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Author Archive | Walter Bilderback

2017 FringeArts Festival Philadelphia

2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘A Period of Animate Existence’ by Pig Iron Theatre Company

If you open the dictionary and look up the word ‘life,’ one entry reads: ‘a period of animate existence.’ Composer Troy Herion gives this explanation for the title of Pig Iron Theatre Company’s newest work. A Period of Animate Existence is the largest project Pig Iron has ever taken on: it has 87 performers, including […]

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Review: ‘Cheeks’ at Plays and Players Theatre

First things first: Lee Minora’s solo show Cheeks is a laugh riot. Do not miss an opportunity to see this show. It is both whip smart and hysterical (both in the colloquial meaning and a feminist punning take on the word’s original meaning). In Cheeks, Minora plays a struggling actor, “Lee Minora,” who has delightedly […]

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2017 FringeArts Festival Philadelphia

2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Life Lines’ by Tangle Movement Arts at Neighborhood House

Life Lines is a new, collectively-developed work by the all-female ensemble Tangle Movement Arts. Tangle’s work is mostly derived from circus arts, particularly aerial performance on trapeze and silks, accompanied by music, live and recorded. Tangle describes Life Lines as “aerial dance and vertical drama” depicting “the chain reaction of a community healing after sudden […]

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Marcia Saunders and Eppchez! Photo by Daniel Kontz.

Review: ‘Hir’ at Simpatico Theatre Project

Two staples of American drama have been the “kitchen-sink play,” which feature small casts and meticulously detailed, usually lower-middle class, settings, and what I’ll call “family reunion plays,” in which the return of a family member opens festering wounds. (The two styles of drama can easily overlap.) Usually these plays have focused on white, “mainstream,” […]

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Elizabeth Zharoff. Photo by Peter Konerko.

Review: LiveConnections Presents Elizabeth Zharoff + Xavier Foley at World Cafe Live

LiveConnections Presents ended its sixth season with soprano Elizabeth Zharoff and double bassist Xavier Foley. This season was devoted to pairing musicians in order to stretch musical boundaries, and has resulted in some memorable programs, such as SYBARITE5 and Jakub Ciupinski, or Nicholas Photinos and Florent Ghys. Although both Zharoff and Foley are extraordinarily talented, […]

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Mattie Hawkinson. Photo by Shawn May.

Review: ‘The Broken Heart’ at Quintessence Theatre Group

It’s unlikely you will be familiar with John Ford’s The Broken Heart. Like most early 17th century playwrights not named Shakespeare, Ford’s works are rarely performed: he’s known almost exclusively for ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore. The Broken Heart was not performed between Ford’s time and 1962, when Laurence Olivier included it in the Chichester Festival’s season. […]

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Bradley Wrenn. Photo by Kate Raines.

Review: ‘It’s So Learning’ at FringeArts

It’s So Learning, written and performed by comedic mavericks The Berserker Residents, is a wild, immersive ride through the Berserkers’ vision of the K-12 system. Even people who avoid audience-participation theater like the plague – including yours truly – are likely to enjoy themselves here. The audience is ushered into a “classroom” (what is usually […]

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Ilmar Gavilán, Melissa White, Felix Umansky, Jaime Amador, Arturo Stable. (Photo taken at the sound check.) Photo by Brian Buttler.

Review: LiveConnections Presents Harlem Quartet + Arturo Stable

Once again, LiveConnections Presents (“LCP”) curator Mary Wheelock Javian’s musical matchmaking has produced a lively evening of musical discovery. This time it was the pairing of the Harlem Quartet with percussionist and University of the Arts professor Arturo Stable. As usual with LCP’s offerings, the first set featured the invited string players. The Harlem Quartet’s […]

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Review: ‘Sans Everything’ by Lightning Rod Special + Strange Attractor at FringeArts

Sans Everything is a collaboration between the theater companies Lightning Rod Special (“LRS”) and Strange Attractor Theatre Co. (“SATC”). The title comes from Jaques’ famous “Seven ages of man” speech in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Describing the set up is difficult, although LRS’s Alice Yorke and Scott Sheppard, both of whom perform in the […]

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Review: LiveConnections Presents Nicholas Photinos + Florent Ghys at World Cafe Live

Nicholas Photinos’ and Florent Ghys’ evening of “string innovations” was another successful pairing for LiveConnections Presents’ ambitious curator Mary Wheelock Javian. Her 2016-17 season “is focused on pairing virtuosic string players with a musical partner who takes their music in a new direction.” An evening will combine performances of work from each artist’s repertoire with […]

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Review: ‘SYBARITE5 and Jakub Ciupinski’ at LiveConnection at World Cafe

LiveConnection Presents’ evening of Sybarite5 + Jakub Ciupinski treated its World Cafe audience to two exciting young exemplars of new music.  Sybarite5 is a string quintet that is rapidly gaining critical acclaim. The addition of a double bass (Louis Levitt) extends the expressive power of the quartet structure (the rest of the group is: Sami Merdinian […]

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Review: ‘Guards at the Taj’ at Theatre Exile

Guards at the Taj is the story of two young friends, Humayun (“Huma”) and Babur. The two are a sort of Indian vaudeville duo: Huma (Anthony Mustafa Adair) is the uptight straight man, Babur (Jenson Titus Lavallee) the disorganized, dreamy, logorrheic child-man clown. The opening scene finds Babur arriving late at their post outside the […]

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2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Macbeth’ at Third World Bunfight

I’ve long felt that if someone is going to cut down a Shakespeare text, they should take the responsibility of claiming co-authorship, since any editing becomes interpretation. This year’s Fringe concludes with two international works that accept the responsibility and succeed in creating new works, although in very different fashion. Romeo Castelluci’s Julius Caesar, Spared […]

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2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Julius Caesar, Spared Parts’

A playwright friend recently recalled something the Russian director Dimitry Krymov said: “I want to be interested beyond my understanding. My understanding can catch up later…. The best compliment you will ever get is: I didn’t understand anything, but I found it so interesting.” Although I think I “understood” quite a bit of Romeo Castelluci’s […]

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