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Archive for the ‘FringeArts’ Category

Caught in the Throat: On Romeo Castellucci’s Julius Caesar. Spared Parts

Posted September 19th, 2016

This week acclaimed Italian theater artist Romeo Castellucci will return to Philadelphia (following The Four Seasons Restaurant and On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God) with Julius Caesar. Spared Parts, a re-envisioning of his groundbreaking 1997 production Giulio Cesare distilled to a series of “fragments.” This powerful, visceral work runs from Thursday to Saturday at the Navy Yard, Building 694 as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Daniel Sack was on hand for the original premiere in Bologna back in 2014 and wrote the following essay in response. 


How can we, as Yeats asked us, know the dancer from the dance? Or, for that matter, the actor from the act? Knowing the speaker from the speech presents no such problem. These are the days of speechwriters and teleprompters, but even in those Ancient Roman days of oratorical improvisation, the treatises of Cicero dictated set tropes of persuasion. We have been, and remain, apart from our speech. In the theatre, as always, this division is doubled over. One speaks the speech that precedes and exceeds its vessel – the actor – Shakespeare’s corpse still sound 450 years after the fact. So Artaud wrote with terror about how his voice escaped himself to play a part that did not belong to his whole. Not only because sound cannot stand still or it would cease to be, not only because it must always leave us, but also because the speaking subject does not possess the word “I” it temporarily claims from a common language.

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(photo by Luca Del Pia)

The prophet foretold such a possession of the voice from without. A kind of pre-attic tragic actor, he is reduced to a carrier for the message of those divine playwrights, the gods. He may retain the grain of his voice – those textures particular to a body, a tongue, a throat – but the content belongs to another. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar questions not only the performance of rhetoric but also the disjoined nature of prophecy, a prophecy that visits the dreams of Calpurnia, that stalks the city streets in unnatural omens, that speaks in the mouths of soothsayers – resolutely ignored or misapprehended like all good prophecies (Cicero, the central presence in Castellucci’s first imagining of the play also wrote an extended dialogue On Divination). It asks, then, how power, divine or earthly, speaks through the body of another, that spare but necessary part.

No such speech for the masses in this grand hall at the heart of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna; a host of sculptures surround me like some mute chorus, mythic and familiar characters, Neoclassical fragments of Michelangelo’s David and the Laocoön, reduced to but a head or a father clutching at limbs in place of boys. These parts alone are spared. And yet, they are inversions of the monument. Clearly plaster casts, molded imitations of their more weighty granite originals—theatrical sculptures, perhaps, of accumulation rather than chisel’s negation. Set on pedestals of painted wood, it as if they stood frozen for eternity on a small stage, or what we call “the boards.” They are objects for study and future reproduction. In other words, they are characters in a play waiting for something to happen.

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Athlete/Aesthete: A look at the costume design in Portrait of Myself As My Father

Posted September 17th, 2016
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credit: Elise Fitte-Duval

In portrait of myself as my father, choreographer Nora Chipaumire stakes out space in the male dominated arena of sport—and fashion. In an interview with FringeArts, Chipaumire speaks about sapology as an aesthetic influence on her work. Sapology is a Congolese fashion trend which gained popularity in the 1960s-1980s. Adherents of Sapology, called sapeurs, repurpose European dandyism to both imitate and differentiate themselves from colonizing cultural forces, while gaining prestige in their community.  Put simply, the sapeur is a Congolese version of the French flaneur. They walk the drab, dusty streets of the Congo-Brazzaville dressed in brightly colored patterns and fabulous textures. Take a look at these photo essays on sapology by Hector Mediavella and the Wall Street Journal

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(photo by Gennadi Novash)

The Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People (La Sape, for short) is based in Congo-Brazzaville, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At La Sape meetings, rival sapeurs gather to show off their latest fashion acquisitions. La Sape is more than a monthly fashion show, however, it’s a gentleman’s society governed by a code of conduct. In the short documentary on sapology embedded below, one sapeur describes the movement as a “way of being, behaving, and dressing.” For most sapeurs, this lifestyle means putting style before more basic needs. They spend money that they don’t have on credit from the government that they can’t repay. But they have little to nothing to lose, and elegance to gain in their extravagant spending.

—Hannah Salzer

portrait of myself as my father
Friday, Sept. 23 + Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7pm
Philadelphia Museum of Art
$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-under

 

Sifting through sounds from the bench: An interview with Jena Osman

Posted September 2nd, 2016

Jena Osman is a renowned poet and editor. She has published numerous books and chapbooks and was the co-founder/co-editor of the award-winning literary magazine Chain with Juliana Spahr. Osman currently teaches in the MFA Creative Writing program at Temple University. 

Her 2014 book Corporate Relations draws directly from landmark Supreme Court cases to examine and unpack “corporate personhood”—the notion that privately owned corporations should be extended the same rights as individual citizens—revealing its century long development in a manner that is at turns illuminating, humorous, disturbing, and beautifully lyrical. You can check out the book’s opening poem here and purchase a copy from the venerable small press Burning Deck here.

Corporate Relations served as inspiration and source material for Ted Hearne’s stunning composition Sound from the Bench, which will be performed by Philadelphia’s acclaimed new music chamber choir, The Crossing, here at FringeArts on September 11 as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. FringeArts recently spoke with Osman about the origins of Corporate Relations and her collaboration with Hearne.


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Jena Osman (photo by Amze Emmons)

FringeArts: What spurred you to write Corporate Relations?

Jena Osman: When Citizens United won its case in 2010 it dawned on people (including myself) that corporations had just won a constitutional right—freedom of speech. There was general political/media outrage about corporations being given rights reserved for people, that the ruling suggested that corporations actually were people. Because this seemed like such a crazy idea, I started to look into it and I discovered that corporations had been racking up a series of constitutional rights since the mid-19th century. I’ve always had an interest in objects that seem human (puppets, automatons, computers that play chess, etc.), and corporate personhood fell in line with that fascination.

FA: How did you arrive at the book’s hybridized form?

Corporate Relations is organized around twelve Supreme Court cases that grant corporations constitutional rights. After reading each case, I pulled out phrases that felt particularly “human” to me; the phrases are in the order in which they appear in the case, and the spacing of those found poems was determined by where the phrase fell on my printed out page of the case. The court case sections are broken up by a series of poems that try to further investigate the increasingly blurry boundary line between the human and the machine; they consider automata, the John Henry story, Fritz Kahn’s amazing illustrations of the human body as a factory, the mechanics of ventriloquism, Frederick Winslow Homer’s “scientific management” strategies, etc.

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Belonging and not wanting to: An interview with Reggie Wilson

Posted August 26th, 2016

Reggie Wilson creates choreography drawing from the spiritual and mundane traditions of Africa and its Diaspora. His company, Fist and Heel Performance Group—described on it’s website as “Not your mama’s post-modern dance company”—derives its name from practices of enslaved Africans in the Americas who reinvented their spiritual traditions into a deep, soulful art form dismissed by overseers as “fist and heel worshipping.” He has lectured, taught, conducted workshops, community projects, and has had his work presented nationally and internationally. He returns to the Fringe Festival this September, premiering his latest work, CITIZENas part of our opening night celebration. Reggie spoke with FringeArts earlier this summer about finding inspiration in the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston, his family history, and his travels as well as the evolution of the piece.

IMG_6801FringeArts: What was the initial inspiration for CITIZEN?

Reggie Wilson: Things were probably brewing before my visit to Paris in January 2014. But that’s when the questioning became more evident. I started thinking there was something to this recurring idea and that I wanted to pursue it. I continue to always be inspired by Zora Neale Hurston, her life and her works. The fact that Zora always came back to America, made her life and work here, even though friends and other artists went to other countries, many to Paris, because they couldn’t, didn’t want to deal with an America that was telling them that they were not wanted, that they were less than.

Around that same time Memphis Ballet asked me to create a work for their “I AM” Project.  I was invited to work with the theme I AM A MAN. Ideas began to percolate and as I began to do research for this commission.  More and more questions about what it means to be a citizen in America, over history to-date started to saturate my thoughts.  So as exotic as Paris was to say that it was the initial place of inspiration, I feel that it was Memphis and the Mississippi Delta that was really the confirmation point-of-inspiration for my new work CITIZEN. More research and inspirations were made as I worked on an 18 month long project called Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia with the Painted Bride in Philly.

CITIZEN by Reggie Wilson Fist & Heel Performance Group-1-Raja Kelly picturedFA: What have you been observing to draw from for the movement of your dancers?

RW: I have kept it no secret that one of my main focuses has been migrations of the folks of the African Diaspora. This may stem from searches to know my own family’s branches and migrations up north from the Mississippi Delta to Milwaukee, where I was born. My interest in various migrations has expanded and has influenced many aspects of my work. I travel quite a bit, so that I can culturally experience much of the Diaspora from the inside.  But as much as I’m let in, in so many places I remain and will be an outsider in various ways. Nevertheless, what I see, experience, smell, taste, enjoy, get traumatized by… causes much stirring inside me and is processed, filtered and comes out in the movement and performances. It’s good, tough, challenging work but I wouldn’t have it another way. So, traveling is my best source material. I think it has to do with destabilizing myself enough so that I can see/experience differently, question my own perceptions, eliminate ‘judginess’ so that I can see motional ideas within cultures and be stimulated by everydayness and humanity.

Recently, I was able to revisit South Africa and Zimbabwe on holiday and was also able to return to Senegal to do some work with young choreographers. Going to these places often changes/affects me so I expect that there will be some ‘additions’, tweaks that will bubble through as we continue to develop and prepare CITIZEN for its premiere.

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Fringe at 20 Profile: Mel Krodman

Posted June 21st, 2016

Name: Mel Krodman

Type of Artist: Performer, creator

Companies: I make and perform work with various ensembles including the Philadelphia-based companies Pig Iron Theatre Company, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, and No Face Performance Group. And since 2010 I’ve worked in collaborative partnership with New Orleans-based choreographer Kelly Bond.

Fringe shows I’ve participated in:
Elephant, 2010, with Kelly Bond – performer, creator
Colony, 2012, with Kelly Bond – performer, co-choreogrpaher
Swamp Is On, 2015, with Pig Iron Theatre Company and Dr. Dog – performer, creatorIMG_4776

2016 Fringe show I’m participating in: Sincerity Project with Team Sunshine Performance Corporation (performer, creator).
Also in November my show JEAN & TERRY: Your Guides Through Dark, Light, and Nebulous will premiere at FringeArts.

First Fringe I attended: The first time I came to the Philadelphia Fringe Festival was with Kelly Bond when we were producing Elephant in 2010.  We were both still living in DC and drove into town in pouring down rain, rushing to make it to the Kimmel on time to see Jérôme Bel’s piece Cédric Andrieux. I was absolutely blown away by this work—instantly impacted, forever changed. As soon as the show was over we jumped back into the car and were rushing (possibly even more than before) to make it to Brian Sanders’ JUNK. It was a truly jam packed evening of dance work at two ends of a spectrum: Bell’s stripped down and Brian’s spectacle. From then on I was in love with Philly and totally hooked on the festival.

First Fringe I participated in: I was a co-creator and performer, along with Lillian Cho, in Kelly’s piece Elephant. Kelly had found a venue that was an artists’ collective—FLUX space—in North Kensington up near Allegheny and Front streets. Our piece was performed entirely in the nude, which was kind of hilarious in this raw space with fine sawdust everywhere. And it was hot out and we were sweating. So you can imagine. But that kind of artists’ space was so inspiring to see. It was my introduction to the badass DIY Philly art scene that I love. It was during this run of Elephant that we met the magnificent Megan Bridge of <fidget> space. She invited us to come back and perform Elephant at <fidget> the following spring. In 2014-15 Kelly and I were yearlong artists in residence with <fidget>, so we have Fringe to thank for launching a significant creative relationship and friendship.

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Emmanuelle Delpeche Talks Immigrant Life and Spinning Records

Posted June 6th, 2016

“There is a poetry of the exiled that I want to share.” Emmanuelle Delpech

Emmanuelle Delpech is a native of France who has been a longtime performer, teacher, director and deviser of theater in the Philadelphia area. For her newest theatrical creation, Spinning Immigrant, Delpech brings audiences into the lives of immigrants in Philadelphia. Through audio interviews, and set up as DJ Babtoue, she reveals the secrets, regrets, and joys of those who are from somewhere else. We caught up with Delpech to find out more about Spinning Immigrant and her love of deejaying.DSC_1477-1

FringeArts: Why the title Spinning Immigrant?

Emmanuelle Delpeche: Well, I am an immigrant and when I thought about it, I was just starting to get interested in deejaying, aka spinning. Also spinning is a sensation, like my head is spinning, and I definitely have felt like a spinning immigrant in many situations. And I know others have too. So it’s a play on word. It’s kind of the essence of the show. I think as immigrants we always navigate different waters, worlds and it’s complicated. It’s like nausea, you actually might not throw up so will never get the relief. You just don’t feel good. You’re spinning on an endless dilemma.

FringeArts: Tell us about some of the steps from initial inspiration to production?

Emmanuelle Delpeche: I have always been an immigrant, and my identity is rooted in the fact that I am French but more specifically that I am a French woman in the United States and in Philadelphia. I meet easily with other immigrants, and I get along with them often quite quickly. We share an instant intimacy, even if we just met. That’s rarer with Americans. Somehow we are united by the fact that we are foreign, and we therefore feel similar things and have a similar eye on American society. We observe people and their habits. We notice differences because we are different. While I am interesting to Americans, I am French, an actor but other immigrants are invisible. They are unknown, and sometimes people don’t even know where one’s country is on the map. I am tired of that. I want people to have a voice, to be seen and to be understood. There is a poetry of the exiled that I want to share with the American audience. It might tap into their own feelings of exile.DSC_1502

FringeArts: How did you start deejaying?

Emmanuelle Delpeche: Deejaying is a thing I went to because I am an immigrant. I don’t think I would have gone there if I was in France. I am not sure why, but being here gives me the audacity to try new things and deejaying is part of one of these things. It’s also ok for a woman who is 42 to do that, nobody questions me, nobody is judging me, people are rather seduced and encouraging, which isn’t always the case in France.

I want to take a trip into people’s hearts and minds and joys and questions. I want to share that with the audience so they might become visible. I am a body for these voices. I want to be more and more intimate with my own struggle and by interviewing people and spending time with their story, I might understand mine better. I also want to make visible intimacy and how that is actually what matters. And when you are not “home,” it is quite hard to find. You seek it, you look for the familiar, the known. I have been here for a long time but it took me very very long to feel safe and at ease. To feel at home again.

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Fringe Festival Sneak Peak: nora chipaumire

Posted June 6th, 2016

nora chipaumire is bringing her dance-theater work, portrait of myself as my father, to the 2016 Fringe Festival, co-presented with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here is a video in which chipaumire discusses her piece and process.

Fringe at 20 Profile: Hannah Van Sciver

Posted May 24th, 2016
Hannah Van Sciver in Safe Space, Photo: JJ Tizou Photography.

Hannah Van Sciver in Safe Space, Photo: JJ Tizou Photography.

Name: Hannah Van Sciver

Type of Artist: Theater: physical theater, devised theater, actor, lead artist, director, playwright, producer, musician, photographer . . . I wear a lot of hats.

Companies: The Greenfield Collective, iNtuitons Experimental Theatre, Apocalypse Club, The Porch Room, Revolution Shakespeare.

Fringe shows I’ve participated in:
Alternative Theatre Festival, 2012 – actor
Raw Stitch, 2013 – actor
Alternative Theatre Festival, 2013 – playwright, director
Antony & Cleopatra: Infinite Lives, 2013 – actor
Marbles, 2014 – actor, playwright, producer
Safe Space, 2014 – actor
Fifty Days at Iliam, 2015 – lead artist, actor, producer
Love’s Labours Lost, 2015 – actor/musician

2016 Fringe show I’m participating in: King John (Revolution Shakespeare), actor/musician.

First Fringe I attended: Oh man. The First Fringe event I saw would have been the iNtuitons 2010 Alternative Theatre Festival. I was a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, and was invited to attend a night of new work by the resident student-run “experimental theater” company, iNtuitons. I fell madly in love with them, and spent the next three years serving on their board. I remember seventeen-year-old Hannah being bowled over by a piece called Going In which was about coming out as heterosexual. It was written and performed by Joshua James Herren.

First Fringe I participated in: After working with David O’Connor on Cymbeline over the summer at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, he invited me to audition for Raw Stitch–a play set in Quigs pub, featuring a bunch of lady superstars in Philly doing incredible, vulgar monologues by Jacqueline Goldfinger. I was totally out of my league. I remember auditioning on his back porch, and meeting Jackie for the first time. I was deeply intimidated. The monologue was about a Southern Jewish gal on trial for acts of public indecency. She claimed she had no control over her behavior, as she had been born with the “double-slut gene.” I remember thinking, “Oh god, WHAT am I doing? Do they care if the neighbors hear this stuff?”

Jackie and David are now both on the advisory board of my theater company, The Greenfield Collective. This July, David and I will produce our seventh show together. So, it worked out. Also, rather memorable: in that show, Jennifer MacMillan played a thirsty, deaf lesbian. She demonstrated to the audience how to give proper head, using a peach. It remains one of the most outrageous and hysterical things I’ve ever seen happen onstage in Philly.

Hannah Van Sciver and Sam Sherburne in Marbles, JJ Tizou Photography

Hannah Van Sciver and Sam Sherburne in Marbles, JJ Tizou Photography

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Closing Time

Posted September 19th, 2015

thadeus-copy1And so it winds down. I feel like this go-round of the Fringe Festival has been particularly terrific. Martha’s closing up late night (sold out, sorry) but there are still seats for ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE at 2:00 and 8:00 pm today.

As we reach the end of the road, let’s have a little Leonard Cohen to bring us home, shall we? It’s been grand, friends.

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

Posted September 18th, 2015

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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.

FEASTIVAL! AUCTION! AFTERPARTY!

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
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Finished

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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