Brightening Up SoLow Fest: Bright Invention takes over this year’s festival with nine original shows

Artist director Jennifer MacMillan with her cohort of Bright Invention SoLow performers. Photo by Sarah R. Bloom.

Artist director Jennifer MacMillan with her cohort of Bright Invention SoLow performers. Photo by Sarah R. Bloom.

An offshoot of White Pines Productions, Philly ensemble Bright Invention tries to do more with improvisational theater than just be “wacky for the sake of being wacky.” They use the spontaneous creativity of the form to tell stories. This year, the troupe is taking SoLow Fest by storm, with shows by nine different ensemble members making up nearly a quarter of the festivals total output.

Rather than presenting nine solo improv pieces, Bright Invention artistic director Jennifer MacMillan, who is directing each performer, says she’s “creating an ‘improvisational element’”  within each solo show. “While these ‘improvisational elements’ won’t necessarily be like the long-form improvisation that Bright Invention typically creates,” MacMillan says, “Our improv training and sensibilities will lend a dynamic sense of risk and juicy danger to both the creation and the performance of the pieces.”

Daniel Student contemplates his SoLow piece, The Daniel Student Gay Porn Viewing Party. Photo by Sarah R. Bloom.

Daniel Student contemplates his SoLow piece, The Daniel Student Gay Porn Viewing Party. Photo by Sarah R. Bloom.

Many of the Bright Invention performer/creators have been seen across for the city’s stages for years: Andrew Carroll, a talented young actor making his third festival appearance; Michelle Pauls, a veteran performer with a wealth of experience and credits; Daniel Student, formerly the hard-working artistic director of Plays and Players Theater. For many, though, this is their first time as the center and artistic force behind the show.

“This is the first year that I’ll be playing myself,” says Carroll. “I’ve never really stood in front of people without a character to wear over my shoulders, and it’s pretty nutty how much harder it is to just be me, albeit a dramatized version of me. Makes a person take a hard look in the soul-mirror.”

Carroll’s piece, Twenty-Five, is a 25-minute show inspired by his upcoming twenty-fifth birthday. Other works run the gamut from sex talk (Katherine Perry) to Samuel Beckett (Benjamin Lloyd), mindfulness (Eva Farrell) to gay porn (Daniel Student).

“The pieces are very unique- as unique and diverse as the performers,” says MacMillan, who is also opening her home to host all the Bright Invention SoLow performances. But this is still very much an ensemble production. “The best solo work feels like a dialogue with the audience,” MacMillan enthuses. “It doesn’t feel solo at all—its surprisingly inclusive.”

All performances take place at The Little Living Room Theater [18th and Tasker]. MacMillan has cats, which might be offputting to some assholes with allergies, but she promises to thoroughly clean. June 20-28, 2015 whitepinesproductions.org/solow-festival-2015.

The Bright Invention SoLow Fest shows:
Twenty-Five
by Andrew Carroll
6/20 at 7pm
6/27 at 9pm
6/28 at 4pm

Be Here Now
by Eva Farrell
6/20 at 8pm
6/25 at 6:30
6/28 at 3pm
6/28 at 5pm

The Life That’s Left
by Carol Graham
6/20 at 4pm
6/21 at 8pm
6/27 at 6pm

Coffee is Thicker Than Blood
by Randi Alexis Hickey
6/20 at 3pm
6/21 at 7pm
6/27 at 4pm

Abandoned Work
by Benjamin Lloyd
6/20 at 5pm
6/27 at 7pm
6/28 at 2pm

The Dirty Word Club
by Michelle Pauls
6/27 at 3pm
6/27 at 8pm
6/28 at 6pm

Sex Talk
by Katherine Perry
6/20 at 2pm
6/20 at 6pm
6/25 at 7:30pm

Acculturate
by Francesca Piccioni
6/27 at 2pm
6/27 at 5pm
6/28 at 7pm

The Daniel Student Gay Porn Viewing Party
by Daniel Student
6/20 at 9pm
6/21 at 5pm
6/26 at 7:30pm

Features, SoLow Fest 2016, Theater - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , - no comments

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.