And now, AMERICAN WISDOM, a mainstage collection of three of Josh’s one-acts, is a handshake between Philly and New York, featuring actors and directors from both sides of the ancient and abiding divide—and performing for one weekend in each city. What’s more, it was launched through an IndieGoGo campaign, representing McIlvain’s collaboration with his audiences.
Call it Don Juan or Don Giovanni, the Don Juan story, handed down through time, is pre-loaded with a mix of serious and comic elements and a supernatural dimension. DON JUAN COMES HOME FROM IRAQ, from theater luminaries Paula Vogel (playwright) and Banka Zizka (director), has the gravitas down and doesn’t lose sight of humor, but extra pieces lodge within this puzzle’s slippery treatment of time and reality.
We could be at a yoga studio, or a modern dance class, or even just Whole Foods (which might explain why everyone is so good looking and in such great shape) but the tableau onstage at Drexel’s Mandell Theater is the latest creation of choreographer Kun-Yang Lin. Be/longing: Light/Shadow is a world premiere based on a summer of research in Indonesia.
VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE (Philadelphia Theatre Company): Absurdist Farce on Russian Angst
The angst-laden work and gloomy characters of Anton Chekhov provide funny fodder and apropos appellations for Christopher Durang’s VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, now in production at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. The Bucks County playwright set his Tony Award-winning comedy where he lives, making for a decidedly quirky yet familiar combination of current local references and recurrent allusions to the Russian classics in a zany family reunion filled with adult sibling rivalry and childish temper tantrums.
Among the first presentations in this exciting space, THE LOVE SONG OF R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER, shows First Friday, April 4th, at 7 and 9pm. This part theater, part musical, part film is dubbed a “live documentary.” Acclaimed filmmaker Sam Green narrates, accompanied by an original score played by Yo La Tengo. Together they create the movie experience in front of the audience in real time. Nick Stuccio, president and Producing Artistic Director of FringeArts, sat down to chat about this unique offering, as well as the developments with the new space and Fringe Festival.
Alex Bechtel’s world-premiere production THE WEST is packing the house at the Off-Broad Street Theater in its short six-performance run. The ensemble-devised work, with Bechtel as the lead creator and director, features a cast of twelve emerging Philadelphia theater artists and an absurdist reinvention of the last days of the notorious Western gunman Billy the Kid.
You may have seen the Lantern Theater Company’s JULIUS CAESAR, which recast Shakespeare’s political tragedy in Feudal Japan. You may also have seen the open letter that local playwright and performer Makoto Hirano hand-delivered to The Lantern on “How to Stage Your Show Without Being Super Racist,” which he signed “Makoto Hirano, Dance-theatre artist, actual Japanese person, and actual Samurai descendent,” reposted on Phindie with Hirano’s consent.
My mother tells a story about a time when I was young—3-years-old or 4—and I was trying desperately to get the swing I was seated on moving. My little legs kicked and kicked but I stayed motionless. After a minute or two, an adult came over and gave me a push and that’s all it took. I caught the momentum and I was swinging! As she tells it, I turned to the little boy on the swing next to mine and exclaimed in a giddy, high-pitched voice “I was getting so frustrated! Were you getting frustrated, too, Brooksie? I was getting so frustrated!”
Have you heard the one about the anorexic dancer who fell off a balcony and landed 14 stories below onto a squooshy flat of doughnuts loaded on top of a car? The fat, cream, sugar and flour she never ate saved her life. What was killing her on the inside was what saved her from the outside. I loved the irony Kathryn Craft set-up in her debut novel, The Art of Falling, by this improbable circumstance.
Got a bad case of the Mondays? CardioCreativity dance classes can help beat your work or school day blues. Created by Gabrielle Revlock and Nicole Bindler as a segment of their larger Dance Apocalypse project, these classes transcend the average dance or fitness regiment by allowing participants to unleash their creativity in a performance-based setting while burning calories. The class occurs every Monday through April 7th and appeals to everyone, of all ages, sizes and socioeconomic classes. Even if you’ve never danced in your life, you can still join in and have a good idea of what’s going on during the class.
The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective concludes its 2013-14 season with Friedrich Schiller’s MARY STUART, directed by PAC co-founding artistic director Dan Hodge (whose previous credits include the company’s potent inaugural production of THE DUCHESS OF MALFI in 2010).
We have lots of events coming up this week! We’re hoping the impending snowstorm avoids Philadelphia, because we don’t want to miss any of them. This week, you’ll notice a little calendar button next to our events. Click that button to add the event to your GCal!
The much-talked-about BLEED, running this weekend only as the next page in FringeArts’ idiosyncratic year-round programming, opened in New York last year to what seems like universal praise. The dance piece is the culmination of two years of work and three other dance pieces, which O’Connor made, then digested and collapsed into BLEED.
Shut Up & Dance 2014 benefit for MANNA proved one for the books. Every year the performance is typically wonderful for a number of reasons, primary among them its great sense of Philly community spirit in support of MANNA and not the least of which is the esprit of the participating dancers. Some years are standouts artistically and this was just one of those years.
From the moment you arrive, Iron Age Theatre’s production of Sam Shepard’s BURIED CHILD, directed and designed by John Doyle and Randall Wise, thrusts you into a deeply disturbing world of grime, decay, and depression. Mounds of barren dirt, wood chips, and dried-out stalks surround and invade a tumbledown farmhouse with a rusted old mailbox that hasn’t seen a delivery in years. Inside, a filthy stained sofa with torn-up upholstery and torn-out stuffing is held together by black duct tape, as huge gaps between the rough-hewn wall slats let in the pouring rain and dreary darkness of a relentless storm.
Neil Simon’s autobiographical comedy, LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR, offers an intimate, insightful, and uproarious glimpse into his experiences as a junior writer for Your Show of Show—the influential TV program that ran on NBC from 1950-54, and was the first to incorporate sitcom sketches into the traditional variety-show format.
The historic Walnut Street Theatre celebrates two milestones with its mainstage presentation of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, written by New York playwright Joseph Kesselring in 1939: the play’s 75th anniversary and its own 205th landmark season. Directed by Charles Abbott, the Walnut Street’s crackerjack production (in association with Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA) whips up the perfect concoction of murder, mayhem, and misplaced “mercy,” topped with a large dollop of macabre madness, in this delectable recipe for hilarity.
Upon entry into the theater space, I was directed to a setup off to the side with slips of paper and pens. Little placards told us to write a NOTE TO SELF and drop it in the metal can, examples offered including “get donuts for the office.” I had received the inside scoop from one of the other theatergoers that they’ll be used as a formative part of the show. As NOTE TO SELF is improv comedy, I didn’t want mine to be too mundane to work with so I chose a simple, sadly relevant, yet ripe for humor note: stop eating in bed. The conversation and jokes with strangers, all ruminating on what their contribution would be, set a fun, friendly and upbeat tone for the performance.
THE WEST is ensemble-devised musical theater, described as “an absurdist western music hall drama about the gun that killed Billy The Kid, the gun that didn’t, and truth and fiction in history, human relationships, and our day-to-day lives.”
Writing this play has been hard. It feels like squinting into the distance at an object that I think I should be identifiable but is just too blurry. Luckily, I have a cohort on this trek. If you met Lena (Barnard) and I, it would feel a lot like an episode of Gilmore Girls or the West Wing. We talk over each other and make obscure references and laugh at inside jokes that no one else gets. Being around Lena makes me feel entirely secure. I can be myself with her. I like to think the feeling is mutual. Who else will get all her Julie Andrews references?