Archive for the ‘SmokeyScout Productions’ Category

People are Strange and other revelations from Josh McIlvain

Posted June 13th, 2018

FringeArts superfriend Josh McIlvain wears many hats in this week’s performance People are Strange and other revelations, serving as writer, performer, and producer. He is joined by performers Tara Demmy and Marissa Kennedy, and by writer/performer Nik Menotiades. This team of creators delivers a show that is at once funny, thought-provoking, and utterly bizarre.  

When describing the performances in People are Strange, McIlvain explains: “I think one thing that unites them is that they all involve fuckups to varying degrees, and they all have a lot of humor, though the tones and styles of the piece are varied enough to keep it interesting.”   

The show consists of four short solo performances set in different rooms of the Da Vinci Art Alliance in Bella Vista. It is a collection of moments, of the seemingly insignificant encounters of life. The audience will move between rooms of the art gallery to view the series of distinct yet cohesive performances. “As the show is made up of four separate places, we are able to create four different performance spaces,” says McIlvain. “These aren’t radical changes, but there is a pleasure in these little shifts between areas, and for the audience to be led to a new room or even part of the same room, and to encounter the next performance.”  

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Josh McIlvain: A man with a new show you should see

Posted November 11th, 2011

Josh McIlvain is a man of many talents. Husband of Deborah Crocker, father of Jasper, Josh is responsible for the creation of the Festival’s yearly Guide. Josh has had more than 100 productions of 65 plays, including 35 NYC productions. In 2008, Josh and Deborah started their own theater company SmokeyScout Productions.

This weekend, you have the chance to see Josh’s newest project alongside two other amazing independent artists in the performing arts at the Papermill Theater in Kensington.

Opening this Saturday, SmokeyScout Productions and Hella Fresh Theater present WILD PUNCH: Dance Theater Adventures in Kensington.

Wild Punch features dancer-choreographer Annie Wilson’s dance graceful frustrated expletive, as solo about her personal evolution as a dancer that involves a hilarious and touching first person narrative, dance, and an anything goes approach; Josh McIlvain’s play, Waiting for The Boss, a comedic drama about maintaining your sense of worth as you grow older in menial, underpaid labor, and the intimate personal revelations between coworkers who care nothing for each other; and John Rosenberg’s play Automated Fault Isolation, a dark romance set in 1950s Arkansas about a high school girl and a soldier waiting to murder a black teenager she has lured to a motel room.

Luckily, I had a chance to ask Josh a few questions about this upcoming project.

M: What was the inspiration for the name of Wild Punch, the collection of shows? What about your show, Waiting for the Boss?

J: The Wild Punch name came about as a back and forth by Annie Wilson, John Rosenberg, and I, looking for a way to tie the three of us and our three separate works together. We liked the idea that you won’t quite know what’s coming next when you see this show, as well as it being a surprising mix of work. I also just think it’s a good sounding title, and that’s all that really matters.

For Waiting For The Boss, my play that is featured in the show, well, that title came about because the play is about two guys waiting for their boss. Also, I liked referencing Waiting For Godot, because then people may think I’m playing off of Beckett’s play and come see the show with this whole subtext in mind, and I’d acquire some type of respectability points. But the truth is that it has nothing to do with Godot. (However, I did reread Godot after first writing my play, and found a couple things to insert into my play to reference Beckett’s play—but funny enough I’ve forgotten what those things are.)

M: What are you the most excited about in relation to this project?

J: I’m most excited to find out how an audience engages with the whole show, which features a new play of mine, a dance piece performed and created by Annie Wilson, and a new play by John Rosenberg. I like the idea of mixing plays and dance in one program—but not in any sort of multi-disciplinary way—each piece is completely its own thing.

We also have each work set in a different area of the Papermill Theater. My play is on the risers, Annie’s piece is on the stage, and John’s piece is a motel room which the audience enters in order to watch. Instead of trying to lamely stitch all 3 pieces together, I think it is more interesting to have a strong production aesthetic that allows the audience to experience three divergent works under one roof so to speak.

M: As your show, Waiting for the Boss is about two co-workers, what kind of work do the characters do?

J: This is never really specified, though I see them as guys who work for a low level real estate developer, and they clear out buildings, put up sheet rock, do plaster work, those kinds of things. It’s pretty relatable to anyone who has ever done off-the-books sh*t work. The characters are drawn from various people I’ve worked with or known over the years.

M: Did you draw on any experiences of working at the Festival for the content of this show?

J: Not at all, but I would saw crews—theatrical and film crews—would be able to relate to the characters, and the situation of spending a lot of time alongside someone whom you share a lot of information with, but are essentially strangers.

M: In your description of the show, you mentioned that the characters end up sharing their philosophies about life, what is your own philosophy on that subject?

J: I can’t say I have a philosophy of life, but one thing I am interested in dealing with in this play, and more generally my longer work, is examining the work lives of Americans, and the way we compartmentalize those hours which take up so much of our lives, and push them away at the end of the day, almost as if they were unreal. The societies that are created in the workplace, the human interaction both professional and personal, and the peculiar range of emotions at work, are very strange and deserve to be looked at.

How does that relate to a philosophy about life? I think there is generally a huge disconnect between people’s philosophies about life, and how people act within their work place, as well as the means they employ to accomplish their work. What’s fascinating is how those two forces exist within the same person, yet one almost never acknowledges the other’s existence and they continue to go on, side-by-side. I find that there is a lot of material there for theater because you create characters and everyday situations that everyone can relate to.

The details:

Dates: November 12 & 13 (Sat & Sun), 19 & 20 (Sat & Sun), 25 & 26 (Fri & Sat).

Time: All shows are at 2pm

Where: Papermill Theater, 28225 Ormes Street, Kensington, Philadelphia, PA 19134

Performers: Annie Wilson, James C. Tolbert, John Rosenberg, Josh McIlvain, Anna Flynn-Meketon

Tickets: $10 & 18 at brownpapertickets.com, $18 ticket includes rides to and from theater from specified locations

Website: Smokeyscout.com


Philly Fringe Preview: Deer Head

Posted September 13th, 2011

Our occasional colleague Josh McIlvain also writes plays. Some of them, he claims, are funny. (They actually are funny, but because he’s become somewhat of a demonic character in this blog we have to ride him a bit.) Preview for DEER HEAD below, including a bit that reminds me of my last time trick-or-treating . . . when I was 17. It was a very good year.

DEER HEAD: yet another—though equally hilarious, and perhaps even more so, as the first two—evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain runs September 14 through 17 at the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street, Spring Garden. 7:00 pm each night, $15.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Caroline Rhoads: A Seriously Funny Lady

Posted September 8th, 2011

Caroline Rhoads photographNot only is Caroline Rhoads a member of Philly Improv Theater (PHIT), she’s also in Josh McIllvain’s Fringe show, DEER HEAD. DEER HEAD is a series of ten-minute plays which center around compelling, serious dialogue that is also humorous. DEER HEAD pushes the envelope by presenting seemingly average characters who experience dysfunctional interactions with others, be it a disillusioned co-worker or the lingering awkwardness of a previous relationship.

Caroline, 24, grew up outside of Hershey, PA. She attended a performing arts high school, where class often ended with improv games. This is when Caroline realized how much she enjoyed improv: “I remember loving the freedom it gave me. Unlike a play, where every choice you make must be in line with the character’s intentions/personality- there are no wrong answers in improv. I like how as a performer you are encouraged not to think, which is very liberating.” In college, she began improvising with the Stephens College improv troupe, Happy Tuesday Players, and has also studied with the famed Second City. After graduation, Caroline moved to Philadelphia to pursue acting, and along the way, joined Philly Improv Theater. She performs with PHIT’s house team Asteroid!

Caroline’s favorite comedic actor is Steve Carell, whom she first saw in “Little Miss Sunshine.” She noticed that “his dramatic and comedic performance were impressive. You can be a great comedian and a strong dramatic actor as well…in some cases they fuel one another.” For Caroline, the most challenging thing about improv is layering in texture to a show or scene (like climax, pace, callbacks, etc.) but still maintaining the mantra “don’t think.” She says, “the hardest thing for me is remembering the gifts my fellow performers give at the top and then bringing them back at the end of a Harold. I’m just so wrapped up in how much fun I am having that I have to stop and say, ‘wait, Caroline, let’s focus on structure too!'”

Caroline also just wrapped up filming for a movie called “Natural Rejection,” a sci-fi thriller with a moral twist. It’s her first feature film as the lead. Hopefully you’ll see it on dvd by next summer! Caroline is also pursuing several teaching opportunities: she plans on joining Theatre Horizon and Walking Fish Theatre in the Fall for some after-school programs.

–Christina Snyder

DEER HEAD runs September 14-17 at the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street, Spring Garden. 7:00 pm, $15.

Asteroid! finishes its run September 13 and 14 at the Mainstage at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse Square. 8:30 pm both nights, $15.

Fringe Preview Alert: Performance Garage

Posted August 25th, 2011

Flyer for Philly Fringe Preview at the Performance GarageSweet jeebus, is it really time for all the previews? Are you ready for your tastes? Are we actually prepared to throw these festivals? We better be. First preview plug is for this Friday at the Performance Garage, where shows taking place therein may be sampled. Suggested donation of $10, and you get the following:

The Maeko Film Project, previewing Whiskey and Elephants.

Infatuation Dance Company, previewing Inescapable Foreboding.

SmokeyScout Productions, previewing DEER HEAD: yet another—though equally hilarious, and perhaps even more so, as the first two—evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain.

Lauren Williams and Xhale Dance Company, previewing Underneath the Surface.

Performance Garage’s Philly Fringe preview is Friday, August 26, 1515 Brandywine Street, Spring Garden. 8:00 pm, $10 suggested donation. Reception will follow the performances.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Can You Believe We Worked With This Guy?

Posted August 23rd, 2011

That is all. DEER HEAD: yet another—though equally hilarious, and perhaps even more so, as the first two—evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain runs September 14 through 17 at the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street, Spring Garden. 7:00 pm, $15.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo by Deborah Crocker.

Misquoted: A Parody – Fin

Posted September 18th, 2010

After working closely with our former colleague Josh McIlvain to promote his 2010 Philly Fringe show Boat Hole, which has only one night left (tonight!) at Arts Garage, things went a little haywire and Josh objected. The Art Blog Writer-Marketers Of Pennsylvania (ABWMOP), the umbrella group that issues rules governing behavior of bloggers who earn fewer than seven dollars per month from banner ads for Extenze, launched an investigation.

After the jump: My reply to Josh’s and ABWMOP’s concerns, with tape transcriptions:

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Misquoted: A Parody – Part the Second

Posted September 17th, 2010

We thought promoting our former colleague Josh McIlvain‘s 2010 Philly Fringe show, Boat Hole, which has two remaining performances tonight and tomorrow, would be a simple endeavor. But no. After we ran our first interview with him, we quickly removed it after receiving the email below. The saga continues . . .

Dear Nick:

Thanks for your interest in my work, but after consulting with my image consultants, the group has agreed that we need to achieve consistency across platforms and that your platform is, well, wobbly.

Also, I didn’t say any of the things you say I said. At the very least you completely misappropriated my words and did not properly represent the tone. Tonal qualities seemed completely lost on you. Did you know that in Chinese, the word for “potato” at a higher pitch becomes the word for “mashed potatoes?” Think about that.


Dear Josh:

I’m sorry you didn’t like the piece. I’ve taken it down, but could you please tell me what the precise issues were?


After the jump: Clarification!

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Misquoted: A Parody – Part the First

Posted September 14th, 2010

The shameless plug division of the Festival Blog was working hard recently on ways to promote Josh McIlvain’s 2010 Philly Fringe show, Boat Hole, which opens on Wednesday night. Josh was the “editor” of the Festival Guide, and did “a bunch” of “work” alongside us earlier this summer.

We thought it would be nice to interview Josh for Boat Hole. I usually don’t post interviews that go this badly, but it’s funny how things go off the rails. Below is the Q&A that started it all.

Nicholas Gilewicz: I understand that in addition to writing plays, you also write and play music. When did you get the performance bug?

Josh McIlvain: It all started when I abandoned my family, being a young father is a tough gig and playing rock is a much funner gig—but I have a new family now so it’s ok that I ditched the first one. Anyway, I got my start at Irish Sean O’McDay’s, a bar in Fishtown that turned into Bieber’s—you know the place?

NG: No.

JM: It’s hidden away. Now they only play Justin Bieber, whose music I don’t care for but I think he’s really cute—not in a gay way, more like a father-son way since he’s about the age of my first child, whom I haven’t seen but I suppose I’ll run into some time. What a conversation that will be, right? SEXCOP, my band, came from the lies I’ve been telling girls at Bieber’s. When you say you’re an SVU detective, and that you investigate sexual murder, godDAMN can you pull some ass.

After the jump: Dancing for nickels, Stalin, and time to hide the drugs.

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The Weekender: What You’re Doing and Why

Posted July 23rd, 2010

It’s hot. It’s damn hot. Fool, you think I was born on the sun??? This weather bores and irritates me. Distractions, cometh!

>>>Awww, Josh McIlvain, who’s streamlined the production of the Festival Guide (soon to be in your hands!) is leaving us, again. Jerk. So we’re taking him out for drinks. He’ll be back for Philly Fringe, though—his SmokeyScout Productions will present Boat Hole, an evening of Josh’s comedic short plays, at the Performance Garage September 15 through 18.

>>>Here’s something to do outside! Because when the heat index says the world will feel like 108 degrees, outside is the jam! So: Sun Ra Arkestra with Scorch at “the green space behind the Walnut Street Free Library.” You know Sun Ra Arkestra. You should know Philadelphia Fire Arts, who produced SimpLaFire last year at the Piazza (and came by the bar once in a while for impromptu shows in the parking lot that were awesome). They return to 2010 Philly Fringe with their show Scorch, which is also what will happen to you on Saturday. 6:00 pm.

>>>If space is not the place for you, then hit up the First Person Arts BBQ and Grand Story Slam at the Painted Bride. Oops! BBQ side is sold out. Move fast if you want slam tix.

>>>Punk Rock Flea Market (we’ll be there with a table come say hi!). From this week’s R5 newsletter: “Someone once told us that some crazy weird men magazine like Details listed it as a top place to meet women. So if you cant find anything to buy, maybe shop for a girlfriend.” 461 North 9th Street, weird unnamed post-/quasi-industrial/concert venue neighborhood (Callowhill?), Philadelphia. 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, $3 suggested donation.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo stolen without permission from Josh McIlvain’s Facebook page, and poorly doctored by Nicholas Gilewicz