Posts Tagged ‘SoLow Fest’

For A Good Time Call SoLow Fest

Posted June 15th, 2016

mike durkin 2Have you ever feared being the only one who shows up? To a party, a performance, a meeting? Mike Durkin wants you to be the only audience member. His latest work, For A Good Time Call, which debuts at SoLow Fest, has no time or location. June 16–24, you can call Mike at any time, you are given a task, and you meet up. “This is not a passive audience experience, this is an immersive, active and engaging experience from the moment you call in, through the physical meeting up, and the moment afterwards,” Durkin explains.

The weekend the Pope visited Philadelphia Mike Durkin was on a date with a person who proposed that Mike do a performance piece where people call him up and he answers questions, even offering that it should be called For A Good Time Call. “I responded, ‘That’s a stupid idea,’” Durkin remarks. “Needless to say the date didn’t go so well.” Months later, the idea still alive in his brain, Durkin did a workshop version of For A Good Time Call in the winter where he explored various neighborhoods in the city and sculpted “performances” in them. “I was interested in observing every inch of the neighborhood: its architecture, the people the live/work/play there, the conversations, the history, the development, the past-present-future of these locations,” says Durkin. And the title, For A Good Time Call, a play on the iconic bathroom stall graffiti soliciting sexual acts, grew on Durkin. He thought about creating intimate experiences about having a good time and exploring the city.mike durkin

Durkin walks the line between art and the mundane by questioning what performance is when you have an audience of one. “Does eating some water ice in Bella Vista while coloring in a coloring book and chatting about gentrification count as performance?” he muses. What constitutes a sign of life more than interaction with another person? Durkin gives his audience members the chance to learn about another person, themselves and their communities through these guided interactions while maintaining the intimacy of a one-on-one conversation.

Mike’s phone number is 267-343-2009.


For A Good Time Call at SoLow Fest
Mike Durkin
June 16–24

2016 Shows

—Emily Dombrovskaya

Layers of Onion Dances at SoLow Fest

Posted June 10th, 2016

“After slicing bags of onions, I still hadn’t cried. For most this would be a good thing, but for me, it was disappointment.”—Talia Mason

In preparation for her SoLow Fest performance, Onion Dances, Talia Mason chopped onions, attempting to cry while talking about family memories and associations with onions. “I was interested in it because of how onions make people cry and allow for vulnerability,” Mason explains.talia mason poster

Mason’s piece draws inspiration from a Headlong Performance Institute (HPI) exercise, a constellation, in which students create a work based on collections of objects that interest them. The unpeeled whole onion which Mason chose for her constellation became the starting point for a semester of intense performance making the result of which debuts at Headlong Dance Studios June 17th, 18th and 26th. Similar to the structure of an onion, the use of onions has multiple layers in Mason’s work. “They are central in my research but they also live on the periphery as part of the landscape of the piece,” she describes.

In the spirit of the SoLow Fest theme Signs of Life, Talia says, “Onion Dances is about my family stories and our family’s collective memory of history.” The piece is as much about childhood as it is about adolescence, adulthood, and the universal experience of learning and coming to terms with understanding death. In Onion Dances Mason incorporates play, dance, song, and storytelling.

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Mood Music and Mind Control at SoLow Fest

Posted June 8th, 2016

musictolaugh1Music accompanies modern life, whether it’s a new band your friends like, the on-hold music of doctor’s office or half your office going to see Beyoncé last Sunday. But what happens when music takes control?

“In the digital age, we are inundated with the subliminal effects of music and media. Being affected by these stimuli is a part of our modern life that we take for granted,” says physical theater artist Lesley Berkowitz, co-creator of Music to Laugh To, a clown show set to premiere at The Whole Shebang June 16th as part of SoLow Fest.

Hank Curry was reading the dramaturgy notes for a Fringe show last year, and he read that Muzak was designed to stimulate productivity in the work place. The notion that music was “scientifically” designed to have manipulative effects fascinated him, inspiring him to approach Lesley with the idea of a clown show. Hank and Lesley researched early Muzak and watched silent film era clowns, exploring people’s desire to control others through music. The music for Music to Laugh To was composed with the intention of imitating the Muzak style. (The composer, Andy Thierauf, is also performing a solo concert called The Post-Modern Percussionist in SoLow Fest.) As for the show’s title, Berkowitz and Curry were searching for something that could evoke the essence of mood music albums of the 1950s. “This one made us laugh,” they explain.

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Rejected Thoughts Emerge at SoLow Fest

Posted May 31st, 2016

“It’s almost like kindergarten in a way because we give ourselves full permission to just be in awe or repulsed by what we’re sharing.”

"Rejected_Thoughts," Mira Treatman and Irina Varina

SoLow Fest begins soon and June 22–25, Mira Treatman and Irina Varina present Rejected Thoughts, a result of the performers’ exploration of what makes them vulnerable, joyous or angry. Through dance and dialogue they present the ideas they have labelled “rejected thoughts.” “It’s almost like kindergarten in a way because we give ourselves full permission to just be in awe or repulsed by what we’re sharing,” Mira told FringeArts. Mira and Irina, met at Headlong Performance Institute while studying hybrid performance making. They were paired to work on a provocation piece based on “found materials,” which they later performed at a FringeArts Scratch Night.

"Socks Brick," David Brick

“Sock Piece.” Photo: David Brick

Their shared interest in detail-oriented work, getting to the bottom of things, and the resulting laughter has led to their continued collaboration beyond Headlong. Irina has a background in film, and Mira in dance-theater. They began Rejected Thoughts with a Headlong tradition—a constellation—a collection of objects they were curious about. “We would then share, talk, embody, investigate things from our constellations, and give each other provocations. For example, after watching videos that Mira brought of different vloggers talking about very personal things on YouTube, I asked her if she wanted to make a vlog herself,” Irina explains. Although Mira’s vlog didn’t go beyond a rehearsal room, this research became important along with the idea of convenient intimacy, DNA tests, a speculum, and old family photos from Siberia.

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Six choreographers’ take on Antonia Z. Brown’s dance

Posted June 4th, 2015

“Changing motivations and goals quickly will be a big challenge for me in performing one section and then the next. I also think those shifts will be some of the most interesting parts.”

Choreographer and dancer, Antonia Z. Brown presents her dance One Dancer, Six Choreographers in SoLow Fest on June 20 and 21 at 7:30pm at Mascher Space Cooperative. Brown’s solo dance is rooted in a creative game of telephone. She began  by choreographing a five minute solo for herself. After, she passed her dance off to a new choreographer and then the choreographer passed what they had done onto another choreographer to remake the solo and on and on. Altogether, Brown transferred the dance to five choreographers, Nora Gibson, David Brick, Christina Gesualdi, Gina Hoch-Stall, and Jumatatu Poe, and each had two hours to alter the most recent version of the solo. In SoLow Fest, Brown will be performing the six iterations in order. We caught up with Antonia Z. Brown for a few questions.

SoLowFringeArtsWhat is it like to work with the different choreographers?

Antonia Z. Brown: In this project, I get to work with a lot of interesting local choreographers whom I admire. I know them from different contexts, some have been my teachers and mentors, some I connected with after falling in love with their work, and one of the choreographers is a fellow coordinator at my artist-run studio Mascher Space Cooperative. Going through the process of working with each, one after another, I get to inhabit very different performative qualities, aesthetics, and interests. Changing motivations and goals quickly will be a big challenge for me in performing one section and then the next. I also think those shifts will be some of the most interesting parts, the transitions from the world of one piece to the world of the next.

FringeArts: How has your original choreography changed? Can you expand on the concept of “remixing?”

Antonia Z. Brown: I think this structure of remixing is an interesting way to play with authorship. Each choreographer takes on complete authorship in their own section—even their ways of running a rehearsal are notably different—but at the same time the material they are working with is recycled. There is something unprecious about it, no one can say the work is completely their own, and at the same time each new author takes on full responsibility for their bit and makes their mark with inextricable clarity. The concept of the remix is my own, but once I set the wheels in motion I give up my say over where the piece goes next.

FringeArts: What made you want to show this work in SoLow Fest?

Antonia Z. Brown: SoLow Fest was one of the main sparks of inspiration for this piece. Remix Festival, put on jointly through Mascher Space and fidget in 2014 by Annie Wilson, was another. I wouldn’t think of performing a solo show on my own. This is actually quite an unusual piece for me. There is something satisfyingly clever about SoLow Fest though, as a super low budget festival and place for experimentation. If I house my art in my own body then I can simply perform it myself, it can be completely self-reliant. Getting these five other choreographers involved, I can perform on my own, but at the same time not be alone in it.

Thank you, Antonia! Can’t wait!

One Dancer, Six Choreographers
Saturday June 20th, 2015 at 7:30pm
Sunday June 21st, 2015 at 7:30pm
Mascher Space Cooperative
155 Cecil B Moore (Kensington)
Pay what you wish, suggested $5-10

SoLow Fest www.solowfest.com

—Courtney Lau

Julius Ferraro And His MICROMANIA

Posted May 6th, 2014

mehipsterJulius Ferraro is a little nervous about performing in his first show since graduating from college—six year’s ago. But he is going all in because he is the only performer in the show MICROMANIA, which he also wrote. Directed by Robert Gross, the play “picks into the dark, grisly world of the wierdos at the office.” You can catch the show at this weekend’s Collage Festival at the Meeting House Theatre at the Communicty Education Center (CEC) at 35th and Lancaster in Powelton Village section of West Philly. We caught up with Julius, who also covers the performing arts as a regular contributor and editor at Phindie, to tell us about the new show and jumping back onto the stage.

FringeArts: What’s the show about and how did you come up with it? Was there an initial inspiration?

Julius Ferraro: In the piece, the setting isn’t really mentioned much—only once or twice—but I think it’s where the whole concept sprung from. It’s about three men, Derek, Christian, and Frank, who are at a “TeamWorkShop” at their office. Which is just about the most horrible setting I can imagine. They’re given a completely mundane challenge—to work together to come up with a plan to fix an imaginary cockroach infestation—but then they all start having these over-the-top emotional reactions. I wrote it originally as a story, then, with some encouragement, cut it back and made it into a play.

I’ve worked in a lot of offices, and in some high-stress sales environments. I’ve learned the language of how to talk to people and how to inspire people to work harder. It’s really a language that’s taking over the world, and as helpful as it may be in certain situations, it’s about as mundane a lingo as you can imagine. It’s full of hypocrisy and purposeful ignorance and self-help jargon. It’s codified, like legal language, and it has very strict rules and guidelines. There are certain words you never say. There are certain words you try to say as often as possible. It builds a certain kind of culture, an outward appearance of prosperity and respectability.

Like I say, it can be very helpful, but I find it repulsive, and I know precisely why it offends me. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the cockroach, and there’s no really good reason why it’s so repulsive. They’re not even dangerous, and yet we have these wild emotional reactions when we see them. We’re at the top of the food chain, but when we see a mouse or a roach, some of us freeze, unable even to act.

FringeArts: What made you want to do a solo show? What was your process in developing it?

Julius Ferraro: I didn’t really want to do a solo show. The fact is, I kind of hate the idea of having too much to do with one piece. The reason it’s a solo show, though, is that I really wanted to make it into a reality. And the best way to do that, as an unknown artist, is to go low-tech, no-budget. The SoLow Fest, which I first learned about two years ago, has really been an inspiration to me. The work that Meghann Williams, Amanda Grove and Thomas Choinacky do with that festival, and the people who get involved, is incredible. That, more than anything, has refined the way that I see art over the last few years. Art and artists can be intimidating until you see an incredible low-fi show and realize that it was sort of thrown together at the last minute.

So I wanted to make it happen, but I had no money. I would have loved to have four actors, or even just three, but I’m pretty against the idea of asking someone to act for free, people would have had to offer themselves up. I started hunting around for a director that would take on the project for an exchange-of-services kind of thing, I would maybe write for their company or perform in something of theirs. Then Robert [Gross] told me he’d be willing to do it.

Robert was a director and professor of mine in college, and last year he retired, sold off all his worldly belongings including his home, and has been traveling the world like a gypsy. A real romantic figure. This project would not have happened without him. I’ve always considered him to be a genius, and his presence on the project has made me comfortable with taking some risks.

Since he came on the project a few months ago and we started having rehearsals, we’ve cut the playwright out of the process. I no longer view the play as something I wrote. We’re tackling it like any traditional company would tackle a play they’re performing, not editing lines, and reconsidering every moment not from the perspective of playwright’s intention but from our own needs. He’s the one who’s really made this into a performance.

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