We can’t blame the police for being a bit alarmed when this contraption was discovered near 12th and Vine on Friday morning. They shut down the streets. They evacuated businesses. They alerted the feds. They called out the bomb squad. They blew it the hell up.
After all, it sure does look like a bomb. And it probably didn’t hurt that it was found near the Post Brothers’ GoldTex building, site of more than a few union confrontations not so long ago.
But it turns out that it was just a very realistic theater prop.
Applied Mechanics, an adventurous and well-regarded theater company based at 1219 Vine Street, had just closed its show We Are Bandits two days before, and the prop was part of that performance. Once the show finished its run, the bomb prop went out in the trash.
"It was a theatrical device that unfortunately was not disassembled before it was put in the trash," Philadelphia Police chief inspector Joe Sullivan told the press at the scene. "A very well-constructed theatrical device, I might add. It caused us a great deal of anxiety."
"The bomb squad supposedly said it was the most realistic fake bomb they had ever seen," says Applied Mechanics member Thomas Choinacky, crediting company designer Maria Shaplin's handiwork. "We Are Bandits was bringing the ideas of alternative economies and thinking outside of the capitalist model. Tickets were free for all audience members. It is entertaining to me that in the striking of the show, this occurred. This is great feminist theater at work!"