Performing Art for the Price of a Sandwich: NICE AND FRESH returns to Mount Airy

id-rather-choke_photo-mawiyah-dowd

I’d rather choke than quit premieres at NICE AND FRESH this month. Photo by Mawiyah Dowd.

It doesn’t seem right that perhaps the best showcase for new performing arts in Philadelphia takes place in the pleasant neighborhoods of Northwest Philadelphia rather than Center City or surroundings. But it does. Only FringeArts’ Scratch Night series rivals SmokeyScout Productions’ NICE AND FRESH for its high-quality presentations of original work by local artists.

NICE AND FRESH kicks off its third season with four performances featuring some of the city’s finest dance and theater artists, January 15-16, 2016. This month’s four-show revue is held at Moving Art of Mount Airy (across the street from the co-op). As always, it’s $7: “the price of a sandwich”.

Sam Tower, the force behind 2015 Fringe hit Nowhere Street, teams up with Plant Me Here to present the second part of dance piece I’d rather choke than be a quitter. Part one premiered at a Scratch Night in December; part two is a brand new fantasy-soaked dance inspired by paintings from visual artist Sam Whalen. Musician Shakai Mondai provides a live electronic score. Other collaborators include Plant Me Here’s lead artist and curator Emma Arrick, fellow performers Tess Kunik and Caitlin Dagle, and star Philly actor-cum-costume designer Emilie Krause.

SmokeyScout artistic codirector Josh McIlvain generally includes one of his own richly rendered theater pieces in each installment of NICE AND FRESH. His short play this month is Pepperidge Farm, in which the head of a family-owned candy manufacturer loses a major account due to his own negligence and presses his former heroin addict salesman to come up with a solution. Paul McElwee and Fred Brown star.

Sarah Knittel stars in this month's NICE AND FRESH.

Sarah Knittel stars in this month’s NICE AND FRESH.

McIlvain also directs the other play in the series, a short work by erstwhile Philadelphia playwright John Rosenberg. Pig Iron APT performer Sarah Knittel plays a Penthouse Pet incoherently bragging to the Hot Tub Club about her day at Disneyland with Magic Johnson. That sounds pretty kick ass, doesn’t it?

Dance group The Naked Stark rounds out this month’s NICE AND FRESH with Encounters, a series of vignettes in an imaginary world where landscape, physical ability, and power are determined by what’s on your feet. Choreographed by Katharine Stark on Sean Thomas Boyt and Leanne Grieger.

[Moving Art of Mount Airy, 6819 Greene Street] January 15-16, 2016; smokeyscout.com.

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.