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Archive for the ‘Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental’ Category

A Good Balance of Comfort and Discomfort: An Interview with Steven Dufala

Posted September 12th, 2017

This week, two Philly Fringe favorites are returning to the Festival with two very different shows. Absurdist theater artist Geoff Sobelle will mount HOME on September 13, an ambitious new piece that ruminates on the transitory nature of dwelling, the impossible structural demands of a house, and the absurdity of making a home. Meanwhile, on September 14, theater maker and performer Thaddeus Phillips will premiere his latest work, A Billion Nights on Earth, a fantastical show for all ages that dives into the realms of parent–child relationships, as pair stumble through alternate realities in search of a beloved stuff whale. Though both of these shows are starkly different, they do have one thing in common. That would be artist Steven Dufala.

Dufala has been creating work in a variety of media for decades now. He has regularly collaborated with his brother Billy, under the name The Dufala Brothers, and together their work—often humorous, hyperbolic reimaginings of everyday or iconic items—has been exhibited widely. They’ve also organized absurdist artistic happenings, including a toilet-trike race through Old City during the 2005 Fringe Festival.

Recently, Steven Dufala has lent his exceptional talents to some ambitious works of theater, designing sets and making some larger than life visions a reality. Perhaps most notable among these collaborations was his work on Geoff Sobelle’s widely lauded show The Object Lesson, which had its premiere during the 2013 Fringe Festival and has since been taken all over the world. Turning theaters into storage spaces with boxes stacked high to the ceiling and filled with the usual household wares, the kind of miscellanea that does little but collect dust but somehow stays with you for years, as well as some more surreal keepsakes—”moss to mystic” designated actual moss with a strong whiff of incense, “acorn collection” ought to be self explanatory—his design and installation work on the show was critical to achieving its uncanny yet strikingly down to earth vibe.

We recently caught up with Dufala to learn more about his artistic practice and what it’s been like splitting his time between these two aesthetically divergent shows.


FringeArtsTell us a bit about your background. 

Winslow Fegley in A Billion Nights on Earth

Steven Dufala: I grew up in south Jersey, the middle of five boys in a creative household. Our parents were pianists and teachers, and all the brothers make things. So I’ve always been making things.

FringeArtsWhat was the Philadelphia arts community (or communities) like when you first arrived at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts? 

Steven Dufala: I used to like to say the scene was mostly living rooms and basements, and I guess that’s still kind of true, but everything was really DIY. Pig Iron was making shows in basements, the best music was at peoples houses, the best parties, the best art shows didn’t really look like shows, but were kind of one or two night show/parties. Old City was kind of too fancy, and no one really went north of Spring Garden. 

When I got to Philly, I didn’t go straight to the academy, I was at UArts for two years in film and animation. That basically cracked open a whole world of creativity I’d never really explored and that’s why I went to PAFA—to try and get a better foundation for making things in general.

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Living a Billion Nights: An Interview with Michael and Winslow Fegley

Posted September 10th, 2017

This week sees the premiere of A Billion Nights on Earth, the latest work from acclaimed theater maker and performer Thaddeus Phillips in collaboration with artist Steven Dufala. The show—appropriate and ideal for audiences of all ages—follows a father and son as they venture into their fridge in search of a beloved stuffed whale and find themselves on a spectacular quest through space and time. With stunning scenic work by Dufala and Phillips, taking inspiration from the shapeshifting nature of Kabuki theater design, the piece is a dazzling, ever-evolving work of visual art and a touching, imaginative dive into the realms of parent–child relationships, exploring their varying perspectives on reality.

If you find the relationship between the father and son characters deeply palpable, it might be because stars Michael and Winslow Fegley are father and son. And also exceptionally talented performers. Michael Fegley has been working in theater and film for decades now, as has his wife Mercedes, and now all three of their children are following in their footsteps.

I caught up with Michael and Winslow to learn a little more about their experiences performing, how this collaboration with Phillips came about, and what it’s like living in the fantastical world of A Billion Nights on Earth.


FringeArtsTell us a little about your performance backgrounds.

Michael: I’m a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA and have been working professionally for over twenty years. I’ve performed extensively in New York and Philadelphia in works ranging from classical to the avant-garde, including the Off-Broadway production of Small Potatoes.

Winslow: I’ve been doing plays and movies for a while now. Plus my whole family acts, and I watch them working all the time. I’ve learned a lot, and I like working with my dad.

FringeArtsIs there a strong theater or performance community in Allentown?

Michael: Allentown has the wonderful, talented people of the Civic Theatre of Allentown, where our family has been a part of productions for years. Winslow, like his sister August and brother Oakes, have all taken many turns on that stage. However, it is a non-equity house, so I have to find work in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Last year I was in the world premiere of The Ballad of Trayvon Martin at Freedom Theatre here in Philadelphia.

Winslow: I like working in Allentown, but it’s cool when we get to go to new places and work in different theaters.

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Where in the World is Thaddeus Phillips?

Posted September 9th, 2013

Theater director Thaddeus Phillips (Whale Optics, Red-Eye to Havre de Grace has gone off the theatrical radar. He writes in with this exclusive and illegal report (a confidentiality agreement was signed and is now being broken) revealing that he is currently on location in Colombia playing the role of the most infamous American drug smuggler, Barry Seal for a new television program. What is he doing? Just look at these pics! Then click through to learn more about what’s kept him from this year’s Fringe Festival (although he’ll be back with us later this fall).

TPColumbiaMONTAGE2

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Tumblr to RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE

Posted September 3rd, 2012

Labor Day special quick Q&A! Thaddeus Phillips and friends have been documenting their work on RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE on the tumblr. After the jump, Thaddeus explains the importance of production documentation, dislikes Poe, and talks about working with Teller.

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The Weekender: What You’re Doing and Why

Posted August 24th, 2012

Rest up and recharge, boys and girls, because we’re only two weeks out from opening weekend of the festivals, holy crap! Here are a few things to get up to this weekend:

>>>All weekend: Explore Edgar Allen Poe, his death, and production documentation at the new most excellent tumblr for Red-eye to Havre de Grace, which opens September 7 at the Live Arts Festival.

>>>All weekend: More exploring. Next week, you’ll read intrepid blog contributor Julius Ferraro’s report on Museum Without Walls, a new way to explore the remarkable collection of 51 sculptures along Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive. Go this weekend, and compare notes with Julius on Monday.

>>>Saturday: The first of two must-do Saturday shows, Megan Mazarick presents DBDP, AKA the David Bowie Dance Project, an informal showing of work set to David Bowie songs at the Mascher Space Cooperative. Dancers include Bethany Formica, David Konyk, Beau Hancock, Lindsay Browning, and others. 8:00 pm. (And don’t forget to check out Megan’s Philly Fringe show, Mining the Mine of the Mind for Minderals.)

>>>Saturday: After DBDP, bust down Frankford Avenue to Johnny Brenda’s. Martha Graham Cracker turns seven, yikes, she’s old stately and handsome. What a dame! Dame Martha. Pre-Martha performances include a special pre-festival performance from the dames of Bang!, who, according to JB’s website, “promise a naked karaoke keytar extravaganza.” Sets start at 9:00 pm.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

More Press!

Posted September 1st, 2011

And the champagne bottle won’t smash on the bow of the 2011 Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe until tomorrow!

>>>For Philadelphia Magazine, Victor Fiorillo writes up ten of the most talented Live Arts and Philly Fringe artists, including Geoff Sobelle (Elephant Room), Sebastienne Mundheim (Paris Wheels and The Ready-Maids present . . . Not the Henri Rousseau that Some of You Know . . .), David Disbrow (Red Rovers), Jess Conda (Heavy Metal Dance Fag, Water Bears in Space, Festival bar!), James Ijames (WHaLE OPTICS), Adrienne Mackey (Lady M), Matt Pfeiffer (The Aliens), Sarah Sanford (Twelfth Night, or What You Will), J.J. Tiziou (photog extraordinaire), and Leah Stein (Rock Reed Tatami Stream).

>>>Today’s City Paper belongs to us: Holly Otterbein talks to the magicians of the Elephant Room, A.D. Amorosi talks to the Rude Mechs about Method Gun, Joshua Middleton writes up four of this year’s puppetry shows, Mark Cofta rounds up some of this year’s Shakespeare, and Shaun Brady writes a big piece on the more experimental edge of the festivals.

>>>The Metro says we’re playful. We agree.

>>>Steven Weisz writes up Red Rovers for The Dance Journal.

>>>I missed this somehow, but the Northeast Times wrote a big piece on the tap show Too Darn Hot!

>>>Christopher Munden rounds up some NoLibs/Fishtown/Kensington picks for The Spirit, including Red Rovers, My Dad is Now Ready for His Sponge Bath, Jericho Road Improvement Association, A Vegan Kids Dance for Adults with Nudity, Task, and Grab Bag. And of course, recommends the Festival Bar for your nightcaps.

>>>Montgomery Newspapers runs big stories on Iron Age’s Christie in Love and MM2’s One Word.

>>>The Chestnut Hill Local profiles Lauren Rile Smith, whose Tangle Movement Arts will present Ampersand at Philly Fringe. Do people in Chestnut Hill actually refer to themselves as “hillers?” Just curious.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Newspaper photo by Daniel R. Blume via Wikimedia Commons.

Red Rovers image by Chris Doyle.

MisInternPretations: “WHaLE OPTICS”

Posted August 18th, 2011

I assigned Festival intern Lulu Krause to find out what some of the 2011 Live Arts productions were all about. Today, she turns her eye to WHaLE OPTICS.

WHaLE OPTICS runs September 1 through 11 at the Prince Music Theatre, 1412 Chestnut Street, Center City. All shows 7:00 pm except Sunday matinees (which are 1:00 pm). $25 to $30.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Science on Tap with Thaddeus Phillips

Posted July 26th, 2011

What do humpback whale songs and fiber optic cables have in common? Before you cry out “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING,” watch Thaddeus Phillips speak about his 2011 Live Arts Festival show WHaLE OPTICS at July’s Science on Tap event at National Mechanics. The show is Thaddeus’ fourth Live Arts Festival offering and connects worldwide telecommunication systems, humpback whales, Carl Sagan, and dinner at Applebee’s.


Thaddeus Phillips’ WHaLE OPTICS runs September 1-4 + 6-11 during the 2011 Live Arts Festival at the Prince Music Theatre, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. 7:00 pm, $25-$30.

–Jason Magnes

Thaddeus Phillips Acts With Recordings

Posted August 18th, 2010

How does a two-week project turn into a four-year puzzle? Ask Thaddeus Phillips. In 2004 he began filming for a new play, ¡EL CONQUISTADOR!, that would blend his live acting with video recordings of famous Colombian telenovela actors. Thaddeus, who is the only live actor in the show, improvised with the soap stars based on a rough outline.

“What’s extraordinary is we worked on the outline for about two weeks, and all the actors that are in the show currently were filmed in two days,” says Thaddeus on the phone from Colombia, where his wife Tatiana Mallorino is from. He and Tatiana worked with her uncle Victor Mallorino—who starred in Colombian versions of Survivor and Desperate Housewives—to create a script from the improvised footage. Thaddeus performed it in 2006 at the New York Theatre Workshop, but says, “Even then we weren’t totally happy.”

After the jump: working with telenovela stars, touring Spain, and Pony Malta.

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Tatiana Mallarino on Colombia, America, and the Making of ¡EL CONQUISTADOR!

Posted June 14th, 2010

You won’t see Tatiana Mallarino onstage in this September’s Live Arts presentation of ¡EL CONQUISTADOR!—but you will spot her onscreen, thanks to the show’s seamless blend of filmed and live performance. And there’s much more of Tatiana’s creative touch to be found behind the scenes, where she serves as co-creator, co-director, and the link to a brilliant inner circle of Colombian performers who appear in the show. ¡EL CONQUISTADOR! is usually billed as a one-man show, since theatrical Renaissance man Thaddeus Phillips performs as the sole live actor within the intricate set of his own design. But it wouldn’t be the same without Tatiana, his wife and artistic collaborator at Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental, whose Colombian heritage shines through this performance.

The show is in part an homage to the Colombian doorman, a symbolic underdog of society. The service industry is where many of the country’s poor find work, and in downtown apartment buildings, the doorman is at the bottom of the food chain, catering to the tenants’ whims. In a way, though, these workers run the city. People can’t come and go from their homes without them. ¡EL CONQUISTADOR! casts the dreams of the overlooked into the spotlight.

The show also draws on the international popularity of the telenovela—we might translate “soap opera,” but it the Latin American version is a different animal than our General Hospital fare. Much of the telenovela’s appeal as a genre is that it holds out the promise that society’s downtrodden can somehow make it to the top. Usually that means escaping poverty, but there are variations. In Betty La Fea, for example (where American hit Ugly Betty got its start), the protagonist is ugly, not poor. Still, explains Tatiana, “it’s a way of telling people it’s possible.”

And it’s not just a Latin American thing–Tatiana describes a time in the 90s when the Venezuelan series Kassandra had quite a fan following in eastern Europe. Apparently, Serbian programming was 20 episodes ahead of neighboring countries’ Kassandra schedules. So, Serbians would cross the border with signs that proclaimed their knowledge–by heart–of entire episodes of the show. Like ancient poets traveling to perform the works of Homer from memory, these modern storytellers met with audiences eager to hear what happened next.

(What does happen next? Click for more!)

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Thaddeus Phillips Prepares Something New: See it this Thursday at the Live Arts Studio!

Posted May 10th, 2010

This Thursday night, May 13th, Thaddeus Phillips, artistic director of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental, will show off some in-progress work from his in-progress show Whale Optics. The showing will take place at the Live Arts Studio, 919 North 5th Street (at Poplar) at 7pm.

“I’m usually just forced to act in things,” explains Thaddeus, so he is thrilled to be directing a cast that includes his wife and artistic collaborator Tatiana Mallarino, Makoto Hirano, Brian Osborne, and Christina Zani. For Whale Optics, underwater imagery, stage design, improvisation, story-boarding, music, video, and random bits of information all play a part in developing the show. He utilizes a “whatever works” approach, though he eschews being beholden to any particular technique or school of improvisation. “The key to the process,” says Thaddeus, “is how to intuitively and naturally find the material.”

Thaddeus is a native of Colorado, where he went to East High School (other alums include Don Cheadle, Pam Grier, Hattie McDaniel, and Douglas Fairbanks) in Denver and later attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs. While his mother likes theater and his father is a film buff, Thaddeus’s real introduction to the performing arts came in the form of high school musicals. Luckily, in college his theater interests turned away from South Pacific, and toward an entirely different direction.

“I got introduced to a more European way of making theater,” says Thaddeus, specifically “action design,” in which the design is intertwined and developed along with the story. There are very few passive elements in such theater–everything plays a part, everything has the potential to come to the fore. Seeing director Robert Lepage’s The Dragon’s Trilogy also help coalesce Thaddeus’s ideas about the type of work he would like to do. In fact, Thaddeus would soon be working for Lepage.

After the jump, learn about Thaddeus’s continued journey and his upcoming show.

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