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Posts Tagged ‘Team Sunshine Performance Corporation’

Vender Una Fantasia: An Interview With Alex Torra

Posted April 13th, 2018

Cuban President Raúl Castro’s second term is coming to a close and as such he’s preparing to vacate the office, making good on the two-term limit he set back in 2013. Though he intends to remain on the National Assembly and retain his position as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (the country’s only legal party), for the first time since 1959 someone other than a Castro will rule the island. On April 19th, Cuba’s National Assembly will undertake the historic vote to decide just who that someone will be. The following day, as the reality of that outcome is settling in with Cuban citizens, those of us here in the island’s not-so-friendly neighbor to the north will have a chance to settle into some theater seats and get an irreverent, pointed examination of our nations’ contentious relationship.

Jenna Horton and Benjamin Camp. Photo by Kate Raines, Plate 3 Photography.

¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! OR WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE! will receive its world premiere here at FringeArts on April 20th through the 28th. This new, original play from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation has been years in the making, and a true passion project for the ambitious company’s co-founder Alex Torra. Serving as the show’s lead artist and director, he was spurred to create the work in part because of his complicated relationship with his Cuban heritage. However, as the project has grown, it’s expanded its concerns far beyond the personal to encompass the long history of cultural exploitation and outsider ignorance Cuba has suffered through. Case in point, I’m embarrassed to admit just how recently I became aware that Cuba’s aforementioned vote was happening so soon. Live and learn.

Recently, we spoke with Torra to learn more about the origins of this bold, lively new play; the long journey to making it a reality, full of trips to Cuba and visa nightmares; and what audiences can expect to see onstage once the rumba beat starts.

FringeArts: Where did the title ¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! OR WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE! arise from?

Alex Torra: Back in 2015, I had an opportunity to travel to Cuba for the first time. It was a super intense and difficult trip for me – for many Cuban-Americans, we only understand Cuba through the things our parents tell us and from photos or videos. To see it with your own eyes is a whole different experience.

I was really taken aback by how many of my interactions were tourism-based, and how much of the culture I was seeing was focused on getting (at that time) white tourists to have a great time and spend money. I kept having the strangest sensation – that Cuba was selling itself. I saw this phrase “Rentar Una Fantasia” on the back of a taxi. It clobbered me. Cuba has opened its doors to tourists, and now, tourism serves as one of the largest sources of revenue for the country. Cuba openly caters to tourists, and especially tourists from wealthy majority-white nations, to come and partake of the island and culture. It’s for the sake of survival, for sure, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable.

Idalmis Garcia. Photo by Kate Raines, Plate 3 Photography.

In my research, I discovered that this is a recurring theme in Cuban history. There is desire/repel quality to the way Cuba has dealt with foreigners. It goes as far back as La Conquista, where the Native people of the island, at some moments, welcomed Spanish strangers to the “New” World before they were enslaved, tortured, converted, and poisoned by European sicknesses. Then, in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Cubans, who had achieved independence from Spain had begun to welcome Americans. The Americans, in the early 20th century, used Cuba as a new marketplace and the island, especially Havana, became a kind of playground for the mafia, Hollywood, and tourists. When Castro came into power, many Cubans were happy to see the Americans go, but then the country became reliant on the Soviet Union. After the fall of Russian Communism, Cuba opened up to tourism for the first time in 40-50 years, welcoming European and Canadian tourists, and now, Cuba has opened up and is welcoming American tourists.  It’s a powerful and complicated story, of both revolting against these outside forces and also welcoming them in.

FringeArts: How has your identity and relationship with your heritage informed the piece from its conception?

Alex Torra: It was the starting place for the project. We’ll see how much of this finds its way into the final performance, but a big complication for me is my white Latinoness. I present white (some say I “pass” as white), but I’m part of a Latinx minority group. As a first generation Cuban-American, I was encouraged to find success by my parents and community, and so I set out to do that. Along the way I deleted my Miami accent, I went to theatre schools that focused on American and Euro traditions of theatre where the work was made for primarily white audiences, and I worked hard to fit and succeed. I “whitened.”

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The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Mel’s latest project (featuring Mark)

Posted September 17th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, like the one featured below, which we’ve been sharing throught the month. There are only two opportunities left to see this brave and bold performance in its current form, don’t miss out!

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This is a still from Mel’s new piece (with her collaborator Kelly Bond). That’s Mark as an animated “disembodied mountain god head.” —Mel Krodman

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: The Camp’s at camp

Posted September 15th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them in the coming weeks.

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Welcoming the Philly bus to Camp Bonfire: summer camp for adults. — Benjamin Camp

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Running the Hugging Station on the final day of the first Camp Bonfire, a summer camp for adults co-founded by my brother Ben Camp and Jacob Winterstein (June 2015) — Rachel Camp

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Mark’s reading

Posted September 13th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them in the coming weeks.

 

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Me reading from my first published chapbook of poems in Washington, D.C. — Mark McCloughan

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Jenna meets one of her heroes

Posted September 12th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them in the coming weeks.

 

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I took a tour of Rush Hour in New York from one of my heroes, Timothy Speed Levitch, who is pictured here along with the ceiling of Grand Central Station. — Jenna Horton

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Mel’s 2015 Festival

Posted September 10th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them over the coming weeks.

 

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Mel outside Union Transfer before opening Swamp Is On with Pig Iron and Dr Dog

 

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Mel in Swamp is On fringe festival 2015

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Makoto’s wife meets his family

Posted September 9th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them over the course of the coming weeks.

 

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Wife meeting her new extended family, Sendai Japan. — Makoto Hirano

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Rachel goes on Birthright

Posted September 7th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them over the next few weeks.

 

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With my sister on our Birthright trip in Israel. Also Dolores the Camel.

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Aram and friends in NoLa

Posted September 5th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them over the course of the coming weeks.

 

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5am beignets in New Orleans with Jenn, Rebecca and Scott — Aram Aghazarian

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Mark gets married by Mel

Posted September 1st, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them over the course of the next few weeks.

 

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Melissa marrying me and my husband, Brendan — Mark McCloughan

 

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marrying your best friends is amazing. October 2015 — Melissa Krodman

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Ben seeks and imparts vital knowledge

Posted August 26th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them over the course of the next few weeks.

 

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Just wanted to see what they tasted like. — Benjamin Camp

 

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Discovering selfies. — Benjamin Camp

The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Jenna in VT

Posted August 24th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them over the course of the next few weeks.

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Tuce Yasak covering me in clay in an installation up at the Shakleton’s in Woodstock, VT — Jenna Horton

 

View More: http://eileenmenyphotography.pass.us/vermont-2015

Drying off and warming up after nearly going into shock from getting hosed off post being covered in clay for an hour. VT, July 2015 — Jenna Horton

FringeArts Flash Debates

Posted April 5th, 2016

This Saturday, April 9, Team Sunshine Performance Corp and Jacob Winterstein are convening The Society of Civil Discourse at FringeArts. All are welcome to join the Society and get in on the fun of hating on, loving, philosophizing about, and debating things that don’t matter. This night is about bullshitting your way to the top. In order to warm up our argumentative sides we decided to have a brief series of lightning debates with members of our staff on a handful of highly contested trivialities: baby carrots, winking, and hoverboards. Below, you’ll find their cases for or against their topic. Though these may not be their true opinions on these hot button issues, it’s clear they’ll be ready to square off against anyone looking to argue come Saturday night. Will you be ready?

Debate #1:

Winking

Pro: Dan, Marketing Director

Winking is a primary form of human communication and we should no sooner oppose it than other more questionable forms, like G-chatting with the coworker beside you or YouTube comments. As humans we are from time to time reminded of the acute inadequacy of words to express true meaning. Under emotion’s influence—love, disgust, surprise, fear—our faces say more and say it better than whatever clumsy collection of syllables we could possibly muster. In addition, the adaptation of the wink into popular emoticons and emojis is evidence that, as technology replaces human interaction with a digital screen, the wink is needed now more than ever.

Against: Meg, Venue and Patron Services Director

Winking: Secretive, inconclusive, cheeky. What does a wink even mean? Are you flirting? Are you suggesting an inside joke? Are you inferring that there is an unspoken agreement between us? Maybe you’re just somebody that winks a lot and there is no actual message. Either way, winking is a vague and inconsistent form of nonverbal communication. 99.9% of winking results in unclear messaging. Furthermore, it cannot ever be universally embraced, as a wide and diverse segment of the human population (up to 12%!) does not have the facial muscular capabilities to wink. It’s blinking or nothing—no one eye isolation. For that reason, winking is an exclusive nonverbal communicator, and imperfect. If a wink requires a returned wink in order to complete the exchange, there is a nearly 1 in 10 possibility that the recipient of the initial wink simply cannot return said wink. For this reason, I strongly argue against winking.

Debate #2:

Baby Carrots

Pro: Constance, Marketing Intern

Here’s the problem. When you want a snack, you want to be healthy, but there’s always things like chips and cookies that get in the way. That’s why there’s baby carrots. They’re nature’s chips. You get that same satisfying crunch but without the trouble of washing all that cheese dust off your fingers. They’re simple, they’re cheap, and they’re easy to carry around, unlike their full-sized carrot parents with that annoying tuft of inedible greenery on top. And, if people see you choosing that healthy snack option, it’s so much easier to trick people into thinking you have your shit together. When everything else in your life looks like it’s falling apart, at least you’ll have a win if you choose baby carrots.

Against: Anna, Marketing Coordinator

A startling fact: There’s no such thing as a baby carrot. Baby carrots are created by the plastic surgery of ADULT carrots that were JUST FINE. Baby Carrots are the status quo and the fetishization of youth vegetableified. Baby carrots represent everything wrong with society. Instead of dipping normal, healthy, curvy carrots that are beautiful just the way they are we strip them down and cut them shorter so they all look the same. Not everything is easy to hold, chew, or fit in a snack sized Ziplock bag and that’s OK. We should be empowering our carrots and ourselves to be diverse not homogenous and slimy.

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Homegrown Art Is in Bloom: Spring at FringeArts, Pt.1

Posted March 24th, 2016

Ah, spring has sprung once again! Or is about to. Or already did. Oh, you didn’t get the memo? It’s winter again! Wait, never mind, it is spring. But maybe don’t get too comfortable in those jorts. Even though we can’t seem to rely on nature to be on schedule these days, you can rest assured that FringeArts will be. We’ve got an incredible spring season packed with some of Philadelphia’s most lauded, boundary-pushing artists, as well as notable guests from out of town. Here’s what’s going down at our waterfront headquarters from April to June.

Coming April 9 is a show for all the talkers, drunk debaters, sidewalk weather reporters, water cooler pundits, backseat philosophers, pseudo intellectuals, haters, hype-men, chatter boxes, gossips, and even the silent types. The Society of Civil Discourse, a co-production between Team Sunshine Performance Corp and The Philly Pigeon/Jacob Winterstein, is looking for new members and thinks you’d be a perfect candidate, whoever you are (info/tickets).

SCD-183The evening plays out in three phases. During phase one the proceedings and rules of participation are laid out and all attendees are inducted into the Society. Phase two asks Society members to voice their opinions at three designated stations: a “hater” station, an “appreciation” station, and a “mini-debate” station. Once everyone’s oratorical muscles are warmed up we enter phase three. Participants become audience for The Great Debate, where two teams—made up of professionals and a few recruited audience members—debate on an audience-selected topic. If you’re someone who enjoys passionately debating pointless topics you don’t understand or care about, you’re going to want to grab a ticket quick for this “celebration of truth-stretchers, fabricators and pseudo-intellectuals in all their misinformed glory,” as a writer for City Paper so aptly summed it up.

luisgaray.hotglue.meNext up is Maneries, our first international offering of the season from Colombian-born Argentina-based choreographer Luis Garay. A solo created specifically for and in collaboration with dancer Florencia Vecino, the show positions the body as a cipher of linguistic material. Working with iconic symbols, Vecino takes on the difficult task of embodying a universal catalogue of gestures, pictures, poses, and sculptures, utilizing her body to represent all bodies, a vessel for all manner of possible meanings, perceptions, and experiences. Garay equates her performance, the manner in which she mixes these images live, to that of a DJ, asserting, “The structure of the piece is very rigid, but at the same time it allows [the performance] to be changed every time. Maneries is also about imagination and the bodily production of imagination.”

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