Fringe at 20 Profile: Mel Krodman
Name: Mel Krodman
Type of Artist: Performer, creator
Companies: I make and perform work with various ensembles including the Philadelphia-based companies Pig Iron Theatre Company, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, and No Face Performance Group. And since 2010 I’ve worked in collaborative partnership with New Orleans-based choreographer Kelly Bond.
Fringe shows I’ve participated in:
Elephant, 2010, with Kelly Bond – performer, creator
Colony, 2012, with Kelly Bond – performer, co-choreogrpaher
Swamp Is On, 2015, with Pig Iron Theatre Company and Dr. Dog – performer, creator
2016 Fringe show I’m participating in: Sincerity Project with Team Sunshine Performance Corporation (performer, creator).
Also in November my show JEAN & TERRY: Your Guides Through Dark, Light, and Nebulous will premiere at FringeArts.
First Fringe I attended: The first time I came to the Philadelphia Fringe Festival was with Kelly Bond when we were producing Elephant in 2010. We were both still living in DC and drove into town in pouring down rain, rushing to make it to the Kimmel on time to see Jérôme Bel’s piece Cédric Andrieux. I was absolutely blown away by this work—instantly impacted, forever changed. As soon as the show was over we jumped back into the car and were rushing (possibly even more than before) to make it to Brian Sanders’ JUNK. It was a truly jam packed evening of dance work at two ends of a spectrum: Bell’s stripped down and Brian’s spectacle. From then on I was in love with Philly and totally hooked on the festival.
First Fringe I participated in: I was a co-creator and performer, along with Lillian Cho, in Kelly’s piece Elephant. Kelly had found a venue that was an artists’ collective—FLUX space—in North Kensington up near Allegheny and Front streets. Our piece was performed entirely in the nude, which was kind of hilarious in this raw space with fine sawdust everywhere. And it was hot out and we were sweating. So you can imagine. But that kind of artists’ space was so inspiring to see. It was my introduction to the badass DIY Philly art scene that I love. It was during this run of Elephant that we met the magnificent Megan Bridge of <fidget> space. She invited us to come back and perform Elephant at <fidget> the following spring. In 2014-15 Kelly and I were yearlong artists in residence with <fidget>, so we have Fringe to thank for launching a significant creative relationship and friendship.
First show I produced/created at the Fringe: In 2012 Kelly and I produced our co-choreographed piece Colony which is an utterly athletic and exhausting piece. Somehow we had decided to do four shows in three days. On the day when we had a double-header I remember us going back to my house between shows to nap. When we woke up—slightly rejuvenated—my legs were so sore I had to limp down the stairs. But we did it!! Adrenaline is amazing.
The Fringiest show, venue, action, or moment you ever experienced: I hereby submit the aforementioned sawdust and sweat story.
A Fringe show that influenced me as an artist: Pig Iron’s Zero Cost House (2012). I was in school with Pig Iron at the time and had the opportunity to see the piece several times—both in development and throughout the run. The first time I saw the show I was pretty bored. But as a student I was curious about it, and so watched it again and again. Over time I fell completely in love—with the script, with the direction, with the expert performances and with the delicate ways that such intense subject matter was handled. It was incredibly influential to watch a piece shift, and fine-tune itself over time. Especially with new works, the play can change in both big and subtle but important ways, even over the course of a run. It taught me a lot about being an audience member of new works.
Artists I have met or was exposed to in the Fringe who I went on to collaborate with: Applied Mechanics! I was like—who are these people! And then I went on to work with them in Vainglorious (2012). #instantfriends
Dream Fringe project: I’d love to do a bouffon piece as an instagram show that happens entirely in gifs.
Fringe Notes: Last year I attended a performance of David Zambrano’s Soul Project. I knew nothing about the show before walking in. I chose it because it worked with my schedule and was like, “Ok, whatever, I’ll check this thing out.” It SLAYED ME. It was like the performers grabbed hold of some ancient string inside my gut and pulled it upward through my body and out of my mouth, taking thousands of years of pain and humor and ancestral memory with it. I cannot explain it. At one point I looked over, tears of deep sorrow and joy raining down my face and caught eyes with Sarah Bishop-Stone. She was nodding her head and we just locked eyes and kept nodding, like we were telepathically saying “yep. This is GOOD. This is what art is ABOUT.”