FringeArts Blog

Supper, People on the Move: The Physicality of Migration

Posted June 15th, 2015

img_9727Supper, People on the Move reveals the traces of migration on the body. For the show, choreographer, Silvana Cardell and her dancers have been exploring the layered and physical experiences of immigration. Cardell inspirations include works of 15th century and post-modernist art. “The Last Supper has a strong emotional component: all the subjects—even though they are celebrating a ritualistic dinner, Passover—are placed in twisted and bent ways which expresses an awareness about the turn that their lives are about to take,” says Cardwell. She is also drawn to more recent artworks and stated, “Then the rest of the title: People on the Move was inspired in Porter Series by artist William Kentridge; one of the sections that I call “balance” is inspired by these paintings that have human silhouettes carved into a map, silhouettes of people travelling—they are on the move, carrying everything they have on their bodies.”

img_9755Silhouettes are black. They allude to unclear, shifting, or hollow identities. Cardell refers to her identity and the notion of “in between.” She explains, “In between places, cultures, languages. Constantly translating thoughts in both languages, dreaming in English, speaking Spanish, thinking in Spanish and speaking English. In between is the overlap, where many people live.” In 2002, Cardell moved to Philadelphia to gain her masters in choreography at Temple University and to avoid political turmoil in Argentina. While she originally planned on returning home after school, she remained in the US. The transition between homes was marked by two cultures, conflicting sensations, and physical suffering. Cardell sums up her duel experiences, “Even though we arrived to the US with a university fellowship and work offers, we had financially lost many resources, and relocating the family was hard. Even though I am grateful for all my new friends, my kids’ great education, and the many professional opportunities Pablo and I have had, we paid a big price for them, financially and emotionally. Once more I feel in between being grateful for the cultural immersion and regret for all our losses.”

supper_bw_img_94701Cardell has since embraced her identity grounded in transition. “Supper is a return to myself, to the beginning, to my core. Supper starts with my own my departure; I am now ready, after many moves, to live with my decisions. I am examining the impulse to move away—changing culture, language, territory—as a search.” Instead of longing for a community she has left behind or feeling frustration for the one she has entered, she celebrates the space where seemingly distant cultures touch. She says, “In transit, in between, that is how I felt for years. I have to admit that perhaps that was an interesting practice for me, it taught me to be in the moment. I find that the best response in dance and performance is when you are alert, in the moment, ready to go. For me it has been living in the overlap of culture and places. After a while you became a dual citizen, you are able to navigate comfortably both cultures, there is certain richness about that experience.” Cardell copes with the transition between places by locating home. Her dance performances have shown us that home is within the physical body. “Immigration and moving is a constant search and recreation of home: Home is an endless space where place, family, relationships, and endless memories collide. Right now, my home and country are my body, where many experiences collide.”

Immigration is a physical transition as much as a mental one. Cardell described the dancing in Supper, People on the Move and said, “The goal is to expose noisy departures, bumpy beginnings, bodies exhausted by gravity pulls, contorted balances and extended suspensions in the nether world of being other.” Cardell’s movement concentrates on physical reactions of the body as they switch environments and the objects, like legal papers, that clutter the immigration process. Her dancers recreate the strenuous physicality of moving and each performer houses a different immigration story within their body.

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Almanac Presents Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes

Posted June 8th, 2015

“We want audiences to be engaged in every moment, but we also want them to feel like anything can happen at any moment.” 

JennaSpitz-1What happens when we trust too much? Come see Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes to find out.

Philadelphia’s Almanac Dance Circus Theatre brings Leaps of Faith and Other Mistakes to the ecclesiastical confines of the Sanctuary Space at Fleisher Art Memorial, June 24–28. This is the company’s second full-length undertaking, after last year’s Communitas. Almanac is the resident company at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts and are artists-in-residence and Mascher Space Cooperative. Early stages of the show began with a residency in Montreal with Cirque du Soleil’s Jerome Le Baut and Cirque Eloize’s Robert Bourgeoisie.

Mixing acrobatics, theater, circus, dance, and music, Leaps and Faith and Other Mistakes tells the story of four hobbyists who form an isolationist seafarer cult. Through powerful levels of trust, exceptional acrobatics, and the help of their trusty sofa, the four individuals journey to a greater world. The show is created by performers Nicole Burgio, Nick Gillette, Ben Grinberg, and Adam Kerbel, along with writer Josh McIlvain of SmokeyScout Productions and music by Patrick Lamborn, who also performs live. We gathered a few of the Almanac gang—Ben Grinberg, Nick Gillette, Adam Kerbel—to talk to them about their upcoming show!

JennaSpitz-4FringeArts: What’s this show about?

Ben Grinberg: It’s about what happens when we trust ourselves, and those around us, too much. It uses partner acrobatics, which demands levels of physical trust that would be insane to normal people—even sometimes those in committed relationships—as a lens for this. What is the difference between that kind of conviction and the convictions of a religious zealot? A cult-leader?

Nick Gillette: It’s about four people taking the hard road towards something bigger than themselves. Each one of them has an individual reason to leave everything behind for a new world.

Ben Grinberg: Oh yeah, the play is about the four of us forming an isolationist seafarer cult, leaving the world behind, taking new names, and freeing ourselves.

FringeArts: With a little less than 4 weeks to go, what are you working on to get the show ready?

Nick Gillette: We’ve created a ton of material and now have the task of sorting it into a cohesive whole. Much of the next few weeks will be spent ordering scenes and acrobatic phrases and seeing how it feels as a whole piece. With so many facets and modes of performance, we want to really craft a satisfying ride through the different styles.

Ben Grinberg: For this piece, we want audiences to be engaged in every moment, but we also want them to feel like anything can happen at any moment. To do that requires a lot of sculpting.

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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

You Can See The One, The Other One, & The Many

Posted June 3rd, 2015

Choreographer Katherine Stark  presents a work-in-progress showing of The One, The Other One, & The Many by her company The Naked Stark on June 3 at 6pm at Mascher Space Cooperative. Pay what you can! Suggested donation $10. We caught up with Katharine Stark for a couple questions about the new dance.

The OneFringeArts: Can you tell us what you’re showing?
Katharine Stark: This piece first began over the summer when I was watching Ender’s Game and became fascinated with both the obvious formula for the rise to leadership narrative and the movement of the camera around the main character.

FringeArts:
This is an “in-progress” showing. What are you most interested in discovering?

Katharine Stark:
I’m at a pure research stage in my movement investigation; I’m staying away from developing a narrative or making any large structural choices. I’m sharing explorations in leading and following, using cinematic devices to create narratives/characters, and ways to create cinematic effects in movement. I’m curious to learn how the audience sees the material. Are the devices and effects we’re exploring readable?
The research for this project also includes interviews with people about their relationships with leaders and heroes and leadership and recognition both fictional and from actual experiences. The interviews along with audience participation–concerning leading and following experiences–at the showing, along with audience feedback, are part of shaping the next phase of the work.

FringeArts
: Can you give us a couple hints about the “cinematographic” approach to choreography?

Katharine Stark
: One of the effects we have been exploring in rehearsal is shifting back and forth between two locations/times/scenes etc. We created two duets to establish the two scenes; I broke them into three chunks and cut back and forth between the chunks through having the dancers pop in and out of the floor and in and out of a wall. The intent is a clear division between scenes and for the audience to be able to follow each scene even though they are broken up. We’ll see!

Thanks Katharine, looking forward to it!

The One, The Other One, & The Many
The Naked Stark
Wednesday June 3 at 6pm
Mascher Space Cooperative
155 Cecil B Moore (Kensington)

How to Live Faster: Interview with Dito van Reigersberg of Pig Iron

Posted May 19th, 2015

141005_PIG_IRON_LIVE_FASTER19118Pig Iron Theatre Company’s latest wild theatrical creation opens this week at FringeArts. I Promised Myself to Live Faster is an absurdist sci-fi epic and wild allegory about gayness in 2015, and inspired by the life and works of theater legend Charles Ludlam. We caught up earlier this year with co-creator Dito van Reigersberg while Live Faster was still in development to give us some insight.

FringeArts: How did the idea for I Promised Myself To Live Faster come about?

Dito van Reigersberg: It was a strange and circuitous route to the sci-fi world. Mainly we began with the idea of a Pig Iron piece instigated by me/Martha Graham Cracker, my drag alter-ego. Originally it was called The Melodrama Project and I was interested in going for high-stakes drama but in a kind of camp or ridiculous setting. One exercise we did early on was create characters based on silly voices that we liked and then we tried to retain these goofy voices/characters but play a serious, dramatic scene, with no comment or laughing on the part of the performers. I guess it was a version of what Martha is, a hairy-chested drag queen who is sometimes playing for laughs, sometimes quite unexpectedly serious and sincere.

Then I was doing Irma Vep at Act II, this crazy quick-change romp of a play by Charles Ludlam. And I was reading a biography of Ludlam at the same time. He was also a hairy-chested drag queen, like me! He led an insanely talented and wild group of ragtag performers and made a huge mark on the downtown New York City theater scene. He was one of our director Dan Rothenberg’s heroes; Dan knew all the anecdotes about Ludlam via his High School drama teacher Bill Sweeney.

141005_PIG_IRON_LIVE_FASTER19466Then we thought about making a kind of biopic about Ludlam. His life story is kind of incredible. He was an outcast, a precocious teen—he staged Japanese Noh dramas with his High School friends. In acting school he was told that his acting style was “too enormous” and that he was to be strictly “a character actor,” and then he created this theater company in which he was the star performer, playwright, director, and impresario. His most famous performance was Camille, in which he tragically dies in hairy-chested drag in a performance that also blended the dramatic and the ridiculous; his company in fact was named the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. His real-life death of AIDS at the age of forty-four is the chilling counter to all of the silly joy of his life. And it is haunting, the fact that he played Camille, a character dying of consumption, over and over, as his most famed role.

But eventually, although a biopic did seem possible and exciting, we decided to set ourselves free from the truth and the real history and give ourselves permission to do something as silly and frolicsome as Ludlam, in a Ludlamesque way, sprayed with an Essence du Ludlam.

FringeArts: And the title is from . . . ?

Dito van Reigersberg: Our title comes from a line from Camille. She says: “I knew I would not live as long as the others so I promised myself to live more quickly.”

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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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Thaddeus Phillips Brings the Drug Trade to FringeArts

Posted April 29th, 2015

“I was fascinated by the way TV is made: the way you shoot out of sequence and how it actually feels more fake, even with real planes, for example, than being on a theater set.”

Barry Seal 1The Incredibly Dangerous Astonishing Lucrative and Potentially TRUE Adventures of Barry Seal comes to FringeArts May 14–16, the newest theatrical creation from Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. Thaddeus, whose been splitting time between homes in Bogotá, Colombia, and Philadelphia  these past few years, was inspired by the TV show he has been acting in in Colombia about drug smuggling in the 1980s. In the TV show he plays Barry Seal, a pilot who was one of the most notorious drug smugglers in US history. He became fascinated with the process of making the show and the history of these characters. Barry Seal will be followed in September by ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE at the 2015 Fringe Festival.

FringeArts: Where did the idea for this show come from and why did you want to make it into a show?

Thaddeus: I got this job, out of the blue, playing Ellis MacKenzie on MundoFox’s Alias El Mexicano, a Spanish language TV show about Rodrigo Gonzalez Gacha, one of Colombia’s most notorious drug kinpins. Ellis MacKenzie was the alias for Barry Seal, who is the USA’s most notorious drug smuggling pilot. Playing

On the set.

On the set.

this role and being thrust into the crazy world of Colombian TV production is where the idea for these new projects came from. I was fascinated by the way TV is made: the way you shoot out of sequence and how it actually feels more fake, even with real planes, for example, than being on a theater set.

I loved seeing what the cameras were filming and imaging what the final shots would look like—and thought it could be really cool to stage a work as if it is being filmed for TV, but with the film crew as part of the staging, and a theatrical language could be developed by creating this world onstage and leaving it up to the audiences’ imagination what the show would look like. This was the initial idea: to take the aesthetics of a TV set and a TV filming schedule and apply it to the stage. The project idea was to make two shows, one small scale work that would give a history of the drug trade and the life of Barry Seal called The Incredibly Dangerous Astonishing Lucrative and Potentially TRUE Adventures of Barry Seal [coming to FringeArts May 14–16] and two, a large scale work with to be created in collaboration with Colombian actors who starred in the TV show I was on, called ALIAS ELLIS MACKENZIE [coming to the 2015 Fringe Festival].

FringeArts: How has the show developed from idea to production?

Thaddeus: As I developed the idea we began to research Barry Seal and then very soon we were dropped into the Grand Central Station of conspiracy theories spanning fifty years of US history. We also researched extensively the stories of Barry Seal relating to the drug dealers and the DEA and CIA.

Barry Seal Grave.

Barry Seal Grave.

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Olive Prince Dance shows new work this weekend

Posted April 28th, 2015
Olive Prince, leader of Olive Prince Dance, is showing an in-progess version of her new full length dance, Of our remnants, Thursday April 30–Saturday May 2 this weekend at the Iron Factory (118 Fountain Street, Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia).
 Olive Prince Dance-photo-by-kaitlin-chow

Olive spent three months as a resident artist at The Iron Factory building this new dance, which was inspired by a passage in Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “When I choreograph, I often start with very specific visual images, objects, set pieces, or costuming and create ways to reconfigure their meaning throughout the choreography,” Olive explains. To get ready for the showing, the company is “presently installing a set including empty frames, a lamp collage, and visual art that will become the backdrop for our movement explorations.”

An excerpt from Of our remnants was performed last month at the Nice and Fresh series at Cliveden, and it was spectacular, so make sure you go! (I believe there will be beverages to enjoy as well!)

Of our remnants

Olive Prince Dance / Choreography By Olive Prince / Made in collaboration with visual artist–writer Carrie Powell and design artist Kaitlin Chow / Dancers: Evalina Carbonell, Brandi Ou, Caroline O’Brein, Emily Reynolds, Grace Stern, Ann-Marie Grover, and Lindsay Browning / 60 minutes.
Thursday April 30th, Friday May 1st, and Saturday May 2nd at 7:30 pm.  $15/www.theironfactory.org
The Iron Factory
118 Fountain Street, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA, 19122
Photo: Kaitlin Chow

Call for Artists! 2015 Fringe Festival

Posted April 28th, 2015
2015 Neighborhood Fringe
Registration begins has begun at myphillyfringe.com!

Yes, my friends, it is that time of year again, that time of year to starting gearing up to the 2015 Fringe Festival. Independently produced work is the bedrock of Festival, with artists and companies presenting their work in the Neighborhood Fringe, where each neighborhood of the city gets its very own Festival identity—Kensington Fringe, Old City Fringe, South Philly Fringe, and on—and the whole city is teeming with Fringe craziness.

Some things to know: early registration closes May 1st and the final day to register will be June 4th. There are new things happening, we have teamed up with Artists U to lead the workshop sessions which help artists with all the aspects of producing a show; we’re doing Scratch Nights in August featuring excerpts from Neighborhood Fringe shows; and we’re even introducing a Digital Fringe, a Fringe that lives on the internet!

Get all the details and register at myphillyfringe.com. Here’s Neighborhood Fringe Coordinator Jarrod Markman at the signup party:

Jarrod at Fringe Festival Signup Party

Lovertits: Interview with Neighborhood Fringe artist Annie Wilson

Posted September 17th, 2014

Lovertits_Annie-Wilson-283x300“Multiple climaxes, drifting off, getting exciting again, plateau-ing out, calming down, another climax, some snuggling.”

In a performance she describes as a “burlesque-postmodern-dance-theater-bad-improv,” Annie Wilson explores our societal views on sex and the real, messy, embodied sex that humans actually have. Lovertits will run at the Ruba Club (416 Green St) from Sept 19 to Sept 21 in this year’s Fringe Festival.

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