Archive for the ‘Presented Fringe’ Category

Jet Set with Pig Iron’s Alex Torra

Posted June 16th, 2009

In advance of tonight’s Pit Stop with Pig Iron’s Welcome to Yuba City meet-the-artist event (free at the Arts Bank, Broad and South streets, 7:00 pm, be there!), I met up with Alex Torra, Pig Iron‘s associate artistic director.

Last week we were sitting at a table at Ann Sather, a Swedish diner in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. He was explaining that after his initial involvement with Pig Iron he didn’t see a way to mature as an artist with the company. Everybody creatively involved, he told me, had gone elsewhere to train, and then returned. So he applied to MFA programs, and went to study at the Brown University/Trinity Rep Consortium.

I asked Alex if he had met a childhood friend of mine who works for Trinity. He said he did, and then asked, “Who are you?”

Me? Pfft. I was there to learn more out about Alex, who’s in Chicago this month assistant directing Steppenwolf Theatre‘s production of Up (opening Thursday, June 18).

After the jump, Alex talks about working at one of the most renowned theaters in the United States (under a Tony Award winning director to boot), how Princess Grace hooked him up, the myths and truths of the American West, and clowning as conversation.

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Posted June 16th, 2009

Check out this earlier application of the type of lighting design you’ll see in Chunky Move‘s Mortal Engine at the Live Arts Festival in September. This is an excerpt from Glow at the Kitchen in New York.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

News: What The Philadelphia Theatre Initiative Means to You

Posted June 16th, 2009

The Philadelphia Theatre Initiative announced their 2009-2010 grants today, and I’m proud to report that they’ll be supporting a Live Arts show for the 2010 festival! Remember Gatz, a 2007 festival production from Elevator Repair Service? You should, because it was great. PTI has lent its support to us to commission a new work from Elevator Repair Service, an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which will see its world premiere here in 2010.

But check out the other grantees – it’s a lineup of great projects with some great alumni, both individuals and groups, from our past festivals. It’s great to see such an awesome grouping of shows, and I’m pretty excited for what’s coming up in the next couple years through these awards. Congrats, everyone!

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Tonight: Bodies Everywhere

Posted June 15th, 2009

Don’t forget! The Mural and The Mint play with music and with bodies, and kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies (STORE) too, at the Piazza tonight, 7:00 pm. Until then, check out the Kate WaWa-choreographed video for Animal Collective’s “Summertime Clothes,” below:

Tonight, free, at 7:00 pm, at the Piazza, N. 2nd St. between Poplar and Girard, across the street from Liberties Walk.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Slideshow: Gabrielle Revlock’s SHARE! at the nEW festival

Posted June 15th, 2009

Pics from the nEW festival performance of Gabrielle Revlock‘s SHARE! Don’t forget to check out last week’s feature on Gabrielle.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Images by Alan Kolc and Bill Hebert.

The Weekender: What You’re Doing and Why

Posted June 12th, 2009

>>>Today, and every day: You can help keep Philadelphia’s culture afloat! Or at least Governor Rendell can, and you can write him a letter. Senate Bill 850 may have been extinguished but the coast isn’t clear yet. Soon, we’ll get the governor’s revised budget. Remind Gov. Rendell that arts and culture will never be expendable. Get more info and an easy-to-use template at the Greater Philadelphia Culture Alliance site.

>>>Saturday: Les Rivera, a Kill Me Now performer, also appears in Hidden City Philadelphia’s massive Battle Hymns performance. Closet history nerds rejoice: it takes place in the 23rd St. Armory, once a Revolutionary War stronghold. Hymns combines the military aura of the space with Leah Stein’s site-specific choreography and music from Alan Harler’s Mendelssohn Club Chorus. Artillery’s going artsy. June 13 (and also June 20), performances at 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm, 23rd St. Armory, 22 S. 23rd St., Philadelphia.

>>>Saturday and Sunday: While you’re at it, make it a weekend with Les and check out his Latin rock band El Malito y sus Caballeros. I can’t speak for his buddies, but El Malito promises a bit of baile to go with the guitar. June 13 at The Piazza, east side of N. 2nd St. between Poplar and Girard, 9:00 pm, and June 14 at The M Room, 15 W. Girard Ave., 8:30 pm.

>>>Saturday and Sunday: InLiquid‘s Art for the Cash Poor event lets us buy local artwork while reminding ourselves that we are rich in other things, like . . . well, not cash. For the tenth year in a row, some of the area’s best artists will sell their work for under $200 (and sometimes under $100). DJ and live music included! Plus (shameless plug alert) make sure to track down our own Live Arts/Fringe info station amid the budget bazaar. 1:00 to 6:00 pm, Crane Arts Building, 1400 N. American St., Philadelphia.

–Mara Miller

Photo courtesy Les Rivera

Slideshow: Kill Me Now Preview at the nEW festival

Posted June 12th, 2009

Pics from last weekend’s preview of Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre‘s Kill Me Now, coming to the Live Arts Festival in September.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Images by Alan Kolc

Save the Date(s)

Posted June 12th, 2009

What are you doing next week? Spending your days on this blog, and then what I tell you to do:

>>>Monday: Double bill at The Piazza at Schmidts (N. 2nd St., across from Liberties Walk) – kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies (STORE), and The Mural and The Mint accompanying a mob of Philly’s best dancers. Mike Kiley, who did the sound design for Nichole Canuso’s Wandering Alice at the 2008 Live Arts Festival, helms the listener-supported band (Download their album here, please donate if you like them.) They’re providing the soundtrack for what the Piazza’s website calls “Nichole Canuso’s roaming dance installation.” Nearly every dancer is involved with this year’s Live Arts lineup. You should go, but in case you miss it, catch our report and pics in this space next week. It’s free, at 7:00 pm, at the Piazza, N. 2nd St. between Poplar and Girard, across the street from Liberties Walk.

>>>Tuesday: Where else is there to be except at the Welcome to Yuba City Pit Stop at the Arts Bank (Broad & South Streets)? Get personal with Pig Iron’s Quinn Bauriedel, Charlotte Ford, Geoff Sobelle, and Dito Van Reigersberg, who will discuss the process of creating Welcome to Yuba City. Expect talk of clowns, cowboys, and American myth, followed by a reception with the artists. It’s free, at 7:00 pm, at the Arts Bank at Broad & South streets. RSVP to robin@livearts-fringe.org.

>>>Friday: Finalize your Artists U application. For the first time, Artists U is offering an open nomination process. Founded by Andrew Simonet of Headlong Dance Theater (more.), the project is, according to its site, “…a cooperative platform for helping performing artists with planning, long-term thinking, and problem-solving.” We, in fact, proudly host Artists U, and attest that it’s helped a lot of artists you know and respect get an administrative leg up. Letters of intent are due by email on June 20.

>>>Saturday: Twofer! Come by the Popped!/2nd Street Festival(s) in our new hood, and stop by our table to say hello. Bands and food and drinks all day, oh my. But keep your game face on, because that night is the previously plugged kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies benefit party in Old City. Can you handle the 15-hour odyssey? More details on these next week.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy Pig Iron.

Dateline: Melbourne

Posted June 11th, 2009

Federation Square in Melbourne has been chockablock with action the past couple of weekends.

Two weeks ago at a Russian culture festival I watched a man in his mid-60s point and laugh as a much older lady fell down some stairs. I had hoped it was a performance, but it was not.

Last week Melbourne’s Indian students came together to protest the huge number of assaults on Indian students over the past couple of years in Australia. The country is, right now, very publicly examining and confronting racial issues. A few of the protesters were dragged off by police.

On Saturday, though, I saw some raw human joy restored in Federation Square, through Chunky Move‘s flash-mob-dance-happening, Moving One Hundred. When I was asked to cover Chunky Move’s flash-mob-dance-happening for the blog, I was delighted to play a small part in building a bridge between the Philly and Melbourne arts communities.

After the jump, pics from my walk through Melbourne’s laneways, cool stuff in Fed Square, and the Chunky Move dancers emerging from the crowd.

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You Deserve A Break

Posted June 11th, 2009

Good morning. You’re tired. Well, I’m tired, so I’m projecting. Restore yourself with this meditative video from Merián Soto’s Wissahickon Park Project. That set of site-specific performances in Philadelphia was part of her States of Gravity and Light series, which will continue in the Live Arts Festival this year with Postcards from the Woods.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

We Got Movies, They Got Moves

Posted June 10th, 2009

Theatre of Speed Vs Boz N Hok – Directed by Rhian Hinkley

Here, dear friends, is the first in what I hope will be a long line of videos we’ll have for you featuring various projects of artists from the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.

First up: Back to Back Theatre. Their piece small metal objects, as all of their creations do, draws from the experiences of performers with disabilities. Until recently, I hadn’t fully grasped the deeply subversive facets of Back to Back Theatre’s performances in public spaces, confronting not just those who have come to the show, but passersby as well.

The video helps with that – watch it! Word from Alice Nash of Back to Back is that, “The guys wanted to be FAMOUS and be on TV, not do theater. They wanted
to make a video. So we made this.”

I’m glad they did, because I am now very, very psyched to see small metal objects in September.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Preview: Kill Me Now

Posted June 9th, 2009

Fame hungry contestants, sudden death dance offs, overly pretentious judges, winner take all in the fight for the ultimate prize.

Is this some mashup of I Love Money and So You Think You Can Dance? Nope. It’s Kill Me Now, a dance-competition-reality-show-cum-live-theatre performance debuting at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival this fall.

During the nEW festival last weekend, Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre previewed their immersive show, with text by OBIE Award winner John Clancy.

Entering the theater space, a screen projected video confessionals of Kill Me Now characters. Inspired by reality television participants’ solo exchanges with the camera, the characters shared guilty secrets and deepest desires, creating the base for the performance.

After the jump: my preview of the eclectic, humorous group of over-the-top characters we’ll see in September:

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Tonight: Dean & Britta at Johnny Brenda’s

Posted June 4th, 2009

Come with us to see Dean & Britta at Johnny Brenda’s later on. They’re on a brief (as in three nights through Philly/DC/New York) before taking 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests worldwide. Well, Europe-wide, mostly, at least for now.

If you’re lucky (and you probably will be), you’ll get to hear a few of the songs from the 13 Most Beautiful… soundtracks, and whet your appetite for the full performance at the Live Arts Festival this fall. To learn more about the show, check out our Q&A with Dean from earlier this week. See you tonight!

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Your Performance World: Thursday, June 4, 2009

Posted June 4th, 2009

>>>Chunky Move, who’s bringing the innovative, strange, and elegant Mortal Engine to Live Arts this fall, has a cool show scheduled for Saturday (read about it in The Age). Titled Moving One Hundred, they’re using 100 volunteers to take over Melbourne’s Federation Square for two massive dance performances. You might be asking yourself: Why are they telling me about a show in Australia that I can’t possibly make? The answer: our Melbourne correspondent (we’re worldwide like that) is going to deliver a report and series of pics from square. If you do happen to be there, go check it out and say hi for us.

>>>Carolyn Huckabay continues to interview nEW festival performers on City Paper‘s The Clog. New post: Jaamil Olawale Kososko (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia; STORE).

>>>You know that one way or another you’re going to end up watching some portion of the 2009 Tony Awards on Sunday night. Among other reasons: they’re hosted by NPH, or Neal Patrick Harris, to those of you who haven’t seen the Harold and Kumar movies 1,000 times. John Chattman interviews him for HuffPost. And while I’m not the biggest fan of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Serenity, Dollhouse), I do encourage you to watch NPH’s star turn in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Produced during the writers’ strike a couple years back as an Internet-only feature, it’s freaking hilarious. Anyway, Tonys are Sunday night at 8:00 pm on CBS.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

nEW festival Performances Start Tonight!

Posted June 3rd, 2009

The dance joy (not Meat Joy, that was dance but rather something else) that is the nEW festival starts tonight! Everything looks awesome, but a few highlights for us are, of course, folks who are coming our way this fall:

>>>Melanie Stewart dances in a solo adaptation of Deborah Hay’s I’ll Crane for You tonight and tomorrow, and previews Kill Me Now in two special late shows on Friday and Saturday.

>>>Gabrielle Revlock (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia) performs SHARE! tonight and Friday.

>>>Jaamil Kosoko (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia, STORE) rocks VIRUS on Friday and Saturday.

>>>Jen McGinn (The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2009: Philadelphia) presents in the DanceHouse showcase of performers new to festival. Saturday.

For the full schedule, visit www.newfestival.net. And stay tuned for recaps from our staff, and profiles of nEW festival performers in the coming week!

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Alan Kolc.

kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies Summer Freakout Fundraiser

Posted June 3rd, 2009

Mark Saturday, June 20 down on your calendars, boys and girls. Kate Watson-Wallace just sent us the lineup for the June fundraising event, and its gonna be a fun, fun night:

Performances by: kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies and Martha Graham Cracker and her band

DJs: Mike Z (Making Time), Gregg Foreman, Ian St. Laurent, Mr. Cisum

Video: Klip Collective

Food by: The Latest Dish

Price: $10!

This, my friends, is what dope summer nights are made of.

Fundraiser for kate watson-wallace/anonymous bodies, Saturday, June 20, 8:00 pm to 2:00 am, 122 Arch Street, 2nd Floor, $10.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Josh McIlvain

Pushing Daisey

Posted June 2nd, 2009

Mike Daisey is unlike any other performer you’ll see at the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. He’s not an actor. He’s not a dancer. He’s not directing or performing experimental site-specific work. He’ll be at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company, seated in a chair, at a table. But his act is a bit of a high-wire one: Mike works with ideas, and without a script.

In a 2007 New York Times profile, Jason Zinoman wrote that, “At their best his shows recreate that rare moment when you can see a performer actually thinking through an idea.” Zinoman’s article details Mike’s process very well, but of perhaps greatest note is that Mike works with an outline, a framework for his monologues, and every performance evolves differently. Jean-Michele Gregory, Mike’s director, artistic collaborator, and wife, helps the flow of ideas cohere into a stream that illustrates Mike’s own thought processes, trials, and successes, and through these, explores broader cultural phenomena and problems. The wide-ranging subjects Mike takes on through his website, www.mikedaisey.com, hint at both the pleasures his shows, and at the challenges of unifying such disparate topics into one night of theater.

How Theater Failed America generated some controversy last year as Mike, a popular and respected performer, turned his both his wit and his critical eye on his own forum and on some of his own hosts around the country. Last spring, Gothamist.com ran a great interview with Mike in which he talked about the show and the theater community’s responses. That PTC, a renowned regional theater company, is co-presenting a show that is often critical of regional theater, is most definitely to their credit.

We’re hoping to have a Q&A with Mike about The Last Cargo Cult up pretty soon. In the meantime, you should definitely check out his YouTube channel, where he’s posted a number of short videos, excerpts from his performances, and a pretty harrowing video of an audience member coming on stage and pouring water over (and destroying) his performance notes.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Ursa Waz

Previews, Previews, Previews!

Posted June 2nd, 2009

>>>Meet the Artist: Pig Iron. Save the date – two weeks from today, Pig Iron’s Quinn Bauriedel, Geoff Sobelle, and Dito van Rigersberg talk about the creation of Welcome to Yuba City. At the Arts Bank, 601 South Broad Street, Philadelphia. Tuesday, June 16, 7:00 pm.

>>>Marilyn Jackson previews the nEW festival for the Inquirer. This dance crucible, a creation of Melanie Stewart (Kill Me Now), features Melanie performing a solo adaptation from choreographer Deborah Hay, and a slew of performers you’ll see in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe this fall. At the Drake Theater, University of the Arts, 1512 Spruce Street, Philadelphia. Performances run June 3 through June 7, various times.

>>>UPDATE: City Paper‘s Carolyn Huckabay also has a very nice Q&A at the Clog with Gabrielle Revlock, who’s performing in the nEW festival (June 3 and June 5) and competing in The A.W.A.R.D. Show! at Live Arts this fall.

>>>Mike Daisey (How Theater Failed America, The Last Cargo Cult) is one of America’s few true raconteurs, and perhaps the only one who brings together disparate tales in a way that yields genuine insights about life and art. To get a taste of what’s in store for you this September, check out these YouTube excerpts from How Theater Failed America. But he’s not talking about us. We won’t fail you, I promise.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy Pig Iron Theatre Company.

13 Most Beautiful…: Dean Wareham Q&A

Posted June 1st, 2009

From 1964 through 1966, Andy Warhol shot over 500 Screen Tests of people in and around his Silver Factory. These shorts feature some of Warhol’s “superstars” like Ultra Violet and Ingrid Superstar, artists Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali, and current and future cultural icons including Allen Ginsberg, Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, and Lou Reed. The films are surprisingly meditative, especially for the amphetamine-fueled crash through life that was the Factory scene.

The Screen Tests distill essential themes of Warhol’s work, especially his fascination with surfaces and the construction and performance of personality. Two years ago, the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust commissioned the band Dean & Britta to write soundtracks to the films. The resulting performance, 13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol Screen Tests, is coming to the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in September.

Dean Wareham (the Dean half) has had an illustrious career: fronting Galaxie 500; garnering accolades from pretty much everyone during Luna’s 14-year run; and since 2005, doing the same with Dean & Britta. (For details, see his memoir, Black Postcards.) In advance of Thursday night’s Dean & Britta show at Johnny Brenda’s (a regular concert, not the 13 Most Beautiful . . . performance), I talked to Dean about composing soundtracks to the work of one of modern art’s giants.

When did you see Warhol’s Screen Tests for the first time?
About two years ago, when Ben Harrison called me from the Warhol museum. I’d seen Kiss, which is one of [Warhol’s] earlier films, snippets of Screen Tests and a couple of movies. It’s probably a part of his work that people aren’t that familiar with. None of the films were on DVD until now. [These 13 Screen Tests, accompanied by the Dean & Britta soundtracks, came out on DVD last month.] The only Warhol films on DVD aren’t really Warhol films, they’re Paul Morrissey films like Trash, presented by Andy Warhol, but not directed by him.

What kind of impression did they leave on you?
There’s a lot of them – almost 500. Some of them are kind of boring, but some of them are great. I think it depends on the subject. Sometimes it was just someone pulled in off the street, sometimes it was Salvador Dali. I think strange things happen to people when you put them in front of a camera. They’re almost a psychological exercise, what people present over those three minutes, but then they’re played back at silent film speed of 16 fps [frames per second] for four minutes. If you slow down our facial impressions, like a mother looking at a baby, a myriad of expressions go by that we don’t normally see.

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The Weekender: What You’re Doing and Why

Posted May 29th, 2009

If you don’t know, now you know:

>>>Tonight: Bread and Puppet Theater, world-renowned left-wing political puppetry from the wilds of Vermont, touches down in Liberty Lands Park for a free show tonight. Keep in mind, this brand of puppetry is geared more toward the inner anti-capitalist children of adults rather than toward actual children. Free, but donations accepted.
Tonight, 7:30 pm, Liberty Lands Park, North 3rd Street between Poplar and Wildey.

>>>Starting Saturday: the Peregrine Arts-produced Hidden City Philadelphia. We talked to managing producer Jay Wahl yesterday about reinterpreting historical sites through contemporary art and performance, and we are absolutely psyched about this project. Some of our staff are even volunteering! If you simply must see every site, Hidden City offers three-hour, $30 bus tours of the whole shebang twice a day on each of the next three Saturdays.
May 30 through June 28, various times, sites, and ticket prices. Visit www.hiddencityphila.org for a full schedule.

>>>Sunday: ARTspiration!, the Fleisher Art Memorial‘s community arts festival, takes over the 700 block of Catharine Street for family-friendly arts endeavors. My favorite: bicycle arts workshops that help cyclists of all ages trick out their rides. I hope there will be chrome. Be sure to visit the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe table, where we’ll be giving away two tickets to a 2009 Live Arts show of your choice!
May 31, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, 705 Christian Street, 719 Catherine Street, and the 700 block of Catherine Street.

>>>Sunday: You know you love Vox Populi and how they, along with Philly’s other art collectives, keep contemporary work vibrant in a pretty conservative art town. After saying hi to us at Fleisher and transforming your bicycle into an eight-foot-tall megalith, ride it on up to Vox Pop. PAFA‘s curator of contemporary art, Julien Robson, is having an open gallery talk with artists Stefan Abrams, Charles Hobbs, and Roxana Perez-Mendez, whose work is up right now. And in case you forgot, Sunday’s also the deadline for their fifth annual emerging artists exhibition. Jurors are Larry Mangel, founder of CerealArt, and young comer Ryan Trecartin. Who else is impressed/jealous that only five years out of RISD, Trecartin’s already had work in the Whitney Biennial and was featured in the “Younger Than Jesus” show at the New Museum? Yeah, thought so.
Vox Populi gallery talk, May 31, 3:00 pm, 319 North 11th Street.

–Nicholas Gilewicz