Talk Cinema offers an industry-insider peek of upcoming foreign and independent pictures, all curated by longtime film critic Harlan Jacobson. Guests receive the indiscreet honor of previewing the freshest films, followed by a discussion led by a guest speaker who might be a notable critic, a filmmaker, or an artisanal popcorn chef. Attendees have no prior knowledge of the day's screening, giving viewers a roulette of genres to experience, including psychological thrillers, romantic dramas, and heart-warming documentaries on the evolution of ice-cube trays. All shows start on Sundays at 10 a.m., with doors opening at 9:30 a.m.
The second annual Philly F/M Festival culls hordes of independent films and live music, emphasizing the interplay of the two media. Thursday night hosts the event's kick-off party as Philadelphia Slick douses the crowd with waves of toe-tapping beats and games of Simon Says. The neighborhood's lights dim on Friday as the film screenings begin at 7 p.m. with Sound It Out, a phonetically precise documentary that chronicles the last vinyl record shop in Teesside, England. Meet Me on South Street, The Story of JC Dobbs (September 24 at 6:30 p.m.) delves into Philadelphia's artistic subculture and underground crocheting scene from the 1970s to 1996 through the lens of one of its signature and now defunct musical establishments.
Written by Richard Greenberg, Take Me Out centers on Darren Lemmings, an arrogant superstar on the New York Empires whose coming out of the closet irrevocably alters the national pastime. Amid the anger of deeply racist and homophobic teammate Shane Mungitt, the admiration of gay financial manager Mason Marzac, and the reactions of other players in the locker room, the only person who seems unaffected by the revelation is Darren himself. Watch the drama swirl around the ego-ridden protagonist both on and off the field, but always on the stage, at the Plays & Players performance of your choice.
The building that would eventually become Merriam Theater opened as the Sam S. Shubert Theater in 1918, honoring the famous, theater-owning Shubert family’s youngest member, who died tragically in a train accident a decade earlier. Following the fortunes of its fellow theaters, the Merriam's inaugural years saw success with toe-tapping Gershwin musicals and spine-tingling Shakespearean performances by John Barrymore. As vaudeville petered out and the country slid into a depression, the theater struggled to pay the bills through more tawdry means, hosting burlesque shows and letting patrons see the stage without its curtain. The University of Arts eventually bought the building in 1972, and restored the venue to its former glory as host to the country's finest performers.
Just steps from South Street in Philadelphia, Society Hill Playhouse showcases some of the best and most fun theatrical productions in the city. Rather than focusing on high art or avant-garde performances, Society Hill Playhouse creates accessible productions for a wider non-theatergoing crowd. Popular shows like Lafferty's Wake, Nunsense, Schoolhouse Rock Live and Menopause: The Musical have been attracting audiences since the theater space opened in 1960. The building itself is its own spectacle, having been built over a century ago, and inside, the playhouse houses two performance spaces. Downstairs, the cabaret-style Red Room seats 99 guests, while the more traditional theater upstairs can accommodate 250. An on-site bar serves beverages during performances.
9D Cinema might sound like a movie theater, but its 6- to 14-minute shows are as much of a ride as they are a movie. Patrons recline in active-motion seats that tilt and shift to match each movie's events, creating a viewing experience more immersive than just moving your legs up and down while an action hero runs onscreen. While the seats swivel about, special effects stimulate film-appropriate weather. The theatre might turn snowy and windy for a film such as Polar Region Hurricane; on the other hand, during a spooky film such as Ghost House, it might be illuminated by a carefully timed lightning bolt.