4th Annual Independent Voices Festival Set for 1/5-20

4th Annual Independent Voices Festival Set for 1/5-20

The Centre Theater presents its annual spotlight on regionally recognized work and new theatre, The Independent Voices Festival. In it is 4th year, the festival spotlights performers who deserve an encore performance or who have new work to bring to the stage. The three festival highlights fur premieres and performances from four regionally recognized solo performance artists.

Two of this years shows serve the blossoming Latino community in Norristown. Artists in the festival include Susan Giddings, Kate McGrath, Michelle Pauls, Armando Batista, Elvis Eo Nolasco, Adam Altman, Iron Age Theatre, Walla Fest, Maria Eliades, Mary Tuomanen, John Doyle Monique Mosee, Mydera Robinson, Michael Bee, Chris Davis, Gene Frank, Bob Weick, Howard Zinn

Each weekend there will be performances in the Centre Theater's 4th floor space Friday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday shows at 2pm and 8pm. All seats are $15.00. Most performance dates are 60-75 minutes long. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Centre Theater website and checking the posted calendar for performances and times or at thecentretheater.ticketleap.com. Patrons can also call the Centre Box Office at 610-279-1013.

The festival opens on January 5 with two performances of City Boy by Armando Batista. City Boy is the story of a native Latino New Yorker returning home after escaping his hood fifteen years ago. Now he's back, ready to face the city, his family and ultimately, himself. The play is a mixture of solo performances, poetry and storytelling. Batista premiered City Boy at Walking Fish Theatre in the 2012 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and recently performed in his hood, Washington Heights.

The opening weekend closes out with a mega Walla Fest. Bands rocking the Centre Theater include The Retinas, Boog, Cousin Brian, Q family and headlining is Satellite Hearts, supporting their recently released album. The night of music is accented by a full art show on the first floor of the Centre Theater with a special Instagram installation and a series of open mic performances.

The second Weekend of the festival includes performances of Marx in Soho returning to the theatre where it began almost 300 performances ago. Marx in Soho by noted historian Howard Zinn is performed by Bob Weick and examines the society we live in and our choices to make a better world. Also that weekend will be performances of by Adam Altman as Thomas Paine in Citizen Paine, straight from its run at the InternationAl Thomas Paine Symposium in New Rochelle New York.

The second weekend of the Festival is headlined by Drunk Lion written and performed by Chris Davis, directed by Mary Tuomanen. A lonely alcoholic Lion spends his days drinking into oblivion in a cantina, until he meets Chris, a young foreigner learning how to speak Spanish. The unlikely pair forge an intoxicated bond over life, love, and alcohol. Drunk Lion is written in Spanish and English, but it's all translated for you in the action, so no one is left behind! The writer Chris Davis lived for three years in Mexico, and the play documents some of his over-the-top experiences and ultimately is a dedication to his second home country. This show runs January 12 at 8pm and January 13 at 2pm.

The final weekend is full of premieres. A Sudden Burst of Inactivity by Kate McGrath features Susan Giddings and is directed by Michelle Pauls. Giddings plays the role of Jackie, an abstract expressionist painter who teaches art to little kids, and is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. She lives alone, and must wrestle with this sudden crisis, while isolated and frustrated by her situation. As she struggles with how to handle this latest blip on her horizon, hand tremors threaten to sabotage her previously confident brush technique. Jackie has a grant proposal deadline to meet, and refuses to let her physical disability get in her way. This one-woman play features a performance tinged with spunk and a quirky sense of humor, which counteract the sense of foreboding that hovers. The production incorporates Jackson Pollack's spatter painting technique, live on stage, as well as music that conjures the jazz recordings Pollack famously painted to.

The final weekend also feature a new play by Gene Frank of the Norristown Art Education group about Billie Holiday. New plays by Michael Bee and Maria Eliades both of Temple University. These two plays are augmented by Performance Poetry by Mydera Speekmefree Robinson in two night of short works January 18 and 19 at 8pm. These eclectic evenings promise to bring laughter, tears and reflection!

The Centre Theater and Iron Age Theatre have receivEd Barrymore nominations for Outstanding Ensemble in Terra Nova and Best Lead Actor in The Elephant Man. As City Paper's Mark Cofta put it so eloquently: "Iron Age Theatre keeps defying the odds, producing quality plays with loving care."

The Centre Theater has been involved with the project to develop an arts district in Norristown. The Theatre has been the anchor for the arts in Norristown for more than 17 years. The theater is located at 208 DeKalb Street one block from the Norristown Transit Station, the street that has become "Norristown Arts Hill". The facility is undergoing a massive renovation including the development of an new larger music space. Over the past four years, the Independent Voices festival has featured multiple premiere, including Red Emma from Iron Age Theatre, works spotlighting African American theatre and avante guard works. The festival has offered music, dance and theatre.

The Centre Theater is in the Montgomery County Cultural Center at 208 DeKalb Street in Norristown. It is easily reached via routes 202, I-76, I-476 and Ridge Pike. There is plenty of free parking and the theater is one block from Septa's Norristown Transit Center on the Manayunk/Norristown line.

Call 610-279-1013 for tickets and information or visit the web at www.ironagetheatre.org

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