Philadelphia Fringe Festival Offering Free Contextual Programming for American Chameleon: The Living Installments and TrailOff

Digital activities include reading groups presented with by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art and TrailOff trail launch events.

WHAT: FringeArts is pleased to announce that they will be offering free contextual online programming for two of their Fringe Festival curated offerings: American Chameleon: The Living Installments and TrailOff.  These digital lectures, reading groups, and more are available at no cost for the general public and provide a deeper context to both Festival works.  Details on these offerings are below


HOW: Guests can register for these free supplemental programs by visiting




THE EXPERIENCE: Nigerian-American artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko and collaborators lead audiences through a digital archive of video performance, conversation, and meditation in this hybrid multimedia living artwork that explores the ever-evolving ways in which digitality intersects with the fugitive realities and shapeshifting principles that Black queer people employ to survive and heal. Kosoko and a company of scholars, activists, and artists host a series of events, including a film screening, discussion, and healing session that aims to hold grief while also centering themes of liveness, beauty, humor, care, and joy. The work operates as a flexible, digital commons. A pop-up community of organizers and practitioners center adaptive interactive learning as a means of creating sustainable, multi-tiered networks of care.Occurring on the audio, visual communications platform Discord and on Youtube, Chameleon: The Living Installments is an experiment in creating a flexible space where Black voices are able to think and speak out loud.


DATES: September 9-September 30, 2020


FREE ONLINE READING GROUPS: In conjunction with American Chameleon: The Living Installments by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, FringeArts and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art are offering reading groups to facilitate a deeper engagement with the academic and analytical texts that have influenced Kosoko’s work. Following a Syllabus for Peace that Kosoko has designed, 15 Philadelphia and 15 Portland residents will read a text reflecting on the influences of white supremacy and institutional racism on Black and Brown bodies, and the work ahead to imagine restorative and justice-filled futures. Audiences from Philadelphia and Portland will gather with three scholars and thinkers to listen to a short presentation on the text, split into discussion groups organized by respective cities, and return to a larger group to have a broader conversation. Sessions last 90 minutes and will take place on Zoom.  Audiences are invited to sign up for one of the three workshops. Below you will find additional information about the three facilitators and the different sessions. Please note that these reading groups are a space of learning, listening, and deep reflection, and that FringeArts and PICA are emphasizing the centering of voices of color in this conversation.

Kosoko’s Syllabus for Peace can be found here:


Wednesday, September 9th at 7pm EST

Lead Facilitator: Malkia Okech on Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police by Mariame Kaba


Wednesday, September 16th at 7pm EST

Lead Facilitator: Lisa Jarrett on In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker


Wednesday, September 23rd at 7pm EST

Lead Facilitator: Amalia Dache on the 1619 Project from the New York Times




THE EXPERIENCE: This immersive augmented reality audio performance presents ten original audio narratives, each connected to paths within the Philadelphia region’s expansive Circuit Trails network. Accessed via a mobile app, listeners will hear original dramas while walking each route. Written by local authors in collaboration with Swim Pony and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), these stories center experiences that connect with communities traditionally underserved by environmental programming. Featuring stories by afaq, ari, Jacob Camacho, Eppchez!, donia salem harhoor, Carmen Maria Machado, Erin T. McMillon, Li Sumpter, Denise Valentine, and Jacob Winterstein.  Audiences will experience these intimate journeys through the TrailOff app, developed by Toasterlab, which uses GPS triggering to link audio to specific geography as users walk the mapped routes. Phone sensors will also prompt subtle variations dependent on weather and time of day, tailoring each experience. The stories have been created uniquely for each trail site with scenes narrated by beloved local performers and underscored with music and atmospheric sound design crafted by Michael Kiley. After each walk, additional content is available in-app including podcast-style interviews with writers and points of environmental and historic interest on the trail. ​


DATES: September 10-October 4, 2020




Friday, September 11 at 7pm

TrailOff collaborators Adrienne Mackey of Swim Pony, Lizzie Hessek of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and sound designer Michael Kiley discuss the creation process for this immersive storytelling project centering experiences that connect with communities traditionally underserved by environmental programming. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Zach Blackwood.


Saturday, September 12 at 7pm

Jacob Camacho and Trinity Norwood discuss the creation of their story for the Kensington & Tacony Trail that imagines conversations with the Indigenous Lenni-Lenape people of the past, present, and future. This launch event will also include a performance by Ty Dancing Wolf Ellis whose music is present throughout this story. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Katy Dammers.


Sunday, September 13 at 7pm

donia salem harhoor and Kinan Abou-afach weave together poetry and music for an evening inspired by the Perkiomen Trail that considers care-giving, memory, grief, life in the SWANA (South West Asia & North Africa) diaspora, and roots of every kind. After the performance there will be a conversation between the artists.


Friday, September 18 at 7PM

afaq joins Justin Dennis from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation to talk about the development process for her story situated on the Cooper River Trail and the history of the site and surrounding area. Moderated by Swim Pony Founder and Artistic Director Adrienne Mackey.


Saturday, September 19 at 7PM

Li Sumpter is joined by cast members Jaylene Clark Owens and Ursula Rucker in conversation about the making of Sumpter’s story Chronicles of Asylum for the Schuylkill River: Bartram’s Mile. Moderated by Len Webb, of The Micheaux Mission, this discussion will center Black stories, myths of apocalypse and Afrofuturism.


Friday, September 25 at 7PM

Erin T. McMillon joins sound designer Mike Kiley and voice actor Danielle Leneé to talk about the creation process and audio design for her urban horror story set along the Delaware Canal Towpath. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Katy Dammers.


Saturday, September 26 at 6PM

Carmen Maria Machado reads from her body of work and speaks about its considerations of folklore with Pennsylvania Environmental Council Program Manager Lizzie Hessek.


Sunday, September 27 at 7PM

A memorial video will be released to commemorate the late author Denise Valentine’s story crafted for the Tacony Creek Trail.


Friday, October 2 at 7PM

Eppchez! speaks with Bob Skiba (Curator of the John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center) about queer history in Philadelphia, taking up some of the themes of Eppchez!’s story situated on the Delaware River Trail South. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Zach Blackwood.


Saturday, October 3 at 6PM

ari walks the Chester Valley Trail and via video narrates the process of crafting their immersive story that draws from their own queer Latinx experience and childhood spent near the trailsite. Pennsylvania Environmental Council Program Manager Lizzie Hessek will be in conversation with ari and provide additional context for viewers.


Sunday, October 4 at 7PM

Jacob Winterstein speaks about the Eastwick neighborhood of Philadelphia, known as “The Meadows.” The site of his story, this area was one of Philadelphia’s only harmoniously integrated neighborhoods before its destruction through government-directed development and “urban renewal.” Moderated by Swim Pony Founder and Artistic Director Adrienne Mackey.



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