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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Bechtel’

International Fringe 2018: A Welcome to Artists from Around the World

Posted September 2nd, 2018

The United States government may be pursuing an isolationist policy but the Philadelphia Fringe is doing the opposite: opening its doors not only to the most creative American performers and performances but also to the best and most creative theater artists and their productions from around the world—overcoming the ancient fear of the symbolic Tower of Babel with people not understanding each other.

To show the worldwide scope of the 22nd Philadelphia Fringe Festival, we offer this spotlight on performers from abroad and productions by American artists that present a global perspective.

Theater writer Henrik Eger, editor of Drama Around the Globe and contributor to Phindie and Broad Street Review, among other publications, has lived in six countries on three continents and has visited Africa and Australia as well. He bids everyone a hearty WELCOME to the City of Brotherly Love—this year in 18 different languages: Arabic, Celtic, Chinese, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Latin, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish.

We start this year’s overview with a special welcome to two programs featuring a wide range of global creators:

INTERNATIONAL CREATIVES

  1. le super grandBienvenue & welcome to Montreal-based choreographer Sylvain Émard and Le Super Grand ContinentalLe Grand Continental wowed audiences during its run at the 2012 Fringe Festival and has garnered enthusiastic response across the world. Fully realizing a blissful marriage between the pure delight of line dancing and the fluidity and expressiveness of contemporary dance, the celebratory event enlists hundreds of local people to perform its synchronized choreography in large-scale public performances. The world’s most infectious performance event returns to the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in an even larger spectacle of dance.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bonvenon, willkommen, bienvenido, witamy, bienvenue & welcome to Do You Want A Cookie? from The Bearded Ladies Cabaret—a world premiere with an international cast. Do You Want A Cookie? serves up a delicious romp through cabaret history, with an international cast of artists performing a live revue of cabaret from the Chat Noir to Weimar nightlife to 21st-century drag. The all-star cast comes draws from around the world, including Bridge Markland (Berlin), Malgorzata Kasprzycka (Paris/Warsaw), Dieter Rita Scholl (Berlin), and Tareke Ortiz (Mexico City).

More info and tickets here

REFUGEES and EXILES

  1. ear whispered

    As Far As My Fingertips Take Me. Photo by

    وسهلا اهلا (ahlaan wasahlan) & bienvenu. Welcome to Tania El Khoury who lives in Lebanon and the UK with her multifaceted program ear-whispered. Little is known about Palestinian refugee camps and their communities. El Khoury presents her Fringe work in five parts through interactive performances and installations at Bryn Mawr College:

    1. Gardens Speak, an interactive sound installation containing the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in Syrian gardens. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    2. Camp Pause, a video installation that tells the stories of four residents of the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    3. As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, an encounter through a gallery wall between a single audience member and a refugee. (Old City & Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.  
    4. Stories of Refuge, an immersive video installation that invites audiences to lay down on metal bunk beds and watch videos shot by Syrian asylum seekers in Munich, Germany. (Old City.) Read more.
    5. Tell Me What I Can Do, a newly commissioned work featuring letters that audiences have written in response to Gardens Speak. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bienvenido & welcome to the bilingual (Spanish & English) cast of La Fábrica performing Gustave Ott’s Passport. Lost in a foreign country, Eugenia is detained and thrown into a vicious maelstrom of miscommunication. This poetic and immersive Kafkaesque thriller delves into the question of immigration—exposing the mechanics of language and power. Some performances will be presented in English, some in Spanish, and some will be decided at the toss of a coin.

More info and tickets here

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The West Comes To Town: Interview with creator Alex Bechtel

Posted March 13th, 2014

Alex BechtelFor the past several years, Alex Bechtel has been busy in Philadelphia wearing many theatrical hats: music director, actor, singer, composer, and co-creator and was in the inaugural class of the two-year program at the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training. At the end of March he is premiering The West, his first full-scale production as the lead creator and producer, and with a cast of THIRTEEN no less.

The West is ensemble-devised musical theater, described as “an absurdist western music hall drama about the gun that killed Billy The Kid, the gun that didn’t, and truth and fiction in history, human relationships, and our day-to-day lives.” After having worked for so many other companies—1812 Productions, Walnut Street Theatre, 11th Hour Theatre Company, New Paradise Laboratories, Theatre Horizon, Applied Mechanics, People’s Light, Groundswell—The West is Alex’s moment of stepping out on his own. We caught up with Alex to learn more.

Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training

FringeArts: Why is the play called The West?

Alex Bechtel: When we made the initial short-form version of the piece, I wrote a song that was sung at the end called The West. So, when I decided to expand and remount the show, that song started to feel like what the play was about. Also, the play is called The West because half of the play follows the last days of Billy the Kid. And the notion of “the West” becomes a stand-in for what a lot of the characters in the play are dealing with: the possibility of something greater lying just outside of yourself, the feeling of manifest destiny, the urge to grab your fantasies by the reins and transform them into your reality.

FringeArts: Why did you think that now was the time to create your own project?

Alex Bechtel: I’ve always been primarily interested in creating new work. Many of the jobs I’ve had—either as MD, designer, or as actor—have been in premieres that are being devised and/or created during that production. And for a long time I’ve been striving to figure out just what kind of work I wanted to make. That’s one of the things that going through the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training [APT] taught me: what kind of work I wanted to do. APT is an intense immersion into the art of collaboration and I came out of those two years with a much deeper understanding of the work I wanted to make. When we made the initial, short-form version of The West as my final project at APT, I knew that this was a piece that I wanted to take further, so I felt like there was no time like the present.

Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance TrainingFringeArts: How did The West evolve? How did you come about to its starting point?

Alex Bechtel: The piece began as my final project at APT. For the final projects, each person was given a phrase to prompt the creation of a short work of theater. My phrase was “The reason escapes me.” So, I picked a few people and we began playing around, improvising, picking that phrase apart to get at the heart of it. One of the things we did was talk about inexplicable interests. For example: “I’ve always been drawn to salsa music, but I have no idea why.” One of my inexplicable interests was Billy the Kid. I’ve been fascinated with Billy the Kid for a while; I’ve read a few biographies, I’ve seen a few movies. It’s never progressed to a full-on obsession, but it’s always been there and I’ve never really known why. The group and I talked about that, and then when we got up to do some improvs, Scott Sheppard and Nick Gillette improvised a scene in which they were auctioning off two guns—one, the gun that killed Billy the Kid, and the other, an identical gun made in the same factory, on the same day, that did not kill Billy the Kid. That is the scene that starts The West. It’s been expanded, worked on, but essentially it’s the same scene. When I saw them do it in that first improvisation, I thought to myself, “Yeah, that’s the start of a play I’d want to see.” It was a very strong impulse, and I decided to honor it. We’ve thought about moving the scene, changing its place in the arc of the show, but we’ve always come around to where it is now—the beginning. It feels like one.

Poster for an early Billy the Kid film. Most people who saw the theatrical release are now dead.

Poster for an early Billy the Kid film. Most people who saw the theatrical release are now dead.

FringeArts: Is this your first major producing job of your own work? Were you a little frightened of having to juggle such a large cast?

Alex Bechtel: This is, indeed my first major producing job of my own work. And it is, indeed, major. And yeah, I will say that most of the challenges that I’ve faced over the last few months have been in wrangling such a large group of people without the budget to pay them enough to commit to a rehearsal schedule full-time. I really can’t complain—I got thirteen of the brightest, most talented emerging theater artists in Philly to create this piece with me over the course of two months, for almost no money. But because they are those kinds of people, there are other creative projects they’re also engaged in, there are restaurant jobs, there are performances, auditions—it’s been difficult getting people in the room. I understand, though—having been on the other side of that exchange. And I’m grateful that they’ve given me the time and artistry they have in this process. We’re making something great because of that.

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Philly Fringe Vital Stats: Alex Bechtel

Posted August 27th, 2012

Part of the “Must Die” team, possibly annoyed. Not pictured: Alex Bechtel.

Actor Alex Bechtel is training with those Pig Iron kids, has acted with troupes and in venues ranging from Applied Mechanics to The Walnut Street Theatre, and will seize the day at the 2012 Philly Fringe with Jeff Coon and Ben Dibble Must Die, the story of two men hungry for fame and fortune in the footlights of Philadelphia. Is his group, Los Jarochos, named after this place? He didn’t tell us. But hey, we didn’t ask, so that’ll remain one of life’s little mysteries, I suppose. After the jump: THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!

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