A Billion Nights on Earth
Explore the Playbill
About the Show
A journey into an alternative universe for audiences ages 3 to 99.
A treasured stuffed whale goes missing and a portal to another dimension though the kitchen fridge sets a father and son off on a spectacular quest through space and time. Objects on stage appear to come alive and the father and son must rely on their creativity, and each other, to survive wild landscapes that open like giant pop up books. Taking from classic children’s books, kabuki stagecraft, and spellbinding theatrics, A Billion Nights on Earth is an imaginative dive into the realms of parent–child relationships, exploring their varying perspectives on reality.
About Thaddeus Phillips + Steven Dufala
Thaddeus Phillips is a theater director, designer and performer originally from Denver, Colorado who is based between North and South America. His inventive and cinematic stagings have been seen Off-Broadway and at theaters and festivals internationally. Recent work includes the adaptation and direction of Ankomsten based on Shaun Tan’s graphic novel The Arrival and a tour of 17 Border Crossings throughout the USA, Europe, and Asia. He began his career doing object puppet performances of Shakespeare. Directed works and creations include: RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE, an action-opera about the last days of E. A. Poe; CAPSULE33 at Barrow Street Theatre; Flamingo/ Winnebago, Whale Optics, THE MeLTING BRiDgE in Philadelphia, and The Earth’s Sharp Edge at La MaMa. In 2004 his ¡El Conquistador! toured the US, Europe and 11 cites in Spain. For his performance as Polonio, he was nominated for at Drama League Award. Phillips’ is a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient and his work has been nominated for a Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, and Hewes Design Award. On screen he has played the notorious pilot Barry Seal for MundoFox and appeared in Narcos for Netflix and Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Steven Dufala is a multidisciplinary artist and musician based in Philadelphia. While he works primarily in collaboration with his brother Billy as The Dufala Brothers. Steven has worked in the theater most recently on Underground Railroad Game at Ars Nova and The Object Lesson at New York Theatre Workshop. With his brother Billy, he received an Obie Award for design with rainpan 43’s machines machines machines machines machines machines machines at Here Arts Center. Along with entire creative team, he received a Bessie Award for design for Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Steven and Billy co-teach sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and are represented by the Fleisher/Ollman gallery in Philadelphia. Their work is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the West Collection, and private collections.
Directed by Thaddeus Phillips Designed by Steven Dufala + Thaddeus Phillips Dramaturgy Tatiana Mallarino + Rafael Phillips Music Juan Gabriel Turbay Lighting David Todaro Costumes Jan Avramov Production Stage Manager Alessandra Calabi Set Engineering Efren Delgadillio Jr. Performers Michael Fegley and Winslow Fegley Kukoro (stage run team) Aaron Arnodt + Gabi Pezoa
A Billion Nights on Earth is a new theatrical creation bringing together my experiences of fatherhood and dreams for my children’s future. I want it to be the jolt of positive energy so many of us desperately need, something that connects us to the joys of being human. Not a distraction, but a reminder that the universe is vast, and there is hope.
My four year-old son is absolutely fascinated with the moon and the stars. Beginning at age two, he would point out the moon as soon as it came out in an early evening sky. It is kind of a miracle to be momentarily transported away from the complications of everyday life, to look up and wonder at the majesty of it all. My aim is to bring this wonder to the theater, directly and simply. A Billion Nights on Earth is an ode to the miracle of this planet and its place in the universe; and to our ability to explore, create, learn, love, and live under this vast sky.
Michael Fegley began his studies in theater under Dennis Bloh at La Salle College High School in the mid-1980s, and then at DeSales University as a protégé of the late William Callahan. After completing undergraduate studies in 1992, Fegley moved to Manhattan for the next 12 years. It was during this time that he completed work at the studio of master teacher Robert Patterson, and soon thereafter began working professionally. He is a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, and will be seen in the web series The Great WTYT960 Billboard Sitting Contest as well as its sister feature film Billboard Movie in 2018. Fegley has performed extensively in New York and Philadelphia, appearing as Schultz in Circle Mirror Transformation, Al in Everybody Does, Silva in Tennessee Williams’s 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Customs Official in the premiere of Thaddeus Phillips’ The Earth’s Sharp Edge (2003), Freddy Ozone in the off-Broadway production of Small Potatoes (2000), and starring in the world premiere of The Ballad of Trayvon Martin (2016) at New Freedom Theater in Philadelphia. He has been on screen in such films as Children of the Moon (with his son, Oakes Fegley), Escape to Life (with Vanessa Redgrave), and Tracks (with John Heard and Ice T). He is also the co-author and co-creator of Whitman by Fire, a play in which the soaring, enigmatic work of America’s greatest poet is staged in the most primitive way possible to reveal the author’s “password primeval.” Fegley currently resides, works, and teaches acting in Allentown, PA. He is the proud father of a performing arts family—his wife Mercedes Tonne, and their children August, Oakes, and Winslow are all seen acting on many stages and screens as well.
Winslow Fegley hails from Allentown, PA, where he was born into a performing arts family—son of actors Michael Fegley and Merce Tonne, and brother to actors August Fegley and Oakes Fegley. He attends a Waldorf school and his outside studies include piano, tap dance, and break dance. He enjoys going to the theater and to museums, and is also an avid “Minecrafter.” He began his acting journey at age five voicing a local radio commercial and soon landed on stage at the Civic Theatre of Allentown as the young Ebenezer at six in a production of A Christmas Carol. He has worked in commercials, student films, and several features. This fall, he is scheduled to begin shooting a supporting role in the sci-fi feature Future Lies. He is delighted to be performing in this stage production of A Billion Nights on Earth, on which he collaborated creatively, working with theater artists Thaddeus Phillips and Steven Dufala.
Tatiana Mallarino is a director, writer, and translator from Bogotá, Colombia. Her work includes the co-direction of Capsule 33 at the Barrow Street Theater, director of ¡El Conquistador! at New York Theatre Workshop (Lucille Lortel award nominee for best solo show), The Tempest at the Arcola Theatre in London, and Henry Five Live (from Times Square) at the New York International Fringe Festival and Bunport Theater in Denver. For Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental she created The MeLTING BRiDgE and ¡El Conquistador! as well as co-creating The Incredibly Dangerous Astonishing Lucrative and Potential Completely True Adventures of Barry Seal, Alias Ellis Mackenzie, The Earth’s Sharp Edge, and Lost Soles. She was the Spanish language translator for the first three seasons of Netflix series Narcos. Her Colombian credits include The Glass Menagerie at Teatro El Chico and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Teatro La Cigarra. She also served as the dialogue coach for Penelope Cruz on the film Loving Pablo.
Rafael Phillips Rafael Phillips (Rafa) is about to turn five. He loves collecting things from nature and curates his own museum of sea shells and insects. He is fascinated by pirates and all pirate history.
David Todaro is a Philadelphia-based designer who works as a lighting designer, production manager, and artistic collaborator/consultant. He has been interested in creating experiences through light since a young age. Todaro has design and management experience in theater, dance, music, events, and visual arts, and his work has taken him all over
North America as well as to Europe, Australia, and Asia. He has worked with FringeArts in Philadelphia for the past 10 years to bring performances from all over the world to Philly. He also enjoys blending time-honored techniques with new technologies and has recently created lighting installations at Longwood Gardens, The College of New Jersey, and FringeArts.
Jan Avramov’s fascination with the historical and cultural evolution of clothing and fit informs her work as a costume and clothing designer. She began designing at the age of seven and credits her Barbie doll with giving her an early understanding of the concept of dart control. Among her numerous past production designs for opera and theater, her favorites include The Turn of the Screw, The Kitchen, The 39 Steps, A Comedy of Errors, and Glavanatsi. She has designed for Theaterworks at UCCS, Colorado Opera Festival, Opera Theater of the Rockies, Colorado College, Yambol State Puppet Theater, and Plovdiv State Puppet Theater, Bulgaria. She designed and developed the initial line of clothing for Janska, a contemporary clothing company that is founded on the principle of wellness wear. Avramov lives and works in Colorado Springs where she supervises the Colorado College shop.
Alessandra Calabi is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist hailing from Milan, Italy, who works at the intersec-
tion of performance, politics, and critical theory. A graduate of the New School for Social Research, she completed her
Master’s degree in philosophy in 2015. Calabi is the stage manager and co-creator of Andrew Schneider’s Obie award-winning YOUARENOWHERE, and is a main collaborator on AFTER, which had its world premiere at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (Troy, NY) in August 2017 and will be presented at The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in January 2018. She is the stage manager for the upcoming Actrice by Pascal Rambert at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris. She has worked and toured in the US and around the world with Andrew Schneider (FIELD, YOUARENOWHERE, AFTER); Faye Driscoll (Thank You For Coming: Attendance; Thank You For Coming: Play, 2016 Next Wave); Pascal Rambert (A (micro) history of world economics, danced); Thaddeus Phillips (17 Border Crossings, A Billion Nights on Earth); R.B. Schlather (Madrigal Opera); Adam Weinert (Dance of the Ages, Monument), Banana Bag and Bodice (LongYarn), and James Sprang/GAZR (Life Does Not Live), among others. She is a member of the collaborative arts group Fixed Agency, artists-in-residence at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for 2014 and creators of Private(i), an immersive mixed-reality adventure about state surveillance.
Juan Gabriel Turbay is a Colombian/American musical artist. He studied music at the Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá, Colombia and has been involved in various musical projects as a composer, producer, and singer from a very early age. As a teenager he belonged to one of the most renowned rock groups in Colombia, Poligamia, who are currently mounting a revival tour across Latin America. Turbay has written musical scores for many theater performances that toured throughout South America and the US including Déjà Vu, ¿De dónde vino este animal?, Simpronía, El Patito Feo, The Melting Bridge (created by Thaddeus Phillips), Zoom, Familia, and Whale Optics (created by Thaddeus Phillips). He has also worked as a composer, producer, and singer in recording projects with various artists including Poligamia, Luna Verde, Andrés Cepeda, Jorge Cárdenas, Carolina Sabino, Shayla Durcal, Gisselle, Amparo Sandino, Héctor Tobo, Escarcha, 4am, and Sandra Serrato. He has composed the soundtrack for more than 40 TV series in Latin America, including a show that marked a whole era for Colombian youth, Francisco el Matemático. He also composed the score for the reality show Desafío 2014 seen all over Latin America and for Noticias RCN, the main news network in Colombia. Among the other shows he has composed music for are Tan Cerca y Tan Lejos, Pobre Pablo, Brujeres, Nuestra Rumba, A Corazón Abierto, Bichos, Amo De Casa, Aquiles en Houston, Día a Día, Fuera de Chiste, and Futbolmanía.
Efren Delgadillio, Jr. studied studio arts and theater and developed a passion for architecture, materials, and shapes. His work as a scenic designer has been recognized across the US and Europe. On the east coast, he has designed for such notable companies and venues as the New School for Drama, the Foundry Theatre, the Ohio Theatre, the Acting Company, BAM, and Hartford Stage. He also collaborated with many directors including Karin Coonrod, Melanie Joseph, Casey Biggs, and Carl Hancock Rux. On the west coast, Delgadillo has designed for the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), Hand 2Mouth Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, The Getty Villa, and CalArts’ Center for New Performance (CNP), which allowed him to work with directors Mark Valdez, Nataki Garrett, Larry Biederman, Jonathan Walters, Jesse Bonnell, and Travis Preston. His international work includes Laude in Urbis in Italy, Moonshine and Peepshow at the Edinburgh Festival, and set engineer for Flamingo/Winnebago in Novi Sad, Serbia. Delgadillo is a graduate of the University of California/Irvine and holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. In June 2010, he joined Poor Dog Group as the resident designer. His designs with Poor Dog Group include Brewsie and Willie, Satyr Atlas, Dionysia, The Internationalist, Murder Ballad, and Five Small Fires. He received an LA Weekly Award for best lighting design with co-designer Adam Haas Hunter for CNP’s Brewsie and Willie and best production design for Poor Dog Group’s Brewsie and Willie.
Aaron Amodt (sounds like “dammit”) was born at Disney World, learned theater at Sea World, and then ran away
and joined Ringling Brothers Circus. After criss-crossing the US for a few years, he’s in New York making theater in much more intimate venues. Free time is split between his photo darkroom and his best friend’s doggie.
Gabi Pezoa is 21, from Denver, CO, and is currently studying at Miami University in Oxford, OH. She is a senior majoring in film production with double minors in theater and visual art. She has studied theater, photography, and art her whole life but she began her career in 2013 when she ran the lightboard for 17 Border Crossings by Thaddeus Phillips with Lucidity Suitcase International. She has designed the sets for two plays, Bliss in 2016 and Gathering Blue in the fall of 2017. This summer she helped workshop A Billion Nights on Earth as a production assistant and was excited to continue with the recent run at the Philly Fringe Festival and at BAM. Pezoa is an independent filmmaker, and she has made the shorts Despairia and Spooned most recently with Nick Anderson. Painting since the age of 17 and doing photography since she was 12, she also helps keep bees on campus at her university.
Explaining those billion nights: Interview with Thaddeus Phillips
FringeArts: How did the title A Billion Nights on Earth come about?
Thaddeus Phillips: The title references a loose idea of every night we have ever had on earth—perhaps not a billion but many many many nights of humanity and all animal life on earth has lived under the stars and looking up wondering what is actually happening and in awe of the awesome beauty of it. When you become a parent, for me you are reminded more than ever as you explain to your child about the stars and planets, about the fantastic and sheer shock of how amazing and unexplainable it all is. The show is inspired by being a parent and the desire to create not a work for children but a work that would be equally engaging for children and adults. A Billion Nights on Earth is at the same time an adult work for kids and a kids work for adults—or in simple terms, it is for three year olds and surrealists.
FringeArts: Can you briefly describe the set up?
Thaddeus Phillips: The instance that brought it all together was the playing with my son at the amazing Astrid Lindgren’s World Park in Sweden—on a play ground made from a roof with a window. This image is the basic for our design and the entire show. This roof is a magic box that slides and reveals interior and exterior spaces—as the show is constantly referencing minute details of life and huge questions of existence at the same time. The framework for the performance is greatly inspired from Japanese kabuki theater—in that each corner of the playing area is activated and able to change slowly and with transparent magic into wildly different locations. There will also be many large scale inflatables.
FringeArts: How will the two performers be encountering the scenic and design elements?
Thaddeus Phillips: Michael and Winslow Fegley are a real father–son acting duo. The Fegleys are an acting family based in Allentown and we are very exited to be able to draw on their real relationship to create the father son for A Billion Nights on Earth. We are sending them through a magic portal in the kitchen’s fridge—in a simple quest some late night milk—Winslow is taking to an insane universe where any thing is possible. His dad son follows. What is exciting is to play with all the radically different places we can take these two very different characters through—and their totally different reactions to this universe they must navigate. The art elements that are characters include the sliding roof—which will seem alive with a mind of it’s own, as well as the various inflatable objects—making the design and art objects onstage have equal weight as characters to that of Winslow and Mike.
FringeArts: How does the creative process work with your partnership with Steven Dufala?
Thaddeus Phillips: Steven is an artist. And I have approached this collaboration with him not as a set designer, but as an artist and using his amazing and playful mind to really create an onstage artwork—in which the stage landscape is created from the his artistic perspective as a installation artist, sculptor and painter. We have done something I have never seen, which is to create a totally black stage design—that will serve as a palette to allow objects of color to pop of the stage in a striking way—it is the contrast between dark and color that we have been playing with the most as well as creating the most fantastical large scale images using the simplest yet surprising means.
FringeArts: What do you think has been missing from theatrical shows that are accessible to/for kids and families? How do you think A Billion Nights on Earth takes on some of those missing elements?
Thaddeus Phillips: Most kid/family accessible shows play on two levels—in which there are tongue-and-cheek jokes that go over the kids heads but do not relate to the kids – but are an attempt to make adults laugh—there may be a better way in which a theatrical work, based on it’s sheer epic presentation can be magic for all audiences with no effort to play on two levels. This is the hybrid we are trying to create—and an absolute challenge. Creatively by consciously working for all ages, we are freed to really play with images and ideas and since we are shooting for a work for ages three and up—we can abandon certain confinements of logic and go for the fantastic—the idea being that the three year olds will love the pace and images while the eight year olds will read more of a story into it and the adults ideally will be tripping out.
FringeArts: What are some of the influences you are bringing into this show?
Thaddeus Phillips: Art, kabuki, pop-up books, installation, magic staging, parent/child relationships, space and time.
Living a Billion Nights: An Interview with Michael and Winslow Fegley
FringeArts: Tell us a little about your performance backgrounds.
Michael: I’m a member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA and have been working professionally for over twenty years. I’ve performed extensively in New York and Philadelphia in works ranging from classical to the avant-garde, including the Off-Broadway production of Small Potatoes.
Winslow: I’ve been doing plays and movies for a while now. Plus my whole family acts, and I watch them working all the time. I’ve learned a lot, and I like working with my dad.
FringeArts: Is there a strong theater or performance community in Allentown?
Michael: Allentown has the wonderful, talented people of the Civic Theatre of Allentown, where our family has been a part of productions for years. Winslow, like his sister August and brother Oakes, have all taken many turns on that stage. However, it is a non-equity house, so I have to find work in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Last year I was in the world premiere of The Ballad of Trayvon Martin at Freedom Theatre here in Philadelphia.
Winslow: I like working in Allentown, but it’s cool when we get to go to new places and work in different theaters.
FringeArts: How did you two end up in these roles?
Michael: I’ve known Thaddeus Phillips for almost twenty years, and was part of the 2003 New York production of The Earth’s Sharp Edge which we also did at the Painted Bride here in Philly. We’ve been following Thaddeus’s work, and our family has seen several of his productions over the years. He knew that my wife and I performed together with our children sometimes, and approached our family with the idea of a father-son piece.
Winslow: Thaddeus came to stay with us for a few days at the beginning of the year to get to know me, and by the time he left he was already spinning these crazy ideas with us. So that was like our audition.
FringeArts: How much of your real-life relationship have you each brought with you to the stage?
Winslow: A lot, I guess. I mean, he’s my dad.
Michael: A Billion Nights on Earth is quite the fantasy piece, but there are moments of parental frustration that any parent can understand. We also touch on the unfortunate disconnect that happens in our busy world, and the importance of connection for both the child and the parent.
FringeArts: What has it been like working with this otherworldly set that constantly evolves as the piece progresses?
Winslow: Awesome, it’s just so much fun to be in so many worlds!
Michael: I also think it’s awesome. Performing on it carries your mind to all new places – you think in new ways, use your body in different ways, and experience things on many levels.
FringeArts: What are each of your favorite aspects of the show?
Michael: That is really hard to answer, because we’ve come to love so much about each environment that we’ve created. Working with Thaddeus Phillips, Steven Dufala, and the music of Juan Gabriel Turbay is like being in a whirlwind of creative genius. Ideas would spring to life in rehearsals. It’s all so fun and amazing!
Winslow: I love all of it, but I think the waves are really cool.
FringeArts: Outside of acting, how do you each like to spend your time?
Winslow: I’m at school. I go to a Waldorf school, so we get to be outside a lot and do really cool creative stuff too. And I play the piano all the time at home.
Michael: Being a father of three keeps you pretty much booked! But in quiet times – I’m a people watcher. I can’t help it, but I find myself quietly imagining what strangers are doing, where they are going, imagining what it is that’s making them smile, and what pains they might carry in their minds.
Special thanks to Marisa Blankier, Murph Henderson, Bill Bissel, LeeAnn Lisella, Buntport Theatre, Erin Rollman, Michael Gadlin, Nick Stuccio, Pam and Gresham Riley, Steve and Mary Phillips, Clara and Hector at Creamos, and Joe Melillo.
Major support for this project has been provided to Thaddeus Phillips by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
A Billion Nights on Earth is commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music, CINEtica and Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. The project received additional funding fromThe Wyncote Foundation with residency support provided by Mapa Teatro (Bogota, Colombia) + Buntport Theater (Denver).
Year-round programming at FringeArts is made possible through the support of PNC Arts Alive.
PNC Arts Alive is a multi-year, multi-million dollar grant initiative of the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. In its ninth year, PNC Arts Alive challenges visual and performing arts organizations to put forth their best, most original thinking in expanding audience participation and engagement. A very prestigious grant, only twenty arts organizations in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region are selected.
“Through PNC Arts Alive, we continue to help invigorate local arts organizations while bringing new and exciting programs to our community,” said Joe Meterchick, PNC regional president for Philadelphia, Delaware and Southern New Jersey. “The creativity and collaboration demonstrated by the local arts community is evident in the programs that will be introduced, while enabling new visitors and residents alike to experience a diverse range of exhibits and performances.”
For more information on PNC Arts Alive and the grant recipients visit www.PNCARTSALIVE.com
Coming Up at FringeArts
Canadian sweetheart Theatre SKAM returns to Philadelphia with their international hit Fashion Machine playing at FringeArts from January 23 to 27, 2018. Fashion Machine is a live performance event by Theatre SKAM that features 28 local children and youth remaking select audience member’s outfits in under one hour. Running as part of the International Performing Arts for Youth Conference, the show is part installation, part performance and all fun.
Be Part of the Story
Help FringeArts present world-class, contemporary performing arts that challenge convention and inspire new ways of thinking.