Das Reboot: Chris Davis returns with One-Man Apocalypse Now after an award-winning sojourn to Germany

Philadelphia performer-creator Chris Davis has become quite the globetrotter. A fixture of Philly’s SoLow and Fringe festivals, he takes his comedic one-man plays to festivals around the United States and across the pond. He spends several weeks every summer performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and just returned from another transatlantic trip to the curated Thespis Festival in Kiel, Germany, the largest festival for monodrama in the world. He won the festival’s Special Prize by Committee Award for his One-Man Apocalypse Now, an inventive revision of the Coppola war film.

Davis reprises this piece for a two-night run this weekend at Plays & Players. He spoke to Phindie about the play and his travels.
[Plays & Players] December 7 & 8, 2018; onemanapocalypsenow.brownpapertickets.com

one-man-apocalypse-now-fringe-festivalPhindie: What scene in your Apocalypse Now adaptation gets the biggest reaction.

Chris Davis: The PlayBoy Bunny scene always gets the biggest reaction, every time. Followed closely by the eating of the mango by Marlon Brando.

Phindie: How do reactions compare by country? Do Germans have a sense of humor?

Chris Davis: Germans have a sense of humor but they are more guarded with their laughs than Americans. I felt like they took the work very seriously, in a good way, they enjoyed the comedy but a number of audience members talked a lot about how PTSD in veterans and soldiers was depicted in my play. I had never thought of that before.

Phindie: You’ve traveled a lot with your work, what was special about the monodrama festival?

Chris Davis: The diversity of people and languages in the festival was amazing. I saw a Beckett play in Slovakian, a performance piece in Polish, a German TV Actor’s take on a Kafka short story in German, and more. Each of the 16 artists selected performed only one time, and we were encouraged to see each other’s work. As a result, I got to see almost 13 other international works. We all ate meals together, talked together, hung out, so the whole festival had a family atmosphere to it.

Phindie: And you won an award?

Chris Davis: I won the ‘Special Prize by Committee’ Award, basically the people that produce the festival gave me the award.

Chris Davis in One-Man Apocalypse Now as sketched by Chuck Schultz.

Chris Davis in One-Man Apocalypse Now as sketched by Chuck Schultz.

Phindie: How do you adapt your performances? Do you cut out some Philly- or US-specific references?

Chris Davis: I didn’t change anything for the German show. There is one part where Harrison Ford gives me his mission orders, in that case it’s an improvised scene and I talk about however I get to my venue to do the show. But other than that, all the references stayed the same. I think it’s better just to own the fact that your work comes from a particular area rather than try to adapt it every place you go to. So I got to keep my reference to the Eagles in the play.

Phindie: What do you think your travels have brought to your work?

Chris Davis: Mostly more performance opportunities and greater exposure to international work and aesthetics. Edinburgh in particular remains a big influence because I’ve seen so many plays there and I ‘steal’ ideas from good plays every year. Also I think traveling allows you to finally embrace your work for whatever it is and allows it to grow.

Phindie: What’s next on your itinerary?

Chris Davis: Next I go to the Rogue Festival in Fresno, CA, and then after that I’m waiting to hear from a few others (including one in Turkey), and of course Edinburgh in August.

[Plays & Players] December 7 & 8, 2018; onemanapocalypsenow.brownpapertickets.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.