Happy Hour on the Fringe: Geoff Sobelle, Trey Lyford, and Steve Cuiffo; Elephant Room: Dust from the Stars
Artistic Producers Katy Dammers and Zach Blackwood sit down with the team behind the Elephant Room 2, a sequel to FringeArts’ previous presentation of Geoff Sobelle, Trey Lyford, and Steve Cuiffo’s magical clown show. From the artists that brought you Festival favorites like HOME and The Accountant, Elephant Room 2: Dust from the Stars puts magicians Daryl Hannah, Dennis Diamond, and Louie Magic out in space! Listen up as Geoff, Trey, and Steve talk about what audiences can expect in this second installment, and how they might experience Elephant Room 2 on Zoom! For more information about Elephant Room 2: Dust from the Stars, visit our website www.fringearts.com/2020-fringe-festival/ on Monday, August 10th! Tickets available August 14th.
Katy Dammers: Hello and welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe. Fringe Arts is Philadelphia’s premiere presenter of contemporary performing arts. I’m Katy Dammers, Artistic Producer and joined by…
Zach Blackwood: I’m Zach Blackwood, I’m also an artistic producer.
Katy: And together here at Fringe Arts, we invite you to pour one up and enjoy our conversation with some of the most imaginative people on this plane of existence.
Zach: Today on the show we’re joined by Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle, and Steve Cuiffo, who will be presenting their piece Elephant Room Dust from the Stars as part of the Fringe Festival this September. Presented virtual via Zoom this piece follows magicians turned Astro-nots, Daryl Hannah, Dennis Diamond and Louis Magic as they float on through bent time and Collapsed space in an interactive sci-fi sequel to the Fringe Festival fave, The Elephant Room.
Katy: Welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us. We often start by asking, what are you drinking? Since it is Happy Hour on the Fringe. So, Trey, let’s start with you. What are you drinking today?
Trey Lyford: I am drinking a lemon mojito and with a little kind of straw of sugar cane.
Zach: My God.
Katy: That sounds amazing.
Zach: Wow you sound like a mysterious heiress. I love that. What about you Geoff?
Geoff Sobelle: Wait a minute, you guys, it’s 1:15 in the afternoon as we’re recording this. So I’m just having and Negroni. This is Beefeater Gin with a little amaro. It’s called Nonino Amaro and a really nice, sweet Vermouth, Antica Formula. And then I’ve just gently peeled back just the outer fascia of a grapefruit rind and squirted that over a perfectly formed cube of ice.
Katy: I hope it’s one of those giant cubes that’s like only one cube in the perfect glass and it fits just in.
Zach: And its like the most perfectly clear glass you’ve ever seen.
Geoff: It is. And it has my name embossed on the surface of the ice.
Zach: Ok Steve.
Katy: Ok Steve I hope you can top that.
Steve Cuiffo: Well you know I’m… I’m speaking to you from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where I’ve been hunkered down here since March, rarely leaving my apartment. But just yesterday, our good Governor Cuomo has legalized liquor infused ice cream. You can now drink that on any street in Manhattan. That was a big announcement. I’m not joking about that. So I am actually drinking a vanilla coulis with a little crem de mint. And it’s not room temperature because I turned off my air conditioner for this podcast. So it’s kind of like a liquor infused milkshake, which is really delicious with a little mint. I’ve got some chocolate I’m dipping in as well, but I won’t be eating it while I’m speaking for politeness etiquette.
Zach: Fantastic. Wow. So it sounds like everybody’s being a little bit more adventurous than myself, I’m just having 30 ounces of cold brew coffee in an Atlas mason Jar, which is how I usually start at one p.m. here at my house. And Katie, how about you? This happy hour?
Katy: Well, here at the home office in West Philly, doing a lot of cold brew iced tea, which is getting me through it again. I have to say, I’m very inspired by these drink selections from our friends, particularly the ice cream be-laden one. So some good… In the future.
Zach: You’ll have to tell our audiences how to make those like in a special post-show chat one day. We won’t advertise, It will just be top secret.
Katy: That’s the Easter egg at the end of the show.
Steve: That’s good we’re magicians so we’re good at keeping secrets.
Geoff: What about is alcohol infused astronaut ice cream also legal now in New York?
Steve: Ohhh that’s wonderful. I don’t know. It must be.
Katy: That sounds like dry ice to me.
Zach: Well before we get too far into the Elephant Room cookbook, which I, of course, look forward to. We have to talk about the Elephant Room Dust from the Stars. Tell us about the premise of this piece. And where does it pick up from the first Elephant Room?
Geoff: Well, now that you just said that the piece is now about an Elephant Room cookbook, which I think is really what we should talk about for the next three hours or however long this podcast should be. But in case that gets deleted…(laughter)… Elephant Room, you know, the original Elephant Room was a magic show, sort of turned on its head, turned inside out, built upside down, built on cinder blocks. And it was starring Dennis Diamond and his friends. Louie Magic and Daryl Hannah. Now the three magicians, Daryl Hannah, Louie Magic and Dennis Diamond, who were part of this magic society called the Elephant Room. And the show was as much a dream of a show as it was a show. And it was very much about aspiration. We always thought that the failures in the show shouldn’t be the magic. The magic should always work. But if there was a failure, it was a failure of taste. So in a way, you could call it a clown show where you would you would laugh at these characters and their foibles and their ridiculousness, but you would definitely be fooled and you would be fooled into caring about them and fooled into being moved, sometimes to tears, If that was your want. That’s the first show. Guys, help me out. What’s the sequel?
Steve: Well, in the grand tradition of these magic societies like the Elephant Room Magic Society, much like the Masonic, the Masons, the Society of American Magicians, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Dennis, Daryl and Louie have found themselves in their defunct basement, the last three remaining members of the Elephant Room society, but realize that their magic is important to spread not only to the rest of their state of New Jersey, but also to the country of America. But even further than that, the whole globe. And then they thought, why stop there? Let’s spread the importance of magic to the interplanetary solar system and beyond. So it was an inevitable progression of their desire to spread the magic throughout the universe. So that’s how we came upon. Dust from the stars. Elephant Room. The three magicians have now ventured into outer space searching for intelligent life where they can perform their amazing magic show.
Geoff: I should also say that through a serendipitous typo, there was a moment where it was called Dust from the Stairs, which is also pretty fantastic. And we could tell you about that show, too.
Katy: So many possibilities for this work. And I remember at one point the three of you telling us a story of kind of how the sequel came to be. You know, I know that these characters continue to be endlessly fascinating. There could be and maybe will be an unlimited number of shows that they could do together. But how did you first get started on the road for a sequel?
Trey: Well, actually, we were we. We’d moved on from Elephant Room, in particular from the storage requirements of Elephant Room, which were giant semi trucks and big storage units that we had to pay for and all the stuff. And so we approached we approached St Ann’s warehouse and their team and said, hey, we really want to do this project. And Susan Feldman was really excited. And we said we want to do this space show. We’re gonna do a show about space. It’s gonna be nothing on stage. There’s gonna be no semi trucks full of crap. It’s just gonna be empty space and magic and outer space. And she was like, oh, that’s so wonderful. The three magicians in space. And we were like, actually, no, this is a whole other show. This is not like, you know, those three magicians in space. And then as we played through that and got into developing all kinds of, I think, really interesting and beautiful images that were based on a lot of sci fi tropes and just kind of interests of existential space and outer space and personal space. All these things we realized something was missing and it was character. So we said, let’s try it. Let’s throw these let’s throw these three characters into this this other world. And once we did, they’ve just they so quickly felt at home and inside of it. So.
Geoff: They kind of take over.
Steve: It was a similar way to actually how we once we when we made the original Elephant Room and we found the characters after going through many different characters. It just became how they treated this stuff. A lot of the magic, you know, Jeff mentioned earlier that we wanted all the magic to work and function and we would sometimes take and we did in that show classic magic tricks that are kind of standards, you know, kind of in the field. And then, so we took these things like how they’re done. But then we just did them as the characters and then they added all this fun new life to it. So in a way, that’s kind of what happened. We had started working on what we were referring to as the space show. And as Trey was saying, made all of these beautiful, I thought, very beautiful images and things. And then when we decided, OK, what happens if we put the characters on? It just had a whole new, you know, support system underneath it that was very unexpected. So after we had made a bunch of material, we then put the characters on it and it just put it in a whole nother realm. Now, that, of course, was when we were allowed to gather in physical spaces together.
Zach: We’ll get to that, we’ll get to that. It’s interesting that you talk about just the way that these characters take over and just how big they are because they can really hold any environment. Like I can imagine like an Elephant Room on the ranch, you know, or like Elephant Room goes to prison.
Trey: You know, they’re really out of that tradition of, you know, Abbott and Costello do this or Laurel and Hardy do that. There is there is a quality that those characters, you can drop them in and put them in a different half. And there’s still the idiots at the center of something. So.
Zach: But they really jive with this kind of retro sci fi aesthetic. They really, like it just… they fit there. They feel at home. And that aesthetic itself, like within the piece is rendered with this silliness that makes me think that you all might have some deep personal connection to the genre. I would love to hear about some of your individual retro sci fi influences and whether or not they made it into work.
Geoff: Well, Trey’s the Star Wars kid. He’s like basically from Tatooine.
Trey: My my nickname is a kid… my mother called me Luke Skywalker. I was a huge Star Wars nerd as a kid. And, you know, I… so it… but I also am just… You know, my daughter is really into Harry Potter and she’s really mad at me. She’s a how can you not like Harry Potter? I’m like because there’s no spaceships. There’s no machinery. Like, I don’t care if they have powers, like they have to fly really rad ass spaceships and have like, you know. I don’t know robots with them. So I’ve always been really thrilled by it. But then also what’s been really fun is how we’ve shared different influences with each other and then dug into other things. One of the ones that to me just keeps coming back was an early, an early thing that Jeff brought in, that was a Sean Connery film..
Geoff: Oh yeah Zardoz.
Trey: Zardoz Is probably one of the worst things ever created. And also one of the best. And so it was just kind of like seeing what are all the different.. you know, there’s so many different manifestations of it. And then recently, working with Derek Belsham, who’s a filmmaker we’ve been working with, he’s also brought us so many beautiful influences. But but personally. Yes, yes. I’m a big Star Wars nerd? I don’t know do you guys. Are you. Do you have that in you? Did you guys have big space obsessions as kids?
Geoff: For me as Star Wars as well. Like, I you know, I think. I think you did. You’re you’re a little older than I am. I wanted to remind you. So I think you kind of lived that Luke Skywalker thing maybe a little bit… a little bit more. I but I was like deep, deep, deep into Star Wars. And I remember, you know, like so much of I feel like our work is kind of a reversion to boyhood, which we can kind of talk about, too. But there’s definitely a lot of like I feel like when we play, we often are like playing the way we did as kids. And I, it was for me an endless mash up of Legos and Star Wars, and then like weird bottles with wings on them and making like just things fly and making things that had robotic arms and blowing things up and et cetera, et cetera. So there was kind of an endless space scape, but I wasn’t like I definitely had… excuse me… friends who were deep into like NASA. They were really scientific about it. I think I was much more just into things like flying and making cool sounds.
Steve: Yeah. I want to say I just to point out for the record, I’m actually younger than both of you two.
Zach: OK, Steve’s the youngest.
Trey: We call him baby Steve.
Steve: And I actually…I’m actually in my current space obsession stage. More on the NASA realm. Like, I don’t know if you all… Just two days ago, Bob and Doug came back from the space station and landed in the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, so I’m all over the current NASA program and all of us becoming a multi planetary species, going starting a moon base in the next coming years. Congress, let’s pass those bills. Let’s get that money to NASA and then we’re on our way to Mars. So I’m in the current phase of all of this. The excitement and the potential. And let’s do this.
Geoff: Steve have you given any thought to that guy Elon Musk?
Zach: I was just going to ask because he’s a real life, like space villian, like he’s like the Lex Luther.
Geoff: Is he Steve? Would you put it that way, Steve?
Steve: I’ve got to read a little bit more about him. I’m not totally familiar. I was. yeah no I don’t know.
Trey: One of the things we really were got lucky enough to do is we were working on the show in Las Angeles because it’s a commission from Center Theater Group in L.A. who had commissioned some of our other work. And they, they hooked it up with, they hooked it up for us to go visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, there just outside of L.A..
Geoff: In Pasadena.
Trey: In Pasadena. We got to do this crazy. We just thought theater nerds going to meet some, a couple of random dudes at this place. And we got there and we got a full VIP treatment where we, like, hung out with the head of JPL for like an hour asking questions. We got tours and all the mission control centers. But we also really we got shown around by this artist who… gosh, do you guys remember his name? I have his thing somewhere. But anyways, it was a… he is an artist in residence at NASA and has created all these visualizations of how to understand kind of the cosmic nature and the size of cosmic time. And they’re really beautiful. And he was in charge of creating all those NASA posters where they’re like visit, you know, visit Enceladus, the moon of Jupiter. And it’s like looks like it’s a 50s retro poster of all these planets. You may have seen them, but they’re beautiful. But he was in charge of that. And, you know, there’s a whole team of artists, of women, men, just creating all these things. And so we were we were really geeked out on that, too, recently.
Geoff: That was an incredible trip I have to say, like the guy who also his name completely escapes me, but who runs JPL, the fact that he wanted to sit down with us and was excited, I mean, he was so excited. It was around the time The Martian, that film came out. This was a little while ago and they were so, I think they had been, they were doing research or helping as, oh, what would you call it, consultants on that film. And they… It was so interesting. They told us the story of JPL, which originally had been about designing rockets and for war. And then as that changed, their whole mission became just about finding intelligent life in the universe. That’s their mission. And he said that with such a starry look in his eyes. It was so fantastic that the youthful and inspiring energy of that campus was really intoxicating.
Steve: Dan Goods was the name of the artist who showed us around.
Katy: That sounds so cool. I’m so glad you guys got to do that. And I think much of that excitement is something that people are looking for in this crazy moment. Like I’ve never wanted to live on Mars before, but there are definitely moments now where I’m like yeah it feels feels right now is the time.
Geoff: Yeah its like Palm Springs.
Katy: Yeah. Compared to where we are now, you know. So I think now is the moment we can talk about the real elephant in the room which has been Covid. You know, this inexplicable, totally unexpected shift in your development process for this piece, which was meant to be in our theater here in Philadelphia and now is online and in some ways thats the ultimate space for space- this kind of void that we all seem to be like sinking ourselves into every day as we work from home, increasingly on our computers and in Zoom. But tell us a little bit, how did you transition to working online? How did that pivot happen? How are you feeling about it?
Geoff: Well, in some ways, you know, if we think about, like the film language of sci fi, it’s so ripe, like how we first saw the moon landing, and I think there’s something even you know, when you think of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, you’re actually probably thinking of a television set and seeing a depiction of that moment. So I think there’s something about outer space and the screen that are tied in a way that other genres may not be. Like you’d be hard pressed to find a space film where there’s not people, you know, entering data frantically on a screen or talking to each other through devices and microphones. And so, you know, in a way, there was a easy and really fun segway to the… to a kind of screen language. That has been a joy. And in another way, the moment we’re living in is so…. though it’s real, It feels so sci fi. It just feels like kind of crazy.
Trey: You know, the original idea of the piece, one of the things was that, you know, a part of this semi truck, wanting to empty out the semi truck, is we were like how do you create a show that only… you can only use what’s on board? Basically, you can only use what’s in your suitcase, you know, and the spaceship, you only have so much water, so much oxygen. You know, it’s like you’re only allowed to use so many resources before… and that limitation was a part of the structure of the piece. So the isolation of these three characters inside of what they could use, really has echoed into this time of Covid, because you’re there and we only can use what we got in our apartments. We only can use the things that we can kind of create through our own creativity and also through some, you know, some manipulations of stuff. But it’s been a really nice thing because it’s enforced that original idea, which is like, okay, you have one space suit, one pair of boots, three hot dogs, whatever it is that you’re allowed to bring, you know, is is, you know, what was available to us. So that’s been really useful, too.
Steve: And just as a reminder, though, there was that moment. Let’s not forget, back in March when everything started getting canceled, you know, and we’re all theater makers, we all had different shows, tours booked. And then the calls just okay, this is canceled. This is canceled. That was a very real… Now we’re speaking now like, oh, this is inevitable. We’re going on. It was definitely like what the heck are we going to do? Like, I’m sure a lot of performing artists experienced that moment and thankfully a lot of people seem to have pushed on and we’re exploring this online world. But there was a moment there of like, how does this work? And I think a lot of… and now we’re finding lots of fun ways and we’re very excited to do this show in this format. But it was… It is a brain twist to go from being live theater artists to this and trying… and that’s the big thing we’re trying to unlock, is that question of live. And I think we have some interesting solutions to deal with that, incorporating magic and interactivity. But it wasn’t, you know, an inevitable thing. It was like a okay, here we are again. But we’ve pushed through and we’re making something.
Geoff: That’s true. The first thing we did was we just were like, well, that’s not happening. We just canceled. And we’re like, OK. That’s just not going to happen. And then we thought, oh, wait, maybe there’s a translation. Yeah, that’s true.
Katy: There were a couple months there. I remember we had a lot of back and forth conversations and like, well, maybe this is clear up, maybe you could rehearse it in July and August upstate in a place that would be contained and safe. But then how does that affect each of your families? And already you’re living in different places. And for Fringe more broadly, it was a question of are we gonna do the Fringe Festival? What form is that going to take? And so I appreciate you bringing that into the room, Steve, because it’s definitely not as simple as a pivot. It was a long considered conversation of how we’re moving forward. But now that you are in this form, I wonder if you can tell us how it’s impacted the magic that you’re doing and like maybe some unexpected things that you’ve learned in this new context.
Zach: I’m excited because I was one of these nerds who grew up on, like the TV magic shows specials where you had to, like, get up, put your hand on the screen and all of the cards were eliminated until one was left, like the David Blaine of it all. Like how are you translating magic for the screen?
Steve: Well, that is a big part of it. You know, that’s the one thing. You know, there’s these differences between, like a prerecorded movie or like a live stream like which I guess people do on YouTube and, you know, Facebook live. Then there’s Zoom, which is like these meetings that we’re all having where you can actually interact with each other, which is the most like interactive type of thing. So that lends itself to actually engaging. So. And magic is a very unique art form, even more so than theater or music or dance or anything like that. It like… It inherently almost needs to be live. And it needs to happen in the same room, even more so than I think other arts. I know that’s open for discussion. I don’t want to cause any fights or problems. But, you know, for magic to be most effective, you have to be there. And Zach, you brought up David Blaine, who when he started his first TV specials in 1995, you know, people take it for granted now. The unique thing about his TV specials was… And the previous one was David Copperfield, who would basically film his live stage shows and then do a hour special of that. But Blaine chose to focus not on the magic really itself. He had a great repertoire of close-up Magic, but he chose to focus on just the people on the street that he walked up to… Their reactions. And that’s really what that show was… is like. And that was his solution to dealing with this problem of the TV and the fact that you’re watching and you’re not there, you kind of vicariously live through the reactions of the people that you’re watching and that kind of has opened up a whole genre of television magic, you know, and now I would argue that we’re in this new stage of, like, Zoom and you can actually go, hey, Zach, you wherever you are in the country, I’m here. You know, let’s engage in all these other people are watching us do that. It is kind of a new zone, and there’s, you know, a lot of fun ideas that we’re playing with. And obviously, we’re not going to get into the specifics on this. You’ve got to come to the show and see what happens. But there’s definitely, you know, hopefully some unique, magical experiences that really will only happen in the moment that you come to the show and can’t exist if you watch it on video or recording afterwards. That was a big… That’s important to us that that it is like that. That’s the one thread we have left of live performance, you know. So we’re trying to maintain that constraint. That it really will be a unique experience with some amazing magic in it.
Katy: Well, we’re looking forward to learning more as audience members, you know about those interactive experiences, because I know Zoom, it’s tricky sometimes. Like, it’s both great because you can see the people that you’re talking to and strangely simulate in some way an interaction. But it’s also flat and there’s a weird delay. And people have been talking a lot about zoom fatigue. You know, in some ways when you would hang out with someone previously, it would give you energy- to meet with a friend. But now, if you talk to them on Zoom, people aren’t feeling quite the same way. So I’m looking forward to seeing how you guys are dealing with that context or that structure.
Trey: I think one of the one of the ways that we’re dealing, you know, because it is… As creators of kind of like visual and time based experience, you can’t go on to Zoom in real… And immediately you go, this is a dead… this is a dead interaction. So one thing to be really clear about is it’s not just a giant… you know, it’s not… I think one of things that makes people so tired is it’s one thing kind of for so long and we’ve really tried to kind of rhythmically break that up into different things and, you know, give that kind of fatigue a little bit of a rest. So, you know, it’s… I hope we’re kind of breaking… one of our goals was to break Zoom. And I think we’ve done that a little bit.
Katy: I know you all have been working with Paul Lazar as your director on this piece and tell us a little bit about how that process has worked, particularly knowing that you’re all working at a distance.
Geoff: Well, you know, in a way, Paul, Paul is is brilliant. And even in the original Elephant Room, the way we would work with Paul is by bringing him material and then he would be able to reflect back on us, back to us, like about what he saw, about what he’s seeing. And from that, then we would have a conversation about further steps. And next, next, next ways to go. And then he would build things with us. But based on that. And this has been sort of similar. We’ve created sequences or we’ve created images. We show it to him and then he’ll tell us here’s what I see here’s where this could go. That kind of thing. So this is a devising kind of process where it’s not like we sat down and wrote a play. We are constantly coming up with material, proposing it and then trying to figure out how it factors in and how it affects the experience overall. So I hope that answers your question, Paul like is always… this is a funny term, but we say the outside eye. And I guess in this as well, he really is the one who is able to reflect back on, to us what he sees.
Trey: And sometimes he’s even just saying exactly what we’re saying back to us so we can all hear it together in a new voice or something. It’s really helpful. He very rarely comes in and kind of like forces something on it. It’s one of… it’s a rare it’s a rare skill in a director. But he really is wonderful at listening and kind of balancing that.
Steve: Yeah there’s nobody like him for that. He really takes any… even any little thing you provide that like might have a germ of some idea. It’s never dismissed. It’s always like very thoughtful. And then at some point things can get dismissed. But everything kind of has to due with him, which is, he’s very open minded about that, which is… I’ve never met anybody like him.
Geoff: Very generous.
Zach: Like when Yoda repeats something back to you and like backwards semantics.
Steve: Paul is exactly like Yoda.
Geoff: That’s true. He also makes these weird stews.
Trey: And he lives in a weird mud hut.
Geoff: Yeah. And he’s three and a half feet tall.
Trey: We just felt like it was apropos. You know, it just seemed to make the most sense for us in this process.
Steve: And I don’t know if you’ve heard you know, I know we’re speaking about the NASA missions recently, but also in The New York Times, there was another article come out. Have you been following the latest on the UFOs and how the military is releasing all of the papers now about unidentified flying objects? I’m not saying aliens. So just for the listeners who aren’t clear on that… for years, since the 50s, all that stuff you heard about was that the government was finding, you know, engines and pieces of possibly crashed vehicles. And then what an interesting thing was. There was a guy who came out many years ago who was… worked for the government and supposedly was doing research work on these machines at an undisclosed location in a mountain bunker. You know, everybody knew that thing. That guy- and I’m not saying anything about this, but his name was Bob Lazar. Now we haven’t spoken to Paul about this, if there’s any relation. But Bob Lazar, if you search Bob Lazar, you’ll see his whole story about working on these alien craft. And I don’t know if Paul Lazar will reveal any relation, but there may be.
Geoff: But there’s a lot of years of Paul Lazar’s career that are completely unaccounted for. And If you just you know, if you look up his CV, it just says mountain time.
Trey: Silence of the Lambs, mountain time, and then…
Geoff: Elephant Room, Dust From the Stars.
Katy: Well, Zach and I had an opportunity to see an in-progress version of the work earlier this summer. So I’m sure it has already changed and will continue to change until the shows in mid-September. But what we saw at one point, these astronauts, you know of sorts, stumbled upon what looked like an abandoned theater. And so without giving too much away, I’m wondering if you guys can talk broadly about how you’ve thought about Covid and its effects on theater and how that has kind of informed, not only your working process for this piece, but also the content of the new work.
Geoff: Well, I can try as little stab at that. I mean, it’s a dire time, obviously. Though…this is a maybe I don’t know. This is partly cynical and maybe partly a little Pollyanna. I kind of feel that the pandemic will have the hardest effect on institutions in a way, because I don’t know how these buildings are going to stay empty for so long. And on the flip side of that, I actually think that artists just always find a way. You know, for a long time we would be working in very unconventional spaces because either more conventional theater spaces were not open or available to us or couldn’t afford regular rehearsal space and like being a Philly theater artist since 2000 and working with Pig Iron, like, we would always find ourselves in kind of amazing spaces and then create site specific work. And I believe that this moment is actually very fruitful for art making. I think it forces artists to re-conceive re… you know, shake everything up, change the rules and rethink how things were done. What were the things we took for granted? And I think that that can push us even into the social justice aspect of art making as well, which we haven’t talked about yet. I think it’s an amazing time to re think and recalibrate how all this stuff is made. And I think artists, it’s… though crazy and difficult and there’s a lot of tours that are canceled and projects that are thrown and there’s a lot of income questions, all of that. But that is the case for literally everybody to some degree. I… So I kind of think it’s positive for them. And for the institutions and the places that have space that seems tricky at best.
Trey: The other thing I think about a lot with Covid is… I mean, a lot of those income questions is kind of what artists live with all the time versus institutions as well, like where people are constantly trying to make things work as best they can. And so there’s a flexibility there. But Covid also, I think has provided an opportunity for a hunger, a hunger for community, a hunger for live experience, a real realization that being alone by yourself, you know, in some ways it sometimes like it’s nice, I’m cozy. I’m just here, I’m having my tea and my Netflix and I’m good. But I think also there’s going to be a kind of a realization that, you know, now that you can’t get together, how badly you want to get together and how badly you want to experience something in a room. You know, I watched Hamilton recently on TV and I’ve also seen it live. And it’s just like the difference of the experience is so immense. And it just really made me just want to be in a room full of people who disagreed with my, you know, or agree or whatever it is. You know, however you feed off each other. So I’m really looking forward for that reentry and the energy that this absence and this pause will bring to, you know, to the theater and to a lot of different performing arts.
Geoff: Yeah, it makes both the solitude and the trying… The effort of coming together, like, at least in our piece, I think all the more poetic or poignant. Even if it’s a comedic thing, that sense of being apart and wanting connection is so charged right now.
Zach: Yeah, jeez. Jiminy cricket, now you’ve got me all upset. We’re running out of time friends. But I do want to say, listen, if there’s anything I live for in the whole world, it’s a tender clown show. Truly take me there. In this piece, like in… Always just speaks to the things that I grew up around and including just like Star Trek, and coast to Coast AM Radio and like… I’m just. I’m really, really excited for people to see it and to see it myself. Where can we keep up with you guys? You know, in the in the run up to the show, where do you want to be found?
Trey: That’s a really good question. We… Daryl Hannah, Dennis Diamond, and Louie Magic do have Facebook accounts and they do sometimes upload stuff there. But you can also follow us individually in our various websites and stuff like that. I don’t have an Instagram thing. Is anyone else doing that?
Geoff: Well, I wanna… Yeah. Go ahead, Steve.
Steve: @stevecuiffo, I’ve stopped posting since the pandemic.
Geoff: I also want to just thank you guys for bringing us onto the podcast. And this will now be a regular thing until we open. I think that’s a great place for people to find us as we make this podcast a weekly or bi weekly or daily thing. And we have a lot more to say. A lot of other ideas, things to proselytize about. So thank you, Zach and Katy, for making that space available to us almost constantly.
Zach: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. I’m really looking forward to our two hour deep dive into Elon Musk and the ethics of his whole lifestyle. And where his money came from.
Geoff: And I’ve got recipes.
Katy: Oh, yeah we can’t forget about those.
Zach: Fantastic, people really love a cooking podcast. There just really aren’t enough of those. And it really just sits in the audio medium.
Steve: I did, you know, during this time I was multitasking. I did find out you can actually infuse astronaut ice cream with carbonation much like pop rocks. Yeah. So I think we’ll be doing that. And that’ll be a give away for the first 10 audience members at Elephant Room, Dust from the Stars you will receive… Oh, wait. No, you can’t receive that. Sorry. It’s online.
Katy: That’s Elephant Room three. We’re just looking ahead to the next.
Zach: Elephant Room Three is an ice cream flavor.
Steve: Its a cooking show.
Trey: That would be amazing, a magic cooking show.
Geoff: Space cakes.
Trey: There it is.
Zach: OK. Well, to our audience at home, we have to do a lot of work. We have to do the outlines for our Elon Musk show. We have to start working on Elephant Room three Iron Chef edition. There’s a lot happening for us. (laughter) 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 Fringe Arts app. Thank you so much to Geoff Sobelle, Trey Lyford and Steve Cuiffo for joining us. And visit fringarts.com to see our upcoming programing, including Elephant Room Dust from the Stars and other Fringe Festival 2020 shows. Thanks so much and be safe.