FringeArts Blog

Disabled like a titanium lollipop: Musician, Model, and Medical Experiment at the 2015 Fringe

Posted July 29th, 2015

1683-e37a8444bc2810407a1fd83fba3b1b8a“Anomie was born at age twenty on an operating table. Surgical experiments saved her life but left her disabled like a titanium lollipop.”

Anomie is a musician. Outside of creating music, she models for “Sick and Sexy,” her self-created group for alternative models with disabilities. Anomie has undergone several surgeries.  She is an artist who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a genetic defect in connective tissue, which impacts joints, skin, and muscles. After a series of medical issues in 2008, she was forced to discard her life as a biochemistry college student in exchange for a new identity. The physical complications that occurred as a result of EDS have not only left her physically disabled, but have also stranded her on the outskirts of society. “My bones are titanium from the neck up, and I’ve been an electric wheelchair user for almost three years now.  I refer to it as ‘my mecca-body,’ although I would prefer a robotic exoskeleton because sitting still for long periods of time really sucks,” Anomie says.

Anomie is taking her music and story to the 2015 Fringe Festival in a show, called Musician, Model & Medical Experiement. During her performance, which takes place at Agno Grill on September 6, 10, and 16, Anomie shares her story and reclaims her identity through song and burlesque. “The songs are about all sorts of things, evil doctors, bad boyfriends, bad girlfriends, vampires, and living in public housing in the projects. I will be doing at least one burlesque act per show. Because of my restricted mobility I cannot dance for burlesque, so I sing and use props instead,” she says. Her songs consist of guitar and digital back tracks. Some of her pieces are collaborative works, while others are solo creations. While Anomie’s music captures her own story, she references the larger disabled community. “I’d like to tell a story more than just singing and performing. The story is my personal experience, but the show is as much about me as it is about all of those who go through these challenges.”

Musician, Model & Medical Experiment_Anomie Fatale_web copyAnomie refers to her community as “the underworld.” She uses this term because disabled people are locked out of society, prevented from participating in mainstream culture, by those in power who fail to include people with chronic medical conditions. Her songs make visible a group of people society tends to ignore. “I refer to ‘crip’ society as ‘the underworld’ a lot because of the way we have to live with chronic medical conditions. I am unable to work a standard job, live an average full life, get married, have a family, and feel like a part of regular society. This is not because of I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome really. This is mostly because the system we live in does not allow disabled people to do that,” she says. Our city is inaccessible. The larger structure of our society allows disabled people to be disregarded able-bodied people, however, there are times when the disabled community is not hidden underneath the societal carpet. “There are a few fetishes for people like me.  One is called ‘devotee’ in which a person sexualizes caretaking of a disabled person. Another is called ‘Agalmatophilia’, the fetishization of a statue, or in my case a person who is fixed solid with fusion implants,” Anomie shares. Anomie is either erased from society or put underneath a microscope like a unrecognizable object. “I’ve had done experimental treatments for the neurological problems associated with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Arnold Chiari Malformation and Tethered Spinal Cord.  My cranio-cervical fusion surgery was recorded and used for teaching purposes at the Harvey Cushing Institute of Neuroscience.

1683-ab13436c70b238738d5e76d763fbad1c“Disability is the ultimate counterculture.” After struggling to participate in society, Anomie realized that she would always be excluded. Instead of trying to return to college for the third time, she is developing an identity that works for her. As she sings, she claims agency and strength, despite living in a world that denies her power. “I picked the name Anomie for myself, because that’s exactly what the word means: disconnected, rebel. But I’m not disconnected really, there’s a whole community of people living in this ‘underworld’ finding ways to make what we’re given with work.”

Musician, Model & Medical Experiment
Agno Grill
2104 Chestnut Street
Sept 6 at 3pm
Sept 10 at 9pm
Sept 16 at 9pm
Click for tickets

–Courtney Lau

Hot Spontaneous Performers: Interview with David Zambrano on Soul Project

Posted July 28th, 2015

Second time photographed Sould Project in Brussels at the Raffinerie. This time with Mat Voorter's costumes. Dancers: Mino (Milan) Herich (Slovakia); Peter Jasko (Slovakia); Horacio Macuacua (Mozambique); Edivaldo Ernesto (Mozambique); Nina Fajdiga (Slovenia); Ermis Malkotsis (Greece); Matthieu Perpoint (France); Eleanor Bauer (USA); Sue-yeon Youn (Korea); Eugenie Rebetz (Switzerland); David Zambrano (Venezuela).

“Since the beginning of my career as a choreographer, I have always selected a group of international individuals. I like the idea that everything we have created in dance has come from a cultural exchange.”

Experience soul in all of its manifestations: spiritual and musical, abstract and personal.

World renown experimental choreographer and improviser, David Zambrano, is bringing his high-intensity dance, Soul Project, to the 2015 Fringe Festival. Taking place at Christ Church Neighborhood House, Zambrano’s piece features an international cast of dancers performing a series of solos to classic soul music. Instead of watching the powerful dancers from a distance, audience members are invited to meander about the dancers and see them dance up close. There are two performances of Soul Project on September 18 and 19 and each show, rooted in spontaneous improvised movement, is different. We recently asked Zambrano questions about Soul Project.

soul_project_website_1FringeArtsWhy is the title Soul Project?

David Zambrano: I finished my group piece Twelve Flies Went Out At Noon (2005), a resemblance of a social centric society where decisions are made by the community of people. Dancers were constantly moving through each other, under over and around, always going somewhere dancing together. After that work, I got the idea to make the opposite. A choreography where the dancers, one by one, would take any center in the performance room, root themselves on the floor (with feet very well planted), and make the audience come to watch them from close up. After many rehearsals, I thought to give the title for that work: “Solo Project”.  I choose Soul Music for those rehearsals. And through the doing with the feet very well planted on the floor, I arrived into the thought that when the sole of our feet feel very comfortable  interconnected with the ground, very well rooted into the Earth, our souls feel very happy.  So from the combination of the Soul Music and rooted feet dances, I came to the title of Soul Project.

FringeArts: How do your live recordings affect the body?

David Zambrano: Not all the recordings are live recordings.  I think there are about three pieces recorded in studios.  One strong reason I thought when I heard all those singers singing live, was the way they come out through their voices when they have public. It was more sublime and orgasmic.  With the dancers we practice a lot to be able to arrive in those kind of states while performing for each other and later on, for the general public.  We have enormously enjoyed to dance to those live performances of the singers.

soul_project_website_3FringeArts: Why is working with an international cast of dancers so important to you? 

David Zambrano: Since the beginning of my career as a choreographer, I have always selected a group of international individuals. I like the idea that everything we have created in dance has come from a cultural exchange. My selected dancers and I have always learned a lot from each other while working together. Not only from our different dance backgrounds, but also from different ways of eating, cooking, living, etc. I also love to make a possible environment in all my creations where it feels like a little representation of our world but without borders.

FringeArts: What does the closeness of the audience do for the performance?

David Zambrano: The idea of having the audience coming very close to watch each one of us performing came from the way I directed our rehearsals. Everyday we performed for each other during the creation process, and the way I selected that act was to come as close as possible and watch every little and big movement from each performer. After I took that idea to the general public. We became really good improvisers of small powerful movement that can only be appreciated if public come closer to watch.

FringeArts: How do you approach working with dancers to create a solo that is both yours and theirs?

David Zambrano: I do not teach dance steps to the dancers I select. I many times give them images/qualities/tools to work with as we are creating the pieces. The dance is made by the dancer and myself as a director. For Soul Project I worked more as a coach until they became really hot spontaneous performers.

Thank you, David!

Photos: Anja Hitzenberger

2015 Fringe Festival

Soul Project
Christ Church Neighborhood House
20 North American Street
Sept 18 + 19 at 8pm

Kensington Fringe: War Becomes a Family Affair

Posted July 27th, 2015

“In my view, wars can only happen with a certain level of deceit. Those who make a case for war will line up the facts to show it to be a necessity; those sent into combat are told that their personal honor is at stake. They must be willing to die for a cause without questioning it.” 

AGreatWar

For this 2015 Fringe Festival production, Iron Age Theatre out of Norristown bring together a local father-son team to take on the subjects of war, honor, and suffering in A Great War. With A Great War, playwright James Christy Jr. takes the intrigue of World War I history and spins it into a drama of violence and politics that resonates with the international turmoil of today. Christy has participated in workshops with PlayPenn and InterAct Theatre’s 20/20 Commissions program. He has also had plays produced from Phoenix to Princeton. Christy’s father and longtime professor of theater at Villanova University, James Christy Sr. directs the production to be set in the bare-brick MAAS Building in Kensington, September 10-27. We caught up with both the playwright (James Christy Jr.) and the director (James Christy Sr.)—if you can keep it straight!—to talk about war and what it’s like to work together.

FringeArts: What is A Great War about?

James Christy Sr.: The play is a penetrating and sensitive inquiry into causes and effects of World War I, as experienced by a young German Jewish soldier. During these century-anniversary years of the “war to end all wars,” it feels pertinent to examine how and why mankind launched such a massively self-destructive project, particularly in our era of elective wars.

FringeArts: How did this play start for you?

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The Making of Slaughter/ette, or Binge Watching Season 18 of the Bachelor

Posted July 27th, 2015

Slaughter ette_Butter & Serve Theatre CompanyThe homemaker discards her personal aspirations for her husband’s. The exoticized woman of color is only loved for her otherness. The waitress and the Manic Pixie Dream Girl ooze desperation as they pine after the same man. We hate these stereotypes of women, yet they remain, permanently sewn into our collective understanding of the female species. Eight members of Butter & Serve Theatre Company bring these stereotypes to their upcoming 2015 Fringe Festival show Slaughter/ette at Mascher Space Cooperative. Influenced by the reality television series, The Bachelor, Slaughter/ette is a theater piece that stars these caricatures of women but set within a slaughterhouse! “The spectacle will include everything we’ve come to know and love about guilty pleasure television: tears, glitter, wine, heartbreak, drama and often sloppy declarations of love. It will include the unmissable bending of reality that we love to hate and the bloodthirsty and cutthroat women that we love to condemn,” says co-founder of Butter & Serve Theatre Company, Sara Vanasse.

slaughter ette photo 3“After being sucked into this past season of The Bachelor, we were intrigued by the idea of using this material as a starting point for a larger conversation.” Slaughter/ette began as a guilty pleasure. Reality television with nonsensical stereotypes are surprisingly magnetic. Vanasse and the ensemble used their interest in The Bachelor as a springboard into the contradictions and confusion tethered to femininity. Rehearsal is marked by improvisation techniques to break down these tensions. “We use active long form improvisations around our theme, which will always yield a kernel of something we’d like to explore further, which in turn shapes our next exploration, and so on,” Vanasse explains.

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UNARMED: Realizing Race and Racism

Posted July 22nd, 2015

boyflag“Before we even get to move, the bodies just existing together in space is getting at American politics.”

Bodies reflect history. They carry remnants of slavery, disintegrated yet still existing walls of segregation, and the weight of World Wars in their bones and postures. Bodies reveal upbringing, education, the houses they grew up in. I recently reached out to choreographer, Arielle Pina, to talk about what happens when our volatile bodies burst into movement. Pina choreographed UNARMED, a dance coming to the 2015 Fringe Festival, about race relations in America. She describes the general parts of her work, which will be performed at Shiloh Baptist Church in South Philly, and says, “The roles are the fallen black man, cultural reformist, cultural influence, appropriator 1 and appropriator 2. Specifying each body in this way allows us to explore stereotype and racism.” UNARMED strives to expose and explode America’s destructive power relations and racial barriers. “The piece is about the black relationship with white America and many frustrations that the cast and I are trying to air out.”

chelsea_400UNARMED did not begin as a dance. In response to the Michael Brown incident, Pina created UNARMED, a photo series installation presented at Headlong Performance Institute’s final show (to see the collection of photos click here). The spectators of the installation responded to the photographs of individuals standing with their hands glued behind their heads in the dark. After the photo exhibit ended, however, Pina transformed her images into movement. “The work is so relevant to the time that it felt absolutely necessary to continue. So I registered for Fringe and created a cast of people I felt could dive into something almost impossible with me.”

The movement of UNARMED embodies specific rituals and tasks. “If I were to describe some of the states the bodies go through I would say: jam, DSC_0045exhaustion, intimacy, superiority, death, and mourning,” Pina expresses. She also describes gestures that are embedded into mundane life experiences as roots of her choreography: “I created the movement by putting the bodies in a specific context. For example, what does a body do at funeral or when it is in mourning? We bow our heads, hold hands, pray, cry. And then we choreograph what that is.”

By using familiar movement, Pina’s goal, “is to spark community dialogue about race and issues of difference. I’ve learned that everyone has a lot to say but it takes a certain environment, or specific question to get people talking.” Of the venue, Shiloh Baptist Church Attic Studio, Pina adds, “The space is a bit haunting in vibe so this definitely amplifies the content we’re exploring.”

DSC_0047Rehearsal is a collision and a celebration of experiences. Pina’s project is complex. Rehearsal is not necessarily marked by constant dancing or music playing, but instead, discussion. “We spend a lot of time talking and unpacking our belief systems around race and privilege.”As Pina works on the music and the movement, she also carefully considers multiple experiences of social difference. “I’m working with musicians and dancers so it feels like I’m speaking multiple languages when we’re all together. Whenever someone has a video or survey, we all participate collectively. I think the work feels challenging and very important to all of us. . . . It is also terrifying.”

2015 Fringe Festival
UNARMED
Arielle Pina
$15 / 50 minutes
Shiloh Baptist Church
2031 Montrose Street
Sept 11–13 at 7pm

–Courtney Lau

girlflag

Ant Hampton talks audience, space, and the experience of the extra

Posted July 21st, 2015

“It’s almost like this isn’t really a ‘show,’ more some kind of process. I was thinking of the experiences I’ve had coming into theater during rehearsals, sitting there watching people talking to each other and moving around both stage and auditorium, and fantasizing all that randomness and loose reality could in fact be ‘the show’ being rehearsed.”

Extra people 2aFor  two nights this September, Swiss-born and UK-based creator and director Ant Hampton will plant audiences into a nearly empty, and barely lighted, Merriam Theater. Returning to the Fringe Festival (previous shows: The Quiet Volume and Etiquette), Hampton polishes off old tools—headphones, audience involvement, and surrealism—with some technologically complicated recordings and computerized systems for The Extra People, his latest “Auteatro” creation, a type of performance in which the audience member is both the observer and the performer, experiencing the work from the inside. These shows, a term which Hampton himself puts under dubious glare, blend and elide performance, experience, creator, and observer.

FringeArts: How did you come up with the title The Extra People?

Ant Hampton: It comes via Wings of Desire—Peter Falk looking at extras on a film set and thinking to himself. He thinks of ‘extra humans’. It’s a moment which manages to be both tender and disturbing. The Extra People is also inspired by the work of Aernout Mik, who often uses large amounts of ‘extras’ in his video installations:

I am intrigued by the figure of the extra because the extra has a certain dignity. That suits me because they are happy to be on screen and that’s enough for them. They have a certain modesty about them that they don’t want to put themselves so much in the foreground. They don’t disturb the group too much by having too much presence, and yet they still relate to objects in space. They have presence but not too much.  (Aernout Mik, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY, 2009.)

I was really interested to relate all this stuff about “extras” to two things: firstly, contemporary / globalized labor conditions and secondly, the experience of dementia. Both of these involve a kind of crushing disorientation where you feel the larger context is too complicated or big to understand, or that it’s simply “not your job to know.”

FringeArts: When you are in an empty theater, what do you think of?

Hampton: I think of theaters as very transparently pscyhological spaces—buildings which spring into existence as a direct result of how our minds work. When a theater is full, its audience and function take over and we may not think so much about what a strange invention it is. But when I walk into an empty theater it’s like I can really feel the collective drive of so many humans over so much time, all that desire to watch and be watched, and how it has somehow consolidated itself into so many seats and so much stage space.

HSKU 20121102 Kuva Liisa Takala. Baltic Circle - festival. Brittiläinen teatterintekijä Ant Hampton. Q-teatteri, Helsinki.

FringeArts: How did you make the connection between “The Extra People” and the empty theater? 

Ant Hampton: I’ve been researching warehouse management systems: in the last four to five years things have changed a lot, and now instead of using paper and barcode scans, workers are mostly directed by a computer which speaks to them in tetchy, terse code. Following on from the above, and as theaters are so linked up with dreams, I thought of situating this kind of temporary, high-viz workforce of “Extra People” within a theater, to create a kind of cracked-dream version of what is already a pretty weird and at times worrying reality. The piece, and your role within it, oscillates between this kind of fast and bright warehouse world, and something much slower, more akin to the world of waiting and patience we think of as being an extra for a film.

As with so much of my work, the instructions you get are via headphones, and need a voice. So I’ve started to play with computer voices, which are fast developing and are sometimes uncannily realistic. Also, we’ve recorded everything binaurally, so the “child” computer voice telling you what to do (everyone receives different, synced audio) appears to be coming out of the house sound system, confusing public-private boundaries.

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Jumping Out Of Airplanes: Trey Lyford on theater, life, and upcoming Doll’s House

Posted July 14th, 2015
IMG_5581

Photo shoot for A Doll’s House. Photo: Josh McIlvain.

“The movement was precise and beautiful,” Trey Lyford says as he recalls the first time he saw Jo Strømgren’s choreography. Lyford is an actor based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the co-artistic director of rainpan 43 performance group and has performed throughout Philadelphia and New York. This fall, Lyford takes a break from his typical role as a contemporary clown and returns to Fringe Festival in Jo Strømgren’s recreation of Henrik Ibsen’s famous play, A Doll’s House. I recently gave Lyford a ring and we talked about everything from Philadelphia’s theater scene to jumping out of airplanes.

Lyford’s history with Strømgren stretches back to 2005. It all began when Lyford saw Strømgren’s The Department and The Hospital in Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. Struck by the playfulness and precision of the choreography, Lyford returned to the US with Strømgren’s ideas still in his head. After keeping in touch with the choreographer, Lyford and Strømgren formed a creative partnership. “We got stuck in a four hour traffic jam,” Lyford shares. Those four hours spent trapped in the car marked the beginning of their collaboration. Later on, Lyford was asked to be a part of Strømgren’s production of A Doll’s House.

bilde 1

Trey’s photo of Jo and his set.

“It’s been a while since I’ve done something this classic,” Lyford says about his part in A Doll’s House. Lyford plays Krogstad, a worker at Torvald Helmer’s bank and the tortured villain of the play. While Strømgren preserves and respects the original play, he also hacks away at the script, eliminating pages of archaic language to reveal a show that is less about a windy narrative and more about a few prominent emotional threads. Beyond the script, Strømgren also tells the story of Krogstad from a different angle. Lyford shares his initial reaction to playing the role and says, “It’s fun to play a villain.” As rehearsals began, however, Lyford gained Stromgren’s more complex view of the villain. “He is the noble heart of the play,” Lyford explains. “Everyone keeps knocking him down.”

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The Art of the Steal: director Ivo van Hove’s methods to create plays out of film scripts

Posted July 13th, 2015

“In film,” pronounced Ivo van Hove, director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the largest, and most culturally influential, theater in the Netherlands, “the director is the god of his creation.”

On June 28, I attended Live Remix, a daylong symposium on van Hove’s work and “the proliferation of live performances devised from film and digital media.” Curated by Tom Sellar, editor of Theater, and presented by FringeArts (and supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage), Live Remix opened with the screening of van Hove’s first and yet only feature film, Amsterdam (1997). The film acted as a precursor to a conversation with van Hove about his work and a round table with contemporary American artists whose work might speak to his. For those who came to hear van Hove talk about his adaptations of Ingmar Bergman films—like After the Rehearsal and Persona, which will be showing in the 2015 Fringe Festival—Amsterdam’s jarring aesthetic and gritty, violent characters are well outside expectations.

IMG_9435Knowing little about van Hove myself, I expected a grey old man—more of a Sophocles than an Odysseus. But the man sitting across from Sellar is slim, matter of fact, and intense.

Sellar directed van Hove onto his past, his youth devouring movies by John Cassavetes and Michelangelo Antonioni, and his turn to theater in his twenties—largely because film takes so long, he explained, and theater seemed a more realistic way to reach an audience. And how, late in his career, he began to adapt some of these films into stage plays.

“Bringing the movie to the stage is a challenge,” he pointed out. “It’s not meant to be on the stage.”

Persona lives in my mind in Bergman’s vibrant images—Liv Ullmann pulling back Bibi Andersson’s hair back to bare her forehead, both of them gazing languidly into us.

I, like many people, have never thought of Persona as a script. Its long stretches of silence or stillness make it a perfect leverage of the visual film medium against script. Persona, to me, is a film.

persona poster

Poster of the film.

But something very simple that van Hove said made me, for the first time, remove images from script and consider it as a text. “In Persona,” he pointed out, “you get the sense that something in [Vogler’s] life is very wrong . . . something she has been covering up with her artistic life.”

The film had always led me to consider Bergman’s characters as a microcosm, as that picture of Ullman’s hand on Andersson’s head, or the slow smile on Andersson’s face while Ullman gives her interminable speech; not as individuals with individual problems, but as an encounter. Bergman’s strong, specific vision led me into one world to forget the possibilities of others.

“I always do an interpretation of the script, not the movie,” Van Hove says sharply. There is Bergman the writer, and Bergman the filmmaker. Van Hove’s appropriation of text suggests that there’s something the former had to say that the latter didn’t realize.

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Mr. Darby Goes to New York: Double Time, All The Time

Posted July 7th, 2015

langston actingLangston Darby is continuously working. “Double time. All the time,” Darby comments as we recently talked on the phone one afternoon. Born in Laurel, Mississippi, Darby is an actor based in Philadelphia. This September, after completing an apprenticeship at the Walnut Street Theatre and growing into one of the strongest actors in the Philadelphia theater scene, he is departing for the Atlantic Acting School in New York on a full scholarship. “The Atlantic Acting School is tailor made for what I was looking for.”

Langston photoThe decision to venture to New York was a difficult one. At first, Darby expresses his anxieties about the full-time conservatory program. He asks, “How much will this sustain me after?” As our conversation continues, however, Darby reveals his sadness for leaving Philadelphia. “It’s a dagger in the heart,” Darby remarks as his describes the close relationships, personal and professional, he has gained over the past five years. Philadelphia has become Darby’s supportive web. After finishing his apprenticeship at the Walnut Street Theatre, Darby was offered a position teaching acting to children. “No matter the profession, everyone who teaches their craft for the first time talks about how they have to reconsider everything that they’re doing to make someone else understand. Teaching acting has made a lot of my work much more specific,” Darby says as he talks about his growth through teaching. Darby has also began comedy improv through ComedySportz Philadelphia. Improv has influenced the young actor to take acting risks. “I realized how even my scripted work could benefit from me letting go more and really focusing on what is going on around me moment-to-moment. Not only do I listen better, I now have a sense that my next line adds to the scene.” The opportunities in Philadelphia, from picking up improv techniques with ComedySportz Philadelphia and later Bright Invention to teaching to struggling with Uncle Tom’s Cabin: An Unfortunate History, have contributed to Darby’s larger growth.

“Philly taught me that you don’t need to be in LA, that you don’t need to be in New York.” After a successful last season full of tremendous opportunities, Darby fears that he is leaving at a vital time in his career. While he is upset to leave, he believes more training in New York is the next step in his path.

Langston 2The Atlantic Acting School’s Full-Time Conservatory is offering two full scholarships for the first time. Darby will be attending the Atlantic Acting School on one of these scholarships. He had determined that he did not want an MFA, but instead was attracted to the rigorous training from actors and actresses within the industry, that the Atlantic Acting School offered. “Now that I am at this stage, I can take more ownership over the things I want to learn,” Darby mentions. He is interested in the school’s primary acting technique, Practical Aesthetics. First encountering Practical Aesthetics in A Practical Handbook for the Actor, and gravitating toward the technique’s concrete and literal essence, he will apprentice himself to the technique for the next two and a half years. Beyond Practical Aesthetics, Darby also strives to “fill in the gaps of my training.” Darby is drawn to the multilayered aspects of theater, such as voice-over, television, movies, and dancing. He says, “I am going to take advantage of every morsel of information.”

Darby has started a campaign to raise money and support for his upcoming experience. While Darby is receiving a scholarship, New York is still expensive. “Why should I receive any support?” Darby initially questions as we talk about his fundraiser. The hard working actor constantly considers his privilege and opportunities, however, as our conversation goes on, his perspective shifts. He shares, “I should not need to feel guilty for gaining resources.” Similar to the way theater companies raise money for new projects, Darby started this fundraiser to gather help from his surrounding communities to fund his upcoming endeavor. Instead of feeling guilty about asking for help, Darby has begun to embrace his campaign. “I’m going to ask for what I want.” 

After unpacking his larger anxieties about leaving Philadelphia at a time when he is rapidly growing, Darby has one last anxiety: the potentially long and unfamiliar commute.

You can learn all about Langston’s work on www.langstondarby.com. If you’d like to give to his Indiegogo fundraising campaign, go to: life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/support-langston-s-big-step.

–Courtney Lau

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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