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A Hard Time

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About the Show

“I don’t like any female comedians… a woman doing comedy doesn’t offend me but sets me back a bit. I, as a viewer, have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.” – Jerry Lewis

Welcome, esteemed colleagues. Find a seat. It has been said that laughter is an indication of relaxation, so please, relax.

The topic of today’s lecture: What’s So Funny?

Our guest lecturers this evening are Jess Conda, Jenn Kidwell, and Mel Krodman, who are here to give you A Hard Time.  They’ve provided this brief introduction to their performance:“Time to whip it out, go balls to the wall and jam out with your clam out because the maestros of menstruation are here to strip down and suit up. We’re taking your jobs and breastfeeding in public for your delight and entertainment. Settle in, buckle up and open wide.”

Please give them a warm, collegial welcome.

Creative Team

Writer/Performers Jess Conda, Jenn Kidwell, Mel Krodman Director Dan Rothenberg Costume Designer LeVonne Lindsay Costume Assistant Gina Colacci Set Designer Meredith Ries Lighting Designer Amith Chandrashaker Sound Designer Justin Hicks Props Master Alicia Crosby Technical Director Flannel & Hammer Scene Shop Production Stage Manager Lisa McGinn Assistant Stage Manager Nic Labadie-Bartz Dramaturg Jack Tamburri Associate Sound Designer Gavin Price Assistant Lighting Designer Stoli Stolnack Wardrobe Supervisor Gina Leigh Stitcher Katie Brown Choreographer Meg Foley

Artist Statement

“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

-Mel Brooks

“The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.”

-bell hooks

About Pig Iron

Founded in 1995 as an interdisciplinary ensemble, Pig Iron is dedicated to the creation of new and unusual performance works. Pig Iron has created over 30 original works and has toured worldwide to venues and festivals such as Z Space, Wooly Mammoth, Abrons Arts Center, Palace of Culture (Warsaw), TR Warszawa, Fabrik, Under the Radar, Humana Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and TPAM. Pig Iron has received two OBIE Awards, was named Theatre Company of the Year by Philadelphia Weekly and City Paper and has been nominated for 37 Barrymore Awards, winning 8. Pig Iron launched a post-graduate program in physical/devised theater In 2011 – now an accredited MFA in partnership with University of the Arts.


Jennifer Kidwell is a performing artist. Recent projects – Underground Railroad Game (2017 Obie Award for Best New American Theatre Work; 2018 Edinburgh Fringe First Award; Lucille Lortel, Helen Hayes nominations), Home (Geoff Sobelle, 2018 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production), Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (Dan Hurlin), I Understand Everything Better (David Neumann/advanced beginner group, 2015 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production), Antigone (The Wilma Theater), Fire Burns Hot: Little Reno!, I Promised Myself to Live Faster and 99 Break-Ups (Pig Iron Theatre Company), Dick’s Last Stand (Whitney Biennial 2014, as Donelle Woolford), Zinnias: the Life of Clementine Hunter (Robert Wilson/Toshi Reagon/Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon). Headlong Dance Theater Incubated Artist, company member, PITC and Lightning Rod Special, Wilma Theater Associated Artist, co-founder of JACK. Her writing has been published in movement research Performance Journal #45 and at 2013 TCG/Fox Resident Actor Fellowship (with PITC), 2015 Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grant, 2016 Pew Fellow, 2017 Independence Fellowship.

Mel Krodman is a Philadelphia-based creator and performer. Mel is a current company member of Pig Iron Theatre Company and works frequently with Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, No Face Performance Group and, since 2010, with New Orleans-based choreographer Kelly Bond. Together, Mel and Kelly were 2014-2015 Artists in Residence at thefidget space in Philadelphia, The Lucky Penny’s Work Room in Atlanta (2015) and Theatre Emory’s Breaking Ground Series (2014). Mel was a 2016 TCG Global Connections grant recipient, a 2017 Independence Fellow, and is a graduate of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training’s inaugural class. Mel dedicates this show to her Dad and to her Daughter.

Jess Conda is a Philadelphia based performer, producer, teaching artist and cultural connector. From 2003-2017, she performed and produced with BRAT Productions, a former theater company known for their influence on Philadelphia’s early alt/”Fringe” performance scene. With Pig Iron: Pay Up, 99 Breakups. Regional Theater: Arden Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, six seasons with Shakespeare in Clark Park. Regional Cabaret: Peek A Boo Revue, Get Pegged!, Bearded Ladies, Martha Graham Cracker, Red 40 & the Last Groovement. Jess is a two-time Barrymore nominee for Outstanding Ensemble in a Play, and was one of Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Stage Talents to See This Season, 2013. She also works as a Teaching Artist with the Wilma Theatre and Independence Charter Middle School. Training: Certificate: Pig Iron APT. BFA: Arcadia University.

Dan Rothenberg (Director) is a founding member and Co-Artistic director of the Pig Iron Theatre Company. Dan has directed almost all of Pig Iron’s original performance works, including Poet in New York, Gentlemen Volunteers, Isabella, Pay Up, The Lucia Joyce Cabaret, and the OBIE Award–winning Hell Meets Henry Halfway and Chekhov Lizardbrain. In 2001, Dan co–directed Shut Eye with Joseph Chaikin. Other projects include creation of audio works to accompany the paintings of Alexandra Grant at MOCA in Los Angeles, improvisation research with Headlong Dance Theatre and Miguel Gutierrez, and ongoing collaborations with Stockholm’s Teater Slava and the alt–comedy group The Berzerker Residents. In April 2010, Dan directed the English–language premiere of Toshiki Okada’s Enjoy for Play Company in New York, and then in 2014 followed up with the critically acclaimed production of Okada’s Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise for Play Company at JACK. In 2015, Dan directed I Promised Myself to Live Faster for Pig Iron (Humana Festival and FringeArts Philadelphia) as well as Swamp is On, a concert–spectacle with the rock band Dr. Dog. Swamp is On went on to secure a residency at American Repertory Theater in 2017. Dan teaches physical theater and devising at the Pig Iron/UArts MFA program. He received a Pew Fellowship in Performance Art in 2002, and a United States Artist Knight Fellowship in 2010.

Justin Hicks (Sound Designer)  is a multidisciplinary artist, collaborator, and performer who uses music and sound to investigate themes of identity, labor, American dream aesthetics, and instinctual value systems.  His work has been featured at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Performance Space New York, The Public Theater, JACK, National Black Theatre, The Highline, MoMA, Dixon Place, festival Steirischer Herbst (Graz, Austria), Western Front Society (Vancouver, BC), MASS MoCA, The Whitney Museum of American Art,  Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham, UK), The Highline, The Institute for Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), and The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts among others. Hicks has collaborated with notable visual artists, writers, musicians, and theater makers including Abigail DeVilleCharlotte BrathwaiteKaneza SchaalMeshell NdegeocelloCauleen SmithHelga Davis, Hilton Als, Chris Myers, and Ayesha Jordan.  Hicks was the Drama Desk Award-nominated composer for Mlima’s Tale by Lynn Nottage (The Public Theater 2018 dir. Jo Bonney). His practice with artist Steffani Jemison, Mikrokosmos, has deployed commissioned performances and exhibitions internationally.  He was a member of Kara Walker’s 6-8 Months Space and holds a culinary diploma from ICE in New York City.  Hicks was born in Cincinnati, OH, and is based in the Bronx, NY.

Meredith Ries (Scenic Designer) (selected): Bonnie’s Last Flight (NYTW Next Door), Sweeney Todd (Curtis Opera), Heartland (Geva Theater Center), Lost Laughs (Merrimack Repertory Theater), Cute Activist (The Bushwick Starr), Once the Musical (Weston Playhouse), The Temple Bombing (The Alliance Theater), Peer Gynt and the Norwegian Hapa Band (Ma-Yi Theater Company/ ARTNY), The Universe is a Small Hat (written and composed by Cesar Alvarez), Hamlet (Yale Repertory Theater).  Associate design: Hadestown (Rachel Hauck, Broadway), with David Zinn:The SpongeBob Musical (Broadway), The Waverly Gallery (Broadway, 2018), Amelie the Musical (Broadway, 2014-2017), Soft Power (Center Theater Group, 2018). Meredith is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama  and the University of Chicago.

Amith Chandrashaker (Lighting Design)The Lucky Ones (DD Nom., Ars Nova), Boesman and Lena (LL Nom., The Signature), Blue Ridge (The Atlantic), Cardinal (2ST), Twelfth Night (The Public), Fairview (Soho Rep, Berkeley Rep, TFANA), Fire in Dreamland (The Public), Her Requiem (LCT3), Time’s Journey… (PlayCo.), [PORTO] (The Bushwick Starr/ The Women’s Project), Seven Spots on the Sun (HH Nom., Rattlestick), Quiet, Comfort  (Hoi Polloi). Opera: The Flying Dutchman (Houston Grand Opera), Falstaff (Opera Omaha) The Scarlet Letter (Opera Colorado), Abduction from the Seraglio (Atlanta Opera). Dance: Premieres by Alexander Ekman, Aszure Barton, Kate Weare, Liz Gerring, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Rennie Harris, Aalto Ballettt Theatre Essen, Staatstheater Nürnberg, The National Dance Company of Wales, and The Royal New Zealand Ballet.

LeVonne Lindsay (Costume Designer) is the Costume Shop Manager and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She holds a B.S. in Fashion Design from Philadelphia University and an M.F.A. in Costume Design from the University of Maryland, College Park.

​Some notable design credits include: The world premiere of White at Theater Horizon, The award-winning world premiere of Time is on Our Side at Sympatico Theater Project; The Hampton Years at Virginia Stage Company; Yellowman at Arena Stage; Jason Invisible, Locomotion, Handspeak, and Color Me Dark at The Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences; Crimes of the Heart, Topdog/Underdog, A Raisin in the Sun, The Brothers Size, and Proof at the Everyman Theatre; and Gem of the Ocean at the Hangar Theatre.  Ms. Lindsay was the Resident Designer for the African Continuum Theatre of Washington DC from 2002-2004, and an Allen Lee Hughes Fellow at Arena Stage 2001-2003.

Alicia Crosby (Props Master) is a Philadelphia based designer, creator and performing artist who specializes in new and devised works. Alicia has recently designed props for  Lightning Rod Special, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Bristol Riverside Theater and Team Sunshine. Alicia is a performer/creator of Dear Diary LOL with Antigravity Performance Project and Lead artist of a new Pussy Pop Rock band, Girl Poop. Alicia is a graduate of the Pig Iron School and has earned a BFA from Tyler School of Art. @girlp00p

Flannel & Hammer Scene Shop (Technical Directors) is a Philadelphia based business. The company was founded by Lauren Tracy (Flannel) and Joe Daniels (Hammer). With over 10 years’ experience and 100 productions under their (tool) belts they have the knowledge and skills to bring any scenic construction to life. Their work can be seen onstage here and all season with Azuka Theatre, Inis Nua Theatre, Simpatico, and Theatre Exile.

Lisa McGinn (Production Stage Manager) Recent credits: Geoff Sobelle’s Home and The Object Lesson; Sleep (Ripe Time Theatre); Chimera and The Wholehearted (Stein | Holum Projects); This is Reading (Lynn Nottage, lead artist, Kate Whoriskey, director);  Jacuzzi and The Light Years (The Debate Society); Eager to Lose (Ars Nova); How to Build a Forest (PearlDamour + Shawn Hall); Revolt. She said. Revolt Again and Winners and Losers (Soho Rep); Rememberer and Open House (Steven Reker); Forbidden Creature Virgin WhoreFrom the Spot Where We/You/I Stand (Stood) (Miller Rothlein Dance); You, My Mother (Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf); Card and Gift and Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb); The Seagull and Ivanov (Chekhov at Lake Lucille); Temporal Powers and Donogoo (Mint Theater Company); The Room SingsThe Peripherals; Hot Lunch Apostles (Talking Band).

Nic Labadie-Bartz (Assistant Stage Manager) is a freelance stage manager based in Philadelphia. Since graduating from The University of the Arts in 2016, they have worked with Applied Mechanics (where they are an associated artist), The Bearded Ladies, Orbiter 3, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, Pig Iron Theatre Company, New Paradise Laboratories,  Ninth Planet, Headlong, Cursed Church Theatre, and self-produced artists MJ Kaufman, Mary Tuomanen, Annie Wilson, Michael Kiley, Suli Holum, Trey Lyford, and Martha Stuckey.

Jack Tamburri (Dramaturg) Recent work includes: co-creating the queer clown solo I Was Confused From the Beginning with performer Jenson Titus Lavallee, directing a community-based rock musical Twelfth Night for Shakespeare in Clark Park, directing the devised comedy These Terrible Things by the Berserker Residents and playwright David Jacobi, directing Julius Ferraro’s experimental play Parrot Talk, conceiving and directing the rock music adaptation PEER GYNT & the Norwegian Hapa Band for Ma-Yi Theater Co in NYC, co-creating the installation and performance Memento Mori at the Painted Bride Art Center with artist doug greene, co-creating and producing the fringe comedies Not For Profit and GAYZE with playwright MJ Kaufman, and co-creating with performer Terry Brennan the physical theatre solo for young audiences School Play, produced by Philadelphia’s Tribe of Fools and showcased in the 2018 IPAY conference. Jack teaches devising, producing, and dramatic literature at SUNY Purchase and Fordham University’s theatre conservatories. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Yale School of Drama.

Contextual Programming

There will be a post-show panel discussion including educators from The Attic Youth Center and other community stakeholders following the matinee on Sunday, May 12.

Join Pig Iron Theatre Company, FringeArts, and The Attic Youth Center for a Gender and Sexuality 101 training for artistic spaces. Whether you’re a teaching artist, an independent artist, work at a cultural non-profit, or simply a lover of the arts, join us on Saturday, May 18th at 3:00pm at Pig Iron for an afternoon training about best practices for affirming gender-inclusive spaces and artistry. $20 general admission, $10 if you’ve seen A Hard Time (keep this program!), and $5 for students. No one will be turned away at the door for lack of funds. Please contact if you have any questions or RSVP on our

Nerd Out

Circadium’s Executive Director, Shana Kennedy, and first-year student, Sierra Rhoades Nicholls, sat down to discuss the future of contemporary circus on our podcast, Happy Hour on the Fringe. They talk about their personal introductions to the circus arts, the intense training required to pursue a professional career, the importance of Circadium’s professional program for the growth of American contemporary circus and how opportunities like the first-year student showcase, Circadium Springboard, is preparing students to succeed in the circus world and beyond. Listen to the episode online or read the transcript on the FringeArts Blog.


Major support for the development of A Hard Time was provided by the Wyncote Foundation.

Additional funding was provided by David & Linda Glickstein, Josh Glaser, and Martha Carey & Mark Tomlinson.

Special Thanks

Yomi Abiola, Agitated! and Pilar Salt and Honeytree EvilEye, Nell Bang-Jensen, Sarah Bishop-Stone, Breck Brunson and Jessie Freund, Nicole Canuso and Wintry Mix, CATCH!, Alec Duffy, Marisa Faller, Petra Floyd, HATCH Residency, JACK, Hannah Kenah, La MaMa, Julia Levis, Brooke O’Harra, Prelude Festival and Andrew Kircher, Nathan Renner-Johnson, Hallie Riddick, Stephanie Smith, Kim Snauwaert, Robin Stamey, Lauren Tracy, Miriam White, Rebecca Wright, Jacinta Yelland

About FringeArts

FringeArts is Philadelphia’s home for contemporary performance, presenting progressive, world-class art that expands the imagination and boldly defies expectation. Our programming exposes audiences to genre-defying dance, theater, and music performances by accomplished and emerging innovators who push the boundaries of art-making and redefine the artistic landscape worldwide.

A Hard Time is part of High Pressure Fire Service (HPFS), FringeArts’ presentation series of new works by Philadelphia’s most innovative performers. The series takes its name from FringeArts’ historic building, the first high pressure pump house in the country. Opened in 1903, the station pumped water from the Delaware River to fire hydrants across Philadelphia, connecting the city and helping it grow and thrive. This history of creativity and connectivity is at the very heart of the High Pressure Fire Service series, and there are two more new works coming up this June. We hope to see you there!

The Sincerity Project #3 (2019)
June 4–8

Team Sunshine Performance Corporation explores aging, shifting expectations and identities in the third installment of The Sincerity Project.

Circuit City
June 20–22

A futuristic exploration of public-private ownership, housing, and technology from poet and noise musician Moor Mother.

FringeArts Historic Building Tours

Join us on Mondays at 5:30pm in La Peg for free building tours. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the theater, studio spaces, and restaurant, and learn how FringeArts has revamped the fire pump house to promote contemporary art as innovative as the history of the building.

May Scratch Night
Mon, May 13 at 7pm

Come see a roster of Philly’s most talented artists perform new material from shows they are working on in this fast-paced sampling of contemporary theater, dance, performance art, and everything in between.

FringeArts Staff + Board


Zach Blackwood, Artistic Producer
Melissa E. Bridge, Director of Finance
Tenara Calem, Audience Engagement Coordinator
Katy Dammers, Artistic Producer
Sarah Dennis, Comptroller
Claire Frisbie, Marketing and Communications Director
Amy Kurzban, General Manager
Keighty McLallen, Director of Production
Mary Menchel, Client Services Manager
Porsche Murray, Office Manager & HR Assistant
Rachel Swartz Robinson, Development Director
April Rose, Fringe Festival Coordinator
Carolyn Schlecker, Senior Adviser Operations
Georgia Schlessman, Technical Director
Raina Searles, Marketing Manager
Jennifer Shorstein, Development Manager
Evelyn Swift Shuker, Master Electrician
Nick Stuccio, President & Producing Director
Hugh Wilikofsky, Institutional Giving Coordinator


Valerie Bailey, Marketing
Leo Fahringer, Graphic Design
Kelly Maurer, Development
Emma Rodgers, Programming
Lexi DiFilippo, Communications
Becky Hartman, Patron Services
Noelani Montas, Production
Kyran Somar, Finance


Richard Vague, Chair
Jennifer Bohnenberger, Vice Chair/Secretary
Lisa P. Young, Treasurer
Mark Dichter
Denise DiSimone
Tony P. Forte
David Grasso
David Hoffman
Kevin Kleinschmidt
Kathy Lentini
David Lipson
Tom Lussenhop
Salem Shuchman
Michael Solomonov
Stephen Starr
Nick Stuccio
Audrey Claire Taichman
Max Tuttleman
Paul Wright

PIG IRON Staff + Board


Quinn Bauriedel, Founding Co-Artistic Director, Director of The Pig Iron School
Maya Choldin, Managing Director
Megan Jones, General Manager
Sarah Gardner, Office and School Administrator
Jacob Gilbert, Production Manager
John Hawthorne, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Hallie Martenson, Director of Development & Communications
Francesca Montanile, Assistant to the Artistic Director
Dan Rothenberg, Founding Co-Artistic Director
Samantha Wend, Assistant Production Manager


Scott Reynolds, President
Shelley Z. Green, Vice-President
Mark Langdon, Treasurer
Whitney Peeling, Secretary
Terry Guerin, Past President
Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel
Jennifer Bohnenberger
Ty Hoffman
Allen Kuharski
David Sacker
Nancy Lanham
Ricki Eisenstein
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
Dan Rothenberg
Dito van Reigersberg

Be Part of the Story

Help FringeArts present world-class, contemporary performing arts that challenge convention and inspire new ways of thinking.