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Weekender: Random Things To Do This Weekend May 16-18

Posted May 16th, 2013

Here’s 6 suggestions about what to see this weekend. There are more than 6 worthy possibilities, but we were too lazy to find them.

The Gambling Room Color Blue Note Wanna-BeThe Gambling Room opens this weekend at the Papermill Theater, 2825 Ormes Street (in Kensington). Starring Dan Tobin, Calvin Atkinson, and Sebastian Cummings. Written and directed by John Rosenberg. May 18th through June 9th, all shows are Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $10. Read the Metro Article and the FringeArts Blog interview. Reeling from the death of their father, two young Americans attempt a coup d’état from a rooftop in Saigon.  John and Jack, rising stars in the US diplomatic corps carry out their father’s final command: meet the embattled President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and furnish him with a list of American journalists to be silenced.

This is the last weekend to catch  Philly Improv Theater’s (PHIT)  The Bat, an improv show that takes place entirely in the dark. We are happy to report that this show first appeared at the 2011 Philly Fringe, great to see that it continues! At the Shubin (407 Bainbridge Street), May 16-18 at 7pm, with a midnight show on Saturday as well. Tickets at www.phillyimprovtheater.com.

Lauren Rile Smith and Sarah Nicolazzo rehearsing Invert! at The Sanctuary. Photo by Michael Ermilio.

Photo: Michael Ermilio.

Tangle Movement Arts has been creating a distinctive brand of circus-dance-theater for the past few years now, and May 16–18 at 8.30pm, they take over The Sanctuary at the Rotunda (4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia) with their new show Invert! (TICKETS!Invert combines vertical flirtation, glittery sequins, feminist history, and a cordless power drill. Tangle’s seven-woman cast travels through simmering duets, a torch-song trapeze solo, a celebration of campy drag traditions, and a tribute to Rosie the Riveter complete with on-stage power tools.

Dance Theatre of Harlem has returned! After an eight-year break, the company is back on its feet and they will be performing at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts May 16-19 (with 2 shows on Saturday), 3680 Walnut Street. This is their first tour since coming back. Here’s an article all about the company’s return. Program includes work by Donald Byrd, Balanchine, Robert Garland, and Helen Pickett.

And let’s not forget the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Trenton Avenue Arts Festival. Both start around noon on Saturday, with the heart of the action at Trenton Ave and E. Susquehanna (in Philly, not Trenton as in that place in Jersey), just off Frankford Ave in East Kensington. It’s a great fair and the derby is fantastic because you get to see things like this:

NBW

Where Power Gets Meted Out: The Gambling Room

Posted April 25th, 2013

“It is awesome there are people who do plays about Nixon and Kissinger in a hot tub, but I write the play about guys waiting for Nixon and Kissinger.”

Poster image for The Gambling Room.

Poster image for The Gambling Room.

The Gambling Room opens May 18 at the Papermill Theater in Kensington. The play is the newest work written and directed by John Rosenberg of Hella Fresh Theater, and is set in Vietnam in 1963. We caught up with John to find out about The Gambling Room and its creation.

FringeArts: Why is the show title The Gambling Room?

John Rosenberg: The Gambling Room is the recreation room of the .  It is a real place, my favorite place in the whole world.

FringeArts: What’s the premise of the play?

John Rosenberg: Set in the fall of 1963, the tumultuous days leading to the falls of presidents, the play witnesses the end of a diplomat’s family and the birth of a new era in Vietnam. Two young Americans attempt a coup d’état from a rooftop in Saigon.  John and Jack, rising stars in the US diplomatic corps, carry out their father’s final command: meet the embattled President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and furnish him with a list of American journalists to be silenced.

FringeArts: How did the idea for this show come about?

John Rosenberg: Me and my ladyfriend went to Vietnam for a month in 2009. We were visiting her sister who lived in Ho Chi Minh City—the former Saigon, capitol of South Vietnam. We visited the Presidential Palace and I saw the gambling room, which is on the second floor of the palace. I was just captured by the space. I visited it a number of times and took photos and wrote a very short play while we were there.  The short play was a part of Cheap Guy HOF which I performed in the 2010 Philly Fringe. However, it was a story and a space I wanted to revisit, and this winter I thought it was time to do a full length version, so here we are.

FringeArts: What interested you about the time period and the history that surrounds this play?

John Rosenberg on a bench. Photo: Said Johnson.

John Rosenberg on a bench. Photo: Said Johnson.

John Rosenberg: I was super pro-war when I was a kid and was pissed at my dad that he didn’t serve in Vietnam. I used to put Marine Corps bumper stickers on his car. Amazing I didn’t accidentally drown when I was a kid. So there was an interest that grew out my childhood, albeit for different reasons.

Visiting the Palace in Vietnam, it is this ode to and bluff of power. It is now an empty building, a trophy for the Vietnamese of their victory over hundreds of years of colonialism. I saw the room as this comfortable place from where violence is meted out. I had never really seen anything about the days before America really thunderfucked Vietnam and thought it might be interesting to capture the palace then. Doing research, October 1963, it is regarded as something straight out of Shakespearean tragedy—factions vying for power, coups, backstabbings, betrayals. I thought it would be an interesting place to set a story.

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