Genre-Defying Work: Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA January 28th-30th, 2011

Curatorial Advisor: Thaddeus Squire
View the full festival schedule Watch the live festival stream

How do we discuss/support works that defy genre/discipline? How is genre challenged or changed? When you push genre/discipline boundaries, when (does?) the work ceases to be theatre? Does that matter? Philadelphia will highlight the cross-genre and inter-disciplinary work created by ensembles that explodes genre and pushes boundaries.   We might assert that most theatre work that is “genre-defying” tends to incorporate media, technology, or other disciplines as the means through which the boundaries of traditional theater are erased and redrawn. What are the genres of "traditional" theater and how are they understood and approached today?  Over the course of two and half days we will go deep into conversations about structure and content in work that refuses to be categorized.

Performances

The Elastic Theatre in association with New Paradise Laboratories: The WORD: A House Party for Jesus A tent. A preacher. A seriocomic sermon extolling the glories of voyeurism and the perils of playing with gasoline. Brian Osborne creates a dead-on simulation of Marjoe Gortner, the famed child evangelist turned B-movie star. In Osborne’s hands, the curly-headed, jive-talking preacher boy becomes a silver-tongued magic man, transforming human frailty into a mind-bending and hilarious meditation on one man’s place in a topsy-turvy universe. THE WORD is a non-stop, mile-a-minute solo piece created and performed by Brian Osborne of the Elastic Theatre and directed by co-conspirator Whit MacLaughlin of New Paradise Laboratories. Team Sunshine Performance Corporation: Punchkapow Following their acclaimed premiere in November, Team Sunshine resurrects Punchkapow, a show for the part of us who sees Bruce Willis walk across the glass in Die Hard and thinks, “I could do that.”  Team Sunshine Performance Corporation company members Benjamin Camp, Makoto Hirano and Alex Torra explore how individuals wrap themselves in a fantastic distraction, taking a leap from the mundane to the imagined and then slipping, joyfully, into the violent. Punchkapow offers stunning physical acting and kickass fights as two dudes explore their brutal relationship in a world of ninjas, villains and epic battles large and small. shiFt / transfer Written by Justin Jain, directed by Rebecca Wright, performers Scott McPheeters, James Ijames, Genevieve Perrier & Leah Walton. Why do we leave our homes to start new lives? What are we hoping to find when we arrive? How does this affect the generations after us? Based on his life as a first-generation Filipino-American and intertwining stories from his ensemble, theatre artist Justin Jain weaves a tapestry of movement, music, and dialogue that asks these questions. The Shakedown Project: Revolution and a Sandwich One girl’s quest for revolution in a time when little seems worth fighting for, Claire finds herself in the driver’s seat of one of the most popular revolutions going down…and it encourages eating.  A social satire on the internet age of communication featuring an original script by Jeremy Gable with music by Sonni Shine. Headlong Dance Theater: Red Rovers Mars. An abject landscape. Endless dust, extreme heat and cold. Occasional meteorites. Onto this landscape dropped two rovers, named Spirit and Opportunity. They were designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and were meant to spend 90 days on the Martian surface before breaking down– 5 years later, against all odds, they are still there, collecting data and sending it back to Earth. Red Rovers is new a dance theater-visual art collaboration between Headlong Dance Theater and Chris Doyle, exploring a constellation of ideas: a lifeless landscape, the search for life on other planets, the impossibility of easy communication, the bonds between robots and with their makers, the eventual genetic modification and robotization of our human bodies, task-oriented movements, intricately detailed dance actions, strings of numbers and NASA lingo, propulsion, disability. What is it? Multiple Ensembles.  Multiple Performances. An evening of hybrid performances. Featuring the work of 5 different ensembles/solo artists from Philadelphia’s underground and experimental performance scene.  Lyrical Playground presents and excerpt from their newest show Love, Queens who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Fatima Adamu performs Lost at Sea with live cello, flute, and harp; Vince Johnson from Illreality and 5 of his breakers will present an excerpt from Homie Sapiens; Leah Stein Dance Company collaborates with percussionist Toshi Makihara; and a special guest artist(s) from the Fourth Wall Arts Salon will close out the evening with an experiment in sound and rhythm that will have the audience on their feet.

Workshops

First Person Arts: Word Craft Life Raft. Join cardboard constructionist Beth Nixon and poet Emily Abendroth for an afternoon of genre-busting collaboration. Participants will sculpt with words, write with cardboard, and create an interactive installation of original text and corrugated forms to be shared with the public upon completion of this 2 hands-on workshop. Contribute to this cooperative, imaginative experiment in interdisciplinary. Tools and materials provided, registration required. Pig Iron Theater Company: Ordinary/Extraordinary. Entrances and Exits -- the wonderful problem of doing nothing in front of an audience.  Can we make the audience say: “Nothing is happening, but I am compelled to watch”?  Pig Iron Co-Artistic Director Dan Rothenberg revisits some of the theatrical research behind Shut Eye, Pay Up, and Chekhov Lizardbrain. Registration Required. Strike Anywhere: Soundpainting. Artistic Director, Leese Walker and Ensemble Member, Rolf Sturm (Guitar) will teach a workshop in Soundpainting - the live composing sign language for musicians, dancers, actors, poets, and visual artists working in the medium of structured improvisation. The language was created by New York composer Walter Thompson. At present the language comprises over 800 gestures that are signed by the composer/conductor indicating the type of improvisation desired of the performers.  Soundpainting allows a conductor to shape group improvisations in ways that were never previously possible. Strike Anywhere is one of only three theatre companies in the U.S. using this new approach to improvisation.  Leese and Rolf are full-time artists and educators and bring a joyful, ensemble-approach to their teaching style.  Participants will learn a couple dozen soundpainting gestures and will employ these gestures in a series of compositions by the end of the workshop.  Wear clothes to move in and bring an instrument if you play. Registration Required.

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