team of Widener University and city of Chester leaders to strengthen and support arts collaboration in Chester and realize the planned Culture and Arts Corridor from Widener’s campus to Chester’s City Hall. The concept of this Culture and Arts Corridor first developed through the Chester Made initiative led by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.
To learn more about the performances, contact Sharon M. Meagher, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, 610-499-1260 or 570-905-5234