A Billion Nights On Earth
Thaddeus Phillips + Steven Dufala
$15 – $29
“When you become a parent, 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.” Thaddeus Phillips
“Phillips is one of the most creative theater artists in the country.” Juliet Witttman, Westword
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.
Visionary director Thaddeus Phillips and Obie award-winning installation artist Steven Dufala conjure up an epic of ingenious stagecraft and live action, with a cinematic score by Colombian composer Juan Gabriel Turbay, and staring the real life father/son acting duo Michael and Winslow Fegley.
Directed by Thaddeus Phillips Designed by Steven Dufala Dramaturgy Tatiana Mallarino Music Juan Gabriel Turbay Lighting David Todaro Costumes Jan Avramov Set Engineering Efren Delgadillio Jr. Performers Michael Fegley and Winslow Fegley
Major support for this project has been provided to Thaddeus Phillips by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support provided by Lead Sponsor PECO.
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).
Festival Executive Producers
Linda & David Glickstein
Sarah & Kevin Kleinschmidt
Edward & Anne Wagner
Nicholas Chuva Plagge
$29 general / $20.30 member (Click here to join and save 30% on tickets to all shows!)
$15 student + 25-and-under
About Thaddeus Phillips
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.
About Steven Dufala
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.
Interview with Thaddeus Phillips
May 2017. Abridged, read the entire interview on the FringeArts Blog this summer.
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 describe your set?
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 playground made from a roof with a window. This image is the basis 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 excited 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 anything 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 its 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 Stephen 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 an 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.