Who’s Who in High Pressure Fire Service 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.
By Jessica Shelton, Communications intern
High Pressure Fire Service or HPFS (pronounced “hip-fizz”) aims to showcase the immense amount of theatrical talent in Philadelphia. For a little context on the name, High Pressure Fire Service is named after the FringeArts building, known for its historical preeminence as the first United State high pressure fire system connecting the Delaware River to fire hydrants across Philadelphia. Since its conception in 2019, HPFS has been a place to see creative, innovative, and exhilarating performances from Philadelphia’s very best. Now let’s get to our who’s who.
Our first act is Alexandra Tatarsky. In her new work [SIGN FELT] Sad Boys in Harpy Land, Tatarsky “collages narratives of art-making and despair into a deranged meditation on derangement.” Her show is described as both mocking and embracing the idea of a one woman show. It is a shifting autobiographical adaptation of author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe German coming-of-age story, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.
Alexandra Tartarsky has been seen on the FringeArts stage in a number of Scratch Nights (most recently this March 2020) and hosted in April 2019. She also was the opening performer in Trajal Harrell’s Caen Amour in the 2018 Fringe Festival, welcoming audience members and introducing the format of the work. In the 2017 Fringe Festival, Alexandra produced another solo show, AMERICAN PSYCHOBABBLE, described as a delirious anti-narrative of American emptiness, violence, and nonsense, which you can also read about on our Blog.
Created and performed by Alexandra Tatarsky, with direction by Eva Steinmetz, this show comprises one moment in Tatarsky’s SIGN FELT series, a lifelong pseudo-autobiography about nothingness. It takes its title from Helen Adam’s feminist take on Dante’s Inferno in her humorous collage poem “In Harpy Land.”
Next in the lineup is poet Kyle Dacuyan with Antigravity Performance Project in Legal Tender.
Performed and created with artist Andalyn Young and directed by Francesca Montanile and Michael T. Williams of Antigravity Performance Project, with video by visual artist Kate Liebman and choreography by Chelsea Murphy, Legal Tender moves between states of criticality, ecstasy, and contemplation, asking us to reimagine the ways we can express our freedom and pleasure.
Antigravity has been a familiar FringeArts company in recent years. The company began in 2012, and Michael was lead artist for their second work Nellie/Nellie which premiered in the 2014 Fringe Festival. In 2017, Antigravity was one of the top fundraisers at our 12-hour dance marathon fundraiser FringeA-Thon for their 2017 Fringe Festival show Dear Diary LOL (led by Francesca) and later hosted a revival of the work in January 2018 in our theater. Francesca also directed 2018 Fringe Festival show, All 100 Fires, and plays The Sprite with Girl Poop, a “delightfully weird” femme foursome specializing in Pussy Pop Rock, that joined the Get Pegged Cabaret lineup in November 2019.
Kyle Dacuyan is a poet, performance-maker, and the Executive Director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s. We last saw him at 1316 S. Percy Street for the Bearded Ladies Cabaret’s 2019 Late Night Snacks during the Fringe Festival for Polyseme: A Night of Queer Poets Theatre. In 2017/18, Kyle traveled across the United States as a community builder for PEN America, talking to people about their relationships with news and media. He visited small-town gay bars, finding comfort in his aloneness, and listened to recordings from an Australian online therapist who offered pathways to self-hypnosis. The resulting monologues are presented in Legal Tender, drawing on Dacuyan’s experiences as an artist, a sex worker, and a son of blue-collar parents and an immigrant father.
You can see Legal TenderApril 16–18, 2020 at FringeArts.
The Wig Wag Workshop: Exploring Voice is coming to FringeArts led by music conductor and composer Emily Bate. Designed for every voice, Bates takes you into the anatomy of singing–no experience required–in this two-part workshop. Learn about the anatomy of the voice and the physical sensation that comes along with singing. Communal singing is (as described by Merriam-Webster) an unrehearsed mass singing of familiar songs by any assemblage or audience. Expect singing mad-libs, vocal warm-ups, simple rounds, free improvisation, group discussion, and experiential anatomy lessons. Each session is two hours and participants can decide whether or not to participate in both sessions.
Emily Bate is a multi-talented artist with roles as a composer, vocalist, arranger, conductor, facilitator, and performer. She conducts a 65-member queer community chorus called Trust Your Moves, which focuses on new work by Philadelphians. Trust Your Moves was founded in 2018 and has commissioned half a dozen original works from LGBTQ composers. Emily Bate has joined us at Scratch Nights, Get Pegged, late night (with her group Lesbian Wedding Band) at FringeArts and has done sound design and performance work in a number of recent shows including A Ride on the Irish Cream with Erin Markey in 2017.
Come learn at The Wig Wag Workshop: Exploring Voice April 20 and 22, 2020 at FringeArts.
Turning Towards a Radical Listening is an immersive audio visual experience created by artist James Allister Sprang. With use of voice to text algorithms, 200 speakers and captivating visuals, Sprang is able to create a space to explore societal bias in technology. This profound new work invites us to reconsider the chasm between information and knowledge, tune into what gets lost in translation, and turn towards a newly informed, radical way of listening.
Caribbean-American James Allister Sprang is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates poetics, performance, gesture, and the ways in which they are documented. His work is informed by the black radical tradition, and in this latest work, he collaborates with a number of well-known poets to explore how voice technology interprets and misinterprets what people of color are trying to convey. Sprang uses Google’s algorithms to transcribe recordings of conversations with poets and peers about their relationships to language to form a concrete poem that is unique for every audience member. This work was first previewed at FringeArts during Scratch Night in February 2019, hosted by Eugene Lew.
You can see Turning Towards a Radical Listening May 1–2, 2020 at FringeArts.
Last but certainly not least, we have BOY PROJECT, a performance asking what it means to be a man in 2020? Directed by acclaimed local artist Nell Bang-Jensen, this performance brings together Philadelphia teens aged 12-15 to look at their future’s in this era of gender fluidity. Through games, fantasies, original songs, and in-the-moment contemplation of questions of desire and power, BOY PROJECT strips away the structures of traditional theater to examine and redefine our expectations of masculinity. The boys are accompanied by a professional team of theater artists and designers as well as youth from a variety of different backgrounds.
Nell Bang-Jensen has composed four full scale original works and is now serving as Artistic Director of the Theatre Horizon. Nell has served as Associate Artistic Director of long-time FringeArts collaborator Pig Iron Theatre Company and on the artistic staff of the Wilma Theater. Her passion for making art outside of the usual theatrical circles guides much of her original work. THE CAREGIVERS premiered at Pig Iron last year and was made with Philadelphians who work as home health aides and hospice workers. In a similar fashion, BOY PROJECT, made with 12-15 year old boys brings together nonprofessional performers with arts makers to create a unique, intimate, and in this case, playful, new work highlighting the lived experiences and thoughts of those around us.
You can see BOY PROJECT May 14–17, 2020 at FringeArts.