A NICE AND FRESH sendoff: John Rosenberg’s last show in Philadelphia

john rosenbergPhindie has been a long-term champion of playwright John Rosenberg and his Hella Fresh Theater. There are pretty much no companies in Philadelphia focused on full seasons of original work, certainly none of the caliber reached in Rosenberg’s best plays, 2013′s Hannah and 2012′s Alp d’Huez. After getting steady critical acclaim for several years, Hella Fresh was seeing growing audiences trek out to its Kensington theater space.

The company’s Spring 2014 production, Cana of Galilee, was already cast and scheduled when Rosenberg and his wife decided to pick up and return to California, where he grew up and they met. That show was cancelled, but Rosenberg is presenting a truncated version of the piece this weekend as part of SmokeyScout Productions’ NICE AND FRESH series, monthly performance arts events in Mount Airy.

john-rosenbergThe show also includes a play by Josh McIlvain of SmokeyScout, an aerial circus performance by former Cirque de Soleil performer Kendra Greaves with Cole Della, and “an outlandish modern-dance-theater-meets-hip-hop-hybrid” by Megan Mazarick and Les Rivera. If previous NICE AND FRESH events are any indication, seeing these eclectic entertainments in the same space will give added meaning and enjoyment to the strong individual pieces. Plus, there’s free beer.

As this marks Rosenberg’s final Philadelphia production, Phindie asked him to share some thoughts on his time in Philadelphia and his move to Los Angeles:

“A few weeks ago i went to a thing and ran into a dude I know who does [theater] stuff but differently than me. He heard that we were moving to Los Angeles and I said yeah, and he said, why would you move there, that place is soulless. I said I know, I am from there. we laughed and said a few other things and then we took our seats for the thing, which was a new play reading by a young dude who is nice and talented.

And the thing was a new edgy comedy, the thing was a staged reading and the audience really enjoyed the thing. It was funny, well thought out and clean. At the end, one of actors stood up and pointed at the author and said, that is one twisted dude.

And sitting there or maybe it was walking afterwards, I guess I understood what soulless meant to me. I guess soulless struck me as meaning safe. It doesn’t mean it isn’t good or funny or sad or clean or well-put together, it is just safe.

And this is not a judgement on anyone else’s shit. Everyone has a way of doing a thing. I realized watching the reading that I would never get my shit put on by someone else.

And i guess what made me feel okay for a little bit is to know a few things. It is just as easy to do souless shit in Los Angeles as it is to do it in Philadelphia. I am glad I got the chance to put on plays on my own terms and not wait in line and hope to one day get a reading for a thing at a theater in center city and hope to get put-on and politic and whatever.

I have no idea what will happen in Los Angeles, For the most part I am convinced it will all turn out terribly. It feels good what we did out in Philly and I guess I am scared of just being another person waiting in line to get put-on or stuck in the flurry of illusions going no where fast.

I guess the point being i could fail on my terms anywhere, why not where the weather is nice?”

Just so, it’s cold as polar bear balls here, but Philadelphia is losing a real talent. We’ll miss you John. Don’t miss his final hurrah. [Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, 5900A Greene Street] February 28-March 1, 2014, 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.