It makes a lot of sense that a theater company whose mission is to stage provocative theater from Ireland, Scotland and Wales might get a little help from theater-loving Fergus Carey, aka Fergie—Philadelphia’s best known Irish import and pub owner—when it was discovered that its new theater space wouldn’t be ready in time for this week’s season premiere. So, in a happy turn of events, Inis Nua will debut Gillian Grattan’s three-person Irish comedy, Hooked!, this Wednesday on the second floor of Fergie’s Pub.
Play readings don’t normally culminate in shouting matches or near-fistfights, but leave it to this world premiere about our controversial late mayor to change that. In May 2014, during a talkback after a reading of the script, one attendee relentlessly fumed at playwright Bruce Graham (The Philly Fan) for going too soft on Rizzo.
“Graham threatened to take him out in the parking lot,” says Best of Philly-winning actor Scott Greer (right), who plays Rizzo in the Theatre Exile production. “That’s how the discussion started.”
Greer, Graham and director Joe Canuso met with everyone from former mayor Wilson Goode to a Rizzo bodyguard to ex-con Vince Fumo to Rizzo right-hand man Marty Weinberg to develop the play, loosely based on Sal Paolantonio’s definitive biography.
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 »
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.)
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.)
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 Fences, The Cherry Orchard, Arthur 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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.