Arden Theatre Company’s Latest to Be Set in a 2,600-Gallon Pool

Doug Hara, seen in the original, Broadway and regional productions, directs Metamorphoses at the Arden. | Photo by Teresa Wood

Doug Hara in the Arena Stage production of Metamorphoses. He’ll direct the Arden’s adaptation. | Photo by Teresa Wood

If you know the work of Mary Zimmerman, the theatre artist whose play Metamorphoses opens the season of Philly’s Arden Theatre Company this year, you know she doesn’t do anything small. The writer and director is known for over-the-top scenery and production values—from a giant sleepwalking plank that emerged over the orchestra pit at the Met’s La Sonnambula to her lavish staging of Disney’s The Jungle Book.

So it’s no surprise that her recent staging of her play Metamorphoses called for a giant pool on stage, and that’s exactly what the Arden is planning to construct: 2,600 gallons of water will invade the space, and performers will use the aquatic landscape throughout the play, which is adapted from the classic Ovid poem. The Arden even warns that audience members may get wet. Read more »

9 Must-See Independent Shows at the Fringe Festival

Cast of Renegade Company's Damned Dirty Apes!

Cast of Renegade Company’s Damned Dirty Apes!.

As usual, there’s way too much to see at this year’s 19th iteration of the Fringe Festival, with 143 different events split between the “curated” shows, a.k.a. the performers who are invited and paid for by the festival, and the “independents,” a.k.a. the come-one-come-alls, which include everything from a comedy hypnosis show to stuff you should actually see. Today, we’re focusing on the latter to bring you our 9 must-see independent shows. (Click the show titles for ticket links.)

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10 Must-See Curated Shows at the 2015 Fringe Festival

The Cast of A Doll's House. | Photo by Josh Mcilvain

The Cast of A Doll’s House. | Photo by Josh Mcilvain

As usual, there’s way too much to see at this year’s 19th iteration of the Fringe Festival, with 143 different events split between the “curated” shows, a.k.a. the performers who are invited and paid for by the festival, and the “independents,” a.k.a. the come-one-come-alls, which include everything from a comedy hypnosis show (ugh) to stuff you should actually see. Today, we’re focusing on the curated shows to bring you our 10 must-sees. (Click the shows’ title for ticket links.)

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2015 Barrymore Nominees Announced, Suburban Companies Lead the Pack

A scene from from "Into the Woods."

A scene from from “Into the Woods.”

It’s a story of outsiders … outside of Philly, that is.

The 2015 Barrymore Award nominees for Philadelphia Theatre Excellence were announced this afternoon. Norristown-based Theatre Horizon‘s staging of Sondheim’s Into the Woods received the most nominations this season, a total of 12. 11th Hour Theatre Company‘s Field Hockey Hot and Bristol Riverside Theatre‘s Ragtime received nine nominations each.

Overall, Theatre Horizon scored a total of 19 nominations, including nods for their productions of In the Blood and Into the Woods. People’s Light in Malvern came in second, with 14 nominations for their productions of FencesThe Cherry OrchardArthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, and Bach at Leipzig. Theatre Exile also racked up 14 nominations for their stagings of The Whale and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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Gender Transition to Unfold on Stage in Local Theater Series

Swift Shuker in a video promoting This Damned Body, which will premiere at this year's FringeArts Festival.

Swift Shuker in a video promoting This Damned Body, which will premiere at this year’s FringeArts Festival.

The [redacted] Theater Company will present the first in a series documenting one person’s gender transformation at the FringeArts Festival from August 28th to the 30th. This Damned Body Is Carved Out of Meat is one of three theatrical components to document the life of transgender performer Swift Shuker, who is currently in the beginning stages of transitioning from a male body to an androgynous one (hence our use of the pronoun “they”]. This Damned Body will document Shuker’s life in real-time and chronicle their transformation. “We’re trying to reveal what is happening with Shuker’s body and emotions, the way they are interacting with the world and the way the world interacts with them,” says co-director and website designer Josh McLucas.

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Arden Delays 2015-2016 Season Due to Pope Visit

arden theatre

The Arden Theatre Company announced today that it’s pushing back its 2015-2016 season due to Pope Francis’s visit at the end of September. But only by a little.

The first show of the season, Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, will now open a week later, on October 1st, when the Pope and all the World Meeting of Families events are a distant memory. “Our opening show promises to be an extraordinary and visually stunning production, says Arden Managing Director, Amy L. Murphy. “60 percent of the Arden’s ticket buyers live outside of Center City. We would hate for audience members to miss the show or face difficulties getting to and from the theatre during the week of the Pope’s visit.”

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Wilma Theater to Host the Urban Noir Project

Urban Noir

Photo courtesy of Urban Noir Productions

This weekend, on August 8th and 9th, Wilma Theater will host the Urban Noir Project, a show produced by Urban Noir Productions. It’s a series of vignettes that take audiences on a journey through the past several hundred years, bridging each era of African American history through song, dance and a powerful narrative.

The play is part docu-drama, part musical, incorporating everything from Civil War-era spirituals to James Brown and Public Enemy. “We use music and dance to talk about each era and move the story along,” explains Executive Producer Monica Moses. “For instance, we use hip-hop to take a look at Reaganomics and examine the economical impact on the African American community.” The performance begins with the slave trade and follows history all the way through to the election of the first African American president.

Urban Noir 3

Photo courtesy of Urban Noir Productions

The production remains true to history and takes audiences on an emotional roller coaster. “There are a couple really heavy intense pieces, but we balance them out with some comedy. We’re giving you everything here. It’s a really, really unique piece.” Moses says. The show is entertaining and comfortable enough for audiences to sit through.

Monica Moses is the writer, director and executive producer of the play. The idea originated as a series of short stories Moses wrote in college. She then attempted to turn her stories into a television series, but was convinced the script would be better suited for the stage. Once the show was up and running, Moses wanted to test the community’s reaction by holding a performance at a local community center. Audience feedback was overwhelming, which led Moses to move toward larger venues.

The Urban Noir Project is a response to the civic unrest and racial tensions that are still embedded within contemporary society. Moses produced the play as a way to address these issues and encourage a dialogue among diverse demographics. “I want people to understand that we are all included in the African American history.” Moses explains. Her play is an attempt to bridge a racial gap and artistically express that “we are all part of a system and we do as the system dictates.” Once we are able to understand each other’s backgrounds we can gain perspective and acceptance. Obama’s inauguration is one of the final acts of the play, intended to leave the crowd with a feeling of hope and accomplishment.

To purchase tickets for the next performance of the Urban Noir Project, click here.

Caridad Svich on the Lack of Female-Written Works in Theater

Caridad Svich

Caridad Svich

“I can name a 100 female writers who are making incredible work, but where can it be seen?”

It’s a good question that Caridad Svich poses. The OBIE-winning playwright is brining her thought-provoking show The Hours of All Things to the first-ever Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, which she calls a powerful chance to examine what exactly “women’s theatre” is. Read more »

Shakespeare in Clark Park Starts Tomorrow With Five Free Shows Through Sunday

Actor1

Courtesy of Kyle Cassidy

To sit or to stand? That will be the question at the 10th anniversary of Shakespeare in Clark Park. Grab your checkered blankets and bottled (or boxed!) wine to attend a free showing of Shakespeare’s tragicomedy The Winter’s Tale. The story concerns Leontes and Polixenes, rulers of Sicilia and Bohemia, who are best friends until a love affair threatens their relationship and shatters the long-held bond between their families.

“It’s a play that lends itself to a feeling of fairytale and fables, which is particularly well-suited for the outdoor setting,” explains Director Kittson O’Neill. The malleable sets and talented actors will transport audiences through two different kingdoms and act out a tale of friendship ripped apart by jealousy. “Part of the fun of this show is having such a large space to play with,” O’Neill says. “We’ll have some performers walk around the entire Park and come back around to enter different scenes.”

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REVIEW: Divine/Intervention Is Just That

A scene from "Divine/Intervention"

A scene from “Divine/Intervention”

There’s drama on the stage of Voyeur Nightclub.

That isn’t anything new, until you realize it’s an actual drama, the Philadelphia premiere of Divine/Intervention, and that the play is actually really good. In short, even if the only thing you know about Divine is the utterly gross film Pink Flamingos, you should see this deliciously dark production that is superbly performed. Read more »

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