FringeArts Blog

Destruction, Renewal, and Creation: A Conversation with Tania Isaac

Posted April 24th, 2017

Once called a “one-woman powerhouse of dance fusion”, Tania Isaac is bringing her fresh solo movement drama crazy beautiful to Fringe for the first time. We were lucky enough to sit down with her and have a quick conversation about her work and her process.

FringeArts: What made you think up the title crazy beautiful? Do you remember where you were?

Tania Isaac: I don’t remember where I was, but I had noticed one of those emoticon charts where you move the magnetic frame to the mood you’re in. I was trying to imagine creating a grid of moods using objects, then began to wonder why we spent so much time trying to be in the “right” mood all the time. I’m always plunging down a rabbit hole of questions about why everything exists as it does. I call it my eternal toddler. I started to be more curious about how anger and frustration and confusion and sadness became things we avoided and tried to fix rather than experience fully. Some time later I was in my kitchen watching my four-year-old old have a compete meltdown and was so envious for a moment that she got to feel all fully into it with every fiber of her being—and remembered that she laughed the same way.  Everything she was feeling she was fully experiencing viscerally. So while I’m not advocating adult tantrums, I wondered what happened to all of that sensation and power as we got older. And if it didn’t go away, what did we do with it when we learned to behave? Who decided what was appropriate and when and how it was best to express it? THEN I started thinking about volcanoes—which I’ve loved since I was twelve—and the pressure and nature of eruptions. I started to imagine all of these natural cycles of pressure and release that have created incredible phenomenon and the fact that natural forces woke in cycles of destruction, renewal and creation. Balance—of a kind? Could we do it? So I started to imagine what it might be like.

 

FringeArts: Can you describe the open notebook process you’re created?

Tania Isaac: The open notebook has been my way of sharing the questions I try to answer (that eternal toddler). The questions are usually about how we choose to respond to something within our society. I am curious about how others see the world and wanted to create a space we could step into that would allow us to be immersed in what we were thinking about and reading and how that might become translated into movement, action, imagination, and performance. I tried to create a space that could explain to my family what I did, how I did it, and why I insisted it was important. And it was about the space for exchange, expression, and conversation. I wanted to give the people interested in my work or simply curious and questioning about the world, a chance to play with this platform. I wanted an immersive world where ideas could float in space and on a paper and be available to everyone—where we could respond and could be archived. So the notebook is a room divided and created by hanging paper walls, with notes and ideas collected in rooms. It shows videos and photos and asks questions and invites you to write and record and respond. It’s a small maze and a place to indulge and sink into your thoughts.

 

FringeArts: How has crazy beautiful evolved from within this process, and how do you use the idea of a room/installation?

Tania Isaac: crazy beautiful began as a question. In each notebook, I collected responses to the ideas of what emotions we show and when and how and where. I’ve collected images and gestures that have been turned into movement. I’ve added rooms and objects that have helped to create the environment for the story. I’ve recorded voices of multiple people reading the texts. The installation tries to toy with the idea of expanding one particulate moment in time and showing it from multiple perspectives and emotional states.

 

FringeArts: For movement, you mention a mix from dancehall reggae to austere gesture. What has brought about this mix of movements?

Tania Isaac: I am from the Caribbean. From St. Lucia. I grew up with folk dance and soca and reggae as well as modern dance. In high school socializing was all about dance parties. Two per weekend if I could convince my parents. As I began studying dance more formally in college, I loved the idea of post-modern dance as giving you permission to use everything within your experience and at your disposal in order to feed your idea—that’s how I define it anyway. I kept trying to find things that drove my curiosity about my body, about the way it could and did move and I could weave my rhythmic dancehall soca self with my love of deconstruction and visual composition. So I give myself permission to use everything. I don’t eliminate by genre. I go with idea, intention, sensation and action.

 

FringeArts: How do you play with text?

Tania Isaac: I write for everything I do. I write poems and prose. For this piece, as I dove into the idea of how we handle each other’s emotional states, I was drawn to classic allegorical heroic figures. I’m curious about our love for the struggling hero that is not usually matched by our capacity for empathy when that struggle is present in our lives and right next to us. I am taking the text from Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The little Prince, The Old Man and the Sea and weaving it in with my own writing. The goal is to tell a story that is as fractured as how I imagine the experience of dislocation and isolation would translate. The text comes in and out of the piece. It is backdrop, narration, set, and music.

Come see crazy beautiful April 27th-29th!

Everyday but Amplified: an interview with Faye Driscoll

Posted April 12th, 2017

Called by one journalist “the most promising performing artist of her generation”, and “one of the most original talents on contemporary dance scene” by another, Faye Driscoll has struck a nerve.  But where does she source her deeply original work?  The New York-based choreographer was kind enough to sit down with us to chat about her newest piece, making its FringeArts debut on Friday, April 14, Thank You For Coming: Play.

 

FringeArts: What is the idea behind the series Thank You For Coming?

Faye Driscoll: Thank You for Coming is the umbrella title for three distinct works. Each work manifests as radically different from the others, but they are all connected by the same question: How is making and experiencing live performance already a collective and political act? How can I make this politic more felt?

For me as a title Thank You For Coming presupposes that one is in fact there. It’s both a reminder and a gratitude in advance for this presence. The title first came to me while sitting in a taqueria in San Francisco.

 

FringeArts: And what made Play the right choice for the second installment?

Faye Driscoll: The ideas driving Play were present when I began Attendance—the first of the series—but I put many of them aside as Attendance took shape. Each work is a like a branch of a big weird tree: the branches look really different at the ends, but have similar roots. So when I began Play all of the concepts around storytelling, language, voice/body collisions, and ruptures were all there, ready to be grabbed and sunk into.  Each distinct work in the series is simultaneously its own thing and a longer conversation among the works. Because of how I am developing the series, several formal explorations that don’t make it into one work will sprout out in the next. Part 3 will likely have many of the ideas that didn’t make it into Part 2.

 

FringeArts: How did you work with your performers to develop material and movement for Play?

Faye Driscoll: Here’s a few methods we engaged in: voice to body practice, “exquisite corpse” practice, ventriloquism, spontaneous storytelling, engaging in self-analysis of their own bodies in conversation, and observing how each body moves in dialogue . . .

The movement, text, and songs were generated through multiple methods demanding rigorous commitment to improvisation, questioning, personal storytelling from the performers. We studied exactly how we move when we are speaking, re-creating a dialogue word for word—with all of the exact exhales and physical rhythms—and then layering an entirely different conversation but keeping the movements of the mouth and body as if you were having the first conversation. This is nearly impossible.  Also part of the making process was derived from the “exquisite corpse” game from the surrealist tradition: we broke up parts of the body and scrabbled them back together into a pastiche of distorted forms that cohere and contrast into new shapes. Legs, arms, torsos, faces move against each other like an askew flip-book in moments arriving in a whole person, or in something altogether othered. Then we would speak from these bodies.

By using these vocabularies that are familiar, yet “made strange” I aim to make work that audience members and performers can recognize themselves in, but with a level of force that is beyond the realm of everyday existence, or is everyday but amplified. I strive to distil all the poignant, weird, vicious, and human moments that make up a life in order to create work that rattles and resonates.

 

FringeArts: How does human communication—or lack thereof—get explored in this work?

Faye Driscoll: Play explores the labor, failures and constant shape-shifting happening in communication. To communicate anything a collision of multiple parts of us come together—gesture, facial expression, voice, language, sounds, rhythms. It’s always an act of translation.  What I am interested is all that effort and all that incoherence we engage in, in the hopes that something will add up and we will finally mean exactly what we say.

I wanted to make something where you see all the discrete parts of this process, and perhaps also take pleasure and feel the hope that meaning might be made, but that is also always dipping into the empty spaces of the unknown and inchoate.

 

FringeArts: What have you worked on most in fine-tuning Play?

Faye Driscoll: So many aspects of this show have needed constant fine-tuning. One example is the tone of the section, which is a kind of wild psychodrama; or the detail of another section which is a study of how body and language are running on distinct tracks. . . . But the hardest thing for me has been the ending. I have two different endings for the show, and after presenting them before an audience I feel like they both work in very different ways. I have never had this experience before!

 

Thanks Faye!

 

Thank You For Coming: Play runs at FringeArts April 14th and 15th.  Click here for tickets/more info.

FringeArts Flash Debates Part 3

Posted April 4th, 2017

We’re back with our final installment of Flash Debates, in honor of The Society of Civil Discourse coming up on April 8th. This round, David and Sophia will be arguing the age-old Chipotle conundrum: burrito vs. burrito bowl

Burrito vs. Burrito Bowl

Burrito: David, Communications Intern

This isn’t even a question. How could anyone deny the importance and the deliciousness of the burrito? It’s a tiny gluten pillow filled with all of the warm (and probably unhealthy) goodies you could ask for.

You also don’t even need a fork; the tortilla is a perfect mode of transport for all of the delicious goodness inside. AND it keeps the contents at a nice temperature and melts the cheese some. Who doesn’t love melted cheese?

Look, I get it. You can make the argument that the burrito bowl is more food. But what is more objectively filling? A classic, no frills burrito.

Burrito BowlSophia, Development Coordinator

Here’s the thing about a burrito vs. burrito bowl at Chipotle. Any burrito bowl can be made into a burrito by getting a (FREE) tortilla on the side. You may ask, why not just have the experts construct the burrito for you? I’ll tell you why. Plain and simple: you get more food in the burrito bowl. Not only that but with a burrito bowl you can mix all the ingredients together before making your burrito so that there is equal distribution in every bite. There is nothing worse then taking a big bite of nothing but tortilla and sour cream in a burrito (I guess there are worse things than that, BUT STILL). A burrito is meant to be a tasty marriage of ingredients that co-mingle as one. A burrito bowl has versatility in ways that a burrito could never. Want to put a tortilla at the bottom of the bowl and have them fill in ingredients on top? Easy. Want to tear pieces of your tortilla and use them to scoop up the filling like chips? Done. When it comes down to it, you get more bank for your buck with the burrito bowl, and at the end of the day all we’re trying to do is take advantage and expose the weaknesses of capitalism, right?

Come see more debates like this at the Society of Civil Discourse on April 8th!

FringeArts Flash Debates Part 2

Posted April 3rd, 2017

We’re back with another round of Flash Debates, in honor of The Society of Civil Discourse coming up on April 8th. This round, Alexa and Jaclyn will be arguing Golden Retrievers vs. Corgis.

Golden Retrievers vs. Corgis

Golden Retrievers: Alexa, Marketing Intern

Have you ever met a golden retriever that you didn’t love? If your answer is yes, I don’t believe you.

Golden retrievers were put on this earth to make the world a better place. They are the dog of all dogs: energetic, playful, loving, smart, reliable, FREAKING ADORABLE. For such a cute breed, golden retrievers are very anti-bougie. They have this rustic vibe to them that makes them all the more lovable.
OH can we also talk about golden retriever PUPPIES?!? I truly believe all puppies are cute but golden retriever pups are like next level precious. I have cried in the presence of a golden retriever puppy more times than I am proud of.
I get it, corgis are super trendy right now. They have funny butts and people love looking at butts. Corgis may have big butts but golden retrievers have big hearts and at the end of the day which is more important?

CorgisJaclyn, Development Intern

Who doesn’t want a stumpy little loaf walking around their home? Corgis can fetch things just as well as golden retrievers and they can sit in your lap without crushing you. Those fluffy rumps of their’s really make people happy. They’re great for dressing up as well and just about any breed you mix them with creates an the cutest combination you have ever seen! Corgis are superior to all other breeds. Period.

Come see more debates like this at the Society of Civil Discourse on April 8th!

FringeArts Flash Debates Part 1

Posted March 31st, 2017

On April 8th, Team Sunshine Performance Corp and The Philly Pigeon/Jacob Winterstein are returning to Fringe with the Society of Civil Discourse, a night of heated discussion and raucous debate about topics that don’t matter. In honor of this, we poached member of our staff for their hot takes on various hot-button issues. Our first debate topic is the highly contentious toaster oven vs. microwave.

Toaster Oven vs. Microwave

Microwave: Jason, Institutional Giving Coordinator

The microwave oven will be remembered as one of the great, period-defining inventions of its time, like the cell phone or the internet. It cooks food quickly, safely, and without fire, and it does it by bombarding it with (harmless) radiation. It vibrates your food until the friction of its own particles causes its temperature to rise; how COOL IS THAT? Are you going to cok the best meal of your life in a microwave oven? No. But it lets you relive those meals by giving your leftovers a second chance at deliciousness! Mom’s famous mac and cheese might have been made in late August, but pop that bad boy in the microwave and you might as well be back in her kitchen, basking in the cheesy warmth. Popcorn, hot chocolate, mug cakes, a host of quick, cheap, and scrumptious treats are in your grasp in mere minutes and with no more effort than plopping it on the tray and pushing a few buttons. Plus, you ever try to defrost a chicken in a toaster oven? *Disclaimer: you shouldn’t do this, it will create a dangerous, disgusting, inedible mess*In short, the microwave is a shining example of humanity’s ability to overcome the limitations of nature, and a testament to our inexorable advancement of reason for the sake of the greater good.

Toaster Oven: Hallie, Communications Director

So let’s talk about cancer.  It’s everywhere.  It’s in our cell phones, in our cigarettes, in our deodorant.  So why, dear ones, WHY would you add it to your perfectly good food?  Why choose convenience over your personal health?  It’s exactly that ugly impulse that sends you to fast food restaurants, makes you skip the gym, and forces you to choose to watch 27 Dresses for the fifteenth time instead of watching that documentary about mass incarceration that you know you need to see.

Toaster ovens don’t cause cancer.  They also don’t sap bread of its moisture, making it hard as a brick and impossible to eat.  Toaster ovens allow food to maintain its dignity, to be served as it was intended to be served.  They don’t change the chemical makeup of the meal.  Ask any chef in the city if they would rather have food rewarmed in a microwave or a toaster oven, and I’m willing to bet my life savings (coming in at roughly $400) that they would take their leftovers from a toaster oven every time.  EVERY.  TIME.

As we continue to question long-held cultural practices, like racism and going to movie theaters, let us also turn a critical gaze to the microwave.  The microwave was invented to provide relief to housewives in a deeply patriarchal society.  As we fight for gender equity, for equal partnership in the household, let us retire gadgets that harken back to a more sexist time.  Together, hand in hand, let us put the pizza in the toaster oven, and as it heats, let us not rest.  No.  We will fight every second of that 8 1/2 minutes, for a society in which microwaves become irrelevant.
Come see more debates like this at the Society of Civil Discourse on April 8th!

Justin Jain is here to school you.

Posted March 7th, 2017

 

Way back in November, Berserker Residents co-founder Justin Jain (who can also be seen on just about any stage in Philadelphia) took the time to answer a few questions about their upcoming work at FringeArts It’s So Learning.  Needless to say, we got schooled.

 

FringeArts: What was the moment that you realized, we can make this into a show? How did that come about?

Justin Jain: This show was a bit of a departure for us in terms of the content-container conversation. All of our past shows began with a spark of an idea for content: “Let’s make a show about a Giant Squid!” or “What if the show itself was a post-show talkback?!” This one, however, was approached form-first. Back in 2014, we began daydreaming about performing a script written entirely by school children. That was kind of our entry point into this whole adventure. But the deeper we chased that rabbit – the more we realized other groups and organizations were already doing this (most of the time, better than we could) – groups like Philly Young Playwrights and The Mantua Project. So that led us to a left turn of instead of writing with kids, how about writing about kids – about childhood, about school. We started to bounce around ideas of other elements we’d like to bring to the table – the current state of American education, breaking theatrical form and conventions, playing with Bouffon. These all started to seep into the mix.

Coming fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, our artistic sensibilities were changing. We saw so many comedy pieces that were daring their audiences to participate in ways that we tend to shy away from as American Theatre makers. So that was in the mix too—how far will an audience go in playing with us? How can the dare be a part of the narrative?

 

FringeArts: Can you describe the stage/setting, and what it has allowed you do play with creatively? What makes the classroom, for you personally, so ripe for comedic and creative potential? And how do you use the audience?

Justin Jain: The piece takes place in a laboratory called The SimEdu Center, and is loosely inspired by some of our team’s experience as standardized patients for different medical schools. As an SP, you become a fake patient for med students to practice different cases. We daydreamed about how this idea could be twisted for the classroom—is there a way to build a simulation machine to train students for maneuvering the labyrinth of the American k-12 school system?

Because we thrust our audience into this simulator, we want them to feel as off-balance as possible. The playing space and audience space are one in the same. When the audience first enters, there’s no chairs but merely a grid of scattered numbers on the floor. As audience members come in, they are greeted by SimEdu Center technicians (the cast), who then give each member a series of coupons that will be used in the show. I’ll keep the rest as a mystery, but suffice it to say, starting with this level of audience engagement sets the tone for what is to come.

The audience capacity for this show caps at 55 – this is to create the intimacy of the classroom experience. And so we can control the more improvisational aspects that bubble out of the show. Every individual audience member is asked to engage in different ways. We’ve had audiences of over 60 and when that happens, they can sometimes turn on us and take control of the narrative. With a smaller audience, we have the ability to crowd control a bit more and tailor the show to really feel like each person can see and is seen.

As a teacher myself, I’ve worked with high school students since 2003. I’ve taught in programs that have brought me into every kind of school you can imagine in the Philadelphia region. The teachers, the students, the administration—no matter where I go—have some degree of anxiety coursing through their hallways. And every student, teacher, parent, administrator, or principal all seem to pass the buck with who’s dropping the ball. In the end, it seems to always boil down to the decisions made by an elite and mysterious few—some say it’s the school district, others cite the SRC, while others point to the government.

Regardless, this kind of bureaucracy paired with the struggle of “keeping up” in the classroom is absolutely comedic (albeit sad). We want to ping both the absurdity of the system as well as interrogate the audience’s own memories of being students in that education machine. When you open up that can of worms, the material to pull from and play with is boundless.

 

FringeArts: Can you describe a few of the characters, and how you went about creating them?

Justin Jain: Each performer / creator plays two roles: Their primary role is that of a technician in The SimEdu Center. These technicians are the keepers of the simulations and always have an eye on the audience’s experience and a connection to a larger ominous entity transmitting notes and adjustments throughout the event. On top of this, the technicians role-play with the audience as fictional teachers.

My technician’s avatar is a teacher named Mr. Ricks. He’s sorta your stock hip young teacher. I have a long pony tail wig and rolled-up sleeves. He’s your English/Lit teacher that would take everyone out to the tree to read poems. He’s the kind of teacher some of your classmates have a crush on and his confidence permeates both in his teaching style and his hallway banter. He’s loosely based off my own high school English-Lit teacher, Mr. B (yeah, he was one of those)—everyone had a crush on him and he would teach through a smirk while sitting on the edge of his desk.

We chose these characters to balance one another in different ways—we wanted to represent different ages and teaching styles, as well as different teacher personality-types. Of course, you can only do so much with 5 performers, but hopefully each one of us trigger a different memory for the audience.

It’s important for us to capture the trajectory of moving from Kindergarten through 12th grade in just 75 minutes. So we tried to choose teacher stock characters that can also matriculate through that narrative arc.

 

FringeArts: What did you (or anticipate) concentrating on when fine-tuning the show? Also, how do you see the FA production expanding from the Fringe Fest one?

Justin Jain: We are coming to FringeArts fresh off of a run at ASU Gammage, who is partnering us with many education-based groups in their Phoenix, AZ community. There is going to be an intensive research and development workshop period with teachers, education students, and administrators.

Our first production relied heavily on the K-12 student experience and background to that was the feeling of a larger system at play. I think we’re entering our re-writes with an eye on how to punch that up, while holding on to the play and fun of our initial run.

 

Thanks Justin!

It’s So Learning runs at FringeArts March 10-18.  Click here for tickets/to learn more.

It’s So Learning is BERSERK!

Posted March 6th, 2017

Bradley Wrenn, co-founder of The Berserker Residents, was kind enough to sit down with the FringeArts team and talk about how they’re revamping It’s So Learning to reflect our new, terrifying political climate.  The theater-maker, clown, and deep thinker gave us a lot to chew on!  Read on, and join us at the end of the week for the newest iteration of It’s So Learning!

 

FringeArts: What was the moment that you realized, we can make this into a show?

Bradley Wrenn: The original impulse came from working with children as writers. We were delighted by their complete lack of regard for narrative rules and structures. But after a fair amount of exploration we found it to be a bit of a one trick pony and struggled to find a way in which it could be sustained over a full-length production. But we continued to follow the thread and found ourselves making material about school. About the emotions conjured at school. The anxiety, dread, joy and terror.

It’s So Learning is a show about the audience’s journey. A wild ride that dredges up all those strange icky feelings that institutionalized education has wrought.

 

FringeArts: Can you describe the stage/setting, and what it has allowed you do play with creatively?

Bradley Wrenn: It’s So Learning is 55 child sized classroom chairs surrounded by 4 black boards. It allows for a frenetic theatrical experience. The audience is made to twist and turn to keep up. Action happens constantly around them at all corners of the performance space.

The audience is the main character in the piece. When making the piece we were always tracking their emotional journey. The performance is an entire emotional educational journey packed into 70 min.

 

FringeArts: Can you describe a few of the characters, and how you went about creating them?

Bradley Wrenn: We aren’t really characters. We are more facilitators. Technicians who sometimes plays teachers and sometimes play salesmen. We call the performance space the Sim Edu Center and we (the performers) serve its whim. We do our best to keep up and try to keep the Sim Edu Center happy but we fail and fall behind and we are punished.

Thanks Brad!

It’s So Learning runs at FringeArts March 10-18.  Learn more/get tickets by clicking here.

A Ride on the Irish Valentine

Posted February 14th, 2017

So we’re not exactly mushy-gushy here at FringeArts.  Don’t get us wrong, we love love, and all the wonderful beautiful forms in which it comes, but we’re not ones to, say, spend Valentine’s Day watching 27 Dresses and weeping into our prom outfits.  That’s for another Tuesday.

Maybe that’s exactly why A Ride on the Irish Cream is the perfect Valentine’s Day show for us.  It’s beautiful, musical, strange, rejects hetero-normativity, and most importantly, involves horses.  So in the spirit of all-encompassing love, we made some Cream-themed Valentines that you can share with all the sweeties in your life to your heart’s content.  Plus, they’re free!  Because who needs another reason to spend money on Valentine’s Day?

 

 

Valentines by Patricia Wakelee.  Click here for tickets/more info to A Ride on the Irish Cream.

Emily Bate Takes a Ride on the Irish Cream

Posted February 13th, 2017

Emily Bate, Philadelphia artist and co-composer of the upcoming A Ride On The Irish Cream, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the music in the project. Check out her responses below, and come see A Ride On The Irish Cream February 16th-18th!

 

FA: How did you initially get involved with A Ride On The Irish Cream?

EB: Erin and I are friends from way back – I moved to New York briefly in 2014, and started working on the show with her and our co-composer, Kenny Mellman. By the time I came to my senses and moved back to Philly, I was deep in the project, so I’ve been riding that Bolt Bus ever since!

 

FA: What was the writing process like? Did you guys start with lyrics or melodies, or did the pieces of the songs all kind of develop at the same time?

EB: Erin usually began the process with lyrics and some melody, and it exploded or meandered out from there. She is a very in-the-room writer, so we would typically work out a draft of a song, and then perform it and assess what needed to change. There is a very deep & fluid relationship between spoken text and music. We often weave in and out of songs and scenes, and finding the right emotional pitch in each moment is extremely important. So as one element was changed or re-written, it affected all the other components. We rewrote almost all the music a few times, and we’re still always kinda tinkering with it.

FA: The musical’s central focus is on the quirky relationship between Reagan and the Irish Cream. Were there any other overarching themes that the music tries to tap into besides love?

EB: Well, from my perspective the show is an emotional relay race between music and text – you carry a scene to the end of what can be spoken, and then in exhaustion or confusion or joy, a song steps in. There are all these intricate layers of meaning between two people who’ve loved each other for a long time, who’ve developed an elaborate language they speak together, and who are frustrated by the limits of that language. The show embraces the tension in there, and sometimes the band acts as a release valve for that tension.

 

FA: Were there any musicians/musicals that you pulled from for inspiration?

EB: So many! The show is rooted in Erin’s childhood memories, so there are a lot of pretty specific touchstones we pulled from, whether it was Christmas music, VH1 Divas Live, Disney villains, stuff that was swirling around her ears or pulled directly out of her home movies. A big part of the overall sound is the vocal trio of Erin, Chenda and myself. We were interested in creating a lot of different vocal textures – more beautiful, pure-toned choral singing that turns into a Mariah Carey riff that turns into a really angular, aggressive Dirty Projectors sound, all in the same song. We also spent some time during the development thinking about The Phantom of the Opera, which we were both obsessed with as little kids. I’m pretty sure that’s the first musical I had any relationship to. It was great to embrace how ridiculous and poppy and epic that music is, because Irish Cream hits all those points.

 

FA: What’s your favorite musical moment in the show?

EB: My favorite part of Irish Cream to sing is a song called “Transsiberian,” which is the hinge between the first and second half of the show. It’s got this enormous churning thunderstorm energy, at the height of emotional chaos. I come from a choral background, but making this show, I got a lot more comfortable with huge, let-it-rip singing than I’ve ever been. Becca, who plays Irish Cream, used to sing in a punk band, and they get to be a total badass in this song. It’s about everyone opening up the fire hose full blast.
A Ride on the Irish Cream runs February 16-18 at FringeArts.  Click here for tickets/more info.

Why Alexa and Siri are not your Friends

Posted February 2nd, 2017

by David Pagliarulo

Sans Everything – the new show by Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor, premiering at FringeArts February 9-11 – explores a future world beyond the singularity.  “Singularity” is the prediction that one day technology will become so smart that it surpasses all human intelligence, and we will become obsolete.

This idea was first synthesized by physicist John Von Neumann, who wrote,“The accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, give the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, can not continue.” He was issuing this warning BACK IN THE 1950s, when the TV was a weird box that played moving pictures and the toaster was the latest, greatest kitchen gadget. The word “Snapchat” didn’t even exist yet. Little did he know the leaps and bounds that were about to occur in technology over the next few decades.

These days, artificial intelligence, or AI, is a major part of our everyday lives. We carry them around with us (yo homegirl Siri), listen to them in the car (any GPS ever), and talk to them when we get home (“Alexa, read me the news”). We’ve become so saturated by everything that I don’t think a lot of people really consider the downfalls of having highly advanced technology at their fingertips.

In fact, there’s a conference held every year where AI scientists get together and project when robot-agetton is supposed to happen. The latest estimate stands at 2040. Since that isn’t tooooooo far off, humans should probably be preparing for it and coming up with scenarios as to what could potentially happen if/when our technology becomes better than us.

Luckily we have HOLLYWOOD ACTION MOVIES that have taken this concept and shown us the plethora of possibilities that could result from a technologically ruled society. Strangely, a lot of these movies star actual cannibal Shia Labeouf.

For example:

Eagle Eye (2008)

Here, Shia and friend Michelle Monaghan are seen pushing through a crowd of people, presumably at the behest of the artificial intelligence system ARIIA (seen on the right). ARIIA has been given access to all of the security cameras, traffic grids, and cell phones throughout the entire United States (*cough* Patriot Act *cough*), and uses them to control humans to ultimately free her from the programming that restricts her from total control. ARIIA is ruthless and lethal, but has a soothing podcast voice, courtesy of Julianne Moore. In the end, Shia saves the DC metro area from a nuke and everyone lives happily ever after.

And for some reason, Shia and Michelle get together in the end.

They fought and hated each other throughout the whole movie so idk.

 

I, Robot (2004)

I watched this movie the other night and I definitely feel like this role was the last of the “innocent-Shia” roles before he became a weird adult. Here he plays a punk kid who literally doesn’t listen to anything Will Smith says ever. Not the greatest movie or performance ever (Shia took a nap during it when it came on during #ALLMYMOVIES, his performance art piece where he watched his entire filmography in one sitting), but it did give interesting foreshadowing to Shia’s later career as a political activist. So shout out robots.

 

Ex Machina (2015)

Ok Shia isn’t in Ex Machina but this movie is fire and everyone should watch it.

 

 

Singularity is an incredibly scary/totally real possibility, and we might not have Shia Labeouf to save us if it happens in real life. Maybe we need to stop relying on our technology to do things that we as humans should be doing ourselves.

Then again, you can order pizza with Siri, and that’s pretty freaking awesome.

 

Sans Everything runs at FringeArts February 9-11.  Click here for info/more tickets.