Go Deeper hpfs preview

Happy Hour on the Fringe: High Pressure Fire Service (HPFS) Preview

Posted February 25th, 2020

Health and safety are our number one priorities here at FringeArts, and in compliance with CDC recommendations for staying safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, we will be postponing our 2020 High Pressure Fire Service presentations. More information will be available soon about when HPFS will take place. Happy Hour on the Fringe will continue to come out with podcast episodes about our artists and community partners, so don’t fear — FringeArts is still kicking! Community is crucial in this time of crisis, so please do not hesitate to reach out. 

On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, hosts Raina and Tenara chat with Artistic Producers Katy and Zach about what audiences can look forward to in our upcoming High Pressure Fire Service, a presentation series of new works from Philadelphia’s leading performers. Come see the HPFS performances April-May 2020!

Listen to the episode and read the transcript below.

Tenara: Hello and welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe. FringeArts is Philadelphia’s premiere presenter of contemporary performing arts. I’m Tenara, I’m the Community Engagement Manager here. 

Raina: And I’m Raina Searles, Marketing Manager here. We invite you to pour one up and enjoy our conversations with some of the most imaginative people on this plane of existence.

Tenara: Here in FringeArts, our second annual work series dedicated to local Philadelphia artists called High Pressure Fire Service – or HPFS – is coming up soon this April.

Raina: Today, we’re talking to artistic producers Zack and Katy, who are familiar faces here, or voices here, to get a sneak preview of what’s to come at High Pressure Fire Service. 

Raina and Tenara: Welcome!

Katy: Thank you!

Zach: Welcome, to us.

Katy: We’re happy to be on the other side of this exchange. 

Zach: Yes.

Tenara: Oh, yeah. Are you ready to be hosted? 

Zach: Grilled! 

Tenara: No, no. 

Katy: Hosted, roasted, grilled.

Zach: Poached. I’m thinking about this. Actually, it’s more like Sappy Hour on the Fringe, because I have a lot of emotional connections to all of these pieces because they’ve been in development with us for so long. 

Tenara: Sappy Hour on the Fringe, that’s incredible. [sighing] Okay. 

Zach: So what do you want to know?

Tenara: Well, the first question is what we’re drinking because it is still technically Happy Hour on the Fringe

Zach: I’m having “wooder”. 

Tenara: Wanna take that again? 

Zach: I’m having “wooder”.

Tenara: Okay. 

Zach: It’s like two hydrogens and an oxygen. 

Katy: Okay, I’m having tea.

Tenara: What kind of tea? 

Katy: Water infused with herbs.

Tenara: What herbs? 

Katy: Earl Gray.

Tenara: Oh, the gray herbs. 

Zach: Well simply, it’s tea.

Katy: Zach: Blackwood, tea expert.  

Raina: So, HPFS, or as we call it, High Pressure Fire Service, is in its second annual year. We’re excited that we’re bringing this back for another year. And it is all new works by some of Philadelphia’s leading performers. And we also like to think of HPFS as an incubator, providing rehearsal space, works, and private showings, onsite staff support, and more. So what we would love to talk to you two about is, what is the goal of HPFS and what are we aiming towards?

 Katy: It’s a great question. So it’s the second year of this new program. And I think one of the biggest things that we seek to do with HPFS is provide a platform for local artists. So we have many different platforms throughout the year, and local artists are part of all of them, whether it’s our circus festival, our comedy festival, or Fringe Festival. But we wanted one to really be able to hone in on just local artists and to show the breadth and diversity of the artistic practices that are happening here, the conversations that are happening, and to continue to lift up those voices and to support them. And to let people know that there’s great work happening in Philadelphia and that we want to be part of the conversation and make sure that those artists are given support and space.

Zach: FringeArts is a presenting organization, which means that for most of its history, FringeArts has worked on taking existing pieces or pieces that you know a lot about paying them a fee to come and appear  and supporting them in that kind of production advance. And what this does is a little bit different, is it focuses some of that support to the development process. There’s funds allocated to support the artists here where they live through a residency called Camp Fringe. And that’s just, I think, a really nice way to support an artist in the making, is to say, “Hey, we believe in your concept right now.” You know, and it’s not as product focused picking, which is really nice. I think for me, one of the ultimate goals of HPFS is to give support to like a different kind of making. You know, that’s a bit longer term. And we’re trying to give people resources that they need, dramaturgically, to say what they mean. And we’re also trying to connect them with communities, which I think is very, very important. I say “communities” because there are so, so many. We’re not trying to connect with THE community, because, what is that? But with the actual stakeholders in the issues that you’re holding central to the ground, and your work. 

Tenara: Yeah. I can jump in here and say that like one of the things that makes HPFS such a perfect presentation series to connect with communities is because of that long term developmental emphasis. And also because these are Philly artists. And so, I think that Philly as a city is just like more game for different kinds of collaborations, you know, between an artist, a presenting institution, and then a community organization or stakeholder. Like that is just something that I find really unique about Philly. And so while we do do community partnerships for like the Fringe Festival, they have – have the opportunity of digging a lot deeper in those partnerships with HPFS which is really exciting. Let’s refresh the audience about where HPFS gets its name from and maybe tie that in a little bit about how that has informed the goals of the presentations series.

Zach: Well, it’s a hundred and twenty years old.

Tenara: The name?

Zach: Yeah.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: Isn’t that exciting to think about? It’s this old, old thing on this brand new way of thinking about connecting artists with audiences and ourselves. It’s from our building. For those of you who do not know, we are located at 140 North Columbus Boulevard. We’re there right now, if people like to bring me a coffee or a bagel. But our building itself is a decommissioned fire hydrant pumping station, the “high pressure fire service.” It’s connected to countless fire hydrant plugs across the city. And we thought that that name, that kind of pipe works, kind of motif really kind of summed up what we were trying to do in terms of like the connectivity of this, the way that it’s so deeply local, and the way that it’s tied to our history of providing a platform for local artists apart from the Fringe Festival. So it just, it kind of, it’s a really beautiful metaphor.

Katy: I think it also speaks to innovation. You know, one of the great things is that Philadelphia actually had the first, our building is the first in the nation, the first big fire pumping station. And with that, then it allowed architecture to be taller for the first time. So it really was an important part of this boom in urban development and infrastructure. And I think in a similar way, we’re seeking through the extended development timeline of these pieces to really be something that’s innovative and seeks to lead the field. I think so often, Zach and I travel a lot and we were just in a conference called APAP, the Association for Performing Arts Professionals in New York. And every year it seems like there are big conversations about “how do we present new work?” You know, I think as Zach kind of alluded to earlier, there are really clear methods for touring work. And once you kind of have a piece and it’s relatively easy to get on and off the road, there’s a whole number of circuits it can go on in this country and ultimately abroad. But the process of creating new work is much more challenging to secure the time that’s needed to rehearse, to get all the artists together, to figure out what the production is going to look like. The work that we’re doing here is inherently much riskier, but I think also much richer because of that, and we’re really committed to that innovative process.

Raina: So let’s dive in. What are these works that are featured in HPFS 2020?

Zach: Ooh, ooh! I know.  The first piece runs from April 2nd to April 4th of 2020. It’s by an artist who we love so deeply, Alex Tatarsky. It’s called [SIGN FELT]: Sad Boys in Harpy Land. Again, appearing April 2nd through 4th of 2020 here in the FringeArts mainstage Theater located at 140 North Columbus Boulevard, it’s a piece by Alex Tatarsky called [SIGN FELT] Sad Boys in Harpy Land.

Raina: And that’s [SIGN FELT] in all caps in brackets.

Zach: That’s true.

Tenara: [SIGN FELT].

Zach: So this piece, it is a new work, but it is an iteration as a part of a lifelong practice that Alex has been mining. It’s really deeply interesting. [SIGN FELT] is the name of that whole kind of series or practice at this time. And Sad Boys in Harpy Land is the episode of [SIGN FELT] that we’re premiering here.

Raina: People who are reading the transcript will get it, but we should spell out [SIGN FELT].

Zach: So it’s a sign, like you’ve seen a sign, and you felt it. We’re not saying Seinfeld.

Katy: The comedy television program.

Tenara: We should also make clear that we are very aware that it sounds like Seinfeld.

Katy: Absolutely. 

Raina: We’re not not saying that. 

Katy: And I think Alex is alluding to that. You know, Alex is a clown. Alex is a cabaret star. Alex is a performance artist. Alex is an incredible writer. And so much of what she is mining in this piece is a lot of very rich source material. [SIGN FELT] being part of that, Dante and the hellscape of the Inferno is another one. I think she’s thinking a lot about these ideas of, what does it mean to perform? Why do we even do shows, particularly solo shows? Is this an act that really strokes the ego of the performer, or is this an opportunity to consider what it means to perform and why we do that? And so it’s going to take us on a kind of deranged journey to consider questions, particularly of privilege, of what the role the performing arts have in our lives. And it does take its title from Helen Adams’ feminist take on the Inferno, and her humorous collage poem called “In Harpy Land.” So you can expect a lot of beautiful wordplay.

Zach: When I first talked to Alex about this piece, Alex was describing the Seinfeld connection as they’re both shows that are striving towards trying to illustrate the richness of void, of nothingness to a certain degree. One of the biggest critiques of Seinfeld is it’s a show about nothing. I think that kind of slippage in language is really vital in like identifying the richness of nothing space, of void, or dark matter, you know? In what things are present there, as we know that nothing exists in a vacuum. It’s this rich, kind of backwards world of all of the things that we can understand.

Tenara: Alex is playing with a lot of like really interesting literary themes through this process as well, right? I always, I know how to spell this word, but I don’t think I’ve ever said it out loud. So here we go. Bildungsroman?

Katy: Yes!

Zach: Bildungsroman, yes!

Tenara: How do you say it? Say it again. Say it again.

Zach: Bildungsroman, yeah.

Tenara: Bildungsroman.

Katy: Yes, you’re gotta have the -s, c, h,- in there.

Tenara: I was like, buildings romand!

Zach: Buildings romaine!

Tenara: What is a bildungsroman?

 Zach: It’s a coming of age tale, right?

Katy: Yeah, absolutely. And usually it centers a singular character, often told from a first person narrative.

Tenara: Yeah. Which is why when you said ego, that seems so connected to bildungsroman.

Zach: Yes.

Tenara: Because it is like you’re watching the creation of an ego from like childhood into, you know, maturity or adolescence.

Zach: But who gets to be the tortured, misunderstood artist, is a big part of what this play is trying to interrogate. The idea of this, this beautiful, sad, weeping, isolated, usually white, usually man. And kind of playing with interrogating that. And what does it mean to take up the space in that?

Tenara: If I can namedrop for a second – our incredible friend and often seen on the stage, a FringeArts artist, Jenn Kidwell, was last seen in Superterranean, but also A Hard Time.

Katy: Part of HPFS year one, last year.

Tenara: She was talking about Sad Boys in Harpy Land. And she said the following statement, which I think is really great, which is when she was watching it, she was like, “whoa, whoa, where are the walls? Where are the walls of this piece? Shut up. I’m enjoying it. Don’t look for the walls. Hold on a second, though. But where’s the fence? Be quiet – it’s so funny! I’m not looking for the fence.” So I think there is that level of clowning absurdity in this case where it’s just like –

 Zach: Oh yes.

Tenara: You’re on, you’re in a little bit of Alice’s Wonderland.

Zach: Yes. We’ve described it as equal parts sad clown, demented cabaret, and extended crisis of meaning.

Tenara: Yes.

Zach: Yeah, that is so richly kind of who Alex is. Eva Steinmetz will direct this piece. Eva Steinmetz directed The Appointment last year. When you’re thinking about, kind of, the clown elements that emerged in bits of The Appointment, specifically that Turkey scene, this show may have some echoes of those themes there as well.

Tenara: We’re also going to have a post-show discussion. I shouldn’t say discussions – we’ll have a post-show panel the Friday night performances of [SIGN FELT]. It will be a panel on nothingness, populated by academic researchers and makers that intersect with the themes of the show. So everybody should look forward to that.

Katy: So I’m going to bring us to our next presentation. We are heading four – what we’re calling -mainstage shows, and our next is April 16th through 18th by Antigravity Performance Project and Kyle Dacuyan, and they are presenting a new work called Legal Tender. So this is an incredible piece that is a duet of both movement and poetry, notably Andalyn Young is performing this work with Kyle onstage. We have described it as something that takes audiences on a trance induced travelogue to contemplate the relationships between information, consumer culture, labor, and borders.

Zach: It’s really, really fantastic to be working with Kyle Dacuyan and like, I’m really, really excited. Kyle is a fabulous poet who I first saw at Zinc Bar in Manhattan and I was like, “whoa, what’s going on? This person is so stellar.” And that work that I saw that evening actually made it into the piece. It feels a little bit like you’re being hypnotized when you watch it?

Raina: Very much so.

Zach: And Kyle got very, very into hypnosis as kind of praxis while developing the poems that eventually made it into this script. It also has a very hot, gay, disco feel, which is exciting as well. So imagine like getting hypnotized at the hot gay disco —

Tenara: While thinking about borders.

Zach: Yes. While thinking about borders, then you’ve got something that might resemble Legal Tender. Kyle really navigates like the psychic terrain of nightlife, as well as family history and local communities in the piece, as he looks into the places where facts, opinion and falsehood settle in us subconsciously. Kyle, before taking on his position at the Poetry Project, he’s Executive Director, he traveled across the United States talking to people about media literacy. What did they believe that they’re seeing on TV, and why? And some amount of that has definitely made its way in here. There’s a lot of play with the volume of headlines we absorb at any given time, the way that news slaps us across the face and we feel the sting of it and then don’t really know what we were supposed to get from it until later, or something, just because there’s so, so much.

Tenara: Yeah, and how that news deluge and also the way the news stories are often constructed to play on people’s media illiteracy, how that furthers the divide between people who share a space within these artificially constructed borders.

Zach: Yeah.

Tenara: So that’s all. I mean it’s really deeply informing the piece.

Zach: Oh, yeah. It’s also funny. I think that’s worth noting.

Tenara: Oh yeah.

Zach: It is deeply, deeply funny. The way that Kyle strings together language is really, really beautiful. And I think he’s really good at putting a horrific statement next to something that makes you laugh. Not necessarily to give you relief, but to identify kind of how far apart those things are. And I think that can be really, really, really effective. So, I hope you all come to Legal Tender. This piece will be directed by Francesca Montanile with Michael T. Williams. So it’s co-directed. So I’m really, really excited to see how that duality of perspectives leans into this hypno-states, this like liminal space.

Tenara: Yeah. And we’re going to have a post-show media literacy event following the Friday night performance of Legal Tender where we’re inviting audiences to come along on a sort of journey to figure out how media literate they are and where they could expand that literacy.

Zach: Kyle got into hypnosis on YouTube. There’s a super hot Australian YouTube hypnotherapist, and I always thought that there was going to be a really, really high threshold, or that you had to be genetically predisposed to hypnosis. And then we were actually in Katy’s parents backyard —

 Katy: I can attest that I fully witnessed this experience. I’m in my backyard reading old magazines. My dad is grilling, my mom is preparing the plates for dinner, and Zach is listening to what I thought was a podcast.

Zach: It was a podcast, it was a hypnosis podcast.

Katy: A hypnosis podcast. Which, important to note, was not clear to myself or anyone in my family.

Zach: I did not know what I was doing.

Tenara: What did Zach do?

Zach: I was — full trance just —

Tenara: I want to hear Katy describe it.

Katy: I thought Zach fell asleep. I thought Zach was listening to a podcast that was either so boring or, I will also preface this by saying we had just flown back from Edinburgh. We were at the International Fringe Festival there, and we’re exhausted, and happened to take this kind of strange flight path from Scotland all the way to Chicago and had a desperately long layover, and so had dinner with my parents. And, you know, we were in the backyard. It was August, it was really beautiful weather. I told my parents, Zach is tired. It’s okay. I’ll set the table. We’ll have dinner when he wakes up. And he did. And it was fine. And then he told us all about it.

 Zach: It’s so cool. And I must say, like, try it. Like, I have continued doing hypnosis stuff in my life. And it’s, — it’s great.

Tenara: What will happen after Legal Tender guys?

Katy: Well, next —

Zach: We’ll go to James Allister Sprang‘s piece, Turning Towards a Radical Listening, May 1st and 2nd here at FringeArts, May 1st and 2nd. We’ll go into James Allister Sprang’s piece, Turning Towards a Radical Listening.

Katy: So James is an artist I knew in New York way before I moved to Philly. And then Zach and I had an opportunity to see an early version of this piece at The Tank almost two years ago now. And so, yeah, it’s kind of amazing to think about the trajectory of our relationship with James and James’s own relationship with this ongoing body of work. James is an incredible artist who is equally talented in many different areas, both as a visual artist, an incredible printmaker, installation designer, etc. And, someone who’s very much incredibly skilled in the sonic realm, both as a composer and as a broad-scale sound designer. And of course, James is also an equally incandescent performer and director. So James has created this piece, which is a solo show that employs one of the most technically complex and intimate apparatuses, I guess I could say. Zach and I, different from James, you know, experienced what James is gonna be using in this, which is an immersive system. It’s also called a wave field synthesis, which allows sound to be pinpointed very specifically to each listener and in a given space. So when Zach and I were at EMPAC up in Troy, New York, about a year and a half ago, they were one of the only institutions in the United States, if even I would say like the northern hemisphere, that has technology of this caliber. And so we could be in an incredibly large black studio space, and Zach could be on one end pretending to play the flute, and I could be on the other end pretending to play the drums. And it was as if we were in a symphony orchestra together where you can hear, OK, that side, the percussion side is on the other side of the room. And they have a relationship to me. But it’s very specifically placed in space, rather than sound that is in a speaker system that is equal on the left and right sides and is equally washing over the audience.

Zach: It’s like a whisper almost. So let’s say there’s a room and it’s the size of the FringeArts theater, and I’m sitting next to Tenara, and we’re both watching James Allister Sprang. We’re having two discrete experiences sonically. It is that precise, so that something can hit me and I can hear it great. And two people on the either side of me will have no clue what I’m experiencing.

Tenara: Well, didn’t you think when you saw it at The Kitchen that somebody was talking behind you?

 Zach: Yes, my first thought was like, “Can this person behind me please shut up?” And then I was like, I turned around, and they’re not talking. And I realize like, I’m just having this, like, vocalized, like whisper, tiny experience, all by myself. The piece itself, beyond just this amazing wave field synthesis array that’s attached to it, is really interested in using, kind of a long form metaphor about the ways that the prejudices in our society are bearing out in the technology that we’ve created. It works very specifically with the Google speech-to-text API here, it’s their voice recognition capability, it’s why we can say, “hey, Google” to our Google Homes. James played back recordings by black and brown poets and thinkers that are then live-mixed, and what we see is the resultant poem that Google is writing.

Katy: That’s projected into the space.

Zach: Yes.

Katy: So James is also an incredible poet. And as someone who’s thinking not only about the aural context of that, or what we are hearing, but also what we’re seeing. So a lot of this piece, juggles back and forth between the two of those, which, as Zach: mentioned, kind of continues to extend this metaphor of, “we might think that we are all hearing the same thing, but we are actually hearing very different things as we are informed by our own individual upbringings and contexts and perspectives.”

Zach: Yeah, it’s a long metaphor on inherent bias. But it’s really beautiful. There are a few great Philadelphia thinkers, I won’t spoil it for you, who make appearances in the text. I really can’t spoil it for you because it’s different from night to night, but it’s deeply interesting. I’ve now gotten to see the piece a few times, and every single time I see it, I’ve had a completely different experience. But I walked away with the same kind of questions about how can we intercede here, you know, and how can I look for these biases within myself. Now, we all have different identity intersections and all of us have a certain privilege check in all cases. And this kind of helps you to see how much work that takes.

Katy: And to question the methods by which you’re receiving it. You know, I think this is something that is also similar in Legal Tender, which we talked about previously, is that so often we are delivered information through a technological interface and consider it to be fact or consider it without further questioning. And in the Google speech-to-text technology very specifically, I think many of us are aware of this already, if only because we have experienced it first hand or there are a number of YouTube videos that will really explicate that for you very clearly. But Google speech-to-text technology was created by primarily white men. And so it is–

Tenara: To recognize white voices.

Katy: Absolutely. So it’s calibrated in a very specific way. And as James begins at the top of the piece to feed it bits of text from these poets who are poets of color, their speech is much harder to recognize than writers and thinkers who are white. And so even on that base level, it really prompts everyone to reconsider, you know, what are we receiving information from and how has it been translated into or codified or reconsidered or re-contextualized in ways that we need to continue to unpack rather than just receiving wholesale?

Tenara: I’m sensing a trend within myself when I’m listening to all three and soon to be four of these pieces, which is to reconsider and be skeptical.

Zach: I would say it’s more important than ever. This news cycle in particular over the last couple of years has very particularly alerted me to so many dog whistle terms that I didn’t know existed. All of the ways that there can be this chasm between information and knowledge, like this kind of undercurrent running in everything. The way that the world works, like behind the scenes is always horrific! Scary! It makes you feel so small and ineffectual but, you’re not. I don’t know.

Raina: But I also feel like one of the running themes through again, all of the pieces that we’ll talk about, is this idea of like finding your voice. Some are much more explicit about that than others. But I think there is this running theme of like, how do you kind of come into your own, like build up like what you think in your mind and then also bring that out to other people, which I think is also very much in tandem with his idea of like, you know, everything happening around you, and being able to speak up against that.

Zach: Yeah, society is like this composite of all of our individual choices, right? It’s this accumulation, this long sum of just a bunch of tiny things that individuals are doing. So I don’t know, it’s — in some ways it feels like, “oh, we can never stop like the tide of inequity.” And in other ways, it’s like that is exactly what the royal “they” want you to think. That there’s nothing you can do.

Raina: Right.

Katy: Well, and I think in the midst of that, there is so often — and I share this — like a hope and a desire for like, “well just tell me the one thing that we can all get behind. And that’ll change the world.” The one thing that, you know, at the end of the day, we all agree on X and so can’t we just come together. And while I think that desire is so understandable, I think all of these works really seek to complicate that. That there are actually very few things, and I think rightfully so, that we all agree on. And that one mode of resistance or refusal can be complication. And resistance to easy understanding or quick answers.

Tenara: There’s nothing inherently wrong with the fact that there’s not a ton of things that unite us. That doesn’t mean that the answer is division.

Katy: Right. And that we can still be united even in our differences.

Zach: Yeah, mind your business.

Tenara: Stay in your lane.

Katy: So our last piece that’s going to close out the festival is called BOY PROJECT. And this is a new piece of social practice theater that’s being directed by Nell Bang-Jensen. And there will be five performances across that weekend, May 14 through 17.

Zach: So what does it mean to be a man in 2020? That’s what Nell and Nell’s coworkers want to ask us about. Acclaimed global director, Nell Bang-Jensen, is bringing together Philadelphia teens aged 12 to 15 to imagine their futures, and to imagine the future of what we might desire for masculinity. You know, not just now, but in 20 years. How it might be useful to us. It reminds me a little bit of like, I think we all kind of resort to this to just be like, “well, that’s men and boys or boys and men are trash.” But like, what is the way to imagine public theology or masculinity that holds it to a higher standard?

Tenara: Well, it’s like those memes you see about like, “there’s no such thing as positive masculinity.” And then it shows a picture of Mr. Rogers.

Zach: Yeah.

Katy: This is a devised theater piece. You know, they’re not working with a script. They are very actively working with these young people and a team of adult collaborators to develop new material that really interrogates these same questions. There is certainly not a narrative that they’re gonna come out with that will seek to envision this potential future. A lot of it is open and raw and I would say surprisingly hopeful. You know, stories from these young people about how they’re answering these questions for themselves, how they are experiencing it from their families, from their schools, from their activities that they do, from their faith communities, etc, and seeking to synthesize that and find some way for themselves to move through the world.

Zach: As always, children are, well, young people, are remarkably aware of our problems.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: Right? Like they just see them, they’re closer to the ground than the rest of us, they just eye-to-eye with a lot of these issues. And what we find is, when that kind of like prescience combines with this, “anything is possible” mentality about the future, what you get are really elegant and beautiful solutions and really challenging and complex questions. So I really, really hope that you all come to every single night of it. It’s going to be — BOY PROJECT will be different from night to night, and that’s just how it’s going to run, there’s elements of chance and games and the piece that I think are going to necessitate that. So come back, you know, and bring young people in your life to come see this piece.

Tenara: Well, that’s what I was going to say, is like, what you just said Zach, about how we often deny the proximity that young people and children have to the conversations that society at large is having, which, it becomes increasingly unrealistic for that denial to exist. Mostly because kids are far more technologically literate than a lot of their parents. And so they are part of the group of people that are receiving that deluge of information just as their parents are. But also that developmentally speaking, you know, I think babies as old as six months can recognize race. We do a huge disservice by pretending that kids don’t know what they’re talking about. And so that’s what is so radical and exciting about BOY PROJECT. And, you know, the showings that I was lucky enough to catch at Camp Fringe is that when you give these young people the mic, you just, I was like, very hopeful, you know? I like I was like, “oh, the kids are alright, you guys. It’s gonna be okay.”

Zach: That was my biggest takeaway as well.

Tenara: Yeah.

Zach: They’re having sophisticated conversations about the world that they want to live in.

Tenara: Yeah.

Katy: And I think they’re ready to act on it. You know, I think there was also a healthy dose of frustration, and particularly like they’re denied sometimes the opportunity to be in these conversations, but also the ability to act. And I think from their vantage point, when they look to people like us and generations older than us, their question is often like, “Wow, you really messed up.

Tenara: Yep.

Katy: Or, “why did you do that?” Or, “if you’re telling me this, why aren’t you walking that walk?” And those moments of coming face to face with that I think are really something that we need right now.

Tenara: Yeah. Yeah, and I’m also really, really pleased to share that the Saturday matinee performance of BOY PROJECT will be a Relaxed Performance. So again, for audience members who may not know, Relaxed Performances are performances that are designated as spaces and environments where people who might have sensory processing disorder or autism can come and enjoy just a relaxed environment in the theater. Some of the features may be that the doors are open so people can come in and out without scorn or judgment. There might be some technical elements that are lowered or just a much more chill environment with which see a show, but more importantly, the social expectations of audience behavior during those performances are intentionally relaxed. We call it a “no shush zone.” Anybody who benefits from that environment is more than encouraged to come to the Saturday matinee performance of BOY PROJECT.

Katy: And one other thing we have as part of HPFS, that is not what we’re calling a mainstage production is a workshop that we’re really thrilled that Emily Bate is giving. So these workshops are April 20th and 22nd and people are open to come to the workshops either both days or they can just choose one or the other. These will be evening workshops for about an hour and a half. And Emily is someone who is part of our Camp Fringe cohort, and we are so thrilled about the new work that she is continuing to create.

Zach: You might’ve seen Emily Bate in the past, working with The Bearded Ladies with Trust Your Moves, and Lesbian Wedding Band. Emily is just like a –

Katy: Prolific.

Zach: Yes, like prolific is the word to describe it. She’s on everybody’s list. She just is very, very committed to the power of the human voice and all of our human voices across the broad difference that exists between all of us. Really working to make space for continuing the legacy of queer choirs in Philadelphia as well. Just a superstar, the type person you probably want to come sing with.

Katy: So Emily is billing these workshops as an opportunity for if you didn’t think you could sing, come on out. And I can say as someone who has performed in Trust Your Moves for a little bit that Emily goes above and beyond to make sure that people are comfortable and know that every voice can be a singing voice. So Emily is gonna be doing Mad Libs, vocal warm ups, simple rounds, improvisation, and group singing in each of these workshops, and they will include material that she started to develop as part of Wig Wag, which she is describing as a secular church service that uses group singing, group text recitation, and music performed by a vocal quartet to explore the tension and the pleasure of coexisting with others.

Zach: Emily is very interested in accessing that physical sensation of singing. Why do we like to do this? What is it about our anatomy and physiology that makes singing something that we all, we do across cultures and across time?

Katy: And I think as we were saying before, singing in particular is something that brings us together. Emily comes from a faith related background and is really interested in kind of these traditions that one would normally go through in a church service that brings people together and yet is committed to a singing practice that celebrates that difference. And in Wig Wag in particular, she’s looking at that tension between, “it feels so good to sing in a group,” and, “what if I wanted the solo and I didn’t get a solo? Shoot.” Like how, how does one reckon with that, both in a choir or more broadly, whether it’s a work environment or a relationship or something else of that nature? How do you reconcile that challenge between wanting to do something with others and wanting also to take the lead?

Raina: Well, we are so excited for our HPFS 2020 lineup. And so overall, you can also purchase tickets to the workshop. You can buy for both, which we highly recommend, but you can also attend just one of the workshop nights. We are also selling subscriptions for all of the main stage shows so you can get the best deal on pricing by buying a package for all four. As we’ve gone through, they’re all very different experiences, but have a lot of really interesting topics that they’re covering. Over the next few months, we will be releasing specific episodes with each of the artists that we were talking about today. And we’ll also be having more information on our blog, on the web site, and all over for you to check out.

Zach: You can always ask me questions if you see me somewhere. Like, “what were you saying about the show? What’s a bildungsroman, again?”

Tenara: I’m gonna ask that question.

Raina: Don’t even tell him why you’re asking. Just approach him with any question on your mind.

Zach: Oh, I’m ready.

Katy: We are open and available here at

Zach: And you know, I’m always skeptical, I’m always vigilant.

Raina: So thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and download the FringeArts app.