People are Strange and other revelations from Josh McIlvain
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People are Strange and other revelations from Josh McIlvain

Posted June 13th, 2018

FringeArts superfriend Josh McIlvain wears many hats in this week’s performance People are Strange and other revelations, serving as writer, performer, and producer. He is joined by performers Tara Demmy and Marissa Kennedy, and by writer/performer Nik Menotiades. This team of creators delivers a show that is at once funny, thought-provoking, and utterly bizarre.  

When describing the performances in People are Strange, McIlvain explains: “I think one thing that unites them is that they all involve fuckups to varying degrees, and they all have a lot of humor, though the tones and styles of the piece are varied enough to keep it interesting.”   

The show consists of four short solo performances set in different rooms of the Da Vinci Art Alliance in Bella Vista. It is a collection of moments, of the seemingly insignificant encounters of life. The audience will move between rooms of the art gallery to view the series of distinct yet cohesive performances. “As the show is made up of four separate places, we are able to create four different performance spaces,” says McIlvain. “These aren’t radical changes, but there is a pleasure in these little shifts between areas, and for the audience to be led to a new room or even part of the same room, and to encounter the next performance.”  

Josh McIlvain. Photo by Said Johnson.

People are Strange is produced by Automatic Arts, the independent theater company co-founded by McIlvain and his wife, Deborah Crocker. The team produces new, interdisciplinary performing art and seeks to represent modern life on the stage. They often present work in unique venues and incorporate humor, elevating the sometimes mundane stories of life.

McIlvain is a fixture on the Philadelphia performing arts scene. In addition to working at FringeArts for many years (he recently departed after a decade as editor for the annual Festival guide), he founded the acclaimed Nice and Fresh series, which presents annual series of short new works by leading local theatermakers, choreographers, and other performing artists.

Under its former moniker SmokeyScout Productions, McIlvain’s company had several Fringe Festival hits with collections of the playwright’s short comedies: Boat Hole (2010) and DEER HEAD (2011). In 2017, McIlvain created and performed in SLIDESHOW, a solo narration of found family vacation slides.  His work has won over critics and he continues to contribute greatly to the art community in Philly and across the country.

Escape the problems and annoyances plaguing your own life and watch other people discover for themselves that people are, indeed, strange.

People are Strange and other revelations is part of SolowFest, a DIY experimental theater festival focusing on solo performance. The show will run from June 14 to 16 at the Da Vinci Art Alliance in Bella Vista.

—Alyssa Kerper

What: People are Strange and other revelations
When: June 14 – 16
Where: Da Vinci Art Alliance, 704 Catherine Street
Cost: $10
automaticartsco.com

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