Posts Tagged ‘devised theater’

Finding Reality in a Dream: Alison Hoban of the Found Theater Company

Posted August 18th, 2017

Adrienne Hertler, Joe Wozniak, Kristy Joe Slough, Ciara Collins, Matt Lorenz, and Joe Palinsky in Game Show Show.

Working in the surreal world between dreams and reality, the Found Theater Company presents their eighth original Fringe Festival show this September. The group works as a collective in Philadelphia, and devises works like this year’s Game Show Show around a central theme, such as the televised game show. While the premise is light, it’s used as a vehicle to a comment on the current state of disarray that the United States continues to fall into. “Found always works inside of this kind of in between world, where we straddle reality and a dream state,” says director Alison Hoban. “We’re (hopefully) able to take the audience to heightened, otherworldly places, while also being able to reach them as people with real human experience: heartache, love, success, failure.” Founded under the direction of Felipe Vergara, the company creates their shows by using a theme and building a narrative step-by-step, a process that has evolved over time. Alison Hoban has been with the company through it all, as their elected director after Felipe. I talked with her about her artistic roots, and how this show came to be.

Kristy Joe Slough in Game Show Show.

FringeArts: Where did you grow up, and how did you first become involved in the arts?

Alison Hoban: I’m from Wayne, PA, right outside of the city. My family wasn’t involved in the arts, but my parents always encouraged creativity throughout my life. They made it possible for me to take dance classes and be involved in theater from when I was young. I took and taught dance lessons through school. I spent a few summers at Upper Darby Summer Stage. But I really fell in love with theatre at Radnor High School under the direction of Mary Anne Morgan.

FringeArts: Who are some artists that you look up to?

Alison Hoban: Oh man, there are so many! I feel overwhelming lucky to be a part of the Philadelphia theater community. There are some amazing makers creating new works here. I was in the first class of The Headlong Performance Institute in 2008 and met a lot of them there. Headlong Dance Theatre has been a long time favorite. Seeing the care they take of themselves and each other during the creation process was inspiring. That was the year I saw one of Nicole Canuso’s works (Wandering Alice) for the first time too and it blew me away. It remains one of my favorite things I’ve seen in this city. I always look forward to seeing what other makers in the city are into and am always excited to see new works by Lightning Rod Special, Almanac, Sam Tower + Ensemble, the Philadelphia Opera Collective and so, so, so many others.

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Other Blogs: A look at the ways of ensemble based theater

Posted April 8th, 2014

Ensemble theater has been alive and well in Philadelphia for years now and shows only signs of growing, especially as the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training keeps churning out students that are highly trained in the ways of devised theater-making and have worked with a group of peers over the course of two years.  Still, creating an ensemble–particularly when serendipity isn’t on your side–is not easy. As Whit MacLaughlin of New Paradise Laboratories told me, to build an ensemble, you need people who are attracted to the work, you cannot build an ensemble by bringing in folks you want to work with–no matter how great you think they would be.

Jeffrey Mossler has written a series of articles about the making of and paying for ensemble based theater on Howlround. In his latest “Ensembles: How To Model One?” he talks to members of The TEAM, a New York City based ensemble that makes devised work, on how they have evolved over the years and what they have down to be creatively and financial sustainable as a company. The article shifts easily from issues of creative development to creative management to administrative structure to fundraising and grant writing–a valuable reminder how all this aspects must work with each other in a performing arts company.

Check it out!

–Leo Krass

Clowning Napoleon

Posted August 31st, 2012

Think Napoleon. Emperor? Tyrant? Napoleonic code? Clown? Playwright and actor Amy Frear likes the latter.

“Every time I read about him it makes me laugh,” she says. “The first time he was imprisoned, he escaped after about 100 days. At St. Helena [his second imprisonment], ships were circling the island 24 hours a day. I just had this vision of a little guy still plotting to take over the world.”

In her 2012 Philly Fringe play Napoleon Princess Groupie Newspaper, Amy plays Napoleon.

“Napoleon tries to recruit sea creatures and the audience to get off the island and go back to France. I’ve done a lot of clown work, and he’s based on a lot of those characters,” Amy says.

After the jump: Amy and director Chelsea Sanz talk about working closely on one-person shows, and the frustration of the old shoe.

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“Hackles” Rising

Posted August 15th, 2012

Festival Blog contributor Richard Bon lives in Northern Liberties with his wife and daughter. He posts original flash fiction of his own or by a guest writer every other Monday on his blog, liminalfiction.com.

In the Fishtown flat of Nick Gillette, the Groundswell Players are devising their 2012 Philly Fringe production, Hackles. Nick sits in the center of his large living room, emerged in an intense dramatic situation with Martha Stuckey and Alice Yorke while Scott Sheppard and director Mason Rosenthal flank me as the audience. Mid-scene, Mason directs Nick to “tell us a story,” and Nick responds in stride with an impromptu tale chock full of fictional memories convincing enough to have happened in real life. When Mason tells Nick to “go deeper,” Nick reveals a crushing secret from his and Martha’s characters’ shared pasts, the ad hoc revelation as eloquent as if he’d memorized the lines from a script.

As they craft this fully devised play, collaborators/actors Scott, Nick, Martha, and Alice along with director Mason reexamine the traditional ghost story. Comparing Hackles to earlier Groundswell performances, Scott says their new show will be more “finely orchestrated” and less “reliant on spontaneity.” He also says they aim to “manipulate what’s behind the suspense” surrounding scrutiny of the supernatural, with Martha adding that “incongruities will be highlighted between the fact of death and people’s enjoyment of ghost stories.”

The living world, generally treated in genre fiction as more stable than the dead world, contains its share of believers in visitations by lost friends, relatives, or anonymous entities from the other side. “Ghosts are often thought to haunt people in certain ways,” Scott tells me. “We’re asking: what does that curiosity do if redirected?”

After the jump: inspiration from pop culture, children as ghost hunters, and the physical representation of death.

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Philly Fringe Vital Stats/Shameless Plug: James Haro

Posted August 1st, 2012

James Haro is sitting behind me. I opened a Vital Stats e-mail, and skipping the name (what’s in a name, anyway?), I began to skim the responses. “Oh, good one,” I thought. “That could be wittier.” Then I saw it—the name—and Real Life and Internet Life collided (meta, dude). I threw off my headphones and swiveled on my chair to face one of my fellow interns, James. “James, you’re performing in Philly Fringe?” I shouted.

He is. Along with the Drexel Players (the university’s only undergraduate theater organization), James is bringing the devised theater piece MONUMENT to this year’s Philly Fringe. Curious like me about devised theater? The student-performers are documenting the process, so you can read along with the titillation bred by the prospect of undergrads throwing themselves into a boiling pot of their own creative mind-juices. Tastes like cajun pepper!

James dodged his Philly Fringe assignments (sorry James, no one ever said interns were blood-brothers!), to answer our questions.

Name: Your Friendly Fringe Intern, James Haro.

Age: 22.

Where were you born? Los Angeles, California.

Where do you live now? University City, Philadelphia.

Show Title: MONUMENT.

Explain your performance in 2 sentences. To an 8-year-old. A bunch of weird people gather to create the last thing ever. Our show is about how that does or doesn’t happen.

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