Miss the show? Read the review!

People Are Strange and other revelations has closed, but you can read all about it here:

Broad Street Review

SoLow Fest 2018: Automatic Arts’ ‘People Are Strange and Other Revelations’

Quirky quartet

Automatic Arts, producers of the Nice and Fresh series of new short works, capture the SoLow Festival do-it-yourself aesthetic in People Are Strange and Other Revelations. This eclectic quartet of one-person pieces plays in the Da Vinci Art Alliance. ​

Marissa Kennedy in “A Friend.” (Photo by Said Johnson.)

Writer-director-performer Josh McIlvain starts the evening with a darkly funny recorded pre-show announcement. This travels into intriguing territory when he explains that “robots have rights” and that the space is haunted by vampires.

A gallery of characters 

The creepy vibe continues in “Away,” which McIlvain performs with a microphone in the small space, switching lights on and off as he goes. “Away” is actually a dialogue, I realized.

It’s a discussion about escaping everyday life to start over elsewhere, veering into a hilarious consideration of blindness’ possible benefits and brilliant throwaway moments such as, “I’ve been trying out saying that Jesus said stuff.” (As our president has proven, say something often enough and people believe it.)

Nik Menotiades’s “That’s My Time” likewise includes multiple characters. A nervous stand-up comedian wearing a tracksuit tells corny jokes (“Where were potatoes first fried? In Greece!”).

Menotiades also plays a heckler who takes over the show, then transforms into another comic (new costume hidden beneath the tracksuit), performing funny animal impressions. His excruciating comedy of discomfort left me thinking fondly of Andy Kaufman.

In “Key West or Bust,” written and directed by McIlvain, Tara Demmy plays Billy, a guy driving with friends from Troy, New York to southern Florida. Demmy wades into the audience, talking to us like we’re old friends sharing stories. Billy’s adventure is equally funny and sad, as the drive’s rigors nearly ruin Margaritaville, but Demmy’s lovable lout finds a silver lining.

McIlvain also penned “A Friend,” performed by Marissa Kennedy. As “M” sits painting, she recalls a variety of friends in a soft-spoken and sincere stream-of-consciousness chat that is deceptively detailed and deep. Can men and women really be friends? There’s no easy answer.

Nothing automatic

Like Automatic Arts’ “Nice and Fresh” series, People Are Strange slyly proves larger than the sum of its parts. Their DIY approach brews connections between disparate (and desperate) characters unadorned by theater’s more formal trappings. The humor often emanates from a feeling of common experience: at one time or another, we’ve been all these characters.

We’re just folks in a room, perhaps sipping a beer (Thoughtfully provided!), sharing something special. People Are Strange is us.

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See us at SOLOWFEST

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People are Strange, and other revelations . . . you’ll take away from this awesome night of short solo performances

Thursday June 14 at 8pm TICKETS

Friday June 15 at 7pm TICKETS

June 16 at 7pm and 9pm  TICKETS

Blindness, Key West, giraffes, a hunky neighbor who may be the real father of your child—encounter multiple circumstances and people in this evening of four solo performance works. People are Strange blends humor, insight, and just plain oddness with some music to boot. Performed in multiple rooms at an art gallery.

Performances by Tara Demmy, Marissa Kennedy, Josh McIlvain, Nikitas Menotiades*

*Appears courtesy Actors Equity

Da Vinci Art Alliance

704 Catharine St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

$10 / strange.brownpapertickets.com/

Nice and Fresh comes to West Philly Dec 1 + 2

Special Nice and Fresh curated by 2017 Automatic Arts resident artist Sarah Knittel

Nice and Fresh: The Great West

Friday December 1 at 7pm + 9pm TICKETS
Saturday December 2 at 7pm + 9pm TICKETS

Featuring new creations by
Anna Michael
Fred Brown
Betty Smithsonian
Lillian Ransijn
Josh McIlvain

Also including the talents of Christina Higgins, Taylor Plunket-Clemens, Travis Fischbach, and your host Sarah Knittel!

$7 / automatic.brownpapertickets.com

New short works of theater and dance!
Art Church of West Philadelphia
5219 Webster St, Philadelphia, PA 19143
(1 block from 52 + Baltimore)

Gaga Workshop and Classes August 2–4

Automatic Arts is thrilled to present Gaga in Philadelphia August 2 – 4, 2017 at The Performance Garage (1515 Brandywine Street). Classes will be taught by Or Meir Schraiber from Batsheva Dance Company.

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Gaga Workshop & Open Classes August 2, 3 & 4 

A 3 day Gaga Workshop for $100. The Workshop is open to professional dancers and dance students ages 16 or older. The daily schedule is:

  • 10:00am – 11:15am Gaga Class
  • 11:30am – 1:15pm Ohad Naharin Repertoire

We also will  be offering 3 days of Open Gaga People Classes  from  6pm – 7 pm for $17 per class. Gaga People is open to the general public and available for anyone at any age (16 or older), without the necessity of previous experience.

Space is limited and we encourage you to register in advance.

Register for the Gaga Workshop

Register for Open Gaga Classes

Questions? Contact Deborah Crocker at automaticartsco@gmail.com

What is Gaga?

Gaga is a movement language which Ohad Naharin developed over the course of many years and which is applied in daily practice and exercises by the Batsheva Dance Company members. The language of Gaga originated from the belief in the healing, dynamic, ever-changing power of movement.

Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through your body. Gaga provides a framework for discovering and strengthening your body and adding flexibility, stamina, and agility while lightening the senses and imagination. Gaga raises awareness of physical weaknesses, awakens numb areas, exposes physical fixations, and offers ways for their elimination. The work improves instinctive movement and connects conscious and unconscious movement, and it allows for an experience of freedom and pleasure in a simple way, in a pleasant space, in comfortable clothes, accompanied by music, each person with himself and others.

Mr. Gaga a film by Tomer Heymann

“Gaga challenges multi-layer tasks. We are aware of the connection between effort and pleasure,  we are aware of the distance between our body parts, we are aware of the friction between flesh and bones, we sense the weight of our body parts, yet, our form is not shaped by gravity . . . We are aware of where we hold unnecessary tension, we let go only to bring life and efficient movement to where we let go . . . We are turning on the volume of  listening to our body, we appreciate small gestures, we are measuring and playing with the texture of our flesh and skin, we might be silly, we can laugh at ourselves.  We connect to the sense of “plenty of time,” especially when we move fast, we learn to love our sweat, we discover our passion to move and connect it to effort, we discover both the animal we are and the power of our imagination.  We are “body builders with a soft spine. We learn to appreciate understatement and exaggeration, we become more delicate and we recognize the importance of the flow of energy and information through our body in all directions.  We learn to apply our force in an efficient way and we learn to use “other” forces.

We discover the advantage of soft flesh and sensitive hands, we learn to connect to groove even when there is no music. We are aware of people in the room and we realize that we are not in the center of it all. We become more aware of our form since we never look at ourselves in a mirror; there are no mirrors.  We connect to the sense of the endlessness of possibilities.  Yielding is constant while we are ready to snap . . .

We explore multi-dimensional movement, we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles,  we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it.  We change our movement habits by finding new ones, we can be calm and alert at once.

We become available . . .”

-Ohad Naharin

Picture for New York 2014Ohad Naharin has been hailed as one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers. As Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company since 1990, he has guided the company with an adventurous artistic vision and reinvigorated its repertory with his captivating choreography. His works have also been performed by prominent companies including Nederlands Dans Theater, the Paris Opera Ballet, Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Compañía Nacional de Danza (Spain), Cullberg Ballet (Sweden), Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (New York), and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (New York).  Naharin is also the originator of an innovative movement language, Gaga, which has enriched his extraordinary movement invention, revolutionized the company’s training, and emerged as a growing force in the larger field of movement practices for both dancers and non-dancers.

Photos by Gadi Dagon.

Coming to SoLow Fest June 15-17

Twists on the solo performance.

Thursday June 15 at 8pm
Friday June 16 at 8pm
Saturday June 17 at 7pm and 9pm

PII Gallery
242 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19116

Pay What You Can (Suggested $5–$15, cash only at door)

Advance tickets $12 / allone.brownpapertickets.com

Theatrical takes on the “solo” show by Josh McIlvain and Sarah Knittel. Find yourself in the throes of “the diviner,” a community meeting about a new mural, and one man’s disturbed attempt to make sense of the world. Plus a music troubadour and a solo dance. Plus complimentary beer!

Includes:

The Diviner (photo below), written and directed by Sarah Knittel, performed by Harry Watermeier.

MAKING the WORLD a BETTER PLACE through MURALS, written and directed by Josh McIlvain, performed by Sophia Barrett and Wyl McCaul

Mice, written and directed by Josh McIlvain, performed by Joshua Millhouse.

Plus a solo dance and live music.

Wyl McCaul and Sophia Barrett in MAKING the WORLD a BETTER PLACE through MURALS_photo by Said Johnson

Nice and Fresh April

“The best showcase for new performing arts in Philadelphia.” Phindie.com

NICE AND FRESH: New Works of Theater and Dance

peepSHOW

April 28 + 29

Friday April 28 at 6pm and 8pm
Saturday April 29 at 6pm and 8pm

Moving Arts of Mount Airy
6819 Greene Street (at Carpenter Lane)
Mount Airy, Philadelphia.

Balk (theater)
Two dads hang out without the protection of their wives and kids.
Performed by Ed Miller and Josh McIlvain, directed by Josh McIlvain, written by John Rosenberg of Hella Fresh Theater.

peepSHOW (dance theater)
A somatic exploration of the revealing.
(Think about it.)
CCreated + performed by Sarah Knittel and Lillian Ransijn

The Presidents (theater)
A power struggle at the Lodge over who gets to be which president in the Independence Day Parade.
Performed by Mike Franz + Mark Wheeler, directed by Lexa Grace, written by Josh McIlvain of Automatic Arts

Research 2 (performance art)
The collision of one’s sense of identity and change—whether in the world, relationships, or one’s own body.
Created and performed by Irina Varina

Select Readings from the 1986 Amnesty International Report (reading)
Exactly what it sounds like.
Concept and music by Josh McIlvain, reading by Christopher Munden (Friday) and TBD (Saturday).

Art by Chuck Schultz
Visual artist Chuck Schultz will display a number of his images of performers, which he has created while watching performances.

Each performance is 8–12 minutes, entire show is 70 minutes.

peepSHOW photo by Kim Spade. BALK photo by Richard Underwood.

BALK