Go Deeper Horsin' Around at the Navy Yard

Horsin’ Around at the Navy Yard

Posted September 22nd, 2016

Tonight Julius Caesar. Spared Parts will have its Philadelphia premiere as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival, but yesterday there was some important, neigh vital, preparation to tend to for this play from revered Italian theater artist Romeo Castellucci. You see, this provocative and surreal meditation on power and our collective reliance on a societal scapegoat requires a little nonhuman assistance to fully realize.

No, a goat would be too on the nose, c’mon. We’re talking horses. I even did the “neigh” thing back there. You thought it was just a typo. Nope. Clumsily placed horse pun. I’ll do my best to restrain myself from here on out.

But yes, a horse. Turns out Gala wasn’t the only Festival show that required some local casting. Meet Pete, the horse (and Shane the person). img_4919

As our intrepid production crew was preparing the set inside Building 694 of the Navy Yard, Pete swung by to see if he had what it took to land the role of a lifetime. A vast, mostly empty warehouse previously used as a food sorting space for the navy way back when, Building 694 is just a short stroll away from the Navy Yard’s main entrance, past a fleet of decommissioned navy destroyers. It’s also the perfect space to amplify the sounds of the subtle, but essential movements at play within the show. That, and the click clack of hooves.


Ah yes, the familiar sights of the theater.


The exterior of Building 694…


…and just some of the interior.


Yes, this place is quite enormous.

Pete’s role, while simple, would come as no easy feat for some of his equine brethren so the production’s artistic team had to ensure he was up to snuff. The challenge: Can Pete hang out and chill while strange things happen around him?


The face of a true method actor.


He doesn’t have to steal the scene. It’s already his.

In the end Pete, veteran theatergoer well versed in the Italian avant-garde that he (probably) is, obviously had no problem maintaining composure. Of course, when you’re working with such fickle performers as horses it never hurts to have an understudy, because let’s face it, sometimes you just can’t get your hands on as many carrots as their riders demand and then it turns into a whole thing. That’s where Victor comes in.


“Honestly, not thrilled about this whole ‘understudy’ billing, but a gig is a gig.”


You can’t expect to just walk in and not be showered with affection.



Much like his cohort, Victor comported himself well amid the flurry of activity, proving he’s readily able to fill the role if need be. Casting can be an arduous, drawn out process, but when you’re working with pros like these guys it’s a breeze.

—Hugh Wilikofsky

Julius Caesar. Spared Parts runs tonight through Saturday at Building 694 of the Navy Yard. For show info and tickets, click here. There is a free shuttle that runs from Center City to the Navy Yard, find more info here.