Go Deeper I Went to FringeArts and All I Got Was Pegged

I Went to FringeArts and All I Got Was Pegged

Posted February 18th, 2016

What are your plans for this Friday?
If you answered anything other than getting pegged, you’re wrong.

Oh wait, sorry, I meant Get Pegged Cabaret. Though, by all means, feel free to get pegged too. Just make sure you do it after FringeArts’ newest, naughtiest addition to its late night programming.

Hosted and co-curated by John Jarboe, an accomplished Philadelphia actor and founder/artistic director of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Get Pegged is poised to make the La Peg stage Philadelphia’s home for raunchy, taboo-busting, transgressive performance. And don’t expect to simply sit back and passively enjoy the ride, by the way. Jarboe cites cabaret’s prioritization of the artist/audience relationship as his biggest impetus for exploring the form’s possibilities. “Cabaret, good cabaret that really forces the whole audience to be there with each other and the performer is radical nowadays,” he recently told FringeArts. While that absence of engaging cabaret is a real shame, like a hole in the landscape of contemporary performance, expect Get Pegged to plug that hole. If you need further evidence, let’s get acquainted with the performers of the series’ inaugural bash.

A keyboardist and the in house music director/composer for the Bearded Ladies, Heath Allen has made a name for himself as one of the city’s most versatile composers and bandleaders. He remains one of area’s best kept musical secrets, with even Fresh Air host Terry Gross asserting, “Most cities have composers and musicians who are extremely talented yet are unknown outside that city. One of those composers in my city, Philadelphia, is Heath Allen.” Recently, he helped compose the music for Andy: A Popera, and collaboration between The Bearded Ladies and Opera Philadelphia.

Chris Davis is a Philadelphia-based playwright and actor whose plays and solo shows have received widespread praise. He’s been a playwright in residence at Plays & Players Theater and serves as a coordinator of the Philadelphia SoLow Festival, a DIY theater festival dedicated to new, experimental, solo performance. He can also be seen doing stand-up comedy every third Sunday at Quig’s Pub. Here’s a clip from his much lauded solo show Drunk Lion:

Better known as “Messy,” Messapotamia Lefae describes herself as “a post-gender surrealist, satorialist, and dance artist.” She has worked extensively in contemporary dance and since moving to Philadelphia has served as an advocate for HIV/AIDS-related non-profits, the LGBTQ community, queer performance collectives, the Radical Faeries, and public access television. She can often be seen performing in Ricky Paul’s satirical theater troupe, the Dumpsta Players, and has been performing and developing the Multimedia Auto-Duet in which she performs live accompanied by projections of herself. According to her bio, her work “challenges others to experience self-expression in the absence of gender norms and to embody abstract ideas as a daily practice,” a focus that seems tailor made for cabaret.

Martha Stuckey is no stranger to the La Peg stage. Her clown funk band Red 40 and the Last Groovement can be seen riling up the restaurant every first Friday of the month, but if you’re looking for classier evening out she can also be seen serenading dinner crowds with jazz standards on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. That combo of raucous and respectable should tip you into the versatile range of this renowned Philadelphia-based theatre artist, but I have a feeling whatever she’ll be bringing to Get Pegged will lean a bit harder on the former.

Dena Underwood is quickly becoming one of Philadelphia’s preeminent jazz musicians. She helped open both the Center City Jazz Festival and OutBeat, the country’s first queer jazz festival, and can be seen regularly at Tavern on Camac bringing her wistful jazz vocals and adept pianism to the fitting setting. Given her throwback jazz style perhaps she’ll add a classic cabaret bent to the proceedings.

An acclaimed Philadelphia theater artist, performer, and playwright, Mary Tuomanen’s time at the Lecoq School of Movement Theater in Paris—where she studied non-textual storytelling tools like acrobatics, clown, mask, mime, scenography, and spatial composition—instilled in her an interest in movement and physicality. She is a founding member of the playwright’s collective Orbiter 3 and has worked with many of the city’s major theater collectives including The Riot Group, New Paradise Laboratories, and The Bearded Ladies. With her diverse resume of performed and written work, what she’ll be bringing to Get Pegged is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: you won’t want to miss it.

So, let’s try this again.

What are your plans for this Friday?

Right. Get Pegged Cabaret.

(Then getting pegged.)

— Hugh Wilikofsky