TrailOff Artist Talks
September 11-October 4
TrailOff is an immersive augmented reality audio performance presenting ten original audio narratives, each connected to paths within the Philadelphia region’s expansive Circuit Trails network. Accessed via a mobile app, listeners will hear original dramas while walking each route. Written by local authors in collaboration with Swim Pony and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), these stories center experiences that connect with communities traditionally underserved by environmental programming.
As part of the 2020 Fringe Festival, FringeArts hosts a series of talks with the local authors featured in TrailOff. Read on for the full schedule of talks and more about each featured artist, including afaq, ari, Jacob Camacho, Eppchez!, donia salem harhoor, Carmen Maria Machado, Erin T. McMillon, Li Sumpter, Denise Valentine, and Jacob Winterstein.
Artist talk recordings posted under the Schedule of Talks each week.
Schedule of Talks
Friday, Sept 11 at 7pm | Adrienne Mackey, Lizzie Hessek, Michael Kiley
TrailOff collaborators Adrienne Mackey of Swim Pony, Lizzie Hessek of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and sound designer Michael Kiley discuss the creation process for this immersive storytelling project centering experiences that connect with communities traditionally underserved by environmental programming. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Zach Blackwood.
Watch the recording below!
Saturday, Sept 12 at 7pm | Jacob Camacho & Trinity Norwood
Jacob Camacho and Trinity Norwood discuss the creation of their story for the Kensington & Tacony Trail that imagines conversations with the Indigenous Lenni-Lenape people of the past, present, and future. This launch event will also include a performance by Ty Dancing Wolf Ellis whose music is present throughout this story. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Katy Dammers.
Born and raised in Guåhan, Islan Marianas, Jacob is a Chamoru writer, educator, and activist. He received his Creative Writing MFA from Rutgers University, Camden. He is an alumni of The University of Guam and UCLA’s Extension Writers Program. Currently, he’s a Lead Teacher at All Things Are Possible Foundation in Willingboro, NJ and Lead Educator for the Move Mountains Project in San Luis, CO. He’s a former English Teacher at Philadelphia’s alternative high school, CADI, and NJ’s YMCA of Burlington & Camden Counties’ Academic Coach. He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Stockton University, teaching Intro to Creative Writing and Spoken Word. His short story, “Proclamation,” appears in University of Guam’s Storyboard 18. “Half-Moon” is featured in Philadelphia’s MadHouse Magazine Volume 4. His poem, “Kao siña hao fumino’ Chamoru?,” is in University of Hawai’i Press’ Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia.
Watch the recording below!
Sunday, Sept 13 at 7pm | donia salem harhoor & Kinan Abou-afach
donia salem harhoor and Kinan Abou-afach weave together poetry and music for an evening inspired by the Perkiomen Trail that considers care-giving, memory, grief, life in the SWANA (South West Asia & North Africa) diaspora, and roots of every kind. After the performance there will be a conversation between the artists.
donia salem harhoor (she/her) is an Egyptian-American bibliophile. Executive Director of The Outlet Dance Project, founder of the Duniya Collective, she is a principal dancer and choreographer with Sakshi Productions. In 2019, harhoor became Grounds For Sculpture’s inaugural Performing Artist in Residence. An alumna of Community of Writers, Open Mouth Poetry Retreat, Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute, and Swim Pony’s Cross Pollination residency, she is a member of the Brown Girl in the Ring Collective. Her poetry has appeared in Anomaly, Ballet Review, and Sukoon magazines, the Written Here Poetry Review, and is forthcoming in an anthology of Arab love poems. An ardent believer in game nights, donia has an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College. donia can be found at doniasalemharhoor.com.
Watch the recording below!
Friday, Sept 18 at 7pm | afaq & Justin Dennis
afaq joins Justin Dennis from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation to talk about the development process for her story situated on the Cooper River Trail and the history of the site and surrounding area. Moderated by Swim Pony Founder and Artistic Director Adrienne Mackey.
afaq is a Philly-based daughter, with grandmother tendencies. Assembled in Yemen (from Sudanese parts) afaq considers herself a global citizen of her own country. This international award-winning poet, museum exhibiting photographer, activist, and educator seeks to love the world until it loves her back. She has collaborated with Netflix, PEN America, Beautycon Media, Poetry Out Loud, the Barnes Foundation, and several universities including NYU, Columbia, and UPenn. Continuously targeted and previously arrested for her activism, afaq uses her art, experiences, and the violence she has witnessed to combat injustice while spreading messages of empathy and change.
Watch the recording below!
Saturday, Sept 19 at 7pm | Li Sumpter, Jaylene Clark Owens, Ursula Rucker
Li Sumpter is joined by cast members Jaylene Clark Owens and Ursula Rucker in conversation about the making of Sumpter’s story Chronicles of Asylum for the Schuylkill River: Bartram’s Mile. Moderated by Len Webb, of The Micheaux Mission, this discussion will center Black stories, myths of apocalypse and Afrofuturism.
Li Sumpter is a mythologist and multidisciplinary artist based in Philly. She employs strategies of world-building, D.I.Y. media, Afrofuturism and gameplay to cultivate eco-awareness and community action around the “art of survival.” Li’s artistic practice and collaborative design initiatives address existential threats to mind, body and spirit through speculative tools and sustainability projects that illuminate symbols and patterns of change. She was the 2017 Artist-in-Residence for Haverford College’s Urban Ecology Arts Exchange and the 2018-2019 Leeway x NextFab Art and Technology Artist-in-Residence. Li strongly believes hope and the power of myth are catalysts of personal and collective transformation.
Watch the recording below!
Friday, Sept 25 at 7pm | Erin T. McMillon, Michael Kiley, Danielle Leneé
Erin T. McMillon joins sound designer Michael Kiley and voice actor Danielle Leneé to talk about the creation process and audio design for her urban horror story set along the Delaware Canal Towpath. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Katy Dammers.
Erin T. McMillon is an urban horror and suspense author, blogger and artist from Trenton, NJ. Her work has been viewed and purchased by readers and curators from around the world. She is the author of several books (What’s Hiding in the Dark?: 10 Tales of Urban Lore, They Eat: An Episodic Zombie Thriller, and The Abducted), with a forthcoming book, Simone. Erin can be found on Facebook and Instagram @TheLadyWrites82 and www.amazon.com/author/erinmcmillon.
Watch the recording below!
Saturday, Sept 26 at 6pm | Carmen Maria Machado & Lizzie Hessek
Carmen Maria Machado reads from her body of work and speaks about its considerations of folklore with Pennsylvania Environmental Council Program Manager Lizzie Hessek.
Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. Her essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, Harper’s Bazaar, Tin House, Vogue, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and The Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.
Watch the recording below!
Sunday, Sept 27 | In Memory of Denise Valentine
A memorial video will be released to commemorate the late author Denise Valentine’s story crafted for the Tacony Creek Trail.
Denise Valentine was a Master Storyteller, historical performer, consultant and the founder of the Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project. Denise was a storyteller of lost and found histories of the African Diaspora. Her signature Historytelling integrated archival research, folk heritage and oral history for performance and exhibition and demonstrated the role of expressive cultural arts in sustaining community. Denise presented worldwide for audiences of all ages at schools, libraries and museums. She worked as an educator for the Museum of the American Revolution. She also served as advisor to the curatorial team of the new Early American Art Galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Friday, Oct 2 at 3pm | Eppchez! & Bob Skiba
Eppchez! speaks with Bob Skiba (Curator of the John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center) about queer history in Philadelphia, taking up some of the themes of Eppchez!’s story situated on the Delaware River Trail South. Moderated by FringeArts Artistic Producer Zach Blackwood.
Saturday, Oct 3 at 6pm | ari & Lizzie Hessek
ari walks the Chester Valley Trail and via video narrates the process of crafting their immersive story that draws from their own queer Latinx experience and childhood spent near the trailsite. Pennsylvania Environmental Council Program Manager Lizzie Hessek will be in conversation with ari and provide additional context for viewers.
ari is a spoken word poet and educator based in North Philly who began their career writing erotic fan fiction and large scale games of Dungeons and Dragons. Their work focuses on the intersectionality of queer identity, trauma, and the Latin experience as an outsider. ari is a member of the deadname collective and an alum of Babel collective. They have been featured in Bedfellows and Paperback and on the Philly poetry show, Drop The Mic. ari is currently looking to adopt a large cat whom they can name King Bastard.
Sunday, Oct 4 at 7pm | Jacob Winterstein
Jacob Winterstein speaks about the Eastwick neighborhood of Philadelphia, known as “The Meadows.” The site of his story, this area was one of Philadelphia’s only harmoniously integrated neighborhoods before its destruction through government-directed development and “urban renewal.” Moderated by Swim Pony Founder and Artistic Director Adrienne Mackey.
Jacob Winterstein is an artist, event producer and educator from Philadelphia. Through performance art, poetry and events, Jacob’s work explores how we have been separated from and how we can joyfully connect with each other and our environments. Jacob is the co-founder of The Philly Pigeon collective which organizes poetry slams, multi-media productions, workshops and artists retreats. Jacob is currently attempting a pilgrimage, bicycling down every block in Philadelphia. Follow along on Instagram @everyblockinphilly.
Friday, Sept 11 at 7pm Saturday, Sept 12 at 7pm Sunday, Sept 13 at 7pm Friday, Sept 18 at 7pm Saturday, Sept 19 at 7pm Friday, Sept 25 at 7pm Saturday, Sept 26 at 6pm Sunday, Sept 27 Friday, Oct 2 at 7pm Saturday, Oct 3 at 6pm Sunday, Oct 4 at 7pm
Free with RSVP
About the Artists
Swim Pony was founded in 2009 with a commitment to explore the potential of performance and play by creating live experiences that defy tradition and invite audiences to become curious, critical thinkers in the world. The company’s original works include SURVIVE!, a 20,000 sq ft choose-your-own-adventure installation exploring how humanity understands the universe and their place within it; The Giant Squid, a “crypto-zoology-horror-comedy” performed in science lecture halls across Philadelphia; and The Ballad of Joe Hill, the story of
a radical labor unionist presented at the Eastern State Penitentiary by FringeArts. Swim Pony has also become a leader in works merging theater and game design. In May 2017 Swim Pony launched The End – a month-long ARG and immersive theater work played using text message and facilitating audiences to explore their own mortality. The company also created War of the Worlds: Philadelphia a prototype for a citywide playable mobile app with Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio. Swim Pony has also headed up Cross Pollination, a research program in which 32 artists took part in documented interdisciplinary collaborations and Schuylkill Saved, an ecological table-top role-play for Fairmount Water Works. It’s currently developing Water Logged!, a wildlife card game for the Alliance for Watershed Education that will be playable at AWE’s 23 sites across three states and ramping up for Season 2 of TrailOff.
Since 1970, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) has been a central figure in the environmental and conservation discussion in Pennsylvania — and we will continue to play that role. Every day, PEC manages challenges facing Pennsylvania’s water, land, and air resources whether from past activities, current practices, or potential future impacts. PEC’s mission is to protect and restore the natural and built environments through innovation, collaboration, education and advocacy. PEC believes in the value of partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. PEC seeks to develop new policies, programs and projects that demonstrate unique, but replicable approaches to solving environmental problems using market-based and other non-partisan, science- driven solutions. PEC promotes the understanding of environmental issues by the public, communities, organizations, public officials and other decision-makers by making unbiased and understandable information available on problems and
solutions. PEC is a catalyst for legislative, regulatory and policy change by public and private decision-makers to advance solutions that are in the best environmental and economic interests of the Commonwealth.
Toasterlab creates place-based extended reality experiences that promote deeper engagement with history, community, and imagination. Toasterlab combines expertise in storytelling, theatrical and media production, and the development of new technology to produce both original work and partnerships. Our work ranges from live site-specific live performance to bespoke mobile applications and VR films, and often combines a variety of approaches to collapse time and space for the delivery of impactful narratives. From the largest festivals to community youth workshops, we build accessible ways to understand places in whole new ways. Toasterlab is Ian Garrett, Justine Garrett, and Andrew Sempere. Its Mixed Reality Performance Atelier is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Michael Kiley is a sound designer, composer, performer, and educator working in theatre, dance and public installation. His original works include Close Music for Bodies (FringeArts Festival 2017), an immersive, participatory voice piece based in his practice of Personal Resonance. He is also the creator of three geo-locational soundwalk applications for smartphone; The Empty Air, Animina, and Grindstone Devotional. Currently, he is working with Swim Pony Arts on TrailOff, a series of ten geo-locational pieces for ten nature trails throughout the Philadelphia region (premieres summer 2020). Past collaborators include The Wilma Theatre, Faye Driscoll, The Arden Theatre, luciana achugar, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, The Play Company, Theatre Exile, and many more. He is a four time nominee for The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, and two time winner for Outstanding Sound Design. His work has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, The Independence Foundation, The Wyncote Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The American Composers Forum, and Mural Arts.
TrailOff was created with support from The William Penn Foundation, The Philadelphia Cultural Foundation, The Barra Foundation, and The Network of Ensemble Theatres in addition to support in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Festival Star Producers: Mark & Tobey Dichter
Festival Producer: Carol Beam
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