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Posts Tagged ‘Orbiter 3’

Mission Complete: Playwright Collective Orbiter 3 Launches Its Final Show

Posted May 15th, 2018

After producing six world premieres by local writers, playwright collective Orbiter 3 brings the curtain down on its three-year project with one final play, L.M. Feldman’s A People.

“The scale of this show makes for a fitting end,” collective member Douglas Williams tells FringeArts, as he considers the company’s coda, which runs May 16-June 2, 2018, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. “It’s a huge sprawling show, both in terms of story and production.”

“These are qualities producers often shy away from,” adds Emma Goidel, another founding member of the collective, “and ones Orbiter 3 set out to embrace.”

L. M. Feldman

Goidel and Williams are two of creative theatermakers who form Orbiter 3. They are joined by playwrights Emily Acker, L M Feldman, Sam Henderson, James Ijames, and Mary Tuomanen — some of the best-regarded theater writers in Philadelphia — and led by artistic director Maura Krause, with associate producer Erin Washburn and company manager Cat Ramirez. Over its lifespan, Orbiter 3 has produced a play by each of its playwrights, from James Ijames’ Moon Man Walk in June/July 2015 to Sam Henderson’s The Brownings (a presentation by FringeArts) in November/December 2017.

“You can judge for yourself if you think each individual production was a success,” says Williams, looking back on the company’s output. “But, in my book, they were each artistically daring and brought a new story to Philly’s stages that audiences would not otherwise have been able to enjoy.”

Several playwrights used the opportunity to produce plays unlikely to be staged by mainstream companies. Whiting Award–winner Ijames launched Orbiter 3 with a quasi rom com that inhabited a world completely populated by African American characters. Goidel’s A Knee That Can Bend looked at a circle of queer friends in Senegal. Williams chose to use an ensemble devising process to create Breath Smoke, a piece billed as “more narrative mixtape than play.” Mary Tuomanen’s Peaceable Kingdom featured a cast of eighteen.

“Outside of a theater like The Wilma, or Walnut Street, you’re not seeing a show like that get produced in Philly, and certainly not a world premiere by a local playwright,” claims Williams. “I’m just so proud we were able to take those risks and put those stories and performers on a Philly stage.”

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One Long, Horrid Writer’s Retreat: An Interview with Sam Henderson

Posted November 17th, 2017

The love affair and marriage of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning is one of literary history’s favorite romances. It’s not hard to see why. The narrative of two brilliant artists who could articulate their love for each other, wring beautiful verse from it better than just about anyone is certainly an enchanting one. Of course, when are relationships ever that perfect?

From Nov 29–Dec 9, FringeArts will present The Brownings, the latest play from and in conjunction with the acclaimed Philadelphia producing playwrights collective Orbiter 3. Written by Philadelphia playwright and performer Sam Henderson, The Brownings is an immoderate retelling of the titular couple’s famous relationship, with all the fighting and weird sex and drug abuse they didn’t teach you about in school. Though, perhaps there’s a reason for that. We should be sure to reemphasize the terms immoderate and retelling. We spoke to Henderson back in August about the play’s origins and taking some artistic liberties with these famous, oft-idealized figures.

FringeArtsWas there any incident in particular that spurred the creation if The Brownings

Sam Henderson: I was homeless, but staying with friends. I’d spent some time in a psych unit about three weeks earlier, where I’d received really good health care for the first time in about a year and a half. My life was beginning to improve after a long decline. My friends had provided me with a huge, stand-mounted map of Australia for privacy, and I used to just stare at Australia and write plays.

I was struggling to understand myself in the light of my diagnosis of type II bipolar disorder, and my coming to God: two recent, wholly unexpected events that brought meaning to all this personal chaos, if not comfort.

I was deeply under the influence of Mary Tuomanen’s Marcus/Emma, which was still unproduced. I wrote the first seven scenes of The Brownings very quickly as a joke to crack Mary up, and I was surprised when she encouraged me to keep going, since The Brownings is such a rip off of Marcus/Emma.

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Fringe at 20 Profile: Douglas Williams

Posted June 7th, 2016

Name: Douglas Williams

Type of Artist: Playwright, producerD. Williams Headshot (L)

Companies: Orbiter 3, Apocalypse Club.

Fringe shows I’ve participated in:
Holly’s Dead Soldiers, 2013 – playwright
Safe Space, 2014 – playwright
@AstroJennie, 2015 – playwright

First Fringe I attended: In 2009 I was a senior at Temple University and had to see a Fringe show for a class. I decided to go to Pig Iron’s Welcome to Yuba City, which feels really lucky since I knew nothing about the show or the company. The whole thing blew my mind.

First Fringe I participated in: Holly’s Dead Soldiers was the first Fringe show I was involved in. Most memorable moment was probably Chris Davis scrambling to learn his four page monologue two days before we opened.

First show I produced/created at the Fringe: Holly’s again. In creating it I guess I would say the most memorable moment was bouncing around Bruce Walsh’s house trying to figure out how to use every room, every space, and how much dialogue could be heard when delivered from the basement . . .

The Fringiest show, venue, action, or moment I ever experienced: There was something really beautiful about seeing Go Long Big Softie in a building that was going to be torn down after the run had ended. Filling that place with art and people before it went away forever seemed like a good way to say goodbye.

apocalypseclub_safespace_1b

Apocalypse Club (Emma Goidel, Maura Krause, Douglas Williams, Emily Acker), Image by Lindsay Ladd

A Fringe show that influenced me as an artist: Oh man so many . . .  Yuba City, Pay Up, the Adults, Underground Railroad Game. The Object Lesson is still one of the most incredible theater experiences I’ve ever had. The environment that show existed in was just so welcoming and communal.

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