Philadelphia Fringe Festival
goers who want an unusual, interactive experience should head to The Renegade Company
’s Animal Farm to Table
, hosted by North Philly's Urban Creators
. The show will involve discussion, walking around the farm harvesting vegetables, a communal meal and a roving performance inspired by the George Orwell novel Animal Farm
. In other words, it’s not your typical theater experience.
"This is a piece that’s very active for an audience member," explains Renegade Artistic Director Mike Durkin. "You’re going to get your hands dirty and you’re going have bugs fly across your face."
Durkin says his interest in topics like access to healthy food started with his work at the Nicetown branch of the Free Library. Students who came for after-school programs didn’t have many food options besides the snacks for sale at corner stores.
"I began to get more and more interested in access," he recalls. "How we can obtain food? What impacts our food sources?" This year, it seemed like a good idea to integrate those themes of "seeking a food utopia, creating a food revolution" into another long-term goal: adapting Animal Farm
into a Renegade show.
In recent years, Durkin’s Fringe work has included Damned Dirty Apes!
, performed at FDR Park, and Bathtub Moby-Dick
, performed in a South Philly rowhome.
Durkin approached Urban Creators about a Renegade partnership at the start of 2016. The theater company had looked at several area farms as possible collaborators, but ended up choosing the grassroots nonprofit at 2315 N. 11th Street. The organization has a strong relationship with local youngsters and a community-driven mission of economic development, support for social entrepreneurship, and transforming neglected spaces.
The experience will last about 70 minutes, not including an optional "open sharing" discussion circle for all ticket-holders happening an hour before the show. It’s a "ground to the plate" experience, beginning with showgoers finding and harvesting veggies on the farm; Chef Brion Scheffler (the man behind the Philly blog Food Junkets
) will prepare a simple meal incorporating the audience members' finds.
The Renegade Company’s Animal Farm to Table, presented as part of the 2016 Philly Fringe Festival (check out our Flying Kite round-up of the fest here), is coming to Urban Creators for nine performances from September 8-18. All shows begin at 6:30 p.m.; come for an hour-long onsite pre-show discussion. Tickets are $20; discounts available for theater industry folks, teachers, students and seniors; pay-what-you-can admission is open to residents of the North Philly community.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Mike Durkin