< BLOG

Archive for the ‘FringeArts’ Category

Pics: Last Scratch Night

Posted August 29th, 2014

BodyLautrec

See what you missed on Monday, and get a flavor of five Neighborhood Fringe productions via Kevin Monko’s awesome pics on Facebook of the last Scratch Night of August.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Kevin Monko

Whit MacLaughlin on NPL, “The Adults,” and Eric Fischl

Posted August 20th, 2014

Fischl1FringeArts has been a big fan of New Paradise Laboratories‘ work for years. Katy Otto, who’s worked with NPL, writes in with a Q&A with NPL artistic director Whit MacLaughlin. Whit talks about a visit to the studio of artist Eric Fischl, whose paintings have influenced NPL and its upcoming FringeArts presentation, The Adults.

When did you first become acquainted with Eric Fischl’s work, and what was that like for you?

I’ve been looking at Eric’s paintings for around 20 years – so maybe 1994. I think I first found a book of his work at the Strand Book Store in NYC, and snatched it up. I was very interested, first and foremost, in any contemporary artist who kept the figure at the core of his/her practice – it was unusual at the time – and Eric painted bodies in an un-ironic way. He was sincerely concerned with the place of the figure as a locus of consciousness and narrative. I also liked how his canvasses forced me to acknowledge my own voyeuristic tendencies. The subjects of his paintings were the people on view, not some idea about the people, which made sense to me in a particularly theatrical way. He was also painting a world I knew something about. Middle class, vaguely suburban life with a fair amount of alcohol and ambiguity. And there was sex, pretty much right out in the open. Right up my alley.

Fischl2How has visual art impacted the work of NPL?
We have started with visual art as a departure point for most of our pieces. Let’s see: Goya, Miro, Piero della Francesco, Breugel, Cy Twombly, Marcel Duchamp and more. We almost consider our work as moving visual art. We paint with bodies in motion. And we like stillness that vibrates. Visual art gives you an almost immediate immersion into a visceral world, which is very useful when you are making work from scratch – which means that our work isn’t really from scratch, is it? I consider painters and sculptors to be playwrights, really, usually without words. And I like the way that visual art – the stuff that we remember, really – has always relied on the presence of an edge, an avant-garde, to advance. That separates it from theatre, as a whole, which is pretty content to keep its work in the realm of the traditional – its strength is in the ways that it recycles convention, making incremental evolutionary advances over time.

Fischl3What is the connection between The Adults and the work of Eric Fischl?
Beaches, moody interiors, family problems, sex, suspicion, self-absorption. Hidden cruelty. Probably a lot more.

How do you create work that remains open to the current moment?

I don’t know what the current moment is. Our brains are never located in the present. It’s the past that constitutes the present, and walking down the street for me is like walking through a space that is haunted with the presence of things now absent, sometimes for a long time. I suppose the main thing that’s current now is how similar it is to things past – except for maybe two things: the internet and climate change. So we are incorporating both of these phenomena into this piece. We have a “surround” around the piece that is working to clarify the sorts of things we all experience as we try to achieve this mythical, perhaps non-existent status of adult. It exists in the internet. And the piece has some, I think, interesting ideas about the relationship of childishness, the fluids in the body, and the rising sea level. Does that sound topical?

Tell us about the development of The Adults.

We’ve been working on it, off and on, for 16 months, which seems like a long time. Some of the material in the piece was first glimpsed at a residence we undertook in North Carolina in March of 2013. We started making proposals, improvising – yes, for the first time we undertook several four hour improvs that had no theme. A very challenging thing for actors. And we made proposal after proposal of stories that seemed to emanate from Fischl’s paintings. Things organize themselves over time into a series of scenarios. A narrative emerges. We spend a long time writing and staging. When that process is near to finished, then we rehearse and attempt to perfect. The Adults will be created, from stem to stern, in about 16 weeks of rehearsal.

Fischl4You recently took the ensemble to Sag Harbor to visit Fischl’s studio. What was that like?

A lot of fun and very interesting. I contacted Eric about a year and a half ago, when we were just getting started and told him what we were up to. He said to keep in contact. I laid low for a long time. Finally, a meeting seemed appropriate so we approached Eric through an intermediary–Harry Philbirck who is the Director of the PAFA exhibition program, who we are working with as a sort of visual art dramaturg–and Eric agreed to hang with us.

We showed up, a big gang of 8, at his beautiful house in Sag Harbor. He had lunch waiting. We sat and talked, then roamed his house and talked, then hung out in his studio, looked at his new canvasses and talked. A most edifying day. We all agreed that cross-disciplinary conversation should happen more.

What steps do you take as a theater artist to ensure that the work is able to remain vulnerable to interpretation?

A hard and interesting question. A most important question. I think that the best art has at least three valid interpretations. I don’t like things that seem to proscribe, to tell me how to live. All good work is clear at the core, but invites you to ponder with it.

How does one achieve this? There are as many strategies as there are artists. Most of them attempt to trick the mind of the artist away from easy interpretability into an ample field of inquiry. And for the viewer or audience, the trick is to give adequate toeholds into the work, but still leave room for the viewer’s developing mind.

What has it been like combining the older NPL ensemble with the newer in this piece?

A blast, really. Instant love. The older members provided a kind of anchor point for the younger, and the younger provide an invigorating dose of foolhardy bravery for the elder ones. Mostly it’s just fun and stimulating. Everybody learns from everyone else.

What role will sound play in The Adults?

Wow, Bhob Rainey is the real deal. His work is intuitive, well thought through, ravishing, crazy, and violent. Just what you want music to be. We’ve gone through an iteration of the score, now we’re starting over and doing it again. A good portion of the piece happens at the threshold of silence, generated by the actors. Other sections are good and loud.

The Adults runs September 3 through 7, and September 10 through 14. Times vary, $15 to $29. This show is supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.

Tonight! FREE Castellucci Screening and Discussion

Posted August 19th, 2014

castelluccifilmscreeningTonight, FringeArts wants you to come talk about Italian theater director Romeo Castellucci. We presented his On the concept of the face, regarding the Son of God as the centerpiece of last year’s festival. As part of the 2014 Presented Fringe, we’re offering The Four Seasons Restaurant.

If you saw one, or want to see the other, stop on by. We’re screening Castellucci excerpts, and Yale School of Drama professor Tom Sellar (who also edits the renowned performance journal Theater) will discuss things like: why does Castellucci use a NASA-recorded sound of a black hole? Are those police in that picture actually helping that guy? And why might women appear to cut of their tongues? I’m not sure if there will be free beer, but I’m guessing the evening should be mind-altering anyway.

RSVP here.

Romeo Castellucci Film Screening and Discussion with Tom Sellar
Free
Tonight!
7:30 pm
FringeArts
140 N. Columbus Boulevard

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Tonight: Neighborhood Fringe Scratch Night Spotlight, Vol. 3

Posted August 18th, 2014

Every Monday night in August, we’re offering free previews of the 2014 Fringe Festival–Neighborhood Fringe artists are serving up short excerpts of their work, and we’re serving up free beer. Tonight, Volume 3:

BENT_Truth-Be-Told-Productions

Truth Be Told Productions offers a taste of Martin Sherman’s play Bent, about one gay man’s life in Germany, from the 1930s through World War II. The play had a major role in widening consciousness about the persecution of gays in Nazi Germany, starting with its first production in London’s West End in 1979, starring Ian McKellen.

FleetwoodMacBrian Shapiro shares tales from the 1970s, as his family’s fortunes swelled and ebbed along with the band Fleetwood Mac–Brian’s father was their attorney through their rise to global fame. He’s offered the suggestive title: It Was All Downhill After Fleetwood Mac.

Oedipus The Musical will give you a taste of what to expect in their show. I’m not even going to try to top Van.Martin Productions’s own show description: “Oedipus The Musical takes place in Ancient Thebes. When a herpes plague spreads through the city, King Oedipus is forced to discover the incestuous roots of his dysfunctional family tree. Sophocles’s tragedy is retold in comedy through songs like ‘YOLO Apollo,’ ‘Hashtag Plague,’ and ‘Ballad of a Cougar.’

Tweaking a classic title, playwright Brandon Monokian serves up a “play about douchebags” called Peter Pan Is Dead. Preview below:

The-Disappearing-Quarterback_Plays-Players-copy-200x300And after a successful run at Plays & Players in January, former Eagles quarterback Mike Boryla (turned lawyer, turned investor, turned actor/writer) returns with his one-man-show, The Disappearing Quarterback.

Free! RSVP here.
FringeArts
140 N. Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106
August 18 at 7 pm

–Nicholas Gilewicz

WETLAND OPENS TONIGHT! Here’s Greg Lindquist on WetLand, Empathy, and Boat Cuisine

Posted August 15th, 2014
lindquist_01

Greg Lindquist rappelling to fasten and paint the roof of WetLand. Photo: Mary Mattingly.

Greg Lindquist – artist, professor, and WetLand collaborator – is fashioning a harness out of rope. He secures himself in, ties the other end to a naked beam, and leans back, held firm by the same rope that is lashed around the dozens of hollow, blue drums keeping WetLand’s garden barges afloat on the Delaware River.

These gardens surround a central structure, a post-apocalyptic vision of a house succumbing to rising water, its windows tilted in deference to nature’s torrid, turgid comeuppance. WetLand, which will open to the public on August 15th as part of the 2014 FringeArts Festival, is a floating structure comprised of this crooked domicile and a mess of plants thriving around it, including the series of buoyant barges which support everything from sunflowers to tomatoes. The doomed house is built upon a reconfigured houseboat, which will soon also be home to solar panels, a water filtration system, a chicken coop for egg-laying hens, and a beehive. With these resources, WetLand’s main creator, artist Mary Mattingly, will live on-site, accompanied by a rotating cast of collaborators and artists-in-residence who will stow away at night in WetLand’s angular attic, under a dramatic slope of upcycled plywood.

It is this slope that Lindquist now clings to, drilling neat lines of screws into its surface. His homemade harness is holding him securely to the boat, albeit a boat sculpted intentionally to appear on the cusp of complete instability.

Lindquist’s connection to WetLand starts with his relationship with Mattingly, whose early photographic work he came across while working on his thesis at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Lindquist has long been interested in how landscapes can represent social, economic, and political issues, and he was accordingly drawn to Mattingly’s work, which imagines how water usage and flooding might impact land formation. Since then, the two have collaborated on a variety of projects, from a two-person exhibition in North Carolina that Lindquist organized to Mattingly’s Flock House project, in which he made a painting installation. Like WetLand, Flock House involved creating an aesthetically interesting public habitat that makes us rethink the shape of our everydays.

Although Lindquist identifies as more artist than activist, his paintings are always enmeshed in issues and themes that he cares about, worlds of ideas much larger than could ever be expressed. “The one thing that I know about the work I make is that it’s not simply a pretty painting. It has a contextual basis, it has a network of other issues and meanings and enactments of things.” he said. “These series of translations are important because I’m taking a lot of imagery and collating and collapsing it into a two-dimensional work.” This process of rendering is messy but necessary.

“I’ve always been a painter who has been interested in ideas outside of painting,” Lindquist said. He cites a critical reading group that he and Mattingly founded together with some writer and curator friends as one example of his work as an artist extending off the canvas, as something that has “pushed against the idea of painting as being this static, singular, discrete object, a painting on the wall. It’s about everything around it, too,” he said. Lindquist sees his writing, teaching, painting, and collaborating as completely intertwined. “[They] are all the same project, they just happen to not fit within the same frame,” he said. “No pun intended.”

Greg Lindquist, Duke Energy's Dan River II, oil on canvas, 78 by 68 in, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

Greg Lindquist, Duke Energy’s Dan River II, oil on canvas, 78 by 68 in, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

Some of Lindquist’s recent work has focused on an environmental disaster close to his childhood home in Wilmington, North Carolina – a coal ash spill in the northern part of the state that contaminated the Dan River and dredged up the governor’s affiliations with the perpetrator, Duke Energy. “My work dealt with [the question], ‘How do you visualize this in a pleasing, beautiful way that lured people into the issue and then allowed them to engage and be confronted by it in a way that works against the inherent beauty [of the piece]?” Lindquist said. One of his pieces, a 40-foot wide painting of “swirling vortices” of coal ash mixing with river water, embodies a particularly grotesque beauty which both attracts and repels.

Lindquist wants his work to elicit a complex aesthetic response, but also an empathic response. “I believe painting is very important to engaging people because it can put someone in the position where they imagine themselves not only as the viewer but as the person who made it,” he said. Painting can also allow an audience to see the work “as a living, breathing entity and object that can have a dialogue with you,” he said. This mutable ability for empathy can in fact be invoked by an aesthetic response. “I think beauty can increase sensitivity,” Lindquist said.

With a pressing issue like environmental disaster, an audience moved to sensitivity and engagement may be one step closer to taking action. Lindquist believes that only art can generate that kind of charged attention. “The difference between using beauty in… art and in activism is that activism has a main goal in sight and it’s about getting to that goal. I think that in doing that it mechanizes and commodifies the process,” he said. “Painting is a very slow burn, it’s a very open-ended process, so it also allows you to see the nuances of a situation and be able to constantly amend and revise your position on something, so it’s more organic and open ended.”

For Lindquist, developing empathy about important issues through his art is also deeply tied to building community. “I have no disillusionment about art changing the world or changing these issues. I don’t think that’s going to take great strides, but I think it will give a platform for people to talk about [these issues], to come together and have conversations,” he said. These conversations, however, cannot happen until communities are aware of the issues in the first place. Lindquist recalls travelling across North Carolina with Mattingly and giving talks at universities where few people knew the basic facts about the coal ash disaster happening in their own state. “I think raising awareness is the first step, but it’s not the end goal,” he said. “The end goal is to really build a discourse and then have people make the decisions themselves, to see the issue, to decide how they want to be inspired by it or what action they want to take.”

With his art, Lindquist hopes to provide a way for people to come together and make these decisions collaboratively. “Empathy is the way to bring people in and give them a safe space to think about [these issues],” he says. He is inspired by a number of community-oriented artists, including Doug Ashford, whose artist collective Group Material put together community-engaged exhibitions in the East Village of New York City. One featured donated household items from around the neighborhood, accompanied by their stories.

Panel Cooker for Boat Banquet, built by Tamsin Doherty, August, 2014. Photo: Tamsin Doherty.

Panel Cooker for Boat Banquet, built by Tamsin Doherty, August, 2014. Photo: Tamsin Doherty.

Lindquist has also learned a lot about community from Mattingly. “Something I’ve really learned from Mary and her work is that it involves many partnerships and collaborations and mutual learning exchanges,” he said. Lindquist is excited about his own role on WetLand, which involves a focus on developing the gardens and planning the Boat Banquet, which will take place on Saturday, August 16th and Sunday, August 17th and celebrate WetLand’s opening with mainly boat-grown food.

“There’s something interesting about making the work site specific in its endemic location, from the gardens, in the proximity of which they were taken,” he said. Lindquist will be cooking with a combination of solar cookers and induction cooktops running on solar power. The solar cookers “look like futuristic instruments from some of Mary’s earlier photographs so I find it interesting that it’s within a speculation about what the future looks like if we didn’t have resources,” he said.

Boat banquet prep practice cooking, sauce from WetLand garden: carmelized minced garlic, diced pepper, chopped tomatoes, pepper flakes, sweet pepper, and spinach, on gluten-free penne, and lemon wedge. Minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil spinach, baby kale side salad. Photo: Greg Lindquist.

Boat banquet prep practice cooking, sauce from WetLand garden: carmelized minced garlic, diced pepper, chopped tomatoes, pepper flakes, sweet pepper, and spinach, on gluten-free penne, and lemon wedge. Minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil spinach, baby kale side salad. Photo: Greg Lindquist.

The future may be murky but the table will be set on Friday with enough greenery to feed a horde of hammer-wielding artists. The food will be vegan and gluten-free. On the menu is everything from a lavender and orange salad with micro-greens to sorrel pesto to dinosaur kale, a vegetable whose moniker promises great things. “Eating is one of the few essential pleasures we have left,” Lindquist said. “Just like painting.”

– Abby Holtzman

WetLand
Independence Seaport Museum Pier
211 South Columbus Blvd (at Dock St)
Aug 15­–Sept 21, 10:00am–5:00pm (ongoing)
More information: http://www.wet-land.org/

Scratch Night and FEASTIVAL Patron Party Pics

Posted August 15th, 2014
Dan Hodge performs an excerpt from Philadelphia Artists' Collective "The Rape of Lucrece"

Dan Hodge performs an excerpt from Philadelphia Artists’ Collective “The Rape of Lucrece”

For more pics what you saw (or missed, for you lazy-boneses) at Scratch Night on Monday, click here for pics from Kevin Monko. And don’t forget we have another Scratch Night coming up this Monday night.

And early this week, FEASTIVAL had a preview tasting. Pics here, FEASTIVAL tix here.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Kevin Monko.

Romeo, Romeo: Castellucci Film Screening and Discussion

Posted August 12th, 2014

castelluccifilmscreeningOn August 19, FringeArts wants you to come talk about Italian theater director Romeo Castellucci. We presented his On the concept of the face, regarding the Son of God as the centerpiece of last year’s festival. As part of the 2014 Presented Fringe, we’re offering The Four Seasons Restaurant.

If you saw one, or want to see the other, stop on by. We’re screening Castellucci excerpts, and Yale School of Drama professor Tom Sellar (who also edits the renowned performance journal Theater) will discuss things like: why does Castellucci use a NASA-recorded sound of a black hole? Are those police in that picture actually helping that guy? And why might women appear to cut of their tongues? I’m not sure if there will be free beer, but I’m guessing the evening should be mind-altering anyway.

RSVP here.

Romeo Castellucci Film Screening and Discussion with Tom Sellar
Free
Tuesday, August 19
7:30 pm
FringeArts
140 N. Columbus Boulevard

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Experiment on Me!

Posted August 12th, 2014

For the 2014 Presented Fringe, FringeArts is bringing the Institute for Psychogeographic Adventure to Old City for Experiment #39. In case you’re wondering, the experiment is kind of on you. No details on this one quite yet, but for a sense of what you can expect, check out this video from their 2013 Brooklyn experiment, Experiment #17:



Experiment #39
Old City Location TBA to ticket holders
September 6 and 7, 11:30 am to 4:30 pm
Starts every 15 minutes
(Tix selling fast, FYI).

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Tonight: Neighborhood Fringe Scratch Night Spotlight Part 2

Posted August 11th, 2014

Every Monday night in August, we’re offering free previews of the 2014 Fringe Festival–Neighborhood Fringe artists are serving up short excerpts of their work, and we’re serving up free beer. Tonight is round two:

Get a taste of Susan Chase’s Susan’s Undoing:

RealLivePeople‘s humanism will be on display with Would I lie to you?

DC Theatre Scene called the acting of RHolt Productions’s Sisters of Ellery Hollow by DC playwright Stephen Spotswood “exceptional” when it was in DC Fringe a couple years ago; actor Rachel Hold will reprise her role in the Neighborhood Fringe edition.

Philadelphia Artists’ Collective offer’s a one-man-performance take on Shakespeare’s poem The Rape of Lucrece.

And New Street Dance Group’s Another Word for Missing will be there too. Catch them in rehearsal:


Free! RSVP here.
FringeArts
140 N. Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106
August 11 at 7 pm

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Tonight! Scratch Night: Neighborhood Fringe Spotlight

Posted August 4th, 2014

Every Monday night in August, we’re offering free previews of the 2014 Fringe Festival–Neighborhood Fringe artists are serving up short excerpts of their work, and we’re serving up free beer. First one is TONIGHT!

This week’s lineup:

Laurencio Ruiz, with whom we spoke last week, offers up Incongruous, puppetry exploring the variations of the human form. Preview below.

Emily Schuman offers a new translation of Fernando Arrabal’s absurdist play Fando y Lis. Hey, we talked to her last week too!

Gunnar Montana returns to the Fringe with RESURRECTION ROOM. He explains the show below, promising, in the friendliest of voices, “demon geishas and hysterical body snatchers.” The vid closes with excerpts from his last work, Hybernate.

Factory Productions featuring Ann Artist will take you Through the Glass Ceiling as they explore the limitations of gender and feminine identity.

And choreographer Joanne McBride’s Broken Road tackles childhood, loyalty, and love.

First Scratch Night is tonight!
Free
FringeArts
140 N. Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106
August 4 at 7 pm

–Nicholas Gilewicz

A Watery, Sinking Future: Interview with Mary Mattingly, creator of WetLand

Posted July 31st, 2014
WetLand. Image by Mary Mattingly.

WetLand. Image by Mary Mattingly.

If you’ve ever wished you could live at the Fringe Festival, you should meet Mary Mattingly. The Presented Fringe artist will live on WetLand, a boat-based ecosystem moored on the Delaware River, for the entirety of the Festival. WetLand captures the uncertainties of city-based living in an age of global warming, and proposes a hopeful alternative. In addition to housing Mary and other artists, WetLand will also host concerts, workshops, skill shares, and a few performances by Neighborhood Fringe artists. WetLand will be free and open daily Aug 15–Sept 21.

FringeArts: Why is the title WetLand?

Mary Mattingly: I’m concerned about the slow erasure of wetlands around the world, as they are important ecosystems that breed aquatic and terrestrial life, protect the mainland from storms, and naturally clean the air and waterways. They are often drained for large building projects and result in areas that flood, destructing homes and infrastructure in a loss that is for some unrecoverable. The largest loss is ecosystem diversity, which has tremendous reverberating effects throughout the natural world, and in the end makes the planet a worse place for us all to live.

I wanted to bring more attention to the necessity of wetlands, and pair it with a sinking house to describe causation through a symbolic artwork. I was also thinking about the combination in a very literal way: wet and land, to describe a watery, sinking future.

FringeArts: What’s the process of creation in such a work?

Mary Mattingly: In this piece I began considering the natural zone between the river and urban space. In many cities, it’s a space that is either overlooked or that undergoes a process of quick development. It’s a place where we must consider nature, because we are so close to it and dependent on it. Reconnecting the water with a row house puts many of us in the place of the inhabitant.

I was spending a lot of time thinking about how we live in a social system that allows us an illusion of disconnect from nature. We expect our food to be in the grocery store, we are accustomed to clean water coming from the tap, but those are expectations most of the world doesn’t have, and they are things that we can’t always be dependent on. Marrying nature to the city directly describes these food, water, and energy systems we depend on.

FringeArts: How do habitat, water, and art connect for you?

Mary Mattingly: These things are all necessities for me, and I need one as much as the other. As artists we often work with our own needs, and sometimes those are universal. Water has always been a particular concern for me. I grew up in an area that continually flooded, and where the drinking water contained dangerously high levels of agricultural runoff, having long-term effects on the area. I watched bottled water become a popular commodity, and learned about Bechtel and the World Bank’s privatization of water in Bolivia, which was eventually reversed through long protests.

FringeArts: Why is it important to live on WetLand?

Mary Mattingly: Living on WetLand is an essential part of an experiment that needs to be played out in real time. Like a form of performance art, it’s an exploration through endurance, and we also keep the living systems running. It’s an act of creating an ecosystem from which three people will eat, drink, shower, work, sleep, learn, and share.

FringeArts: How do you see this relationship between the solitary artist and the need to construct a community?

Mary Mattingly: Like many people, I thrive on both solitude and solidarity. I believe we need to make more time and physical spaces to be together, to strengthen the ties we have found in the virtual space and regain those that have been lost because of those separations. We need to make a better world to live in, and when we are confined to inside spaces it’s easy to forget about the larger world around us, and how something we do here affects someone across the world.

FringeArts: Why the clearly human-made aesthetic of WetLand?

Mary Mattingly: It’s important for me to distinguish this work from doing something in a “back to land” context. Many times people leave cities because they want to be closer to land, and because they can. But many people cannot. Leaving the city in most cases is a luxury that allows for a different perspective. I want to have more chances for some of that perspective here in our cities, and bringing nature and natural living systems to a city’s periphery is a way I’ve thought to do that.

Living in a city is such an asset. There are always people around we can turn to, learn from, and work with. I believe that our urban centers will need to be the future sites that produce our daily necessities (especially food, energy, and water) and we need to strengthen citywide projects that focus on that production, on small scales with our neighbors, and on larger scales with our entire city. When we are solely dependent on a large supply chains for our daily needs, then we are beholden to it and it’s virtually impossible to see the larger picture of how these systems exploit the environment and human labor.

Thank you, Mary.

WetLand event information available here. Events are free, but may require an RSVP. Tickets and more information about Fringe Festival shows here.

WetLand
Independence Seaport Museum Pier
211 S Columbus Boulevard (at Dock Street)
Aug 15–Sept 21, ongoing daily 10am–5pm

Talking about The Talkback: Interview with The Berserker Residents

Posted June 5th, 2014

“We are satirizing everyone we’ve ever worked with and also our own lives as artists. No one is safe.”

Clockwise: Bradley K. Wrenn, Justin Jain, David Johnson

Clockwise: Bradley K. Wrenn, Justin Jain, David Johnson

For the next three Sunday evenings, the Berserker Residents will present in-progress showings of The Talkback at FringeArts (140 N. Columbus Boulevard). Philadelphia-based artists Justin Jain, David Johnson, and Bradley K. Wrenn joined forces in 2007 and created The Berserker Residents, performing a fantastical blend of physical theater, puppetry, music, sketch, and prop comedy. The group is in residence at FringeArts in June to finesse their 2013 Fringe Festival hit, The Talkback, before taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

Part-scripted and part-improvisation, The Talkback begins at the end of a show the audience has never seen, leading the audience through a discussion of the unseen show, which then goes completely awry. Curious, we went to Justin, David, and Bradley for the inside scoop on creating The Talkback, and what they’ll be working on while at FringeArts.

FringeArts: What was the inspiration for The Talkback?

Brad: It started back when Justin was a FringeArts LAB fellow. We had found ourselves in a rut. We were making the same show over and over. We spent a week or so exploring new ideas and trying figure out how we could mix things up and make ourselves uncomfortable. We finally hit on the post-production discussion as a format.

We generally aren’t big fans of improv, it makes us weak in the knees just thinking about it. But our aim was to disrupt our usual patterns, and we love playing with an audience. The form also allowed us to be ourselves, literally. We aren’t playing characters really, we keep our real names and plop ourselves into a fake theater company at the end of a fake show.

Dave: We often rehearse long blocks of stream-of-consciousness improvisation that make us laugh and push the boundaries of our own comfort as far as what is funny—and go on way too long. At one point we thought: how can we make this a show?

FringeArts: How did The Berserker Residents form?

Brad: The Berserker Residents didn’t form. The Berserker Residents have always been. Just like time or love or war. We were forged in the heart of a dying star and we’ll be here long after this feeble experiment called humanity has been snuffed out.

Dave: Brad and Justin wanted to create a show and they knew something was missing. ME!

Justin: In 2006 we came together to make The Jersey Devil for the Fringe Festival of that year. We do divide the labor. An unseen Berserker is Meghan Walsh, who also takes on some of our administrative work.

David Johnson, Bradley K. Wrenn, Justin Jain

David Johnson, Bradley K. Wrenn, Justin Jain

FringeArts: What is the process for creating a show like The Talkback, which depends so much on the audience?

Dave: The Talkback is a lot like stand-up comedy. It cannot be created in a vacuum. The show lives and learns in front of a live audience. The early days of this show were like imagining the worst stand-up comic you have ever seen, bombing alongside two other crappy comics, and none of them know how to leave the stage. Now we have better material, more confidence, and ripped abs.

Brad: It’s maddening rehearsing this thing by ourselves. We have dummy questions on a chair in front of us as we rehearse, and we each take turns wandering into the audience to pretend we are asking questions.

Justin: I love seeing what has stuck since that first showing in 2012. The usher character, the way we fuck with audience members, the dance, the all-bets-are-off logic that the show takes in the middle. All of these things have survived each revision and are essential to the show. Creating an audience-participatory show without an audience in the rehearsal studio is extremely difficult.

Read More

Festival Overviews from Newsworks and the Inquirer

Posted September 3rd, 2013

You aren’t the only one who’s noticed that this year’s Fringe Festival has grown even more expansive and international. Over at Newsworks, Howie Shapiro orients you to the 2013 Fringe Festival and offers 17 (I think) show picks. And at the Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns talks to just about everyone you know about this year’s fest and the expansion of FringeArts.

He also notes “the serene portrait of Jesus” that appears in our marketing material. And indeed, one must be careful. Sometimes, when you see the face of God, you have to take the entire arm off:

But you’re not a host for MIKE or BOB though, are you? Because if you are, you should’ve done a Fringe show about it…

–Nicholas Gilewicz

If You Don’t Know Now You Know: Mini Artist Profiles at Philly Post

Posted September 3rd, 2013

sobelle-the-object-lesson-2Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo runs down 10 notable FringeArts performers worth checking out this year.

It’s a pretty good quick guide to some awesome shows this year, actually: Martha Stuckey of Pay Up, Gunnar Montana of Basement, McKenzie Maula of A Doll’s House, James Michael Baker of Ballad of Joe Hill, Geoff Sobelle of The Object Lesson, Jess Conda of Eternal Glamnation and Pay Up, Scott Sheppard of Go Long Big Softie, Mary Tuomanen of St. Joan, Betrayed, Kevin Glaccum of Dutch Masters, and Brian Sanders of Hush Now Sweet High Heels and Oak.

If you’re looking for somebody to pick some especially adventurous shows for you, you couldn’t do much better than Victor’s list.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo of Geoff Sobelle by Lars Jan.

Waiting for Friday’s Free Pizza Proposition Tent

Posted July 31st, 2013

As I teeth on a luke-warm piece of triangular leather from around the corner, my faith in dough and cheese wanes. I know full well that I should have waited until Friday. This month’s Proposition Tent, like the swamp where I obtained this terrible excuse for a slice, is right around the corner on August 2nd. There, I will be able to lick my wounds among a range of compelling pizza ideas rooted in local Philly neighborhoods, the international stage, and of course, free quality eats. From the hours of 5:30 to 7:30pm at Race Street Pier, North Columbus Boulevard, we will at last be privy the euphoria of the big red tent, gorging on propositions from Philly artist Salem Collo-Julin and San Francisco-based artist team Futurefarmers, along with a statement from Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio that will offer a denser conceptual profundity to the pie and cost-free treats from pizza museum and restaurant Pizza Brain. In all the anticipation, FringeArts had to get a hold of Futurefarmers’s Amy Franceschini to get the scoop on their project for the Tent, The Oven that Feeds Itself and Others.

FNAR_futurefarmFringeArts: What is Futurefarmers?

Amy Franceschini: Futurefarmers is a group of diverse practitioners aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and place surrounding us. We are artists, graphic designers, architects, computer programmers, scientists, and farmers with a common interest in creating frameworks for exchange that catalyze moments of “not knowing.”

Through participatory projects, we create spaces and experiences where the logic of a situation disappears–encounters occur that broaden perspectives. We use various media to create work that has the potential to destabilize logics of “certainty.” For example, we have deconstructed systems such as food policies, public transportation, and rural farming networks to visualize and understand their intrinsic logics. Through this disassembly, we find new narratives and potential reconfigurations that propose alternatives to the principles that once dominated these systems. Our work provides a playful entry point and tools for participants to gain insight into deeper fields of inquiry—not only to imagine, but also to participate in and initiate change in the places we live.

Collectively, we teach in the visual arts graduate programs at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Mills College in Oakland, California, and the joint masters program of art and engineering at Stanford University.

FringeArts: How did it get started?

Amy Franceschini: Futurefarmers began as a design studio that served as a platform to support art projects, an artist in residence program, and our research interests. The name stems from my personal background of living on farms as a child. My parents were both engaged in farming, but from very different perspectives. My father was a large-scale farmer who owned a pesticide company and grew commodity crops while my mother was a small-scale, organic farmer and activist fighting against the use of pesticides. Needless to say, they are no longer married . . . But, jumping between these two farming practices I saw a broad spectrum of what it meant to grow food—by whom, for whom, and the power structures that dominate the field both big and small.

Read More

Lighting the Town Queer with Didier García

Posted July 25th, 2013

As the energy healer whispered to me how our creative energies are situated just above our groins, I managed a nod. That makes sense, I guess, though having a creative impulse doesn’t usually feel like being on the verge of sexual ecstasy. Until I met Didier García.

Picture 9“Heart-ons!” exclaimed Didier, who confesses that there’s little difference between his artistic and sexual passions.

García hands me two circular pins, each with designs of little heart-embedded genitals. “I want to do shirts, prints, totes, pillows, make it sort of a factory to send this message.” His ideas range from a public light-up confessional box to a DIY tagging kit. For now, he’s getting ready to experiment with projections of his images for his upcoming Festival show.

“Light graffiti, I call it. I’m not damaging or defacing something, but using light as a means to explore to a message.”

The goal? Arousing conversation. “Maybe we want to record people’s reactions. . . . We talked about going to bars and having guerrilla sex conversations,” he says and laughs. “Sex is mysterious and complex, and people are not talking about it enough. It goes beyond the gay or queer, and it’s kind of a human thing”

SexoLatex, a 1992 three-poster campaign that came out in Philadelphia, inspired Garcia’s recent show SEXO, which showed at the William Way Center this past spring. “From this exhibit was the inspiration for Heart-On.

García explains why engaging conversation literally turns him on. “It’s because I’m talking about my heart. When you’re open and loving and vulnerable, that takes courage and courage takes love.” At this point, I realize that sexual frankness was never my forte, though I’m not the only one dealing with the residue of a religious education.

Read More

It’s Raining Democracy! An interview with Brett Boham

Posted July 25th, 2013

Picture 7Brett Boham and Forever Dog Productions have had a long way towards their show Dream Date in the Fringe Festival this year: they’ve produced the show in various lengths for Chicago and New York to showcase the best of their actors. We caught up with Boham to wax process, politics, and awkward Thanksgiving dinners.

FringeArts: What’s Dream Date about?

Brett Boham: The play didn’t start this way, but the easiest way for to us explain it now is that it’s this darkly comic retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where there’s these American artifacts around but nothing that’s recognizable as contemporary, on this island. And there’s this wizard who lives there who’s this really sadistic version of Prospero; he has all the powers of Prospero except he just exploits them to the fullest. He has a family but he tyrannically controls every aspect of their lives, and he has this den full of creatures that do his bidding. He doesn’t have any memories of his own, and there’s this character called the Memory Jester who contains all his memories, so if he wants to remember something he has to prod this creature. The incident is Thanksgiving Day, which is this wizard’s favorite day because everybody has to be thankful and grateful to him. And on this day a band of pirates crash lands on this land and they bring this new kind of philosophy. They’re into freedom and free will, which the people on the island haven’t been exposed to. They all interact and crazy things happen.

FringeArts: What point did you guys realize the connection between your play and Shakespeare’s?

Brett Boham: Pretty early on. I guess like the first day I realized, “This is about a wizard on an island . . . ah, damn it, there’s already a play like that.” I think we used the analogy to our advantage. We’re definitely not precious with the material. It’s definitely a comedy. It has some ambition to say things about politics, and history, and memory. So we use the Tempest analogy when it’s convenient for us, but we don’t feel tied to it.

Read More

The Name of This Place is FringeArts

Posted April 11th, 2013

What was our name before? Who cares! Our name is now and forever FringeArts.

FringeArts, it says FringeArts

You may refer to us as FringeArts, no Mr. or Mrs. necessary.

Why FringeArts? It has 10 letters.

Think about it.

Not even the word TEN has 10 letters.

You probably never thought of that.

Have a good day!