Archive for the ‘FringeArts’ Category

“I think I’m a full-time movement researcher”

Posted September 18th, 2015


Did you get tickets for David Zambrano’s Soul Project, up tonight and tomorrow at Christ Church Neighborhood House? No? Sorry, it’s sold out. Your humble blog manager won’t even be able to go . Lucky for you, whether you have tickets or not, we’ve gotten permission to run an interview from Nouvelles de Danse 32/33 with David to give you some insight into his processes. The interview was conducted by Agnès Benoit in May 1995, during the workshop “La Composition Instantanée — Approches et techniques d’improvisation,” organized by Mark Tompkins at the TCD (Théâtre Contemporain de la Danse) in Paris.

How would you define yourself as a performer? Do you consider yourself as an improviser?

Yes, before anything else I like to see myself as an improviser. I like improvisation a lot. That’s what I’ve been doing since I started, somehow without knowing what I was doing until I met Simone Forti and other people, but especially Simone. When I saw her doing… (David imitates animal sounds), I said — “that’s what I love to do.”

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Is Your Coke And Grass Worn Out From Traveling?

Posted September 17th, 2015

grassandcokeFolks have gotten obsessed with Narcos lately–and hey, did you know that Pride of Philadelphia (and, ok, Bogota too) Thaddeus Phillips has a small part? He has a bigger one in ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE, up now through September 19th.

Anyway, I came across an article on AdWeek last night about folks at the The World’s Best Ever, who pulled together unbelievably ridiculous–and real–ads marketing cocaine paraphernalia.

What world could have created such beautiful ads? What was that world like? Read Thaddeus’s interview with John Timpane at the Inquirer over here. Then come see the ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE. It’s here all week. Tickets here.


Posted September 17th, 2015

feastivalOh hi there, we’ve been getting ready for our big party tonight. Tickets have sold out, we’re afraid. But if you want to support us, you can still bid in the benefit auction! And late night tonight is the after party on Race Street, closed off for us because that’s how we do. See you!

Big Voices: Suite n˚2, Saul Williams

Posted September 15th, 2015

encyclop--diedelaparolecbeaborgers_small-1024x683Since working here, one way I’ve come to think about the Fringe Festival is as an assembly of voices, juxtaposed and recombining in different ways to different ends for each of us who goes to the shows. And tonight, we have some strong voices coming through the Festival.

First, Suite n˚2 opens tonight at 7:00 pm at Christ Church Neighborhood House for shows tonight and tomorrow. Found words juxtaposed as choral, it’s among the more innovative compositions that FringeArts has brought through.

Then late night: freaking SAUL WILLIAMS with Nguyen Smith, and then King Britt spins until closing time. Starts at 9 pm. See you at both? Yes, I will.

On “Available Light”

Posted September 13th, 2015


Perhaps I’m a wee bit emotionally fraught, but I almost cried twice at the beauty of Lucinda Childs‘s Available Light during opening night. The sold-out run closed Saturday, but we have a great interview that Lucinda did with Alisa Regas of Pomegranate Arts, below for your perusal. Whether you saw the piece or not, they offer an excellent overview of its creation, Childs’s collaborations over the years, and the processes of remounting past works. They spoke in October, 2014:

Alisa Regas: I’d like you to describe some of the history of Available Light and what the work is.

Lucinda Childs: In 1983 I choreographed Available Light, a 55-minute work with music by John Adams, décor by the architect Frank Gehry, and costumes by Ronaldus Shamask. And this was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, in particular by Julie Lazar, who came to BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music] in 1979 and saw Dance, my first major collaboration after working on Einstein on the Beach in 1976 with Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. In any case, once she saw Dance, which had a film décor by Sol LeWitt, and music by Philip Glass, she had the idea to commission a work for the west coast, and we met, and she said to me, “Do you know John Adams, by any chance?” And I said, “Yes, I know John Adams,” I knew perfectly well who he was, and had some of his recordings, and she also mentioned Frank Gehry, another very famous person on the West Coast, and the idea of a possible collaboration between these artists, the three of us, together. I thought it was a marvelous idea, and I came out to MOCA to meet with them, and we sat and we talked about it. John was very interested in the idea of creating a work for a dance company, and we talked about the fact that dancers, my dancers in particular, are used to working with a certain kind of pulse, or a certain kind of rhythmical structure that we can follow, which is very much the case with the music of Philip Glass. He more or less abided by that with his music, which is completely different from Philip Glass, but there are some parts of the music, which actually don’t have a metrical base, but they’re very beautiful passages, so I learned to work with my company in a special way regarding the music. Frank Gehry said, “I really need to meet with you, I really need you to come back out again, we need to talk about this and figure out what we are going to do.” So I came back out to Los Angeles, to his wonderful office in LA, and I said, “I like the idea of something perhaps on another level, perhaps on the sides,” and he liked this idea very much and did some drawings and sketches and we finally decided that this split level would be a lovely idea for the piece.

After the jump: set, materials, site-specificity, and returning to past work.

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“Very Provocative and Rude”

Posted September 10th, 2015

Still-Standing-You_pers-2---PhileDeprez7522-202x300Did you catch the excellent interview with Pieter Ampe in Philadelphia Magazine‘s “The Ticket”? No? You should. Sarah Jordan talks to him about the intensity of Still Standing You, which has it’s last performances tonight and tomorrow at the Painted Bride. There are promises of ball-tugging. Tickets here.

Photo by Phile Deprez.

Aww, You Like Us!

Posted September 8th, 2015

FringeSocialScreenShot9-8For staff here, there’s not much else like seeing the breadth of the 2015 Fringe all pulled together on our page aggregating the #phillyfringe15 tag (well, I mean all the shows, but besides those). Jeez. Y’all have made your blog manager a little weepy, actually, as he’s been thinking a lot on how much he loves being a part, in his small way, of all that goes on during these few weeks every fall. Keep ’em coming, kids.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Now For A Brief InternUption

Posted September 8th, 2015

PurgatoryMany of the people who make the Fringe Festival happen are interns. I know, because I, your humble blog manager, once was one, hired into a grant-funded seasonal intern position in 2009 to overhaul this blog and envision what it could be for moving forward. Somehow, I’ve tricked them into letting me do it ever since. Interning and working here, I’ve had the chance to see transcendent work (Dance, for example), meet great friends and colleagues (like our information manager Josh McIlvain, who’s written some of the funnier stuff I’ve seen on stage), and convince people to share their ambition and fear and excitement and exuberance with me, and thus with you (like Adrienne Mackey, who just wrote a beautiful piece for us on what it means to be a theater artist). And me? I was able to write the article of which I’m perhaps the most proud of anything I’ve ever written: Contemplating audiences and terrorism, I had the revelation that by coming together, again and again, in public, to share and to celebrate and just to be together with performance and each other, performance spaces have a heightened sense of communion and indeed have become de facto radical spaces where we can, and do, resist the death cult of the American gun. But enough with my tendentiousness. Let’s just say the experience has left its mark.

After the jump, two of our interns, who are beloved at least as much as this skeleton, share their experience executing a Scratch Night. I can only hope that their time here will be as formative as mine has, and that the passion that brought them to us sustains them in where they head next. And as we always do, to give credit where credit is due, the title for this post came from Marly Logue, our development intern.

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Because Your Nights Belong To Us

Posted September 4th, 2015

Jaamil-Kosoko-Head-shot late night post 300x296A few years back, your humble blog manager ran posts called “Today at the Festival, Last Night at the Bar,” documenting performance and drinking and drinking in performance and performing drinking. That was when his apartment was across 5th Street from that warehouse, remember that spot? His small child makes that lifestyle less tenable–but I bet you can swing it for the next three weeks. You can do it. You can!

King Britt and Kate Watson-Wallace have put together an absolutely insane lineup for the 2015 Festival Late Night afterparties. Check out the schedule here, and the playlist we threw together over here. Tonight we blow up opening night with Red 40 and the Last Groovement! See you soon.

Jo Strømgren on “The Doll’s House”

Posted September 4th, 2015

StromgrenFor9-4A while back, Festival information manager extraordinaire Josh McIlvain caught up with Jo Strømgren about A Doll’s House, which opens tonight. Advance tickets for tonight and tomorrow afternoon are sold out, but tix for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon are still available. And hey, it’s at our pretty new(ish) home! Catch up with Jo below, about what it means to interpret and interpolate Ibsen today.

Why did you feel compelled to do a version of A Doll’s House? And now that you’re in it, what has emerged as the most compelling aspect of doing it?
A Doll’s House is probably the most frequently performed play in history, which means that audiences around may be familiar with the story or at least the theme. Common references are always good for directors as it allows them take the audience on off-piste hikes without necessarily causing confusion. In other words, a classic can often give more artistic freedom than new plays.

How are you treating the script? And what does this allow you to do?
A classic text, like Ibsen, can easily become archaic if one has to much respect for the words. By not treating it as literature but as spoken dialogue, I have of course made major changes. Nevertheless, I feel this production is far more true to the original text than many other versions of the play. I have not made major cuts, nor have I chosen to focus on certain scenes to pursue statements or interpretations. It’s Ibsen to the core, and he is not a hostage for my own personal ambitions and ideas. I hope the balance between respect and disrespect will be appreciated.

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Adrienne Mackey on Fear and Pleasure in Performance Life

Posted September 4th, 2015

stars surviveWe’ve been running a number of pieces on the artistic life lately, in the context of After the Rehearsal/Persona. To wrap them up, we reached out to Philadelphia’s own Adrienne Mackey, who’s been involved with all sorts of wonderful, adventurous, collaborative and indeed critical work on her own and with her company, Swim Pony. She wrote movingly for us about life as a theater artist and how theater forms and informs the lives of those who create it:

By Adrienne Mackey

There’s a common stereotype of theater artists as loud, brassy, attention-loving people. This image that those who would associate themselves with the stage must be naturally larger than life, filtered down from Broadway’s multimillion-dollar enterprise all the way through the nooks and crannies of high school musical theater, is a false one, I think. I think this size and showiness is a put-on. I think it hides a deeper layer, one that is common in a great number of theater makers, of uncertainty and fear.

For a lot of us who actually go on to make a career in the arts, theater begins as a kind of training ground for being human.

In middle school I was shy and intensely quiet. My mother likes to point out how all the pictures I drew of myself in this phase of childhood show a figure with massive eyes that take up half of my face and a tiny and tight little mouth. I was a thinker, an over-feeler, a not-quite-sure-how-to-connect-with-the-world-around-me-er. I was fundamentally uncomfortable in my own skin, uncertain about how to express the person I felt myself to be, afraid of showing too much lest I do it wrong.

After the jump, theater and transformation:

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ICYMI: We Aggregate You

Posted September 3rd, 2015

FringeAggregateRemember: mark yourself as ours.

We will collect you.

That is all.

Department of Pocket Guides: Fiorillo’s Must-See Independently Produced Shows

Posted September 3rd, 2015

Over at Philadelphia Magazine‘s “Ticket,” Victor Fiorillo rounds up nine independently produced can’t-miss Fringe Festival shows. Spoiler, I will list them, but go visit “Ticket” to see why Victor says you need to go:

901 Nowhere Street

Andy: A Popera



Exit the King

Damned Dirty Apes!

The Empty Air and Animina

It’s So Learning

The Shoplifters

Like Pokemon, gotta catch ’em all!

Schedule of a Master Fringer

Posted September 2nd, 2015

brett-mapp-headshot.300.170.sBrett Mapp, man about town and all around superb friend and friend of the Festival, attends so many things. And they’re almost always all awesome. I tried to keep up with him for a couple years, and I couldn’t. But you can try!

He shared his schedule with me a while back, but Phindie beat me to the post. Head there for Brett’s plans, which are a pretty good guide to some must-see shows. (And btw, Phindie is another super great resource to help you navigate/survive the next three weeks.) See you out there!

Howie Shapiro’s Want-to-See Shows

Posted September 2nd, 2015

Alias Ellis Mackenzie for Howie link cred Melibea Garavito_675-146
Mother of God, the Festival is about to begin. Your humble blog editor is listening to Run the Jewels to get hyped, and preparing some posts to help you wend your way through the fest.

First up? In case you missed it, Howie Shapiro of Newsworks and WHYY rounded up some shows he wants to see here. (And there’s a convo between him and Peter Crimmins as well, for your edification.) Enjoy! And we welcome your picks in the comments!

Ivo van Hove’s Reel Innovations

Posted September 1st, 2015

by Tom Sellar

When he was a young artist living in Antwerp, Flemish director Ivo van Hove frequented an art house cinema not far from his home. There, sometimes sitting alone in a darkened auditorium, other times among fellow cinephiles, he encountered the masterworks of the postwar screen—Luchino Visconti, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pier Paolo Pasolini. Those filmmakers reinvented their medium with radical expressions of subjectivity, spontaneity, and time—and it seems that van Hove absorbed their ambition.

Ivo van Hove © Jan Versweyveld-2_low resThirty years later van Hove—now artistic director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, one of Europe’s best known and most prestigious theater companies—has become an artist celebrated for (among other accomplishments) devising powerful live performances based on those films. To 21st century audiences his theatrical renderings sometimes serve as first encounters with this cinematic canon.

Among his notable film-to-stage mountings: John Cassavetes’s Faces (1996 and 2005) and Husbands (2011/12); Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers (2008) and Teorema (2009); and The Antonioni Project (2009), which drew from the Italian filmmaker (best known for Blow-Up) Michelangelo Antonioni’s bold oeuvre. Last year he even mounted an opera version of the movie Brokeback Mountain for Madrid’s Teatro Real. For many of these projects, van Hove has been the first stage artist granted permission to remake the original. Perhaps that’s because there is little chance he would settle for conventional dramatic adaptations.

Reframing his sources, and filtering them through the sleek, sharp scenic architectures he creates with designer Jan Versweyveld, Van Hove seeks contemporary reverberations—whether he’s working with text from the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, or Ayn Rand (whose controversial novel The Fountainhead he staged in 2014). He consistently puts the human figure at the center of his scheme, drawn to characters—like Alma and Elizabeth Vogler in Bergman’s Persona—who undergo mythic reckonings with circumstance and painful self-discovery. The actors in his permanent Amsterdam-based ensemble regularly—and fearlessly—journey to psychic and bodily extremes under his careful, nuanced watch.

Considered together, van Hove’s reworked film scenarios could be viewed as a new form emerging from his syntheses of two older ones—and as a leading example of a new capacity for transforming sources in performing arts. In a world now supersaturated with media, how will live arts—theater, dance, performance—find ways to transpose video, film, television, web, and social media into the material dimensions of performance, using corporeality, space, and presence? Could hybrids—not only crossing but transcending traditional disciplines—expand the limits and possibilities of the live? With his large-scale search for theatrical fluidity and convergence with his film sources, van Hove has been opening a door to an even larger investigation—one now being taken up by the next generation of performance-makers.

Van Hove’s visual flair has a reliably contemporary accent, situating classical and recent narratives alike in sleek, postindustrial frames created in collaboration with his longtime designer Jan Versweyveld. But he avoids recalling imagery from the original films when he reshapes them. In fact, the director says, he doesn’t watch the film at all, instead using the original screenplay as a dramatic script to be explored and realized through rigorous experimentation with his company. That approach surprises some people, who rightly recognize his distinctive authorial signature but this is in keeping with van Hove’s larger commitment to text and to actors.

On the other hand, despite this dramatic fidelity to the screenplays, his stagings become independent creations in their own right. Witness the penultimate scene between the catatonic actress Elizabeth Vogler and her obsessive nurse Alma in van Hove’s Persona, and you will see a physical expressivity very different from the controlled flashes of subjectivity Ingmar Bergman creates with the camera. Live performance requires visceral contact with the bodies it exposes; physical dynamism helps compensate for a less focused gaze. For instance, van Hove emphasizes Elizabeth’s vulnerability, her sense of being monitored and watched, by showing her unclothed in early scenes—creating immediacy for the spectator in proximity.

American audiences have had only a few opportunities to glimpse these important and compelling works. Van Hove’s version of Cassavetes’s ironic ode to theatermaking, Opening Night, played at BAM’s Next Wave festival in 2008; his adaptation of Bergman’s Cries and Whispers toured there in 2011. In September 2014 van Hove remounted his 2005 staging of Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage at New York Theatre Workshop with an American cast, moving spectators from room to room for time-jumping immersions in the various stages of a couple’s lives, later raising the walls and merging eras.

NDR_pers_-®_Jan_Versweyveld_05After the Rehearsal and Persona constitute a dramatic diptych: one evening based on two Bergman works (from 1984 and 1966 respectively). Each half brings to stage a film that reflects on the theater. In After the Rehearsal, a male director working late one evening in the studio enters, by chance, into a desire-fuelled philosophical dialogue with a young actress. Another, older actress appears—a reminder of how aspirations and youth inevitably become something else, something fixed. Articulating their mutual attraction and artistic interdependence, the characters explore the possible lives and selves to come. That is what acting does, what theater does; but are they able to sort through the many masks worn in every relationship and truly understand one another?

PE_pers_-®_Jan_Versweyveld_03_smallerPersona centers around another crisis of authenticity: Elizabeth Vogler, an actress, has lost her capacity and desire to speak during a production of Electra. Alma, her assigned caregiver, cannot fathom the performer’s roleplaying life nor Elizabeth’s despairing silence, because Alma has suppressed an emotional life and envies the artist. The two engage in a kind of tortured interdependence—art and life, roles and refusals to play them, vulnerability and self-protection. It may be the ultimate irony that these turbocharged contemplations of theater as a metaphor spring from films, but this also testifies to a mutation of forms which van Hove pioneered—and has now mastered.



Tom Sellar is editor of Yale’s international journal Theater and professor at Yale School of Drama. He is co-curator of the 2015 Prelude festival and serves as chief theater critic for The Village Voice.

The Box Office is Open, and It’s Adorable!

Posted August 28th, 2015


I mean, come on.

Hours are 11:00 am to 5:00 pm through August 31.
Hours are 11:00 am to 8:00 pm September 1 through September 19.
At our building:
140 N. Columbus Boulevard (at Race Street)

Catch Nick Stuccio’s Interview on WHYY

Posted August 28th, 2015

Hey, did you miss Nick’s interview yesterday with WHYY’s Jennifer Lynn? If so, fly on over to Newsworks now to hear him talk through this year’s fest.

Photo by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

Photo by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

Old City Fringe: PAC Presents The Captive

Posted August 3rd, 2015

“It’s a story about people who desperately need to love and be loved, and yet seem incapable of being honest and present for each other.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the creators of last year’s Fringe hit The Rape of Lucrece are back with another revamped classic! This September, Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (PAC) brings Edouard Bourdet’s The Captive to the historical Physick House in Old City. With this play, PAC tackles issues of sex, domesticity, and class manners. Performed in The 1926 production in New York stirred a lot of controversy—what kind of conversations will it start in 2015? We caught up with The Captive director, and PAC founding member, Dan Hodge to talk about this exciting new project. 

The-Captive_Philadelphia-Artists-Collective FringeArts: The Captive faced some controversy in its original production in 1926. What kind of story does it tell?

Dan Hodge: It’s a story about people who desperately need to love and be loved, and yet seem incapable of being honest and present for each other. I’m reluctant to give the game away in terms of what made it so scandalous in its early days, but let’s say that it’s a subject that we are still grappling with daily. This much is true – at first glance the captive of the title seems to be Irene. She is the daughter of a domineering diplomat who carries a dark secret that could ruin her life as she knows it. But as the play unfolds, each character emerges as a prisoner to another. It’s pretty thrilling.

FringeArts: What brought you to Physick House? 

Dan Hodge: We have a history of performing our Fringe pieces in historic locations in Philadelphia. Because The Captive is essentially a drawing room drama, we knew that we wanted a historic home. The Physick was a perfect fit for this show. It has a sense of class balanced well with an odd severity. Because the rooms are small, the audience will be right on top of the play, heightening the “fly on the wall” experience. The play is full of secrets and heated private moments, so the dangerous intimacy that a location like the Physick affords is ideal. This kind of immersive theatrical experience leaves both the actors and the audience with nowhere to hide.

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Hot Spontaneous Performers: Interview with David Zambrano on Soul Project

Posted July 28th, 2015

Second time photographed Sould Project in Brussels at the Raffinerie. This time with Mat Voorter's costumes. Dancers: Mino (Milan) Herich (Slovakia); Peter Jasko (Slovakia); Horacio Macuacua (Mozambique); Edivaldo Ernesto (Mozambique); Nina Fajdiga (Slovenia); Ermis Malkotsis (Greece); Matthieu Perpoint (France); Eleanor Bauer (USA); Sue-yeon Youn (Korea); Eugenie Rebetz (Switzerland); David Zambrano (Venezuela).

“Since the beginning of my career as a choreographer, I have always selected a group of international individuals. I like the idea that everything we have created in dance has come from a cultural exchange.”

Experience soul in all of its manifestations: spiritual and musical, abstract and personal.

World renown experimental choreographer and improviser, David Zambrano, is bringing his high-intensity dance, Soul Project, to the 2015 Fringe Festival. Taking place at Christ Church Neighborhood House, Zambrano’s piece features an international cast of dancers performing a series of solos to classic soul music. Instead of watching the powerful dancers from a distance, audience members are invited to meander about the dancers and see them dance up close. There are two performances of Soul Project on September 18 and 19 and each show, rooted in spontaneous improvised movement, is different. We recently asked Zambrano questions about Soul Project.

soul_project_website_1FringeArtsWhy is the title Soul Project?

David Zambrano: I finished my group piece Twelve Flies Went Out At Noon (2005), a resemblance of a social centric society where decisions are made by the community of people. Dancers were constantly moving through each other, under over and around, always going somewhere dancing together. After that work, I got the idea to make the opposite. A choreography where the dancers, one by one, would take any center in the performance room, root themselves on the floor (with feet very well planted), and make the audience come to watch them from close up. After many rehearsals, I thought to give the title for that work: “Solo Project”.  I choose Soul Music for those rehearsals. And through the doing with the feet very well planted on the floor, I arrived into the thought that when the sole of our feet feel very comfortable  interconnected with the ground, very well rooted into the Earth, our souls feel very happy.  So from the combination of the Soul Music and rooted feet dances, I came to the title of Soul Project.

FringeArts: How do your live recordings affect the body?

David Zambrano: Not all the recordings are live recordings.  I think there are about three pieces recorded in studios.  One strong reason I thought when I heard all those singers singing live, was the way they come out through their voices when they have public. It was more sublime and orgasmic.  With the dancers we practice a lot to be able to arrive in those kind of states while performing for each other and later on, for the general public.  We have enormously enjoyed to dance to those live performances of the singers.

soul_project_website_3FringeArts: Why is working with an international cast of dancers so important to you? 

David Zambrano: Since the beginning of my career as a choreographer, I have always selected a group of international individuals. I like the idea that everything we have created in dance has come from a cultural exchange. My selected dancers and I have always learned a lot from each other while working together. Not only from our different dance backgrounds, but also from different ways of eating, cooking, living, etc. I also love to make a possible environment in all my creations where it feels like a little representation of our world but without borders.

FringeArts: What does the closeness of the audience do for the performance?

David Zambrano: The idea of having the audience coming very close to watch each one of us performing came from the way I directed our rehearsals. Everyday we performed for each other during the creation process, and the way I selected that act was to come as close as possible and watch every little and big movement from each performer. After I took that idea to the general public. We became really good improvisers of small powerful movement that can only be appreciated if public come closer to watch.

FringeArts: How do you approach working with dancers to create a solo that is both yours and theirs?

David Zambrano: I do not teach dance steps to the dancers I select. I many times give them images/qualities/tools to work with as we are creating the pieces. The dance is made by the dancer and myself as a director. For Soul Project I worked more as a coach until they became really hot spontaneous performers.

Thank you, David!

Photos: Anja Hitzenberger

2015 Fringe Festival

Soul Project
Christ Church Neighborhood House
20 North American Street
Sept 18 + 19 at 8pm