Posts Tagged ‘Chris Davis’

Edinburgh Bound: Chris Davis on Returning to the Mother Fringe

Posted July 30th, 2018

Chris Davis knows his Fringe Festivals.

The writer-performer is a stalwart of the annual Fringe Festival in Philadelphia, with his imaginative one-man shows (One Man Apocalypse Now, 2016) and modern adaptations of classic literature (Anna K, 2014) proving among the Festivals’ most popular and talked-about productions. But the locally based artist has also travelled his comedic solo shows to festivals across the United States and beyond, from Texas to Maine, from Pittsburgh to Edinburgh. 

Davis returns to this year’s Philadelphia Festival with The Presented, a world premiere play about what it means to be a “chosen” artist in the theater world. First, though, he’s off to the Mother Fringe, the Edinburgh Fringe (August 3-27), with his bilingual semi-autobiographical travelog Drunk Lion. Chris gave FringeArts the low-down on performing at the world-famous festival.

FringeArts: When did you go to your first Edinburgh Fringe?

Chris Davis: I first attended Edinburgh Fringe in 2014. When I went there I knew almost nothing about the festival or its importance, only that it was very big. The idea came when Brad Wrenn of the Berserker Residents said something like “hey you do solo shows you should take your show and do the Free Fringe festival there this year.” Neither Brad nor I had attended the fringe before, but I decided to take his advice and go. I still miss that first year because I had no expectations about anything and there was a certain freedom in that.

FringeArts: What surprised you most about the festival?

Chris Davis: The quality of the artists that participate. It still surprises me. In every show I see here I find something to love about it, and that’s a rare quality. Also the number of people who attend these shows is phenomenal. It never seems that theater is cool except to small niche audiences in the States; in Edinburgh it feels like everyone, from all walks of life, is excited to engage in live art happening around them. I love it.

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2016 Fringe Festival Spotlight: Solo shows

Posted September 11th, 2016

Taking on Fringe Festival audiences alone may sound like a daunting challenge, but these intrepid artists are doing just that. Check out some of the remarkable solo shows the 2016 Fringe Festival has to offer.

this info

(image by M. McCool)

THIS INFO WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE @ Skinner Studio at Plays & Players Theatre
Mary McCool

You are all here because you seek something. This is very special. In here, tonight, we will seek together… Profundity abounds in this mystical performance-comedy event written and performed by New Paradise Laboratories co-founder and Pig Iron Theatre Company regular, Mary McCool. Visit www.thisinfo.info and click here for more info and tickets.


(photo by Devon DiMatteo)


Walk to Topaz @ Mascher Space Cooperative
Brendan Tetsuo

Like a pebble dropped into a pond, this work begins with a reimagining of a young person’s walk into a Japanese Internment Camp. It then ripples outward exploring how this event impacts the lives of the succeeding generations, as they try to comprehend the weight of this experience on their existence and identity. More info and tickets here.



(photo by David Brick)

Speculum Diaries @ 1fiftyone gallery + art space
Irina Varina

A young woman’s solo about longing. For love, connection, home and understanding of oneself independent of those things. Told through personal/fictional narratives and some dance, it features among other things: an antique speculum found in a basement, babushka, “Brilliant Traces,” voice of Charlie Kaufman. More info and tickets here.

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Revisiting the Cantina: Drunk Lion Returns to Philadelphia

Posted March 3rd, 2016

This Sunday Philadelphia-based writer and performer Chris Davis will remount his acclaimed solo show Drunk Lion at Tattooed Mom for a limited two night run, Sunday March 6 and Thursday March 10 [UPDATE: For those who missed it, two additional shows have been scheduled for April 12 and April 14!]. First staged back in 2012 as part of the experimental, solo performance-based SoLow Festival—which Davis serves as a coordinator for—it has since seen productions in New York, Connecticut, Louisiana, and, most recently, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 2014, where a reviewer for TV Bomb gave it five stars (er, bombs), praising it as “imaginative, free-flowing story-telling of very high quality.”

In a way the play encapsulates Davis’ experiences living in the small town of Chiapas de Corzo, Mexico through the meeting of a Spanish deficient Davis and an intoxicated, sombrero-clad king of the beasts, as they converse and drink together in a cantina. Back in 2012 we interviewed Davis about the show just before its first performance. You can find that interview here. Considering the show’s success since and Davis’ continued development as one of this city’s most exciting and unpredictable solo performers, we decided to reach out again to get his current perspective on the play and learn a bit more about its background.

FringeArts: What spurred you to revive Drunk Lion?

Chris Davis: I love to revive shows. And Sunday, March 6th, is my birthday, so it’s a present to myself. Thursday, March 10th, is not my birthday, but Tattooed Mom’s offered me two shows and it’s my favorite bar in Philadelphia besides Quig’s.

FA: This was the first play you wrote and performed in. Back in 2012 you noted how you’d been avoiding combining those pursuits, but felt it was time to flip the script, so to speak, and merge the two. Since then you’ve toured two additional successful solo shows, Violence of the Lambs and Bortle 8. What about your experience with Drunk Lion encouraged you to keep exploring self-penned solo work?

CD: Drunk Lion started as a very difficult experience. I had no idea what I was doing. It was too long and I sweated profusely during the show. It gave me anxiety. But I kept doing it and each time I learned more about the play and what I was trying to say. Somewhere along the way I became comfortable with the idea of being a ‘solo-performer.’ I like solo-work for concrete reasons: the autonomy it gives me, the flexibility of schedules, and the ability to travel. There are many abstract reasons, too many really. Ultimately, I love to entertain.

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I Went to FringeArts and All I Got Was Pegged

Posted February 18th, 2016

What are your plans for this Friday?
If you answered anything other than getting pegged, you’re wrong.

Oh wait, sorry, I meant Get Pegged Cabaret. Though, by all means, feel free to get pegged too. Just make sure you do it after FringeArts’ newest, naughtiest addition to its late night programming.

Hosted and co-curated by John Jarboe, an accomplished Philadelphia actor and founder/artistic director of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Get Pegged is poised to make the La Peg stage Philadelphia’s home for raunchy, taboo-busting, transgressive performance. And don’t expect to simply sit back and passively enjoy the ride, by the way. Jarboe cites cabaret’s prioritization of the artist/audience relationship as his biggest impetus for exploring the form’s possibilities. “Cabaret, good cabaret that really forces the whole audience to be there with each other and the performer is radical nowadays,” he recently told FringeArts. While that absence of engaging cabaret is a real shame, like a hole in the landscape of contemporary performance, expect Get Pegged to plug that hole. If you need further evidence, let’s get acquainted with the performers of the series’ inaugural bash.

A keyboardist and the in house music director/composer for the Bearded Ladies, Heath Allen has made a name for himself as one of the city’s most versatile composers and bandleaders. He remains one of area’s best kept musical secrets, with even Fresh Air host Terry Gross asserting, “Most cities have composers and musicians who are extremely talented yet are unknown outside that city. One of those composers in my city, Philadelphia, is Heath Allen.” Recently, he helped compose the music for Andy: A Popera, and collaboration between The Bearded Ladies and Opera Philadelphia.

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Tonight: Neighborhood Fringe Scratch Night Spotlight, the Fourth

Posted August 25th, 2014

Is it already the last Monday in August? What happened to summertime? Rehearsals, plannings, plottings, I guess. Anyway, today’s arrival means the arrival of the last Neighborhood Fringe preview Scratch Night, featuring:

bodylautrecOne of the Neighborhood Fringe shows I’m personally most excited about, because I love the painter: The Body Lautrec from Aaron Cromie and Mary Tuomanen. And those two are pretty good too.

Ombelico Mask Ensemble, who returns to the Fringe with Flim Flam Phantom Sham at NoLibs’s Liberty Lands Park.

Anna K, which you can find from Chris Davis this year in rowhouse on Wharton Street.

Underbite Theatre Company delves into the Westboro Baptist Church protests of military funerals with Snyder v. Phelps, an original musical.

And Katie Horton et al. runs us through the four seasons of emotions.

Free! RSVP here.
140 N. Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106
August 25 at 7 pm

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Bruce Walsh is Housing a Play

Posted August 2nd, 2013

It’s a long way to get your head out of your own ass, and that’s what writing and doing collaborative theater are for. These days, playwright and journalist Bruce Walsh, 36, makes a habit out of not taking himself too seriously.

Picture 12

Bruce Walsh at a cafe, perhaps? Photo: Neal Santos

“I think I was the reverse, I was up my ass when I was younger, and somehow I got old and I just didn’t give a shit anymore.”

From Yardley, Bucks County, PA, Walsh has been writing theater for nearly twenty years while realizing that his more esteemed contributions seem to come from a spontaneous place.

“The theater-going public seems to be much more interested in an idea I just had than some deeper thing, like Lego Robot vs. Julia Child.”

The actual play that Walsh, Chris Davis, and Douglas Williams are writing together won’t involve going to a theater. “It’s my house. I probably wrote the piece [my part] like ten feet from where it’s being done.”

Walsh’s last two plays have focused on re-contextualizing charged spectacles into domestic situations to interesting and disarming results, mostly due to the intimate setting and the hilarious manipulation of language. Their upcoming play Holly’s Dead Soldiers is in Walsh’s Northern Liberties rowhome and Williams’s Manayunk abode, where ten feet is everything. “We like the idea of playwrights cooking for the audience and presenting their scenes, because there’s some sort of relationship between cooking for people and writing for people.”

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Gatos y Cervezas, A Conversation With Playwright Chris Davis

Posted June 20th, 2012

Here's a picture of Chris in the woods.

“If you are careful you can even hear the love at the very depth of a drunk’s voice. It’s always there, and even though they’re annoying as shit you can hear it if you listen closely.”  Chris Davis, Drunk Lion

Cats and beers. How can you go wrong? Oakland-born, Philly-based playwright, director and actor Chris Davis brings them together in his Solow Fest show Drunk Lion, a tipsy, bilingual, man-to-lion dialogue on love, life, and alcohol.

Davis’s ’11 Philly Fringe hit Lion (El Leon) won “Most Original Script” at the 2011 Philadelphia Urban Theatre Festival, with festive puppets, a fantastic Spanish-speaking metropolis, and animal noses replacing human ones a la Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. Drunk Lion is his second show about big cats, but marks the first time he has taken the challenge of acting in one of his own plays. We caught up with Chris to learn more about the show and his process.

Live Arts: How did this show originally come about? Can you think of a specific moment or event that spurred you to write it?

Chris Davis: I wrote the show over a year ago in about two weeks. At the time I was writing a full-length play called Lion (El Leon) and I was struggling with parts of it, so writing this show was an escape from the show that I felt like I should be writing. The original concept was simple, it was in the file name, which was called “One day I ran into a lion with a sombrero.doc.” That was the entire prompt that I started with.  Eventually it evolved and bits and truths filled out the rest of the story.

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