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Annie and the Bastard

Posted November 30th, 2016

Annie Wilson (and her Bastard persona) were kind enough to answer a few questions about the origins and inspiration for At Home with the Humorless Bastard.  Enjoy her (their) responses below!

 

FA:  Do you remember where you were when you came up with the title, At home with the Humorless Bastard? Was there a particular inspiration?

ANNIE:  I don’t.

I came up with the title three years ago, so I don’t know or care what the initial inspiration was, haha. For me the title is in relationship now to a certain aspect of myself that comes out in dire moments. But it is also in relationship to a sense of security, danger, seriousness.

Actually, that’s probably not true. I set out to make a piece that wasn’t funny. My relationship to humor is fundamental, and I wanted to see what I would make if I put a simple but powerful restriction on my choreography. So far I’ve failed every time, but it’s still a generative question.

THE BASTARD:  Who cares where titles come from they’re almost always the worst part of a piece of art

 

FA:  What do you see as your main source material for this show? And how has that bent its way into the performance?

ANNIE: Water, waterfalls, wombs, grief, gravity, glitter, charles manson, chaos, the olympics, natural disasters, encephalopathy, ambition, guilt, shame, violence, relational aesthetics, the politics of mental illness, heroin, brain swelling, cell death, menstruation, banshees, scotland, keening, booze, magic, money, the eagles, tribalism, erica’s sports bar, gentrification, hopelessness, despair, “sexy nihilism”, spatial anything, reproduction, representation, poststructuralism, the cuisine in hospitals, and Death: The Musical.

I am putting all of that together and mashing them through the spaghetti strainer of my body. Then I’m taking the mashed-out result and laying it out in time and space, with and through an audience.

THE BASTARD: In short, imagine all the stupid shit a white middle class woman would get insomnia over, and that’s what the piece is. Imagine an angsty 16 year old who really loves Rachmaninoff because his music is so maudlin. Now imagine that 16 year old is 30, she is terrified of her body wearing down, and people around her keep dying and she can’t control any of it and has feelings about it. That’s basically the piece.

 

FA: What will the performance consist of?  

ANNIE: There is a dynamic set that gets constructed and torn apart throughout the course of the piece. There is a short video element, but no projections. There is glitter every goddamn where.

I am the only performer, but audience members will certainly become set pieces and stand ins for extra performers.

THE BASTARD: Imagine how you would furnish a darker corner of your heart. Imagine how you would furnish a room for someone that has brain damage and will never even be able to comprehend décor ever again; but you have to visit them on a regular basis so put a painting of a flower up, goddammit, we can’t have things be so glum in here, what are we just going to wallow in our feelings? I’m the only performer but I’ll be joined, as always, by the army of dead people that I love.

 

FA:  As a performer, what does the audience become for you when you are onstage? Do they take on a role for the show?

ANNIE: I generally hate pieces that involve audience participation, and yet I always literally include the audience when I’m making a solo. Partially that’s because I can’t be interesting for an entire evening. Part of it is that I get to turn a mirror on the audience. I think solos are the place where I get to rewrite social rules, just a little. To hopefully encounter each other and ourselves in a slightly different way.

That said, I tend to use folks as set design. So the most that I ask an audience to do is walk somewhere on stage, stand somewhere on stage, and look at something onstage. And maybe participate in a guided meditation through your darker self. So it’s not like, “hey we’re all gonna get up and do something embarrassing.” It’s more like, I’m doing the embarrassing stuff, you’re watching me from the upstage left corner of the stage. That said, we might all sing together.

THE BASTARD: I wrote a song one time and the only lyrics are: “I’m just a middle class white person, talking about middle class white problems, making art for middle class white people, so they can come and go ‘huh.’” I would say that’s about how I can describe my relationship to the audience. It’ll be a big circle jerk where we get to feel “deep” for 60 minutes, either in the appreciation of the piece or in our ability to rip it apart critically, which won’t be difficult to do. So the piece will really boost everyone’s egos by making them feel smart for being able to rip it apart. It’s my little gift to Fringe audiences who like to think they are in any way edgy or experimental or thoughtful.

 

FA: What do you anticipate that you will be fine-tuning for this show—or what are the things that you feel are most important to work out between now and the performances?

THE BASTARD: I hope to destroy the piece moments before the premiere.

 

Thanks Annie!  You too, Bastard.

 

At Home with the Humorless Bastard runs at FringeArts December 1-3.  Tickets and more information here.

Nowhere Fast: Woman Crush Wednes(every)day

Posted November 16th, 2016

What more is there to love about a production that is scored by a live set of gritty, guitar-fueled rock n’ roll? Perhaps that it features an all-female, all-Philly cast of dance-theater badasses.

To properly welcome the ladies that will take over the La Peg stage for one more show in November, here are a couple things you need to know about them (or watch out for) as told by their supporting characters.

Kit Loupez

“Kit kit kitty kit kit. Georgia’s ruthless right hand. I encountered her once and I hope never to see her shade of red ever again. Don’t tempt her with a good time, because that night will be your last.”

– Michelle Flynn

Winona Cross

Winona Cross, aye? I never met a more slim-slicking canary with such a lust for a thrill. She’s willing to slide herself into any tight spot, so long as there’s some green cush waiting to catch her fall.

— Georgia St. Regis

Maxine Malloy

Oh, my dear dear Max. Maxine. She’s my number one gal, the most loyal woman I’ve ever met. Sometimes that means she’s an absolute doormat, a real kitten in a lion’s den. But boy oh boy, can that broad hold a crowd when she’s got a hot mic.

— Winona Cross

Georgia St. Regis

Georgia will either pull you out of the gutter, or toss you in it. She’s the mother I never had and the sister I never wanted. She’s mean. She’s my queen. 

— Kit Loupež

Michelle Flynn

That’s one hard boiled broad at the bar. What’s she doing here? She ain’t no pigeon cabaret audience member, that’s certain. I’ve seen that look before–that’s a woman on a mission. Or a Case. Or both. 

— Max Malloy

 

Photos by Chris Koontz

Blurbs provided by the lovely ladies of BRAT Productions and Sam Tower + Ensemble.

BRAT Productions and Sam Tower + Ensemble present Nowhere Fast; November 11+17, 10:30pm.  Click here for more information and to buy tickets!

The CRUX of Digital Fringe

Posted September 8th, 2016

Before 2014 Andrew Cameron Zahn was looking for a studio space and a way to build relationships with other digital artists after completing his MFA. He came across a space too large to serve as a personal studio, and after some deliberation and conversation with colleagues and friends, Zahn created CRUXspace, Philly’s only New Media Art gallery.

Zahn and Brickley at CRUXspace

Zahn and Brickley at CRUXspace

“Most of our shows are experiments,” he laughs. In the two years since its opening the gallery has featured an exhibition of work by internet provocateur Molly Soda, a collaboration with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program and several other shows exploring the boundaries of new technology. This Friday, as the Fringe begins, Zahn and Kim Brickley open the gallery’s doors for Digital Fringe @ CRUXspace.

After the success of last year’s premiere Digital Fringe there was one piece of feedback that many artists repeated: there should be a place for digital artists to meet, experience each other’s work. Echoing the interest of Digital Fringe Artists, Zahn and Brickley explain that having a physical space can be more impactful to audiences of digital art, that interaction with people in the space is nearly as important as interaction with the works of art themselves. They both agree that gallery openings are very important to them as ways of meeting interesting people and gaining new perspective on what they display. On the other hand, Brickley, head curator of CRUXspace, believes that “the beauty of digital art is that you can question traditional work, and physical location becomes obsolete.” Audiences around the world can participate in Philly Fringe as well as those who are able to make it to Kensington.crux

Zahn and Brickley curated some artists into Digital Fringe in an effort to present more interactive work, things that push the envelope. “There’s a performance element to interactive art,” Zahn explains in discussing the reason for collaboration with FringeArts. See the Digital Fringe display experiment at CRUXspace Friday, September 9.

–Emily Dombrovskaya

Daniel Fishkin’s Tinnital Sound Maker

Posted August 29th, 2016
photo by  Samuel Lang Budin

photo by Samuel Lang Budin

In 2008, composer and sound artist Daniel Fishkin’s ears began ringing. He had developed tinnitus, a condition that affects the processing of acoustic signals in the brain. No longer able to compose and perform music in the same way, Fishkin redirected his energies towards studying circuity and building sound sculpture installations. During a residency at Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, N.C. Fishkin built the Lady’s Harp, a twenty-foot long electro-acoustic harp. Fishkin realized that the Lady’s Harp’s self-sustaining feedback system modeled the workings of the inner ear and was an instrument by which he could explore the sounds of tinnitus.

Since then, Fishkin has composed several performances with the Lady’s Harp entitled Composing the Tinnitus Suites. Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2016 is the fourth iteration, installed in the Rotunda Sanctuary this Fall. It is a four part concert series, premiering in the Fringe Festival and continuing through October.

“Tinnitus distorts and problematizes the listening experience,” explains Fishkin. Tinnitus is not an acoustic phenomenon, but a perceived phenomenon. Which is to say, the ringing he hears is a phantom sound with no spatial dimensions. “Tinnitus is an extra thing,” says Fishkin. “The question is do you ignore it? Does the excess corrupt the experience? Is it an intrusion?” Rather than brush the condition aside, Fishkin places it in the foreground of his work. His compositions respond to the need to create a situation where tinnitus is relevant. “What would a music be that is enhanced by tinnitus?” he speculates. “Does it exist?” He calls this possible music “tinnitus music.”

photo by Samuel Lang Budin

photo by Samuel Lang Budin

For Fishkin, composing begins with instrument building. This process requires “a different kind of attention” than playing, where he is “thinking but not hearing sound.” The Lady’s Harp is a generative system where the sounds are not created by players, but shaped. The strings of the harp are activated by a mixer feedback system using guitar pickups and a pressure transducer. Players rub and bend the strings of the harp with wooden tools, but do not pluck like when playing a slide guitar.

Fishkin’s sound mixing technique is slow and careful, allowing him to listen to “what’s happening in the long phrases” and to “talk to the tinnitus,” he says. The audience is part of the conversation; the sounds change with their movements as they explore the installation. His compositions situate the assemblage of audience, musicians, and installation in an unstable relationship to sound.

“To make ‘Tinnitus Music’ is not just to compose sounds, but also to compose situations that can break the isolation of its experience,” Fishkin stated on the Bowerbird website for the event. It’s about finding a way to talk to people without tinnitus about tinnitus. 

Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2016 is a collaboration between “allies across mediums,” explains Fishkin. Collaborators for the series include Philadelphia artists Philadelphia Hearing Damage, sound artist and instrument builder Ellen Fullman, musicians and performance artists Cleek Schrey and Ron Shalom, and the New York based collective ensemble mise-en. Fishkin suggests that the purpose of this collaboration is not primarily about healing or coping, but about taking “aesthetic action.” Fishkin is recognized as a Tinnitus Ambassador by the German Tinnitus Foundation Charite.

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Fishkin calls this project a “lifework,” in homage to performance artist Tehching Hsieh. Like Hsieh, who is known for a series of year-long durational performances, Fishkin approaches his art as a commitment. Undergirding his art practice is the question of how to deal with the lifelong condition of hearing damage. He describes his work as “asserting an allegiance to the situation” and the very real problems caused by tinnitus.

Composing the Tinnitus Suites: 2016 is supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and is presented in partnership with Bowerbird. More info at dfiction.com.

The Rotunda Sanctuary
4014 Walnut Street
Admission is free for all events
Philadelphia Hearing Damage, Friday, Sept 23 at 8pm
Ellen Fullman with Daniel Fishkin, Friday, Sept 30 at 8pm
Daniel Fishkin, Cleek Schrey, Ron Shalom, Sunday, Oct 2 at 8pm
ensemble mise-en, Sunday, Oct 16 at 8pm

—Hannah Salzer

Fringe Festival 2016 Spotlight: Philadelphia Museums in the Fringe

Posted August 17th, 2016

Museums come to life in these upcoming Fringe shows! Be sure to catch them all before the exhibits run away.

The Eumenides @ The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

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White Box Theater, directed by Marcia Ferguson

Third in Aeschylus’ classic Oresteia trilogy, performed amidst extraordinary ancient artifacts in Penn’s Museum. A story about mother-murder, the foundations of our juried justice system, and shifts in world order—gorgeous, and elegant, a substantial work. More info and tickets here.

Colored Girls Museum Presents A Good Nights Sleep_The Colored Girls MuseumThe Colored Girls Museum Presents: A Good Nights Sleep

The Colored Girls Museum

The Colored Girls Museum is an apostate arts colony, headquartered in the backwoods of Germantown. Settled by a collective of nomadic travelers, the Colored Girls Museum (CGM) re-imagines the museum as an imaginative & restorative temple that nurtures and celebrates the “Ordinary, Extraordinary Colored Girl.” More info and tickets here.

 

Room 21 @ the Barnes Foundation

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Jace Clayton

This site-specific performance is an inspired musical response to the artworks of Room 21 at the Barnes Foundation and Albert Barnes’ extensive record collection. The actual Room 21 displays an eclectic mix of Pennsylvania German furniture, Modigliani’s painting Reclining Nude from the Back, African masks, religious works, and paintings by Barnes students. Composer Jace Clayton (also known as DJ /rupture) plays on ideas of adjacency between vastly different artists and cultures. Carefully choreographed, Clayton’s concert rewards roaming through the performance, much like visitors roam through the art collection. More info and tickets here.

Read More

Layers of Onion Dances at SoLow Fest

Posted June 10th, 2016

“After slicing bags of onions, I still hadn’t cried. For most this would be a good thing, but for me, it was disappointment.”—Talia Mason

In preparation for her SoLow Fest performance, Onion Dances, Talia Mason chopped onions, attempting to cry while talking about family memories and associations with onions. “I was interested in it because of how onions make people cry and allow for vulnerability,” Mason explains.talia mason poster

Mason’s piece draws inspiration from a Headlong Performance Institute (HPI) exercise, a constellation, in which students create a work based on collections of objects that interest them. The unpeeled whole onion which Mason chose for her constellation became the starting point for a semester of intense performance making the result of which debuts at Headlong Dance Studios June 17th, 18th and 26th. Similar to the structure of an onion, the use of onions has multiple layers in Mason’s work. “They are central in my research but they also live on the periphery as part of the landscape of the piece,” she describes.

In the spirit of the SoLow Fest theme Signs of Life, Talia says, “Onion Dances is about my family stories and our family’s collective memory of history.” The piece is as much about childhood as it is about adolescence, adulthood, and the universal experience of learning and coming to terms with understanding death. In Onion Dances Mason incorporates play, dance, song, and storytelling.

Read More

A Story Without the Truth Behind It

Posted April 29th, 2016

Noelle Mercer and Julian Shapiro-Barnum, besties who saw Underground Railroad Game during the 2015 Fringe Festival, reached out when they heard about the remount, excited to help us promote it.  Luckily they’re total geniuses.  We sat them down to have a conversation about race, friendship, education, and why they think teenagers need to see Underground Railroad Game.*

Underground Railroad Game runs at FringeArts May 11-21.  Get tickets/more info here.

*Note: Underground Railroad Game contains brief full nudity and content for mature audiences.  Parental discretion is advised.

Announcing the 2016 Fringe Festival!

Posted April 1st, 2016

We are shockingly ahead of schedule here at FringeArts, and are ready to announce a few of our 2016 Festival Shows!  Here’s a sneak peek for you, our stalwart audience.

 

img_0279DICTIONARY
Stunning solo performer Radon Mackelroy reads all 171,476 words in just under 6 hours.  “A triumph of audience endurance!” —The New York Times

 

 

 

Background for festival scooterDOG
No script.  Just a dog, a stage, and you.  “There has never been a cuter performance.” —Washington Post

 

 

 

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The three souls that comprise FringeArts’ marketing department publicly live-stream their image via webcam as they market the 2016 Fringe Festival.  Will they survive?

 

 

 

2012_Ben_Franklin_Bridge_and_Race_Street_PierSUSPENSION
Seven dancers are suspended over the Delaware River from the Benjamin Franklin bridge, without safety harnesses (because risk). The dance-theater work that follows tests the boundaries of decency and safety.

 

 

 

APRIL’S FOLLIES
Gotchya!  Only one of the above shows will be included in the real 2016 Fringe Festival.  Which one?  You’ll have to keep an eye out for the Festival Guide to find out!

Register now for the 2016 Fringe Festival!

Posted February 29th, 2016

It’s that time of year, artists. Registration is now open for the 2016 Fringe Festival, and we at FringeArts are itching to see what you all have in store. While we expect to see a lot of old friends staging new works, we also welcome newcomers with open arms. We don’t bite, and if we do it’s just in a playful way, promise not to break the skin. For those of you out there who still might be apprehensive about registering, I’m here to help demystify the lofty institution that is the Fringe Festival, because if you don’t think your work has a place in our cavalcade of culture, you’re probably wrong. Don’t feel too bad though, being wrong is the first step towards being right.

So, what mediums of art are you looking for?

I’m glad you asked. We’re looking for theater, dance, music, visual art, digital/web art, and everything in between.

DSC_0453

FIFTY DAYS IN ILIAM from Hannah Van Sciver, part of the 2015 Fringe Festival

Want to stage your latest five hour theatrical saga about the life and times of a three toed sloth? Hey, you can do that. Want to rattle some crowds with your new band’s brand of barnyard inspired abstract noise rock? You can do that too. Want to smash every artistic medium you can conceive of together into one overstimulating extravaganza in praise of the late, great Robert Loggia? Go right ahead, and best of luck to you.

If you feel so inclined, don’t be afraid to take your medium to some far out places. Last year’s Festival alone saw a host of artists bringing unconventional works to our fair city. Conceptual artist Brian Feldman went to ticket-holders homes to wash their dishes and perform a monologue of their choosing. Tangle Movement Arts mounted a production that combined dance, theater, and circus arts, staging their performance high above solid ground. Performance artist Brian Shapiro revisited a show he created in 1995 predicting how technology would impact human interaction, informed by twenty years of paradigm shift after paradigm shift. The possibilities are truly limitless.

But what exactly does it mean to register for the Fringe Festival? Why put down a pocketful of cash when you can just stage your show in my friend’s unfinished basement in early September and tell people you’re a part of the Festival? Well, for one, that basement has some serious water damage and that mold smell is becoming a bit too overpowering. But more to the point, just take a look at all the benefits that come with registration:

  • Box office, public relations, marketing, and admin support
  • Listing in the 2016 Festival Guide (distributed to nearly 20,000 people in Philadelphia and its environs)
  • Dynamic show page on the FringeArts website
  • Venue signage
  • Annual two- ticket membership to FringeArts programming
  • $5 rush ticket to all Fringe Festival shows
  • Free workshops and invite-only networking events

How about that? Showing your work can be a major undertaking, but at least doing it with Fringe comes with all those cushy benefits.

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DAMNED DIRTY APES! from The Renegade Company, part of the 2015 Fringe Festival

We are truly excited to see what you all have in store for us and the city of Philadelphia. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the festival and everyone here is working hard to ensure it will be a celebration you won’t forget. Seriously. The 2016 Fringe Festival will haunt you for the rest of your days. But in a good way. The Casper way. Positive hauntings all around.

To register for the Festival click here. You have until June 1, but if you register before March 18 you’ll save $75, and if you miss that deadline getting your registration in before April 18 will save you $50. So don’t drag your heels. You’re already, like, 86% sure you’re going to do it anyway. I’ll toss you that extra 14%.

— Hugh Wilikofsky

FringeArts In a World Without Donors

Posted November 17th, 2015


Have you ever wondered what FringeArts would be like in a world where no one supported the arts? FringeArts Interns Alex and Dan use their handy-dandy Alternate Reality Machine to find out!

Hungry from their trip through the wormhole, Alex and Dan decide to visit La Peg for a bite. They’re in for a rude awakening when they see what the fabulous restaurant would be like in a world without donors.

YOU keep the lights on.  YOU keep tickets affordable.  YOU bring great art to Philadelphia.  Show your support this #GivingTuesday.

givingtuesday call to action2