Circus Phantasmagoria at Laurel Hill East

Part of the 2023 Philadelphia Fringe Festival


created by alterra productions
in collaboration with THE FRIENDS OF LAUREL HILL

September 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
[rain dates: september 24, october 1]


What transpires in the human mind during the final seconds of life?

Step into Circus Phantasmagoria, an odyssey into the profound mysteries of life, death, and the boundless universe of the mind. This immersive and interactive experience is an invitation to wander the labyrinthine corridors of the human mind via the physical pathways of Laurel Hill East Cemetery.

Your host inside this extraordinary realm is the Liminial Initiative, a visionary company at the crossroads of technology and human consciousness. Through the revolutionary concept of Physiotourism–which utilizes our cutting-edge, proprietary technology to bridge sensorial perception and the metaphysical–you will be granted open access to a psyche on its journey into the afterlife. Don’t miss your chance to embark on this unparalleled adventure where mind and spirit converge. VIP experiences available.*

As you roam the cemetery’s illuminated paths and hidden corners, you’ll meet a captivating cast of acrobatic entities and otherworldly beings who sketch the boundaries of altered consciousness at the brink of death. Prepare to make your way toward the bridge to the other side, and relish a cirque-tacular conclusion of high-flying feats while seated amidst the tombstones of Laurel Hill’s permanent residents.

Your personal narrative of the afterlife will be shaped by the stories you hear, the creatures you encounter, and the choices you make during your exploration. Whether you take in as much as you can in one night or return for a new journey, your experience will be uniquely yours.+

*Inquire upon arrival
Consciousness data rates may apply


Click Here for Tickets


This event will take place at Laurel Hill East. Enter the event at the Main Entrance Gatehouse, located at 3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19132.

Cars will not be permitted into the cemetery during the event. Free parking is available at the Dell Music Center parking lot, a half- mile from the main entrance to the cemetery. Limited accessible parking spaces will be reserved in the parking lot directly across the street from the main entrance.


The second half of the event is seated. BYO Blankets and chairs will be checked upon arrival at the South gate, next to the Dell Music Center parking lot, and moved to the end stage for your convenience. A cash-donation bar will be available to enhance your journey.


The first half of the event invites guests to wander through the cemetery at night across paved roads, flat grass pathways, and uneven grass amongst tombstones. It is possible to enjoy the show while staying on paved pathways. Guests with serious mobility concerns should email to learn more about the accessible shuttle route option. Very limited seating is available and the shuttle will run once on each show date.


This is an outdoor show. In the case of rain, ticketholders will be contacted the day before the event. Rain dates for Circus Phantasmagoria are September 24 and October 1.

/red room/

curlyfish productions

september 14
7:00 PM & 8:30 PM

A multi-metaphysical experience of immersive theatre, poetic narrative, and interactive gallery, /red room/ unfolds inside of the Receiving Vault at Laurel Hill East and challenges traditional performance frameworks to explore loss and the secrets of re-building an identity.


dying well

leslie elkins / foursomeperformance

september 15, 16, 17
6:00 PM

How do memories shape grief? What does remembering feel like? This movement performance is a meditation on living and dying in every moment–an invitation to explore ideas of emerging and persisting, waning and fading. Not sorrowful, but wonder-full, Dying Well establishes a cycle in four parts–Tender Eyes: fascination with beginnings and not clinging to permanence; Rooted: the evolution of shaping, fatiguing, and dissipating; Withering: meeting and making sense of aging; and Re-membering: bringing things from the past into the present. We will experience wonder in the fullness of every moment. We will live and die well.



melinda rice & heather bowlan

september 16
2:00 PM & 4:00 PM

“Reclaiming systems, reframing progress–a modern exploration of legacy through live string music and spoken word.” -ChatGPT

“Nothing as compared in frankness to what is coming.” –Edward Bok

Social progression and its complications are the central themes of this ambient violin and poetry work by Heather Bowlan and Melinda Rice, performed at the family plot belonging to Philadelphia publisher Edward Bok. Together we’ll explore the change in relationship between humans and our physical environment in the transition from life to death, as well as other meanings of progression–legacy, relationships, economy—through the lens of Bok’s far-reaching life.

an undertaking

circuitous situationship

september 16, 17, 18, 19: 7:00 Pm
september 17: 2:00 pm

An Undertaking is a diddy to a dirge, a compost pile of characters, a eulogy of ourselves always shifting–and a multimedia dance-theater piece from Circuitous Situationship, comprised of Emmett Wilson, Rose Luardo, and all their characters.

As undertakers it is our business to prepare for burial, and what we bury carries on underground. The arrangements have been made, like a bed once messy with little and big deaths, soiled, but planted with seedlings seeking sun while rooting down in rot.


dark places

the perspective collective

september 17
7:00 pm

The Perspective Collective presents a musical and dramatic journey through song and ‘opera’–not just to physically dark spaces, but into the capacity for darkness within the self as well.

Along the way we might encounter a dark forest, a prolific serial killer, a recluse trapped by unsettling visions, and a wanderer trying to escape haunting memories. At the end of the road, we may even meet the devil himself in Stephanie Leotsakos’s mini-opera adaptation of Young Goodman Brown. Based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, it is the tale of a pious villager in Puritan New England who ventures deep into the woods one night and discovers a sinister secret that will call into question everything he believes in. Join us – if you dare!


learn more about the performing arts at rowan