|1812 Productions is pleased to announce its 2020-2021 theatre season. The 2020-2021 season features four original comedic works that are being designed for virtual performance, with live performances tentatively scheduled for spring, 2021. Each production will feature a mixture of live performance and pre-recorded material and will be streamed through 1812 Productions’ website. Jennifer Childs, Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director says of this new horizon, “This season we are leaning into our comedy mission like never before— into our need for laughter, joy, release, and the importance of community. We are also leaning into the ‘Productions’ side of our name, creating work in digital formats, live formats, and a mix of both. It has been an exciting challenge to figure out how we keep our digital work theatrical and find ways of connecting with audiences to maintain the feeling that we are live in the room, sharing a laugh together.”
The season begins with an original comedy Patsy’s Block Party, created and performed by Jennifer Childs and Brian Anthony Wilson. Featuring Childs’ original character Patsy, a South Philly politico and a favorite with 1812 audiences, Patsy’s Block Party brings much-needed levity to unprecedented times with her signature South Philly flair. Each performance will feature largely improvised material between Childs and Wilson including daily check-ins with the presidential campaigns, quarantine arts and crafts, virtual party games (Zoom-Twister, anyone?), and nightly interviews with some remarkable Philadelphians. These guest interviews will focus on citizens doing good works across the city including Samir Hernandez, Chef Instructor at Philabundance Community Kitchen, Bill Golderer, Founder of Broad Street Ministries and current President/CEO of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Lisa Nelson Haynes, Executive Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and many others. Patsy’s Block Party will stream October 21 thru November 1. Patsy’s Block Party is part of The Kim & David Adler Series and welcomes Honorary Producers Sharon and Jeff Weiss.
The season continues with 1812 Productions’ annual political comedy This Is The Week That Is. A celebrated part of the Philadelphia theatre season for the past 15 years, This Is The Week That Is 2020 (or TW20) delivers signature 1812 satire and content that changes with the headlines. TW20 welcomes new and veteran ensemble members and brings an exciting change, as long-time ensemble member Justin Jain moves into the director’s chair. Following such a turbulent and traumatic year, Jain says, “We’re anchoring This Is The Week That Is this year in two things: Unapologetic Joy and Community. I think this is a radically political act given the year we’re all experiencing. The big question we’ll be asking when we start making the show is ‘How can we face this trauma head on and defiantly carry the banner of Hope?’” The ensemble for TW20 includes show veterans Sean Close, Dave Jadico, Brett Robinson, Pax Ressler, and newcomers Annie Fang and Bren Thomas. This virtual production will also feature special commentary by best-selling author and humorist R. Eric Thomas. This Is The Week That Is 2020 will stream December 3, 2020 thru January 3, 2021. This Is The Week That Is 2020 is part of The June & Steve Wolfson Family Foundation Series and welcomes Honorary Producer Terry Graboyes. Production support has been provided in part by The Sylvia W. and Randel M. Kauders Foundation.
In early 2021, 1812 Productions will embark on its first serialized production called Set Model Theatre. Set Model Theatre will lean heavily into digital production and will be presented episodically over the course of three or four weeks. A grand behind-the-scenes tour, Set Model Theatre asks three teams of Philadelphia designers to reimagine Shakespeare’s epic tragedy King Lear as a comedy and to present a fully realized, miniature staging. Each team will have a set designer, lighting designer, sound designer, and costume designer, all drawn from Philadelphia’s vast wealth of fantastic theatre designers. 1812 newcomers such as set designers Jenny Hayama and Sara Outing and sound designer Damien Figueras will pair with 1812 veterans like costume designer Jill Keys and set designer Colin McIlvaine to find the light in Shakespeare’s harrowing family drama. The full company of designers will be announced in the new year. Set Model Theatre will stream in early 2021 at dates to be announced.
1812 Productions will close its season with the first production in a new four-year project called The Way I Walk. The Way I Walk is a collaborative work by Philadelphia Theatre Artists Jennifer Childs, Melanie Cotton, Tanaquil Márquez, and Bi Jean Ngo. Jennifer Childs says of this new collective, “With The Way I Walk, we are deepening relationships with a core group of artists who have worked with 1812 in any number of capacities over the years. All of them share and value the ethos of joy that is at the center of 1812, but all come from very different backgrounds and have different comedic perspectives. Our inaugural spring production is also the launch of a larger The Way I Walk Project. A core element of The Way I Walk Project is a four-year commitment from 1812 to invest in these artists and develop and produce a new piece of theater created by each of them.” Collaborative member Bi Jean Ngo adds, “The four of us have traversed vastly different artistic paths and personal experiences. In forming our cohort and sharing our stories, we deepen our understanding of what it means to be human, to recognize our strength, and in that strength we find joy.” Childs continues, “The best work we do at 1812 happens when we gather a group of artists together to make something unique. This project is an exciting expansion of our process, putting new voices at the center of our work each year.” Collective member Melanie Cotton enthusiastically offers, “I am super excited to join forces with these incredibly talented and funny women!” The Way I Walk is part of The Phoebe and Otto Premiere Series. The Way I Walk is tentatively scheduled for live performance in spring of 2021, contingent upon COVID-19 recommendations. A streamed production will be produced if live performances are unfeasible.