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Posts Tagged ‘University of the Arts’

Making Art in 2017: Justin Jain on These Terrible Things

Posted September 3rd, 2017

(Left to right) Bradley Wrenn, David Johnson, Justin Jain. Photo by Kathryn Raines.

Name: Justin Jain

Company: The Berserker Residents / The University of the Arts

Show in 2017 Festival: These Terrible Things

Role: Co-Creator, Performer

Past Festival shows: With Berserkers: The Jersey Devil, 2007; The Giant Squid, 2008; The Annihilation Point, 2009; The Talkback, 2014; It’s So Learning, 2015; I Fucking Dare You, 2016; It’s So Learning, 2016 (part of FringeArts winter season)

FringeArtsTell us about your show. 

Justin JainThese Terrible Things is our subversive comedic response to contemporary American theater values. We’ve dredged up the work of the (fictional) god-like playwright, Lord Ham Hillerson. His work spans centuries and the variety of work he’s produced emulates those of classic playwrights we revere today—Shakespeare, Beckett, Williams, Mamet . . . to name a few.

These Terrible Things in rehearsal.

The conversations we’re having in the room center around why we produce some works that are consistently problematic—for their misogyny, racism, clunkiness, or for just being over-produced. Why it is so hard for new voices and plays to get attention or funding? Why do we revere the classics as “better”? We are also stoked about this collaboration with UArts because another thread we are chasing are the dangers of educational theater training. The guru and student relationship is one we are excited to explode.

Of course, it would not be a Berserker show without some kind of twist. Let’s just say there’s something much more sinister at play in this piece than meets the eye. That when we look in the shadows we see that all artists deal with the same demons. That sometimes bad ideas need to die. And that what we do as theater artists is all just make-believe.

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2017 Festival Spotlight: Apocalyptic Visions

Posted September 2nd, 2017

In these turbulent times, artists in the Fringe Festival are using their mediums to present worst case scenarios for our unpredictable future. Check out the horrifying projections of reality coming to our city at this year’s Fringe!

 

AMERICANA PSYCHOBABBLE @ Berks Warehouse
Alexandra Tatarsky

A delirious anti-narrative of American emptiness, violence, and nonsense—part exorcism and part enema! With styrofoam wings, Xmas lights, and ketchup. “Phyllis Diller meets Artaud!” “Like Kellyanne Conway woke up from a coma after overdosing on sleeping pills and reading too much Gertrude Stein.” AMERICANA PSYCHOBABBLE exists somewhere between irrational healing ceremony, sad clown song, dance in the abyss, and desperate diatribe to take back ecstatic nonsense as an act of resistance. More info and tickets here.

 

Every Day APOCALYPSE! @ The Collective
Lone Brick Theatre Company

The death rays and nukes of outrageous fortune are aimed squarely at a struggling theater group when an irate son of God condemns the company to face a new apocalyptic scenario every day, for eternity. Can they learn to get along in order to save the world, not to mention the world’s worst production of Hamlet? More info and tickets here.

 

GATZ @ Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre
Harrison Stengle

Philadelphia, year 2025, the tempo of the city had changed sharply. The buildings were higher, the parties were bigger, the morals were looser and the kush was cheaper, the restlessness approached hysteria. From the makers of the off-off Broadway show Sword of the Unicorn comes GATZ a Great Gatsby modernist parody. More info and tickets here.

 

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Making Art in 2017: Joshuah D. Simpson on It Takes One

Posted August 20th, 2017

Joshuah D. Simpson. Photo by Cass Meehan.

Name: Joshuah D. Simpson

Company: The University of the Arts

Show in 2017 FestivalIt Takes One

Role: Performer, Writer

Past Festival showsYou Can’t Put Me in a Box

FringeArts: Tell us about your show. 

Joshuah Simpson: This show came out of my problematically zealous passion for musical theater, but more specifically Into the Woods. This show has taught me a great deal about the world around me, and made me realize that in a world where we’re used to all necessary information being spoon fed to us through social media, hidden messages from shows like this are often looked over. My hope is that It Takes One reminds audiences of the connective tissue that all humans share as moving cogs in this world, and find the innate similarities between us while getting a good laugh and maybe even a few tears.

FAHow have your interests in or approach to art making changed in the last year? 

Joshuah D. Simpson. Photo by Ethan Abrams.

Joshuah Simpson: I have undergone a lot of changes this year as a theater artist, the most important being the realization that none of us are held to any one position in the grand scope of theater. There are so many roles to take on, and realizing that I’m capable of more than just one or two things really turned me around a bit. More specifically to this show, before this year I had only ever been a spectator of cabarets, but have found myself taking a more and more of an active part, and finding a new love with in the theater world that I’m really excited to share with the Philly community.

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Dostoyevsky with an iPhone Camera

Posted September 12th, 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.

He’s written plays, films, and television shows, and taught others about all of the above. But his newly produced seventy-seven minute movie, co-directed by and starring Seth Reichgott, is the product of a more than twenty years of thinking, and is the first full length film he’s produced himself from soup to nuts. The man is Larry Loebell, and the film he’ll debut as part of Philly Fringe is Dostoyevsky Man.

In his Mount Airy home, Larry discusses the evolution of this one-actor movie where Seth delivers all of its lines in the form of a monologue spoken into his smart phone. True to his art, Larry shot the entire film on his own iPhone. As he puts it, “The reality and the fiction of the piece is that he’s talking into his phone, the actor and the character he plays.” Interior footage was taken in Larry’s basement and at Arcadia University, with exteriors shot around Mount Airy and again at Arcadia, where Larry teaches playwriting and dramaturgy (he also teaches film history at University of the Arts).

After the jump: The history of man. Dostoyevsky Man.

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Theater Artist Justin Jain Plays The Field

Posted April 12th, 2012

Justin Jain in a vest.

“Making my work fit me is like wearing a well-tailored suit,” says Justin Jain of his art. “If it doesn’t fit well, it’s my fault.”

Jain, a 30-year-old playwright, performer, and theater researcher, identifies the devised work of collaborative theater as the form that allows for the satisfying “well-tailored suit” self-expression he loves. In the eight years since he graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Jain has worked steadily to branch out creatively. In contrast to the tradition of the playwright bringing his play to a director, who then masterminds the process, collaborative theater means everyone creates. All members are writers and performers and directors.

With collaborative pieces, Jain enjoys the egalitarian approach to the creative process. “There is a clear hierarchy in the traditional model—ultimately it’s the director’s vision. But in the collaborative world, especially in new work, everybody’s voice is equal. There’s a lot more social skill that you have to integrate into the process,” he explains.

But all that is not to say that the collaborative model is infallible. “One of the things that often gets glossed over in the collaborative process is attention to subtlety; that really fine-tuned acting work can sometimes get lost because you’re worried about the writing or you’re worried about the dance piece in the middle. Whereas in traditionally-modeled pieces, you have just one job as an actor—you can plot out everything down to the way you hold your coffee cup,” he says.

Though collaborative work has captivated Jain’s interest for several years, he maintains a connection to more traditionally-created shows as well. Today, Jain is heavily involved in both traditional and more avant-garde realms of the artistic community. Through acting in shows like Cyrano at The Arden Theater (final shows this weekend!), Jain still fulfills his role as a “conventional” actor. His more collaborative projects include working with his theater company, The Berserker Residents, which he helped to form in 2007, and other original works he creates.

“They fulfill different parts of my animal brain,” he explains.

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