Philadelphia Opera Collective & PhilaLandmarks
Friday, September 9
The Powel HouseMap
“Even for the eclectic Fringe Festival, the magic of Shadow House is rare.” —Mark Cofta/Broad Street Review
“…the secret moments you can capture through luck can be the most rewarding…” —Joshua Millhouse/phindie“It will make you reflect on the mysteries of life, death, space, and time, the universal issues we all face across the centuries, and the impact our present actions will have on posterity.” —Deb Miller/DC Metro Theater Arts
A man wants revenge. A woman needs answers. Two lovers meet and a divorcee hosts a garden party to discuss Nietzsche. Blurring timelines across 200 years, 11 characters’ mysteries become interlocked. The Philadelphia Opera Collective’s World Premiere uses opera and theater to craft an immersive space to explore.
$25 / 70 minutes
We at the Philadelphia Opera Collective believe that opera is an intense and honest expression of human emotions. We are dedicated to providing audiences with unique, visceral operatic experiences while working closely with artists in the theatre community of Philadelphia. We hope to use our productions to put an end to stereotypes that opera is simply empty spectacle by crafting an environment where opera becomes accessible to those not familiar with the art form.
For 85 years PhilaLandmarks has played a significant role in the preservation movement in Philadelphia by restoring, furnishing and presenting to the public four distinguished house museums—Powel House, Grumblethorpe, Physick House, and Historic Waynesborough. Each of our properties in an integral and enduring presence in their respective neighborhoods that provides an important “sense of place.” Our mission is to inspire people to engage with these histories by providing related educational and cultural programming. We want our house museums utilized as community centers that inspire people to learn about our local heritage, so that they might apply this knowledge to today’s society and engage with their fellow citizens.
In the fall of 2015, Geffers held a series of performances of La Ronde at the Powel House over the course of two weeks. Her goal was to study how different audiences would move through the house when they were presented with choices. Which characters would they follow and why? Could she (or the characters in the play) affect how the audience moved through the spaces? She also included elements of live music to test how the sounds would travel along with the characters and the audience. After her success with La Ronde, Geffers moved on to a bigger project with the Philadelphia Opera Collective.
The Philadelphia Opera Collective has been furthering its mission of making opera accessible to those not familiar with the medium since 2011. They do this by blurring the lines between opera and theatre and creating a wholly theatrical production that incorporates original music and a cast made up of opera singers, actors and movement based performers. Lienhard says that “by juxtaposing the voice through silence, speech and the singing voice we experience the entire gamut of what we are capable of vocally expressing. It meets the audience on a core level and raises them up to the operatic level.” The prospect of joining forces with a long-standing historical institution to “tell stories in new ways” was an exciting opportunity to continue expanding opera audiences.
Writing the libretto for Shadow House has been an opportunity for Geffers to continue delving into her expressionist-style of breaking the boundaries of linear time and focusing once again on the little-known stories of women who have been over-shadowed by male-focused history.