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Posts Tagged ‘Thaddeus Phillips’

A Good Balance of Comfort and Discomfort: An Interview with Steven Dufala

Posted September 12th, 2017

This week, two Philly Fringe favorites are returning to the Festival with two very different shows. Absurdist theater artist Geoff Sobelle will mount HOME on September 13, an ambitious new piece that ruminates on the transitory nature of dwelling, the impossible structural demands of a house, and the absurdity of making a home. Meanwhile, on September 14, theater maker and performer Thaddeus Phillips will premiere his latest work, A Billion Nights on Earth, a fantastical show for all ages that dives into the realms of parent–child relationships, as pair stumble through alternate realities in search of a beloved stuff whale. Though both of these shows are starkly different, they do have one thing in common. That would be artist Steven Dufala.

Dufala has been creating work in a variety of media for decades now. He has regularly collaborated with his brother Billy, under the name The Dufala Brothers, and together their work—often humorous, hyperbolic reimaginings of everyday or iconic items—has been exhibited widely. They’ve also organized absurdist artistic happenings, including a toilet-trike race through Old City during the 2005 Fringe Festival.

Recently, Steven Dufala has lent his exceptional talents to some ambitious works of theater, designing sets and making some larger than life visions a reality. Perhaps most notable among these collaborations was his work on Geoff Sobelle’s widely lauded show The Object Lesson, which had its premiere during the 2013 Fringe Festival and has since been taken all over the world. Turning theaters into storage spaces with boxes stacked high to the ceiling and filled with the usual household wares, the kind of miscellanea that does little but collect dust but somehow stays with you for years, as well as some more surreal keepsakes—”moss to mystic” designated actual moss with a strong whiff of incense, “acorn collection” ought to be self explanatory—his design and installation work on the show was critical to achieving its uncanny yet strikingly down to earth vibe.

We recently caught up with Dufala to learn more about his artistic practice and what it’s been like splitting his time between these two aesthetically divergent shows.


FringeArtsTell us a bit about your background. 

Winslow Fegley in A Billion Nights on Earth

Steven Dufala: I grew up in south Jersey, the middle of five boys in a creative household. Our parents were pianists and teachers, and all the brothers make things. So I’ve always been making things.

FringeArtsWhat was the Philadelphia arts community (or communities) like when you first arrived at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts? 

Steven Dufala: I used to like to say the scene was mostly living rooms and basements, and I guess that’s still kind of true, but everything was really DIY. Pig Iron was making shows in basements, the best music was at peoples houses, the best parties, the best art shows didn’t really look like shows, but were kind of one or two night show/parties. Old City was kind of too fancy, and no one really went north of Spring Garden. 

When I got to Philly, I didn’t go straight to the academy, I was at UArts for two years in film and animation. That basically cracked open a whole world of creativity I’d never really explored and that’s why I went to PAFA—to try and get a better foundation for making things in general.

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Living a Billion Nights: An Interview with Michael and Winslow Fegley

Posted September 10th, 2017

This week sees the premiere of A Billion Nights on Earth, the latest work from acclaimed theater maker and performer Thaddeus Phillips in collaboration with artist Steven Dufala. The show—appropriate and ideal for audiences of all ages—follows a father and son as they venture into their fridge in search of a beloved stuffed whale and find themselves on a spectacular quest through space and time. With stunning scenic work by Dufala and Phillips, taking inspiration from the shapeshifting nature of Kabuki theater design, the piece is a dazzling, ever-evolving work of visual art and a touching, imaginative dive into the realms of parent–child relationships, exploring their varying perspectives on reality.

If you find the relationship between the father and son characters deeply palpable, it might be because stars Michael and Winslow Fegley are father and son. And also exceptionally talented performers. Michael Fegley has been working in theater and film for decades now, as has his wife Mercedes, and now all three of their children are following in their footsteps.

I caught up with Michael and Winslow to learn a little more about their experiences performing, how this collaboration with Phillips came about, and what it’s like living in the fantastical world of A Billion Nights on Earth.


FringeArtsTell us a little about your performance backgrounds.

Michael: I’m a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA and have been working professionally for over twenty years. I’ve performed extensively in New York and Philadelphia in works ranging from classical to the avant-garde, including the Off-Broadway production of Small Potatoes.

Winslow: I’ve been doing plays and movies for a while now. Plus my whole family acts, and I watch them working all the time. I’ve learned a lot, and I like working with my dad.

FringeArtsIs there a strong theater or performance community in Allentown?

Michael: Allentown has the wonderful, talented people of the Civic Theatre of Allentown, where our family has been a part of productions for years. Winslow, like his sister August and brother Oakes, have all taken many turns on that stage. However, it is a non-equity house, so I have to find work in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Last year I was in the world premiere of The Ballad of Trayvon Martin at Freedom Theatre here in Philadelphia.

Winslow: I like working in Allentown, but it’s cool when we get to go to new places and work in different theaters.

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2017 Festival Spotlight: Family Friendly Fare, Part 1

Posted August 25th, 2017

Just because it’s at the Fringe doesn’t mean you have to leave the kids at home. Check out some of the Festival’s productions appropriate for all ages. Bring the whole family! Check out Part 2 here.

 

A Billion Nights on Earth @ FringeArts
Thaddeus Phillips + Steven Dufala

A  journey into an alternative universe for audiences of all ages. A treasured stuffed whale goes missing and a portal to another dimension though the kitchen fridge sets a father and son off on a spectacular quest through space and time. Objects on stage appear to come alive and the father and son must rely on their creativity, and each other, to survive wild landscapes that open like giant pop up books. Taking from classic children’s books, kabuki stagecraft, and spellbinding theatrics, A Billion Nights on Earth is an imaginative dive into the realms of parent–child relationships, exploring their varying perspectives on reality. More info and tickets here.

 

Edge of the Rock @ The Rock School for Dance Education

The Rock School for Dance Education

Exciting, energetic young talent from around the world perform classical and contemporary vignettes that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Alumni from The Rock School go on to join the most prestigious dance companies worldwide. See the dance stars of tomorrow, today! More info and tickets here.

 

Aunty Ben @ William Way LGBT Community Center
ReNew Theatre Company

Aunty Ben is a play for children 8+ (& Adults). The story revolves around 9 y/o Tracy and her relationship with her favorite Uncle Ben, who happens to be a drag queen. Aunty Ben is a playful exploration of gender issues, acceptance, and is a celebration of diversity, dignity, and marching to the beat of your own drum. More info and tickets here.

 

Photo by Charley Parden.

 

PRIDE PARADE! @ Rittenhouse Square
Wesley Flash

PRIDE PARADE! is an interactive walking tour featuring historic hot spots in Center City Philadelphia. During this immersive storytelling adventure, we’ll dance, sing, and chant as we honor and celebrate out & proud ancestors who marched before our time. Join the movement — Remembering is resistance! More info and tickets here.

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Explaining those billion nights: Interview with Thaddeus Phillips

Posted July 25th, 2017

A Billion Nights on Earth is at the same time an adult work for kids and a kids work for adults—or in simple terms, it is for three year olds and surrealists.”

In a Thaddeus Phillips production, nothing stays the same for too long. Using anything from projections to puppets, everything is malleable, from characters to inanimate objects to time and space. Innovative and spellbinding, his works have a fantastical edge and American Theater has called him a “shape-shifter.” For A Billion Nights on Earth, a co-creation with Steven Dufala coming to the 2017 Fringe Festival, Phillips uses kabuki stagecraft, bending assumptions about physical space and the stability of time. The story centers on a father and son who enter into new dimensions after discovering a portal in the back of the fridge. We got the chance to ask him about his process and the inspiration for this magical new work, which is for all ages.

FringeArts: How did the title A Billion Nights on Earth come about?

Thaddeus Phillips: The title references a loose idea of every night we have ever had on earth—perhaps not a billion but many many many nights of humanity and all animal life on earth has lived under the stars and looking up wondering what is actually happening and in awe of the awesome beauty of it. When you become a parent, for me you are reminded more than ever as you explain to your child about the stars and planets, about the fantastic and sheer shock of how amazing and unexplainable it all is. The show is inspired by being a parent and the desire to create not a work for children but a work that would be equally engaging for children and adults. A Billion Nights on Earth is at the same time an adult work for kids and a kids work for adults—or in simple terms, it is for three year olds and surrealists.

FringeArts: Can you briefly describe the set up?

Thaddeus Phillips: The instance that brought it all together was the playing with my son at the amazing Astrid Lindgren’s World Park in Sweden—on a play ground made from a roof with a window. This image is the basic for our design and the entire show. This roof is a magic box that slides and reveals interior and exterior spaces—as the show is constantly referencing minute details of life and huge questions of existence at the same time. The framework for the performance is greatly inspired from Japanese kabuki theater—in that each corner of the playing area is activated and able to change slowly and with transparent magic into wildly different locations. There will also be many large scale inflatables.

Model for set design.

FringeArts: How will the two performers be encountering the scenic and design elements? 

Thaddeus Phillips: Michael and Winslow Fegley are a real father–son acting duo. The Fegleys are an acting family based in Allentown and we are very exited to be able to draw on their real relationship to create the father son for A Billion Nights on Earth

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Is Your Coke And Grass Worn Out From Traveling?

Posted September 17th, 2015

grassandcokeFolks have gotten obsessed with Narcos lately–and hey, did you know that Pride of Philadelphia (and, ok, Bogota too) Thaddeus Phillips has a small part? He has a bigger one in ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE, up now through September 19th.

Anyway, I came across an article on AdWeek last night about folks at the The World’s Best Ever, who pulled together unbelievably ridiculous–and real–ads marketing cocaine paraphernalia.

What world could have created such beautiful ads? What was that world like? Read Thaddeus’s interview with John Timpane at the Inquirer over here. Then come see the ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE. It’s here all week. Tickets here.

Thaddeus Phillips Brings the Drug Trade to FringeArts

Posted April 29th, 2015

“I was fascinated by the way TV is made: the way you shoot out of sequence and how it actually feels more fake, even with real planes, for example, than being on a theater set.”

Barry Seal 1The Incredibly Dangerous Astonishing Lucrative and Potentially TRUE Adventures of Barry Seal comes to FringeArts May 14–16, the newest theatrical creation from Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. Thaddeus, whose been splitting time between homes in Bogotá, Colombia, and Philadelphia  these past few years, was inspired by the TV show he has been acting in in Colombia about drug smuggling in the 1980s. In the TV show he plays Barry Seal, a pilot who was one of the most notorious drug smugglers in US history. He became fascinated with the process of making the show and the history of these characters. Barry Seal will be followed in September by ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE at the 2015 Fringe Festival.

FringeArts: Where did the idea for this show come from and why did you want to make it into a show?

Thaddeus: I got this job, out of the blue, playing Ellis MacKenzie on MundoFox’s Alias El Mexicano, a Spanish language TV show about Rodrigo Gonzalez Gacha, one of Colombia’s most notorious drug kinpins. Ellis MacKenzie was the alias for Barry Seal, who is the USA’s most notorious drug smuggling pilot. Playing

On the set.

On the set.

this role and being thrust into the crazy world of Colombian TV production is where the idea for these new projects came from. I was fascinated by the way TV is made: the way you shoot out of sequence and how it actually feels more fake, even with real planes, for example, than being on a theater set.

I loved seeing what the cameras were filming and imaging what the final shots would look like—and thought it could be really cool to stage a work as if it is being filmed for TV, but with the film crew as part of the staging, and a theatrical language could be developed by creating this world onstage and leaving it up to the audiences’ imagination what the show would look like. This was the initial idea: to take the aesthetics of a TV set and a TV filming schedule and apply it to the stage. The project idea was to make two shows, one small scale work that would give a history of the drug trade and the life of Barry Seal called The Incredibly Dangerous Astonishing Lucrative and Potentially TRUE Adventures of Barry Seal [coming to FringeArts May 14–16] and two, a large scale work with to be created in collaboration with Colombian actors who starred in the TV show I was on, called ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE [coming to the 2015 Fringe Festival].

FringeArts: How has the show developed from idea to production?

Thaddeus: As I developed the idea we began to research Barry Seal and then very soon we were dropped into the Grand Central Station of conspiracy theories spanning fifty years of US history. We also researched extensively the stories of Barry Seal relating to the drug dealers and the DEA and CIA.

Barry Seal Grave.

Barry Seal Grave.

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The Weekender: What You’re Doing and Why

Posted August 24th, 2012

Rest up and recharge, boys and girls, because we’re only two weeks out from opening weekend of the festivals, holy crap! Here are a few things to get up to this weekend:

>>>All weekend: Explore Edgar Allen Poe, his death, and production documentation at the new most excellent tumblr for Red-eye to Havre de Grace, which opens September 7 at the Live Arts Festival.

>>>All weekend: More exploring. Next week, you’ll read intrepid blog contributor Julius Ferraro’s report on Museum Without Walls, a new way to explore the remarkable collection of 51 sculptures along Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive. Go this weekend, and compare notes with Julius on Monday.

>>>Saturday: The first of two must-do Saturday shows, Megan Mazarick presents DBDP, AKA the David Bowie Dance Project, an informal showing of work set to David Bowie songs at the Mascher Space Cooperative. Dancers include Bethany Formica, David Konyk, Beau Hancock, Lindsay Browning, and others. 8:00 pm. (And don’t forget to check out Megan’s Philly Fringe show, Mining the Mine of the Mind for Minderals.)

>>>Saturday: After DBDP, bust down Frankford Avenue to Johnny Brenda’s. Martha Graham Cracker turns seven, yikes, she’s old stately and handsome. What a dame! Dame Martha. Pre-Martha performances include a special pre-festival performance from the dames of Bang!, who, according to JB’s website, “promise a naked karaoke keytar extravaganza.” Sets start at 9:00 pm.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Artists and Their Coffee: Thaddeus Phillips

Posted May 30th, 2012

Phillips, with a nice red mug of coffee.

Name: Thaddeus Phillips

Company: Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental

Artistic occupation: Theater director, stage designer.

First experience with coffee that made you understand coffee: Just two weeks ago, I was waiting at LAX for a flight—and wanted coffee, then it occurred to me . . . while in LA, I had just bought a Japanese Turkish style hand grinder, some Stumptown ‘hair bender’ blend coffee, a Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper, and Chemex Filters. I almost had everything I needed to make it right there—I  ground my own beans, went up to a Starbucks near the gate, asked kindly for hot water, but had not any single cup filters for the Hario—so used the larger Chemex filter—and brewed my own coffee in the terminal. The discovery, on accident, of the Chemex Filter + Hario V60 made me understand coffee . . . really understand.

Coffee you drink at home: See above, but with my own hot water.

How you like your coffee: See above, with half & half till a strong caramel color appears, and a half spoon of raw sugar.

Average no. of cups per day: Two. (The good thing about this ridiculously detailed and ritualistic way to make a simple cup of coffee is that there is no time to make more than two cups a day . . . and coffee made at most other places is not the same so now I actually drink less coffee overall).

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