DEER HEAD: yet another—though equally hilarious, and perhaps even more so, as the first two—evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain

Writer/director Josh McIlvain of DEER HEAD // Photo by Deborah Crocker

Debuted at the 2011 Philly Fringe, sept 14 – 17, at the Performance Garage.

Performers Langston Darby, Morgan Everitt, Chris Ready, Caroline Rhoads, Jennifer Summerfield, Jeffrey Wu Lighting Design Catherine Lee Stage Manager Christopher Munden Produced by Josh McIlvain and Deborah Crocker Written n Directed by Josh McIlvain

City Paper review:

“Oh, the inanity! Deer Head is off the wall. It’s also highly recommended if you’re into well-crafted short-form comedic theater. Director Josh McIlvain has a gift for creating improbable situations that keep getting more absurd, then end with a well-placed punch line. He uses spare, well-chosen props and sharp acting to draw you into outrageous scenarios played out by kooky characters. A lover’s duel unlike anything you’ve seen before and an inspired spoof on genealogy and prejudice are among the gems here. Bravo to the entire cast for making these whackjobs so worth watching.” Deni Kasrel (9/15/11)

DEER HEAD brings together 14 of Josh McIlvain’s funniest and most absurd short plays never before seen in Philly, including world premieres, with an ensemble cast of six of Philly’s finest performers.

Extremely witty, sometimes outrageously raunchy, DEER HEAD features new plays that examine the disturbing absurdities of everyday life and the everyday life of the disturbingly absurd. DEER HEAD is a wild collection of short plays given a fantastically theatrical production in which even set changes become part of the live performance. Watch a stay-at-home dad use his newborn as a vehicle to flirt with the coffee-shop girl, see a mother and son in a cross-generational divide over the dos and don’ts of real kidnapping, meet a 40-year-old trick-or-treater whose dream is to trick-or-treat into his 60s, witness a foul-mouthed lizard and a dumb goldfish fight over who is a superior pet, and you don’t want to miss the tomato! Ghast!

DEER HEAD follows SmokeyScout’s production of Boat Hole, which sold out during its 2010 Philly Fringe run and was one of Philly Weekly’s “10 Essentials at Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.” They’ve also produced: Merry Fucking Christmas (2010), the hilariously disturbing antidote to holiday stress; Confessions of a Plate and Shoe (New York, 2008), deemed “A very worthwhile show . . . they were all great!” by; and a couple editions of The Bad Poetry Slam (exactly what it sounds like).

Who is Who:

Jennifer Summerfield (performer) is a company member of West Philadelphia’s Curio Theatre Company.  Favorite roles played there are Valerie in The Weir, Nurse Duckett in Catch-22, and Trillian in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  She recently understudied the role of Josie in A Moon for the Misbegotten at the Arden Theatre Company and had the incredible opportunity to go on three times in what has always been her dream role. Jennifer also starred in Boat Hole and Merry Fucking Christmas, SmokeyScout Productions’ two previous works.

“Little competes for, or captures the attention more than Summerfield’s penetrating portrayal.”
Jim Rutter, News of Delaware County

Q: Tell us about yourself.

JS: I was born in Panama City, California, but developed the acting bug while growing up in Wyoming where my family has lived since it was Wyoming Territory. In adulthood, I have lived in Massachusetts, Paris, New York City and Philadelphia. I currently rent a house in West Philadelphia from a family of feral cats and try to keep them well-fed.

Q: What do you look forward to in performing in DEER HEAD?

JS:  I can’t wait to take a crack at breathing life into the distressingly under-represented minority, the Tomato-Potato.  I hope I’m able to do them justice and help give them some well-deserved recognition.

Q: What’s your view of the Philly theater/performing arts scene?

JS: It’s been exciting living in Philadelphia after New York, because it’s such a growing theatre community, with small companies popping up every year doing new and exciting work.

Q: Any random bit of info you’d like to share?

JS: I speak French, although my husband doesn’t believe me, and I know how to levitate, which he does believe.

Langston Darby (performer) is a Philly transplant native of Laurel, Mississippi (home of Blanche Dubois and every bit you read was true).  Some credits include: Amadeus and How I Became a Pirate (Walnut Street Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing (Don Pedro, Shakespeare in Clark Park & Theatre Horizon), and Simulations (Plays and Players).  A graduate of the University of Southern Miss (B.F.A Theatre), Langston was a 2009–2010 Dorothy Haas acting apprentice at the Walnut Street Theatre.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

LD: I was born in Laurel, Mississippi. It’s a medium-sized city in the South that’s about two hours away from the Gulf Coast, the state capital, and New Orleans.  I split my formative years growing up in Laurel and about seven years in Atlanta, Georgia.  Right now I live in South Philly.

Q: What do you look forward to in performing in DEER HEAD?

LD: The pieces in the show are actually short plays, but I feel they have the energy of sketch comedy. I haven’t gotten to do a lot of comedy in my career yet—sketch or otherwise. I’m really looking forward to experimenting with comedic material on such a large scale.

Q: What’s your view of the Philly theater/performing arts scene?

LD:  I view the Philly theatre scene as vital and vibrant but still possessing almost unlimited potential. There are some great “power theaters” in town and then I think there are lots of artistically equal smaller companies who have the potential to become pillars of the city theatre scene. I choose to live and work in Philadelphia because I find it to be a nice transition between small city Southern life and metropolitan Northern life—and, like I said, there are theaters here, plural.

Q: Any random bit of info you’d like to share?

LD:  I was born with 12 fingers (I’m not inbred). I had an extra wisdom tooth (I swear I’m not inbred)

Caroline Rhoads (performer), is a Philly Improv Theater member, and has performed throughout the city in a lot of stuff, believe it!

Q: Tell us about yourself.

CR:  I was born in Harrisburg, PA, but grew up in a small town adjacent. If you aren’t familiar with Hummelstown—it’s close to Hershey, which is where they make all the chocolate. I have hopped around Center City, but now live in West Philly.

Q: What do you look forward to in performing in DEER HEAD?

CR: Getting to portray/become such fun characters. I remember seeing one of Josh’s shows in the past and immediately loved the dialog and wit of the script; I am so excited to be apart of those scenes.

Q: What’s your view of the Philly theater/performing arts scene?

CR: I have found the Philly scene to be very welcoming and supportive. Instead of competing with my fellow artists I am collaborating. I was bit nervous when I moved here 2 years ago, being a “new comer” is a bit intimidating, but almost immediately I had fellow artists offering their assistance and guidance.

Q: Any random bit of info you’d like to share?

CR:  I can do the worm backwards, there are 3 ice cream shops in my home town that know me by name.

Jeffrey Wu (performer) has worked as a research scientist, auditor, accountant, and standardized patient.  Jeff has also worked as background on feature films shot in the Philadelphia area as well as industrials, television, and commercials. Onstage, Jeff has been acting in community theater in the Philadelphia suburbs for the past 10 years, including shows such as Six Degrees of Separation, Fuddy Meers, Romeo and Juliet, Room Service, and All in the Timing.  He most recently portrayed Howie in Playcrafters Theater production of Rabbit Hole in August 2011.  His favorite things in the world are sporks, lemmings, jellybeans, and shooting stars.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

JW: I was born in Pottsville, PA.  Since then, I’ve bounced around the state of Pennsylvania (Johnsonburg, State College, Pittsburgh) as well as Westchester County, New York, before landing in the Philadelphia area. I currently lives in Lansdale with my lovely wife Trina.

Q: What do you look forward to in performing in DEER HEAD?

JW: I’m excited to be in DEER HEAD.  This is my first time performing in the Philly Fringe.  I’m looking to performing with the rest of the talented cast to bring Josh’s hilarious plays to life on the stage.

Q: What’s your view of the Philly theater/performing arts scene?

JW: The abundance of theater and other arts venues in the Philadelphia area is an integral part of what Philadelphia an exciting place to live and work.  There are numerous opportunities for both artists and appreciative audiences to partake in the thriving and vibrant arts scene.

Q: Any random bit of info you’d like to share?

JW:  I was formerly certified as an Emergency Medical Technician in the State of New York. So if you need medical attention, I MIGHT be able to help you . . . if both you and I happen to be within the borders of New York.

Morgan Everitt (performer) just returned from a summer working as an acting apprentice at The Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. She has also just received her BFA in acting from Arcadia University where favorite mainstage roles included Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Cassius in Julius Caesar, and Newton in The Physicists. Last Fringe Festival she was seen voicing and maneuvering puppets in Little Bunny Voodoo’s A Tale of Two Brains. After playing Tracy in Smokey Scout’s reading of Carter’s Play last spring Morgan is very excited to back and would like to thank Josh for the opportunity.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

ME:   I was born in Boston, grew up mostly on the Main Line but lived in Cambridge, England, from 7 to 10 years old. Alumni of a small private school, The Crefeld School, in Chestnut Hill, and of Arcadia University in Glenside.

Q: What do you look forward to in performing in DEER HEAD?

ME: I am very excited to work with such a talented and diverse group of people. It’s also great to work on original pieces (that are good!) with the writer as the director. Josh has a very clear idea of his work but is also very open to collaboration and what the actor brings.

Q: What’s your view of the Philly theater/performing arts scene?

ME: I love the Philly theater scene and am ecstatic to begin my career within it. Almost every show I go to is a real labor of love, and it’s so exciting to see so many talented people all putting their hearts into something that they believe in. The energy, enthusiasm, and talent on the people within the Philadelphia theater scene is tremendous and I am constantly inspired by it.

Q: Any random bit of info you’d like to share?

ME:  I am in a local band, Chewing Gum Tree, that plays shows mostly throughout West Philly.

Chris Ready (performer) returns to theater after five years of film and commercial acting. Theatre work includes Tony and Tina’s Wedding (Showboat Atlantic City), Me and My Gay Gothic Friends and Wake Up Paddington (The Valerie Solanas Players), and A Streetcar Named Desire (The Boulder Theatre). Film credits include: Down The Road (Spontaneous Pictures), Living Will (Kphat Production), and Knock ’em Dead (Cruz Control).

Josh McIlvain (writer-director) is a Philadelphia-based playwright who has had more than one-hundred productions of some sixty-five plays throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., including 38 New York productions. At the 2011Philly Fringe, he will be debuting DEER HEAD: yet another—though equally hilarious, and perhaps even more so, as the first two—evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain.In September 2010, Boat Hole: another evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain enjoyed sold-out performances at the 96-seat Performance Garage and was picked as one of the “10 Essentials of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe” by Philly Weekly and Philadelphia City Paper raved how “this one brings on the funny and the offbeat, tinged with an urban edge.” In November 2008, Confessions of a Plate & Shoe: an evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain enjoyed a nearly sold-out 5-night run at the Producer’s Club in New York City. Whitney Spaner of exclaimed how she “laughed out loud” at this “very worthwhile show.” Josh’s monologue The Boss’s Daughter was included in One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century (Applause, 2008). In 2008, Josh and Deborah Crocker started their own theater company SmokeyScout Productions ( Together they have produced four full-length evenings of plays, three of which Josh directed. Josh previous co-produced two shows in New York with the Crosstown Playwrights.

In addition to playwriting.  Josh is an editor and cofounder of Don Ron Books, publisher of the critically acclaimed Philly Fiction (“Philly Fiction rocks: Buy your own copy and see.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer) book series. He is a former editor for Fodor’s Travel Guides (Random House), has helped create museum exhibitions about the history of science for the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and worked on various projects for the Academy of Natural Sciences. He is a freelance editor/writer, and for the past three years has hired as the Information Manager and Guide Editor for the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, where he also helps oversee the Festival blog, which he change from being merely promotional to a blog that featured informational, journalistic style articles about local artists and goings-on. Recently, he began the Philadelphia Performing Arts Authority (, a blog that brings a critical assessment to the city’s performing arts and the issues facing the performing arts community. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Deborah, and son, Jasper.

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