Tag Archives: philadelphia

Parking, Property & Locke

In one way or another, this winter has been tough on all of us here in Philadelphia. And for those that are forced to commute in and around the city, it has been particularly tough. As a car-driving, street-parking resident of center city, I know all too well how frustrating finding a parking spot can be on a regular day, let alone when the streets are packed with grayish brown mountains of snow.

During the snowiest days of the winter months, the daily anxiety of the parking-spot treasure hunt can evolve into something much more sinister. After residents devote countless hours digging out their cars and parking spots, it is not uncommon to see these spots then occupied by chairs or cones or trashcans.  In fact, this informal way of “marking ones spot” is practiced all year round in certain parts of Philadelphia. But something changes in winter; somehow that area of the street that you dug out becomes yours. It becomes your property. It seems almost inevitable, then, that tempers could flare and things could quickly get out of hand (it should be noted, though, that this is not unique to Philadelphia).

How can we make sense of this? Why is it that a ‘stolen’ parking spot during a summer month might end, at worst, in a foul-mouthed verbal exchange when the exact same act during a winter month might end in violence?

The philosophical insights of 17th century thinker John Locke (1632 – 1704) might help us understand the issue a bit more.

Among the most influential political philosophers of the modern period, Locke’s writings went on to heavily influence and form the basis of the US Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Of particular importance for the current discussion are Locke’s insights regarding property rights.

For Locke, human beings come together and form a political state in order to protect their property. In his own words:

“The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.” The Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690)

The basic idea is that absent any form of social contract, human existence is one of ungoverned lawlessness (think: Walking Dead without the zombies). And although Locke suggests that, for the most part, people are rational and social creatures, he does not contend that life will be without problems. Thus, a primary concern for people free of governmental oversight will be the protection of their property.

This of course begs the question: If the conventional understanding of property is defined by governments how does one have property absent a government?

Locke once again provides the answer in his Second Treatise of Civil Government:

“… every man has property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.”

Locke’s understanding of ‘property’ extends far beyond the idea of material possessions. The core concept here is that we have the right to our own body (and as an extension of our body, the labor that flows from it). Furthermore, the products resulting from ones labor can rightly be considered ones property.

So for your average, say, South Philadelphian that spent all morning shoveling out her spot on the street, something is different about that parking spot in winter versus summer: Labor. By mixing her labor with the elements of nature (snow), she can now lay claim to the result of her labor (the spot) in a way that she could not have previously. So when her unsuspecting neighbor takes the shoveled spot, they literally are taking it. Although technically the spot is a part of the publicly owned street, the psychological interpretation is one of literal theft and a violation of ones rights. 

To be clear, this essay is by no means meant to justify violence over shoveled parking spots. Rather, the intention is to try and form a conceptual understanding of extreme human behavior given the snowy circumstances.

As Americans we take our rights seriously. And although John Locke was an Englishman, he too understood the importance of rights. In fact, it was Locke that identified the “inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the right to own property,” – sound familiar? 

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Interview: Josh Carrafa of Old Monk on Making Music, Not Trying to Save the World

Photos by Caroline Edgeton

Brooklyn-based band Old Monk recently paid Philly a visit by playing a pretty kickass show at The Fire in Northern Liberties. The three piece project consisting of Josh Carrafa (lead vocals/guitar), Ian Burns (drums), and Tsugumi Takashi (bass) played to a small, but fully engaged, audience.

Playing songs from their first full length titled Birds of Belize, the band really showed everyone how much fun they have. What’s interesting about Old Monk is that they play music that’s a bit different from other acts these days. It’s definitely rock ‘n roll at its core, but with a fast paced and tightly knit structure. The lead singer sounds a whole lot like Stephen Malkmus of Pavement (and that is hard to overlook); however, the band keeps things really interesting and exciting by providing unexpected shifts and delays, slowing the song down like it’s about to end and then bringing it back in loud and clear. And, to top it off, they have these great, super fun 8-bit/Atari style music videos that Carrafa makes on his computer. Check out this one that he made for “Fowl and Foe” (there’s some Monty Python referencing in it).

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Before the show, two.one.five had a chance to chat with lead singer Carrafa about the project and what to expect from Old Monk in the future.

two.one.five: So, what’s been going on with you guys recently?

Josh Carrafa: Oh not a lot. We’re playing a lot of local shows, recording a bunch, and making some videos. Okay, so I guess that’s a lot. We just did two videos: one came out in March and one came out last month. Just finished one that should come out in September.

two.one.five: I really like the videos. What made you guys want to go with that 8 Bit, sort of Atari style? Who makes your videos?

JC: Thank you. I do, actually.

two.one.five: Did you go to school for animation or design or graphics or anything like that?

JC: One day I was messing around with photoshop and just sort of figured out how to do it. I started drawing these little gifs and I put ’em up on a website. It’s called musichistoryingifs.com.

two.one.five: It definitely makes your music videos really fun and interesting.

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JC: We’ve done a couple videos in the past that have been traditional video/film. The kind where you just stand around and look awkward. They’re boring and not that interesting to me. It’s awkward for me to do it and watch, you know? Like, there’s no reason for you to bring all of your equipment and play on top of a roof somewhere.

two.one.five: A lot of music videos don’t make that much sense to me. There’s not that much of a point to them unless it’s unusual or different, I think. I would imagine recording most videos would be really awkward.

JC: It definitely can be.

two.one.five: I really love the Monty Python references in the video.

JC: Yeah, that’s something we really like, too.

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two.one.five: So, I read you and Ian were pretty far away from each other when you first got this project started. How’d you link up in the first place?

JC: We met each other at the University of Colorado at Boulder; we had a college band in there. Ian stayed in Colorado and I moved to New York. In our college band we weren’t the song writers, we just played whatever we were told to play. We both seemed to have similar taste and styles of music, so we just kept in touch over the years. When I moved to New York, we’d just record stuff and send it to each other online. When we were really getting something concrete I convinced Ian to move to New York and we’ve been playing together for about 3 years now.

tow.one.five: So, other than recording with your previous band, this is your first album you’ve recorded together?

JC: Yeah, it was just me and Ian for the first one. Tsugumi kind of came in a little later. We actually went into the studio with no intention of making an album. We didn’t know how much time we would have, we didn’t really have a plan. We just booked a space with the intention of making a demo or like 4 songs maybe. We wound up working really fast got through 12 songs in one day, one session. We were like, “Well, I guess we may as well just make this an album.” It was weird how it just jumped up on us.

two.one.five: Based on that experience, what lessons are being carried over into your next album?

JC: Well, it’s a lot less spontaneous. The first one had that spontaneity vibe that was more of a “just go with it” style. This time we’re taking a little more time recording and actually thinking out the technical stuff. We’re definitely more ready this time than the first go round. Having Tsugumi on board helps a lot; she’s great.

two.one.five: When is the new album coming out?

JC: It should be out early next year.

two.one.five: How did you come up with the name Old Monk?

JC: I don’t know, just words. We just needed a name for the band and it just kind of came to me. It’s not really anything all that important or deep; we’re just playing music, not saving the world or anything.

two.one.five: What kind of music do you guys like to listen to?

JC: We like all sorts of stuff. Been listening to a lot of Black Sabbath recently. We’re also huge Pavement fans; the proggier stuff like Yes and Rush. Also really like The Joggers and newer, indie stuff like Deerhoof.

two.one.five: What are your day jobs?

JC: Ah, nobody likes to talk about their day jobs. Ian works at a restaurant, Tsugumi works at a studio, and I’m a lawyer.

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two.one.five: A lawyer, really?

JC: I do boring, corporate busy work. It’s not very stressful, I’m not litigating huge cases or anything. I just read and send a lot of e-mails.

two.one.five: You should make a music video where you’re using that stereotypical court room scene that everyone thinks of when you say the word “lawyer.” I’m thinking, like, intense drama, the judge banging the mallet down yelling, “Order! Order!” and he’s wearing a big white wig. But that’s just me.

JC: Yeah, I’ll have to work on that one. That’s a good idea.

two.one.five: Ah, anytime.

Recap: 2013 Beyond Sport Summit

As one of the most passionate, sports-crazed cities in the world, it was only fitting that Philadelphia served as the host city for the 2013 Beyond Sport Summit last week.

“You don’t have to be here long to realize that this city loves sports,” noted Michael Burke, Managing Director of Wealth and Investment Management for Barclays (one of Beyond Sport’s global partners). “Sports is part of the DNA of Philadelphia.”

The goal of Beyond Sport – which was founded in 2008 – is to highlight how athletic endeavors can be used to benefit the greater good. During the three-day event, hundreds of organizations from around the world were honored for their work in using sports as a catalyst for positive social change.

“We shouldn’t talk about sport as an opportunity [for social change],” said NBA Commissioner David Stern during a panel on the intersection of sports and politics. “We should talk about it as an obligation.”

Attendees spent the first two days of the Beyond Sport Summit visiting a variety of local organizations that are making a difference in the community via sport. On the final day of the conference, Jeffrey Lurie – whose Philadelphia Eagles were named Beyond Sport’s Team of the Year in 2011 – provided the opening remarks, and several others with ties to the city had a chance to offer their views, including Eagles’ co-owner Christina Weiss Lurie, Philadelphia 76ers’ CEO Scott O’Neil, and former Philadelphia mayor (and PA Governor) Ed Rendell.

“Sports has a unifying effect that nothing else in society has,” noted Rendell.

Each of the major local sports teams are ahead of the curve in terms of giving back to the community. The Eagles Youth Partnership provides free vision care and educational programming to more than 50,000 children in the Delaware Valley each year. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, recently announced their “Sixers Strong” initiative that will result in all Sixers’ employees investing a minimum of 76 hours of community service during the 2013-14 season.

The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation provides free equipment, ice time and coaching to more than 3,000 inner-city children, while the Phillies Phestival has raised more than $14.3 million for The ALS Association since its inception in 1984.

“The courage of one,” said Lurie, “can only change the world when it’s united with the courage of everyone else.”

Interview: The Astmospheric Beats of Ulrich Schnauss

Photo provided by Last.Fm

If you have an affinity for electronic music, especially within the atmospheric realm, then you have more than likely heard of Ulrich Schnauss. This German-based producer began his career in Berlin in the ’90s after growing up in a small town called Kiel. His interest in ’90s shoesgaze really inspired him to create electronic music with other likeminded producers. In 2001, Schnauss released his own solo debut titled Far Away Trains Passing By and has since continued to keep the attention of and influence listeners.

In his solo career he is known for creating textually rich, atmospheric instrumental pieces that evoke a somewhat upbeat mood. While he may somewhat disagree with this notion (see interview below), Schnuass seems to continue to focus on a theme that involves movement and travel. It’s hard to determine whether it’s the music or the titles of the songs that clue us into this; however, one thing that remains clear when listening to Schnauss’ music is that you always know you’re listening to him. His style doesn’t change drastically, but it’s the subtle changes that make him so interesting.

In January of this year he released his fourth solo record to date titled A Long Way To Fall. He is currently on tour promoting the album.

two.one.five had a chance to chat with Schnauss before his Philadelphia performance. He’ll be playing Johnny Brenda’s tonight with Telequanta. Doors at 8pm, show starts at 9:15pm. Tickets can be purchased here.

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two.one.five: What drew you to create electronic music?

Ulrich Schnauss: I grew up in a pretty remote area of northern Germany where it was impossible to find people with a similar taste in music. Electronica provided a way of realizing my ideas without relying on a band. Besides that I was already fascinated by the sonic possibilities the synthesizer offers as an instrument. Discovering Tangerine Dream in particular convinced me that I could create the music I imagined using a sequencer-based set up.

two.one.five: How much of your music is composed on real instruments vs. digitally?

UR: I compose everything on ‘real instruments’ – mainly piano, sometimes synths. I never write on the computer.

two.one.five: What did you do differently in writing and recording this album compared to the last?

UR: My music taste changes every eight to 10 years as it seems — after a longer time where I was interested in the idea of transferring an ‘indie’/shoegaze aesthetic into an electronic context, I somehow rediscovered my love for more straightforward synthesizer sounds that are not disguised by tons of reverb. I think the most recent album reflects that, and it’s a direction I’m gonna continue to work in.

two.one.five: How do you come up with the titles to your songs and albums? They seem to evoke a somewhat melancholic feeling.

UR: Quite a few people perceive my music as ‘optimistic’ or even ‘happy’ – that’s fine, but in reality I just try to create a utopian counterpart to a reality I perceive as dark and hostile. So, the titles may reflect the sentiment out of which the actual music emerged while the music itself wants to provide an escape.

two.one.five: What are your current influences, musical and non-musical?

UR: I think a lot of interesting contemporary music can be found within drum&bass and dubstep or ‘bass music.’ Among many others, I enjoy the works of Frederic Robinson, Synkro, Clarity, etc. Also listening to a lot of japanese electronic classics from the late ’70s and early ’80s at the moment – an amazing amount of great music produced by Haruomi Hosono (besides the main Yellow Magic Orchestra albums) for instance. Also started reading more again this year – currently going through a number of extremely fascinating essays by Herbert Marcuse.

two.one.five: How did growing up in Germany influence your music?

UR: I think it made me even more determined and committed — if you live in a place that makes you unhappy and you almost feel strangulated by the political, social, and cultural environment that surrounds you, then you will really invest all your energy in trying to escape from there.

two.one.five: Have you played Philly before? If so, do you like playing here? Are there any places you want to see before you leave?

UR: I’ve played in Philly two times before – once supporting M83 and once with Mahogany and Soundpool. I had a good time, but the traveling schedule didn’t allow to get a more detailed impression of the city. I hope that’s gonna be different this time.

 

Sublime with Rome Spread Love with Pennywise and Julian Marley

Penn’s Landing’s River Stage was the place to be Tuesday night to witness the music of Sublime with Rome, Pennywise, and Julian Marley. Although the show was supposed t0 be held at Festival Pier, the change to a smaller venue made the performance more intimate.

Julian Marley, one of Bob Marley’s sons, was the first act to take the stage.  Needless to say, Julian brings the same positive, laid-back sound that his father possessed years ago.  His original songs like “Awake” and “Boom Draw” both had messages of elevating yourself to a higher plane of consciousness. He also covered some of his father’s songs like “Waiting in Vain” and “Exodus” which kickstarted the crowd’s good vibes. Everything about Julian’s set was a reflection of the legacy of Bob Marley and how Reggae music has stood the tests of time.

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The second opening act was not so mellow. Pennywise is a Punk Rock Band from Hermosa Beach, California who love to instigate mosh pits via fast guitar riffs, rapid drums, and hardcore vocals. In case you have never heard of them before, their music is very anti-establishment. Before playing their song, “Fuck Authority,” guitarist Fletcher Dragge reminded the audience that you don’t work for the government, “The government works for you!” Their set also featured a dedication song to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, titled “Perfect People.” Pennywise even covered Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” and the Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).”

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By the time Sublime with Rome began playing their opening song “Date Rape”, the audience was bouncing off the wall. They became entranced by the melodic sound that is always reminiscent of summer time. It was greatest hit after greatest hit last night as the band played songs from each of their albums, some of the most notable included “April 29th 1992,” “Garden Grove,” “Wrong Way,” and “Smoke Two Joints.” Just like Pennywise, Sublime with Rome also played a Nirvana cover.  This time it was “Drain You” and it kicked everyone’s ass! There was crowd surfing and moshing like you wouldn’t believe.

After a solid hour long setlist, the band came out for their encore. The first song was arguably their greatest hit, “What I Got” which is a classic concert sing-a-long. Then came “Doin’ Time” with the very fitting chorus lyrics “Summertime and the living’s easy…”

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Just as everyone expected, Sublime with Rome closed their set with “Santeria,” a song that embodies the spirit of the late singer of Sublime, Bradley Nowell, who passed away in 1996. Although it is always difficult to carry on with a music career when your frontman dies at such a young age, Rome fills Bradley’s shoes very well and the band still puts out the same sound they did 20 years ago.

Photos: Questlove presents the 3rd annual PSK!

For the 3rd straight year, Heineken hosted the ultimate DJ showcase to kick off the largest free concert in America, “The Roots 4th of July Jam”.

Party goers literally danced until the sun came up at the 3rd annual Philadelphia Sound Konnoisseurs aka PSK! Roots founder, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson threw the epic event on July 3rd with an all-star line up at Voyeur. The evening featured RJD2, Cash Money, Cosmo Baker, DJ Phsh, DJ Statik, Emynd & Bo Bliz and of course,  Questlove.

Flaming Lips Announce Show in Philly with Tame Impala

 

Psychedelic favorite The Flaming Lips just announced extra dates to their 2013 tour. Promoting their most recent release, The Terror (video), the guys will make a welcomed appearance at the Festival Pier on Thursday, October 3. Joining them will be Tame Impala who released their critically acclaimed album Lonerism just last year. Tickets will go on sale this Friday, June 28!

Check out the video for Tame Impala’s  “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”.

Source: Philly.com

Interview: Alicia DiMichele-Garofalo of East Passyunk’s Addiction Boutique

While she may have turned down an appearance on VH1’s Mob Wives, she certainly didn’t turn down venturing into her own success. Alicia DiMichele-Garofalo, owner of Cherry Hill’s Addiction Boutique, has decided to open up a second location right here on Philly’s thriving East Passyunk Avenue. Situated in what used to be the Bronze Bar tanning salon, across from popular spots Plenty and Birra, there is now a new, bold, and sassy neighbor on the block.

The first things I noticed at Addiction were bold colors, funky patterns, jumpsuits, flowy dresses, plenty of accessories (jewelry, clutches, home decor items, etc.), and only a small hint of animal print. What surprised me the most about the store was how it blended outside of the box options with more classic, subdued pieces that anyone could add to their wardrobe. To top it off, nothing was more than $100.

Just over the weekend Addiction Boutique had its grand opening. It was quite the party with beats from DJ Ebro, appetizers provided by Stogie Joes, black and white balloons throughout the store, spiked iced tea, and a red carpet to boot. DiMichele-Garofalo was looking fly and fierce with a lacey top, black bra, leather skirt, and black headband.

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two.one.five had a chance to chat with DiMichele-Garofalo about opening up shop here in Philly, her shopping addiction (hence, the name of her store), and the importance of looking good and rocking your own style.

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two.one.five: When did you decide you wanted to go into the fashion industry? When did you really first think to yourself, “This is what I want to do?”

DiMichele-Garofalo: I have always loved fashion and, of course, shopping. When I first met my husband, who is originally from Brooklyn, he used to take me shopping in all these cool little trendy boutiques in New York, and that’s when I officially became ADDICTED!  There was nothing like these boutiques where I live in Marlton, N.J., and I knew that this is what I wanted to do, to feed my addiction.

two.one.five: Where do you draw inspiration from? Is there perhaps a way you can categorize the type of style you like to promote? Or even a decade or area of the world?

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DG: Dressing to me is like drawing a piece of art, you are your own canvas. My style varies from rocker chic, glam rock, boho chic to girly girly. I tend to catch people off guard with my look because I am never consistent. My inspiration comes from the feeling I want to project for that day in what I’m wearing, whether it’s power and confidence, fierce and sexy, or cool and laid back.

two.one.five: On that same note, is there an individual or individuals who inspire you to do what you do?

DG: My inspirations are my three beautiful sons because everyday I try and show them that no matter what life throws at you, if you stay true to yourself and what you believe in, you will without a doubt thrive to survive…my only agenda is success. I have always been fascinated with self-made, successful woman — they are also an inspiration.

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two.one.five: Do you plan on spending a lot of time up here in your Philly location?

DG: I plan on spending a lot of my time in my Philly store meeting the new customers, making sure that the store is up and running perfectly, and to make sure that everyone in South Philly gets addicted!

two.one.five: What made you hone in on the East Passyunk location?

DG: I wanted to open my second location on East Passyunk because a lot of my customers would drive from Philly to my store in Cherry Hill to shop. I knew that East Passyunk has been up and coming and wanted to help make it thrive by adding my boutique to the mix.

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two.one.five: Do you have plans to continue expanding beyond your New Jersey and Philly locations?

DG: It is absolutely in my plans to open more stores and spread the addiction!

two.one.five: What separates your boutique from other boutiques in Philadelphia? In your opinion, why should someone shop at Addiction as opposed to a competitor?

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DG: Addiction Boutique stands out from the rest with our very unique styles that you will not see anywhere else; they’re all very reasonably priced and under $100. Our loyal customers know to check in often because our inventory is limited. We receive orders twice per week, and once it’s gone it’s gone for good.

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two.one.five: How excited are you for your new location?

DG: I am so excited to have another store and venture into a new location and to embrace the people and businesses on East Passyunk Avenue.

Interview: John Clancy and Brian Grace-Duff of Brat Productions’ ‘The Last Plot in Revenge’

Brian Grace-Duff‘s The Last Plot in Revenge is a play unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It is a spaghetti western musical with raw grit, blood, sweat, actual spaghetti, and puppets. How does that grab you? Well, let me tell you, when you get yourself out to Lucy’s Hat Shop at 247 Market Street to check out this gem of a show you, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.  

The show will continue to go on at Lucy’s in the archive space until June 29. For tickets and times, check www.bratproductions.org and bratproductions.ticketleap.com. Also, make sure you’re not faint of heart as there are some sudden loud noises, crashes, and fights that turn realistically violent (and bloody). If  you know anything about Brat shows, they are not trying to hold much back.

This epic story is about two feuding families, the McGruels and the Scrapfields, fighting over the last cemetary plot in Revenege, Mont. Following the spaghetti western narrative, there is one character with a chip on his shoulder lurking in the shadows patiently waiting to act on a personal vendetta. In addition, you’ve got a couple of worn out prostitutes just wanting to keep a meal on the table and to catch a break. One of which is also dealing with an unfortunate case of lockjaw (which is wonderfully portrayed by Sarah Schol).

Directed by Obie-award winning, critically acclaimed off-Broadway director John Clancy, The Last Plot in Revenge is full of unexpected twists and turns (and gunshots, stabbings, fighting, yelling, laughing, and singing). This is all beautifully put together through a truly phenomenal cast and a gorgeous, original score written by Peter Gaffney. And, just when you think this play is already awesome, what makes this experience even better is during intermission you get a bowl of spaghetti with some garlic bread, compliments of Nick’s Roast Beef and Espositos.

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What’s more interesting is the fact Grace-Duff wrote it while he was Brat’s Artist in Residence with the help of Clancy, Gaffney, and the cast, to name a few. It’s truly a collaborative play that demonstrates a sense of cohesiveness that is quite challenging to achieve. Due to the very nature of that collaboration, we are able to see successful and believable portrayals of a group of people struggling to survive and fight for what they think is theirs in a tumbleweed filled, coyotes howlin’ world. By the way: what is possibly one of the more impressive aspects of this production is there are 16 roles and only 8 actors on stage the entire time. Yet, somehow, each cast member is able to successfully and convincingly change into different characters and costumes rather quickly. The talent in this show is quite astounding. 

While I could talk on and on about everything else I enjoyed, I’ll let Grace-Duff and Clancy provide a little more background. two.one.five got the opportunity to have a fantastic chat with them both prior to their wildly successful opening weekend. 

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two.one.five: Can you describe the play in your own words?

Brian Grace-Duff: It’s a tricky play to summarize. One of the biggest challenges and what is something we have continued to discuss as a group is how does film translate on stage. Not in the traditional way, though, but how does it actually have a conversation with the audience that’s cinematic and live. It’s an interesting challenge to put on stage. You have this place called Revenge, Mont., and you have these two families fighting for what they believe is rightfully theirs. Then you have this mysterious gunman called Fossors who has a dark past that’s coming across the landscape; this provides a crossroads of a larger scale fight and personal feud. It all comes down to one moment, one final showdown.

John Clancy: One of the specific challenges of the show is that it’s a spaghetti western and it’s all live. How can you create it all with lights and puppetry and music and this incredible score written by Peter Gaffney. There are these beautiful songs that the actors sing; there’s accordion, harmonica, cello, guitar…it’s just very cool. That’s the big challenge, you know, making something that’s larger scale on a small stage…we also have the actors changing character and moving props around and adjusting the set. I feel like you should never waste an actor’s presence. I don’t like to keep people waiting in a green. This group is more like a band than a group of cast members.

two.one.five: How did you get involved with Brat?

BGD: The company selected me as the artist in residence a year ago. They really just took a chance on me. When I started coming up with the ideas for this play, it just felt like it fit the aesthetic. Once I started having these very specific ideas for a play, Brat assembled this skeleton crew of John, Peter, and I as the lead artists. They also put me and John together in a mentorship program where John was my mentor…the show really does fit in with their aesthetic. It’s very rock ‘n roll and keeps you on the seat of your pants. It’s bending genres where it can’t be pinned down yet it’s still theatrical and still very much an event to experience.

JC: Brat wanted to pick a piece that makes a great evening out. What you end up watching was very carefully put together. Their artistry is very particular and very thought out and thorough. It’s a great deal of fun. It’s an environmental piece of sorts. Brian and I talked in the very early stages of what this play could be and we both shared a very similar aesthetic. What’s really interesting about the Artist in Residence program is they had a lot of applicants. They didn’t go with a crazy post feminist, they went with this weird married guy. When Peter came in with his ideas for the music, it was amazing how extraordinarily we meshed. It’s very rare that a writer, director, and composer spent a majority of the time working together on a play…many companies have this unhealthy hierarchy where the writer comes up with something then the director says yay or nay and the designers can’t even speak until tech week. As opposed to Brat where, as a writer, you can get your ideas out there to everyone involved. We’ve probably had the upwards or 30 or 40 or 50 people weigh in on this play.

BGD: I only had a half page summary of what I thought it would be initially; we weren’t sure if this could be produced at first. I started to write this in a very conscious and unconscious way because I wound up having to write it so fast in order to get the script together. I’d go from image to image. I had problems with the first draft because I had created over 45 different characters, had no music, and it would have lasted about 3.5 hours. It was great working with the other cast members because people would latch onto these ideas in the story and say, “I want more of this.”  For example, I decided that there needed to be a character with lockjaw. Everyone agreed we needed to keep that. We were so fortunate that we could find an actress who could nail that. She’s not able to speak, yet she has the freedom to say whatever she wants. It was important to me to have someone demonstrate what that could mean in a town like this.

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two.one.five: This is for John: What draws you to the off-Broadway spectrum? What do you look for in a play? What makes one worthwhile, in your opinion?

JC: I like to have fun.  We all decided to work in the theater, not in an office, not on a construction site.  We’re allowed and in a way charged with providing entertainment, fun, excitement and sometimes a little craziness for everyone else who doesn’t work in the theater.  So I look for projects that make me smile and laugh.  Also, anything that I have no idea how to do.  Projects that force me to learn new techniques, new tricks.  And beneath that, I like to sit with shows that are dealing with larger issues, things that can’t be spelled out, things about us, our country, our ethos, how we behave, who we are.

two.one.five: Is this your first “rodeo” with the western genre? Sorry, I had to.

BDG: It is my first genre play…. what struck me as I worked through the writing is that I assumed it would be different, but so much of it was the same as how I write. It’s still that world of character, objective, obstacle. That never changes for me. Some of the methods the characters used was different. But not that different, just bigger. intimidation becomes deadly, that sort of thing. The other thing that I do as a writer is let these images or thoughts float and find a home. For a western, rather than conceiving of those images myself I used classics from the genre: the showdown, stalking across the wilderness, the campfire.

two.one.five: For John: what really convinced you to go forward with this play?

JC: Well, it was a job, which was great. It was also a challenging script. Brian and I talked a bit about it and wound up hitting it off quickly. He eventually handed me this script that was just epic and massive. Of course, my initial reaction is how much needed to be cut, but it was still epic and extraordinary. It was truly a challenge, which, as an artist, I’m always looking for things like this. I just really fell in love with the town and the world that Brian had created and the authenticity of this play. Most people thing it’s easy to parody cowboy stuff. You’ve seen that a zillion times. Brian didn’t go down that route. I really loved the challenge of scripting away a lot of the clichés of our past and of the myths associated with cowboys and the old west and get down to the hard reality of it. These people were some incredibly brave, tough people with a great deal at stake and they had to fight for it. I like to do stuff that has a lot to do with this country. The ambition of the piece and its unique take on this country really spoke to me…and it’s funny! We have some absolutely classic lines that just kill you. We have lines that you hear in every action movie you’ve ever seen. It’s just great!

BGD: Yeah, it really just takes you…our goal is you should feel like you might have walked into the wrong bar. But yet, at the same time, there’s some really funny stuff that allows watching this harsh realty worthwhile…This follows the spaghetti western in big moments: the anti-hero with a mysterious past, the town torn in two, the showdown. But I it’s think how we get to those icons or tent poles of the genre that’s pretty specific to this show.