Posts Tagged ‘sebastian cummings’

Sebastian has a new show

Posted May 14th, 2015

Sebastian (aka Sebastian Cummings aka Sean Cummings) is debuting his new show Showbiz, May 21–23 at the Adobe Cafe (1919 East Passyunk Avenue), which he describes as “part theater, part concert special, part social commentary extravaganza.” In response to his experiences as a performer, and to the performing arts and the entertainment and news industry in general, Sebastian takes his wicked sense of humor towards the role the media plays in how we interpret the world and “the people that roam it.” In additional to Sebastian, the cast includes actors Anna Michael, Kelly McCaughan, and Icon and dancers Lainey Johnson and Patience Owen.

Sebastian on Broad.

We caught up with Sebastian to ask him a few questions about the show, but to get a good flavor of what to expect, enjoy the hilarious video he made for his successful fundaraising campaign. As Sebastian points out in the interview below, he made sure that he had fun throughout the whole process of making this show.

Fringe Arts: What are the origins of Showbiz?

Sebastian: Showbiz is a “line,” as in geometry; it has infinite points, continuing forever. This “line” started with my experiences post college, navigating both the theater world and the queer world and ranging from things as obvious as the lack of roles available to anyone who has my skin color to the one dimensional nature of performance in the gay scene. All these observations gathered over the years and, for the most part, remained unchanging. Occasionally, the line that is Showbiz would intersect with another line; the media, expanding my thoughts. One needs only a day of listening in to the “media hotline” to notice patterns of how certain bodies are discussed, it’s like the media’s only purpose is to perpetuate stereotypes. Whether it’s the plethora of rappers talking about drugs and money, how a number of feminists doing all they can to alienate and reduce black women, or the “thug” campaign the media uses to describe pretty much any black man. First, I find it wildly uninspiring, second, I can’t fathom why we would even try to reduce anyone to one idea, we’re complex beings, and third, how is this dialogue shaping the way people think? So, I came up with an idea to call the system out.

Fringe Arts: How have you gone about putting the show together?

Sebastian: The text started with a parody of the news, I was writing one day to humor myself and I wrote what would eventually be my Kickstarter video. I thought it was hilarious and insightful. The rest of the script had already been written, in the sense that it happened in real life. As far as the world of the show, I watch interviews. I watch a lot of interviews. Interviews with actors, writers, anyone who has something real to say about overcoming struggles in life and in furthering their career and what happens in my mind is when I project into the future, thinking about things I want, I think of myself in the future explaining how I got there in an interview. And Showbiz is that story. When it comes to music, I just start making, I don’t have a goal to make something that sounds like “this” or what have you. I just create and when something feels right, it feels right. Over the past four years, I’ve made  around 150 songs and I used my favorite ones. “Queer Night Out,” for example, was a joke. I made the music and thought how it resembled some uninspiring pop song and I turned on the mic and just started singing, being silly, trying to entertain myself and the finished product is what came of that. It’s a nice departure from a lot of the songs I had made before it, which are heavier.

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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:


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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Automatic Fault Isolation Happens: A Hella Fresh Chat with John Rosenberg

Posted May 29th, 2012

Sebastian Cummings serenades Anna Flynn-Meketon.

A little over two years ago John Rosenberg, then a San Francisco bookkeeper and self-producing playwright, quit the west coast and his full-time job to try his luck in Philly. In 2011 his Hella Fresh Theater made a name for itself with four critically acclaimed original shows, exploring themes as diverse as faking HIV for dramatic purposes, American involvement in Vietnam and Cambodia, and good old down-home jealousy and deceit. This Saturday, Hella Fresh’s 2012 season opens with another original play, written and directed by Rosenberg, Automatic Fault Isolation. As describe in its advert: In a city (Huntsville, AL) rocketing towards the mysteries of racial integration and outer space, a teenager, her NASA crush, and Negro love collide. We caught up to John to find out more about the show.

Live Arts: Why is the title Automated Fault Isolation?

John Rosenberg: A gentleman I know, Barry Milberg, worked as an engineer on the NASA Apollo space program in Huntsville in the late 1960s. In passing he mentioned he was listening to the audio feed when Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee burned to death during a test of Apollo One at Cape Canaveral, Florida. At the time he was working on a control engineering project called Automatic Fault Isolation. The thought of an engineer working on a control problem listening to astronauts burning to death hundreds of miles away was the starting point.

LA: Tell us a little about the story.

John Rosenberg. We like the socks.

JR: In a motel room in 1965 Huntsville, Alabama, precocious 17-year-old named Bretaigne flirts with her middle-aged math tutor, an unstable aerospace engineer and World War 2 veteran from the North. But unknown to the engineer, Bretaigne’s plan is to use his room for an arranged meeting with the boy of her dreams: Sebastian, a Negro rock and roller who arrives thinking they will be alone.

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