Posts Tagged ‘Alice Yorke’

All or Sans Everything?

Posted February 1st, 2017

Lightning Rod Special is no stranger to innovation—their most recent work Underground Railroad Game just wrapped a wildly successful stint in New York after two sold-out runs here in Philadelphia.  Founding company members Alice Yorke and Scott Sheppard were kind enough to sit down to chat about the genesis of their new world premiere,  Sans Everything – a collaboration with Strange Attractorrunning at FringeArts February 9-11.

FringeArts: What was the initial inspiration and where did that take place for Sans Everything? And what was the moment that you realized this could be made into a full-length show?

ALICE: A few years ago Aram Aghazarian (of Strange Attractor Theatre Co.) visited Pig Iron’s Dan Rothenberg while Dan was in New York City working on a production of As You Like It in New York. The studio was in a crazy high-rise building and the rehearsal room was tense–everyone was angry at each other but still working, still doing As You Like It. Aram talks about looking out the window at the vast sky and while listening to AYLI. The absurd thought struck him, “As You Like It in space.” Not setting AYLI in space, but doing it in space–more to the point, a big, outside force compelling a group of people to do it. That maybe there was some voice forcing you to do something frivolous as if it was serious. Though it would be easy to make this prompt a high-camp romp, the show has taken on real themes of life and death, due in no small part to the fact that we took a year-long hiatus from the piece when Rebecca Noon (of SATC) was diagnosed with cancer. When we returned to the piece last year, we wanted to make a show that didn’t acknowledge that directly but that explored questions Rebecca had been asking herself– why do we artists DO this? Why do we make new work and, even more so, why do we return to centuries old work when we have boundless creativity available to us? For us in Lightning Rod Special, those questions were just the kind of juicy, investigative line of thinking we love sinking our teeth into.

SCOTT: On a legendary day in Alaska, when Strange Attractor Theatre Co. was dreaming up ideas for future shows, Aram Aghazarian, resident provocateur, proffered a mystifying dare: “What about, As You Like It…in space?” As absurd as this idea sounded, over the past few years Strange Attractor Theatre Co. and Lightning Rod Special stirred this mad dramaturgical cocktail until an alluring logic began to form. As the groups obsessed over 1970’s sci-fi films, the singularity, and the themes of As You Like It, we began to dream up a world. As it does for so many readers, Shakespeare’s “All the World’s a Stage” soliloquy compelled us, and we began to imagine it as a sometimes brilliant, sometimes faulty guidebook for non-human life to understand humanity. This made us wonder, what if in the future, disembodied artificial intelligence decided to return to the relative simplicity of the human form. What would surprise “them” about experiencing life at such a slow place from a fixed and carnal point of view? What if they unabashedly fell in love with the nostalgia of humanity? What if they fell in love with theatre? With Shakespeare? When we peer into the future, we are always, inevitably, examining something from our past.

FringeArts: Tell us about the world of Sans Everything. What do you  find compelling about this world?

SCOTT: The world of Sans Everything is alien, stark, and working desperately to be human. The timbre is that of a thriller, but it wavers with tense fragility between the comedic and the uncanny. We witness all the things that make us human: rage, fear, passion, love, and art, but they are enacted by beings who do not fully understand human life. The characters’ struggle is both deeply empathic and terrifyingly unfamiliar.

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Jumpstart Rejects Live At Mascher

Posted May 6th, 2013

What’s better than black market performing arts?

Ben Grinberg and Mascher Space Co-op have put together their own performing arts showcase of performers and creators who were not chosen for the official Jumpstart here at FringeArts (Monday May 13 and Tuesday May 14 at 7pm at the Painted Bride).  What a fantastic idea! As FringeArts LAB director Craig Peterson, who heads the Jumpstart program, observed, “This is a great idea–having sat on the panel, I can tell you there was a lot of great work that was auditioned that didn’t make it into the showcase. Only in philly could “rejection” be reframed as a programming opportunity. Thanks for giving this work a home!”

Turning "reject" into a positive. Christina Gesualdi to perform at Jumpstart Rejects.

Turning “reject” into a positive. Christina Gesualdi to perform at Jumpstart Rejects.

They have aptly named their showcase Jumpstart Rejects and the current line-up includes Christina Gesualdi, Dan Stern and the If Man is 5 ensemble, Katie Gould, Alice Yorke, Sarah Mittledorf and Kaleid Theatre, Darcy Lyons, and Ben Grinberg and Nick Gillette. The event is free, and happens this Sunday May 12 at 7pm (a day before the FringeArts Jumpstart—enabling you to compare and contrast). Jumpstart Rejects will be at Mascher (155 Cecil B. Moore Avenue). There is a chance that some slots will open up—interested performers (and Jumpstart rejects) can email Ben Grinberg at bgringerg [at] gmail [dot] com

We caught up with Ben to get the skinny.

FringeArts: What is your role in this? And Mascher’s?

Ben: I’m co-producing this show with Mascher, specifically with a whole lot of help from Annie Wilson and Christina Gesauldi, who are both Mascher members. Mascher is generously providing space, marketing, and hopefully even hotdogs. I’m also going to be performing with Nick Gillette.

FringeArts: How did the idea come about?

Ben: I started having conversations about wanting to do something like “Jumpstart Rejects” with other members of the theater and dance community as soon as I applied for a Jumpstart audition. Jumpstart is incredibly competitive—not only do they audition 50 artists and chose 6, but there’s a waiting list at least 20 deep for those audition slots. Personally, I ended up losing out on the lottery and was 17th on the waiting list, though I was able to audition a different piece with my collaborator Nick Gillette. That means that there’s a lot of work worth seeing that can’t be presented as a part of Jumpstart. It would be such a shame for those short pieces to die without ever seeing an audience. So I got the idea to program a low-key night of art for art’s sake out of pieces that for whatever reason couldn’t make it into Jumpstart. When I spoke to Annie Wilson, she was thinking along the same lines—and deserves all the credit for the name “Jumpstart Rejects”—and it became an easy co-production with Mascher.

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