FringeArts to Welcome Berserker Residents for THE TALKBACK, 6/2-22
As part of its Production Residencies program, FringeArts will host local theater ensemble The Berserker Residents for three weeks this June. From June 2 - 22, artists Justin Jain, David Johnson and Bradley K. Wrenn will revisit their 2013 Fringe Festival hit The Talkback, deconstructing and reworking three aspects of the piece in preparation for its upcoming presentation at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. Free public showings will take place each Sunday of the residency (June 8, 8 p.m.; June 15, 7 p.m.; and June 22, 7 p.m.), offering audiences the opportunity to see the work as it develops and evolves. This program is funded by the Independence Foundation.
Part playtime, part unpredictible script, The Talkback lampoons theater, the arts, artists and the institution as a whole through the comedic work of a company The New York Times heralds as "specialists in site-specific overgrown kid theater" with a "refusal to relinquish that unrefined creative spirit." Each week of the residency will have a specific focus: Dan Rothenberg of Pig Iron Theatre Company will serve as an outside directorial eye in the first week, with an expert in improvisation brought in for week two. Finally, the Berserkers will work with a comedic writing team to generate new material for the scripted portions of the production. In August, the production will be brought to Edinburgh as The Postshow.
In addition to its annual Festival and year-round programming, FringeArts supports local artists through year-round Production Residencies in its brand-new waterfront arts facility. The program (formerly known as the Lab Test) provides training, mentoring, support, access and resources including time, space, talent and funding for gifted emerging local artists. The program has been extremely successful in elevating the quality of Philadelphia theater by providing an inside look into the artistic process; educating participants about the curation and production of contemporary theater; and connecting artists more deeply with their audiences. FringeArts has fostered the national careers of local artists including Pig Iron Theatre Company, Thaddeus Phillips, Brian Sanders, Geoff Sobelle and any more.
The Berserker Residents is an American ensemble dedicated to original works of alternative comedy with a pop-comic aesthetic. This team of three Philadelphia-based mighty warriors, Justin Jain, David Johnson and Bradley K. Wrenn, are spectacle specialists and site-specific overgrown kid theater experts. As a collective, these three Philly-based artists have spearheaded a comedic style that blends physical theater, puppetry, music, sketch and prop comedy to create compelling and fantastic theatrical events. As an ensemble, the team has been joined by several other professional theater artists including Adrienne Mackey, artistic director of Swim Pony Performing Arts; Oliver Butler, co-artistic director of the Debate Society; and Dan Rothenberg, artistic director of Pig Iron Theatre Company and supporter of the artistic team's past work.
The Berserker Residents first show, The Jersey Devil, premiered at the 2007 Philadelphia Fringe Festival (Sept '07). The success of The Jersey Devil led this fledgling ensemble to undertake a trilogy of shows, creating two more pieces for the following two Fringe Festivals (2008 and 2009). Their second show, The Giant Squid, a scientific lecture gone awry was called "innovative, packed with little surprises, fine-tuned, and wonderfully wacky" by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The following year, the ensemble created the "delightfully goofy humanity-in-peril tale" (The New York Times) of The Annihilation Point, which later toured to the Abrons Arts Center in New York City (Jan. 2011). In 2010-2011, The Berserkers also received two commissions: The Very Merry Xmas Carol Holiday Adventure Show (now published by Playscripts Inc.) from Philadelphia based Theater Horizon and The Lapsburgh Layover at New York's Ars Nova. In 2012, the ensemble remounted The Giant Squidfor a college tour and began developing The Talkback. The Berserkers are currently the 2014/15 company-in-residence at the esteemed Philadelphia FringeArts (formerly the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe).