Four Philadelphia theatre makers are using performance to spark discussion about reclamation of narrative, perspective, and history. Through poetic dialogue, immersive soundscapes, and lyrical movement, Kaleid Theatre, Pratima Agrawal, Alma’s Engine, and TS Hawkins meditate on gender, race, sexuality, class, and everything in between. Each will share their performances as part of the 2018 (re)Focus Fest, from April 5 to April 8 at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia.
(re)FOCUS Fest began in 2016 as an opportunity to (re)focus on themes that are all around us, but difficult to see, explore, and discuss. It is a celebration of our ability to confront ourselves, learn from each other, and rejoice in the myriad of experiences that make us who we are. In 2016 the artists grouped together to tackle the concept of privilege. This year the artists will investigate reclamation. In a time where it feels like our history, our culture, and voices are being robbed; how do we reclaim what has always been ours? The (re)Focus artists believe that by performing their pieces together, the inherent variety of perspectives will provide different approaches that allow audiences and artist to see our world in new ways.
The structure of the festival itself is built around the concept of sharing perspectives. Each show will be performed in duet with another show, immediately creating dialogue. All tickets will be festival passes, which will grant access to all the performances. In addition, the ensembles hope that this festival format will bring people together from the different parts of Philadelphia to further share diverse perspectives. “Each of our artists come from different parts of the city,” said Sarah Mitteldorf, artistic director of Kaleid Theatre. “We really hope this festival will bring together people whose paths, and thus perspectives, might not cross otherwise.”
Kaleid Theatre (as in kaleidoscope, as in collide), a physical theatre ensemble, will explore the power structures inherent in reclamation, the language of accusation, and how each may implicate our society today. Their new piece, Titles Are For Little Witches: The Salem Bitch Trials, explores the history of early America in terms of accusation and fear, feminine power, and how to reclaim our inherent power as human beings. A group of bitches invite, tempt, and compel audiences to look at the tweets that twisted them, the politics that re-wrote them, the judgements passed, and the way dangling ropes are never final. Kaleid is thrilled to be rejoining (re)Focus Festival with a diverse ensemble of artists featuring Becca Khalil, Kaitlin Davis, Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez, and Minou Pourshariati.
Pratima Agrawal will present her solo performance, Voided, inspired by the true story of Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian female astronaut in space who dies in the 2003 Columbia accident. Through the lens of racial representation and feminism, Pratima explores her struggle to “fit in” on her own
terms as a performer in the City of Brotherly Love. What is it to exist in the world yet not exist in a community, what is it to be marginalized when seeking out unique roles only find stereotypes, and what does it mean for our histories to become invisible after we’re gone?
Alma’s Engine Publik Private, created and starring Eppchez!, is a physical and poetic exploration of the inner lives of Publik Universal Friend and la Monja Alferez (the Nun Lieutenant), two unique historical figures that determined their own authentic gender. One a white Quaker at the birth of America’s independence who becomes a vessel of God, the other a violent conquistador who ran away from the suffocation of the nunnery. Eppchez! Utilizing their own experiences, history will be confronted and questions will demand answers in the next process of Alma’s Engine who is committed to making space for the questions of our time, which are comfortable to avoid.
TS Hawkins’ Cartons of Ultrasounds will premiere under the direction of Cheyenne Barboza. This international author, poet, and playwright is thrilled to re-join (re)Focus Fest and return to this piece, which debuted in Philadelphia with BRAT Productions in 2011 before heading to Off Broadway in 2012. Cartons of Ultrasounds explores how society breeds womyn into silence and seclusion. Prisoners to their gender, society has become parasitic, extending life sentences of female identified invalidation. With scantily clad images, pejorative song lyrics, and abusive homes heightening the maltreatment of the female form, TS’ piece will investigate how we teach womyn to be the missing, the raped, and the forgotten.
(RE)FOCUS FEST SCHEDULE April 5 at 7:30 pm Titles are for Little Witches: The Salem Bitch Trials and Cartons of Ultrasounds April 6 at 7:30 pm Voided and Publik Private April 7 at 3:00 pm Voided and Publik Private April 7 at 7:30 pm Titles are for Little Witches: The Salem Bitch Trials and Cartons of Ultrasounds April 8 at 3:00 pm Titles are for Little Witches: The Salem Bitch Trials and Cartons of Ultrasounds April 8 at 7:30 pm Voided and Publik Private
(RE)FOCUS TICKETS $20 General Admission Festival Passes (includes entrance to all shows). $10 discounts for students and artists.
(RE)FOCUS LOCATION The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
LINKS TO INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS / SHOW DETAILS:
(re)FOCUS Fest Website: http://refocusfest.org/ Kaleid Theatre’s website: http://kaleidtheatre.org/ PAPA’s Mini-Residency of Voided http://asianartsinitiative.org/event/papa-mini-residency-showcase Alma’s Engine website: http://www.almasengine.com/ TS Hawkins’ website: http://www.tspoetics.com/