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A Hard Time

Pig Iron Theatre Company

May 1—12, 2019

2019 High Pressure Fire Service

Runtime TBA

Cost TBA


DescriptionContextual ProgrammingHappy Hour on the FringeAbout the ArtistsAbout High Pressure Fire Service

May 1—12, 2019

World Premiere

“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

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them … ”
Margaret Atwood

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 breast-feeding in public for your delight and entertainment. Settle in, buckle up, and open wide.”

Ahem. Please give them a warm, collegial welcome.

NOTE: there are no longer 10:30pm performances on Saturday, May 4 and Friday, May 10.

Run Time: 80 minutes

Read the digital playbill for A Hard Time online.

There will be open captioning during the performance on Saturday, May 11 at 7pm.

HPFS Subscriptions:
$150 Six-Show Package / $120 for members*
15% off tickets to 3-5 performances / 30% off for members*
All subscribers receive free ticket exchanges and reduced fees.


Single Tickets:
$31 general / $21.70 members*
$15 students and 25-and-under
$2 FringeACCESS members

Buy Tickets

*All member discounts applied automatically when logged in.

Feature Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

Contextual Programming

Sunday, May 12th at 2:00pm: matinee performance followed by post-show panel discussion including Briyana Clarel from The Attic Youth Center, Karen Singer of Women in Transition, Tia Kemp from Philadelphia Improv Theater, and other community stakeholders.

Saturday, May 18th at 3:00pm: join us for a Gender and Sexuality 101 training presented by the Attic Youth Center at the Pig Iron Theatre Company studios for an overview of best practices to create gender inclusive and affirming artistic spaces. Half-price admission if you’ve seen A Hard Time. For more information and to RSVP, please visit this page.

Happy Hour on the Fringe

On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, Jess Conda and Jenn Kidwell, two-thirds of the artistic team behind A Hard Time, sit down to chat with comedian Betty Smithsonian about what’s so freaking funny. They chat about what men should do at talkbacks, what audiences can expect at A Hard Time, and why people (men) believe that women aren’t funny. This episode contains explicit language. Read the full transcript on the FringeArts Blog or listen below.

About the Artists

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.

Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

Jennifer Kidwell is a performing artist. Recent projects – Underground Railroad Game (2017 Obie Award for Best New American Theatre Work), Home (Geoff Sobelle), Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (Dan Hurlin), I Understand Everything Better (David Neumann/advanced beginner group’s 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). Projects in development – A Hard Time (PITC), TABLE with Thomas Graves & the Rude Mechs and Nichole Canuso’s The Octopus and the Interview. 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 Fellow.

Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

Jess Conda is a Philadelphia based performer, producer, teaching artist and cultural connector. From 2003-2017, Jess performed and produced with BRAT Productions, a former non profit theater company known for their influence on Philadelphia’s early alt performance scene. Regional Cabaret: The Peek A Boo Revue, Get Pegged!, Bearded Ladies, Martha Graham Cracker, Red 40 & the Last Groovement. Regional Theater: Arden Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, six seasons with Shakespeare in Clark Park. With Pig Iron: performer/creator on Pay Up and 99 Breakups. 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. Jess works as a Teaching Artist at the Wilma Theatre. Training: Certificate: Pig Iron’s APT program. BFA: Arcadia University.

Photo by Jauhien Sasnou

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.

High Pressure Fire Service

A Presentation Series for Philadelphia Artists

High Pressure Fire Service (HPFS) 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 festival. Addressing issues of representation, gender, accessibility, reproductive justice, and more through devised theater, comedy, and participatory play, these productions embody the vast range and exceptional talent of Philadelphia’s rich performing arts community.

Check out the FringeArts Blog to read about Who’s Who in High Pressure Fire Service, part one and part two.

Support for High Pressure Fire Service has been provided by the Wyncote Foundation.