About Us / Shows

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Automatic Arts is a Philadelphia-based performing arts company that specializes in original productions, presentations, and championing live performance.

Automatic Arts was founded Josh McIlvain and Deborah Crocker, and previously known as SmokeyScout Productions, a name that referenced their cats. Automatic Arts works in theater, interdisciplinary performing arts, art installations, and dance, often presenting a variety of art and performance side by side.

Josh McIlvain, artistic director and curator of Nice and Fresh Series
Deborah Crocker, producer

Advisory Board

Christopher Munden (Editor-in-Chief, Phindie.com)
John Rosenberg (Artistic Director, Hella Fresh Theater)
Yael Wulfhart (President, the art wolf gallery)
Michael Davis (Founder, Stag Films)

Automatic Arts is supported by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

PCF-Skyline 2017

If you are interested in booking a show at your theater, please contact AutomaticArtsCo [at] gmail.com. Productions include:

Nice and Fresh_Oct poster 2Nice and Fresh: Pop up Performances on New Theater, Dance and Circus Arts:  a recurring performing arts series that features new works from Philadelphia-based (and beyond) theater, dance, and circus arts companies at venues in Northwest Philadelphia. Each show features four artists/companies performing new and original 10- to 15-minute works in a variety of styles and artistic disciplines. Each show includes a new work written and directed by Josh McIlvain. Read the reviews and press.

SLIDESHOW by Josh McIlvain 1SLIDESHOW: From the 1960s through the 1980s, the slideshow was a staple of American life. SLIDESHOW drops audiences back in the time of Kodachrome colors, weaving a fictional family history around strangers’ real slides of long ago vacations. A bizarre, funny, and disturbing work that recreates a lost ritual, and delves into the aspirations of American life. Created and performed by Josh McIlvain.

AmericAmerican Wisdom_Ed Miller and Paul McElwee_2_Photo by Said Johnsonan Wisdom, a trio of one act plays about dogs, neighbors and bosses, features the plays: THANKS FOR THE PLANT, THANKS FOR THE CONE, a skewed morality tale about a neighbor who’s plant has just died, a neighbor who’s cone is missing, and a neighbor who just wants everyone to get along; For The Dogs, debt, dogs, and love demand a complicated balance in the search for a decent life in this humorous one-woman play; Waiting For The Boss, a tense, comedic drama about the intimate revelations between day laborers who care nothing for each other.

ReturnPoster_HighRes11x17Return of Confessions of a Plate and Shoe: Return of is a restaging and updating of our 2008 New York City show Confessions of a Plate & ShoeReturn of will features 15 short comedic plays, about a 1/3 from the original and the rest new works, carefully stitched together through artfully choreographed transitions. Original cast: Sarah Knittel, Jennifer Summerfield, Katherine Perry, Danielle Ryan, Sebastian Cummings, Ryan Walter.

Carter’s Play: is the anti-feel good play about low budget art-making. Featuring a play within a play, emotional manipulation, sex, and cheapness all in the name of theater. Playing with both naturalism and theatricality, Carter’s Play explores the motivations and moral gray areas behind art, collaboration, and how people recast themselves in their own stories. Cast: Jennifer Summerfield, Josh McIlvain, Patti Moore, Mark Cairns, Chris Davis, Sarah Robinson. Lighting: Catherine Lee. Written by: Josh McIlvain. Directors: John Rosenberg and Josh McIlvain. Debuted at The White Space at Crane Old School, Philadelphia, May, 2012.

Wild Punch: dancer-choreographer Annie Wilson’s dance graceful frsutrated expletive, a solo about her personal evolution as a dancer; Josh McIlvain’s play Waiting For The Boss (with James C. Tolbert & Josh McIlvain), a comedic drama about maintaining your sense of worth as you grow older in menial, underpaid labor; and John Rosenberg’s play Automated Fault Isolation (Anna Flynn-Meketon & John Rosenberg), a dark romance set in 1950s Arkansas about a white high school girl and a soldier waiting to murder a black teenager she has lured to a motel room. Debuted at the Papermill Theater, Philadelphia, November 2011. (Produced by SmokeyScout Productions and Hella Fresh Theater.)

DEER HEAD: At the 2011 Philly Fringe came 14 more outlandish short plays seamlessly staged into one evening of smart, edgy, and completely outrageous humor. And you don’t want to miss the tomato. Original cast: Jennifer Summerfield, Jeffrey Wu, Caroline Rhoads, Chris Ready, Morgan Everitt, and Langston Darby. Written and Directed by: Josh McIlvain. “Deer Head is off the wall. It’s also highly recommended if you’re into well-crafted short-form comedic theater.” Denis Kasrel, Philadelphia City Paper

Merry Fucking Christmas in December 2010 at Plays and Players, Quig’s Pub. The show is an irreverent, shocking, and hilariously disturbing antidote to the holiday season. (There was no press for this show, evidently no one wanted to print the word “Fucking.”) Original cast: Chris McGovern, Jennifer Summerfield, Domenick Scudera, Anna Watson, and John Rosenberg. Written and Directed by: Josh McIlvain.

Boat Hole in September 2010 during the Philly Fringe Festival. The show sold out and was one of Philly Weekly’s 10 Essentials at Live arts Festival and Philly Fringe in 2010. philly2philly.com wrote, “Josh McIlvain seems magically able to churn out funny shorts.” Original cast: John Jezior, Jennifer Summerfield, Steve Lippe, Brittany Holdahl, Bert Archer, Kyle Fennie, and Christen Mandracchia. Written by: Josh McIlvain. Directors: Josh McIlvain and Cyndi Janzen.

Confessions of a Plate and Shoe in November of 2008 at an off Broadway theater. The audience was nearly sold out and reviews were great!  “A very worthwhile show . . . they were all great!” (Papermag.com) Original cast: Nicola Barber, Josh Lay, Kevin Lyons, Jesse Teeters, Morgan Scott, Dennis Huskra, and Ariana Shore. Written by: Josh McIlvain. Directors: Chris Czyz and Deborah Wolfson.

Flyer and poster designs by Lisa Modica.


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