The Way Out (2020)

The Way Out- new circus-theater in the 2020 Philly Fringe

Philadelphia’s aerial storytellers presented The Way Out — an immersive, 100% socially distanced performance for a drive-through audience, as part of the 2020 Fringe Festival. This unique site-specific show unspooled across 78 acres of Laurel Hill Cemetery. The Way Out is an evening of performance made for the pandemic — capturing a world inside a bubble, a meditation on time and history, and pockets of memory illuminated by flame.

Wheels spin, worlds turn, and the past loops into the present. Dancers hold tension from six feet apart, and aerialists are caught between earth and sky. Tangle’s acrobats navigate a complexly woven circus-theater story in this unusual show designed with all COVID-19 precautions in mind. Audiences flow along Laurel Hill’s gently winding roads to experience the show at a series of separate performance stations located across the historic cemetery, including dancers, live flameworking, kinetic sculptures, live music, and aerial artists. One carload or group of bicycles at a time, the audience parks to view each performance before continuing along the path.

The Way Out speaks to a central dynamic of the pandemic — we’re trapped in our houses, in our responsibilities, in our bodies, in our fear. Yet we’re released from some of our typical roles, from our normal experience of time, from usual social expectations,” says Tangle founder Lauren Rile Smith. “The show’s unusual format of a rolling, immersive performance mirrors this sense of movement inside a maze, with answers in unexpected places.”

PA Council on the ArtsFor the creation of The Way Out, Tangle received state arts funding support through a grant from The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.