Philadelphia Leading Ladies to Bring Brat Productions Back to its Roots

Two of Philadelphia's veteran theatre hotshots have joined forces to bring Brat Productions back to its creative roots. Founding artistic director Madi Distefano returns in her original role, with Brat veteran Lee Ann Etzold by her side. Together the two are bringing Brat back to rough, rock-and-roll theatre for the people. To highlight Brat's identity and its mission to generate new audiences, Brat has established a resident artist program, with talented artists Jess Conda and Erik Ransom inaugurating the program. This season Conda will create Rock and Awe: Four Fast Shows at the Intersection of Theatre and Music, and in the spring, Ransom will present a workshop performance of Saga: The Rock Opera. Young, dirty theatre that rocks. Brat is back.

While Brat is working hard to stay true to its artistic and creative roots, it is making significant changes to its business and management structure. Instead of having a sole artistic director who is the driving force behind everything, Brat's driven and committed board of directors, in conjunction with co-artistic directors Etzold and Distefano, have chosen a more flexible and energetic model. With new general manager Melissa Rodis joining the team, Brat is harnessing The Combined forces of three wonder women. This estrogen-pumping triumvirate are on a mission of action and creation injected with a good dose of sustainability.

Now, with its structure in place and feet planted firmly on the ground, Brat can take off. Fresh after the successes of programming this year's Live Arts-Fringe Festival Bar and Social Club, get ready for a heart- and fist-pumping season!


By Madi Distefano

Previews October 27-29, November 1
Runs from November 2-19; Wednesdays-Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm
RUBA Ballroom
Tickets: $15-25

Brat opens its 2011-2012 season with a new play by Co-Artistic Director, Madi Distefano and directed by Co-Artistic Director Lee Ann Etzold. Set in Atlantic City just after Prohibition, MEANWHILE... is a quick-change play where two performers play all twelve characters. Stock characters from crime noir and mid-century pulp fiction inhabit this world, weaving a who-dunn-it that is full of surprises. Distefano has taken the quick-change form and created a slick and sexy comedy with stylish language and wit. With some sleight of hand (or is it body?) tricks up our sleeves, you won't believe your eyes as new characters appear on the opposite side of the stage, the moment the same actor just left our sight. Starring Sarah Doherty and Mary McCool.

A 24-Hour The Bald Soprano
Six actors. Twenty-four performances. No breaks. No kidding!
Feb 24-25 8pm-8pm
Plays and Players

Brat's signature performance event (Philly Metro's "Best Production of 2007") returns for a whole new round of round-the-clock, wall-to-wall comedy. You may have heard of The Bald Soprano, Eugene Ionesco's one-hour masterpiece of metaphysical nonsense that has been in permanent showing in Paris since 1957. Written as a continuous loop, the play contains directions in the final scene to start the performance over from the very beginning, with actors shifting roles for the next round. Brat Productions takes this idea to its absurdly logical conclusion: at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 24, our fresh-faced actors enter this world...and won't take a powder until the clock strikes 8:00 p.m. the next night! YOU, however, can come and go, night and day-or stay for every waking minute.

Brat Resident Artist Series
Rock and Awe: Four Fast Shows at the Intersection of Music and Theatre
By Jess Conda
RUBA Club-Studios
Doors open at 10pm, Show at 10.30pm

Brat resident artist Jess Conda leads us on an exhilarating journey towards the collision of rock and roll and theatre. As local artists and musicians speed towards this intersection, Brat audiences get ready for what can only be an awesome explosion of music, theatre, rock and roll, and art. Get ready for the creation.

October 27-28 A is for Anaconda "Not all good children go to heaven."
The boys and girls of The Ghastly Crumb Tinies come face to face with blood-thirsty rock demons. Featuring music by Iron Maiden, Danzig, and Tom Waits.

Jan 19-21 Glam Rock
A spectacle of glitter and pop with Brat alums appearing as their Glam Rock alter egos. Featuring music by David Bowie, Nina Hagen, Klaus Noni.

Mar 15-17 Let's Start a War
A government-sponsored cocktail party where lounge music collides with punk rock. Punk rock wins. Inspired by the music of the Dead Kennedys.

May 31-Jun 2 Get Behind Me Satan
A romantic fantasia set to the White Stripes' album Get Behind Me Satan.

Saga: The Rock Opera
By Erik Ransom
Coming Spring 2012

The year is 1984 and two wars are raging in the U.S.: The Cold War and The Culture War. When Aleric, a young man on the fringes of society, happens upon a magical ring out of Norse mythology, he finds himself with the power to judge mankind and make a grim decision. Will the Old Gods convince Aleric to fulfill the prophesy of Ragnarok, or will the love of his life persuade him to give humankind a second chance? When Cold War and Culture War meet in a crucible of Aleric's design, the results could be atomic!

Founded in 1996, Brat Productions is committed to "thinking outside the proscenium" with performance pieces that are surprising and incendiary, entertaining and unsettling. Brat's mission is to create an audience of the future by producing theatre that breaks the rules; theatre that tests conventions; theatre that rocks! Over the years, Brat has established itself as one of Philadelphia's most adventurous theatre companies and is known for using unusual performance venues to enhance original and noteworthy productions. Its numerous productions have included Three Chord Fiction, winner of the Ted and Stevie Wolf Barrymore Award for New Approaches to Collaboration; Haunted Poe, A 24-Hour The Bald Soprano, A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant and Eye-95: Retarred.

Madi Distefano (Co-Artistic Director) is the founding artistic director of Brat. She founded the company in 1996 as a means of making theatre more accessible to a new generation. She produced, acted, directed and wrote for Brat for thirteen seasons before resigning to be a resident artist and pursue her freelance acting and directing work with other companies. Brat directing credits include A 24 Hour The Bald Soprano, Haunted Poe, and Eye-95 Re-Tarred. She is an 8-time Barrymore nominee in five categories, and winner of Outstanding Actress (EDEN). Her one-woman show, Popsicle's Departure (1989), won both a Fringe First for new writing and Best Solo Show of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Madi has an MFA from Temple University.

Lee Ann Etzold (Co-Artistic Director) is a Philadelphia-based actor, director, choreographer, writer, producer and teacher who has also worked in the UK, Spain, Czech Republic, and regionally in the United States. She has created original work with OBIE-award-winning physical theatre companies, New Paradise Laboratories (founding member), Pig Iron Theatre Company, and with famed clown Bill Irwin for which she received a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in The Happiness Lecture. She was also awarded a Barrymore for Outstanding Ensemble for The Comedy of Errors at the Lantern Theatre Co. and was a finalist for the Haas Award for Emerging Artists. She received a BA in Theatre Arts and a BA in English from Virginia Tech, worked as an Administrator and Assistant Program Director for the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, and participated in the Directors Lab at Lincoln Centre Theater. She has directed and choreographed new and scripted work for Brat Productions, New Paradise Laboratories, Arden Theatre Co., Lantern Theatre, Drexel Players, Philly Young Playwrights, and creates and produces her own work as MyKindaPony. Lee has taught at University of the Arts and Temple University, and has acted as an educator, collaborator and creative consultant for Whitebox Theatre and the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia.

Melissa Rodis (General Manager) is a theatre artist, dancer, choreographer, producer, and arts administrator with a background in theatre production and small business management. She is committed to the development and accessibility of all aspects of the arts - whether front of house, back of house, in house or out of house. Having graduated from Amherst College with a BA Theatre and Dance and English, Melissa has lived, worked, and artisted in Philadelphia, in Massachusetts, and in Melbourne, Australia.

Jess Conda (Resident Artist) has been working in Philadelphia as an actor, administrator, and teaching artist since 2003. With Brat Productions, she has appeared onstage in Moby Dick--Rehearsed, Grease and Desist, Eye 95: Re-tarred, A 24 Hour The Bald Soprano, Haunted Poe and Carrie. As Production Manager: A 24 Hour The Bald Soprano ('10), Naked Cocktail ('08). As Stage Manager: Popsicle's Departure, 1989 (Philadelphia, NYC, Edinburgh and Glasgow premieres). Jess received a Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Ensemble in A 24 Hour The Bald Soprano and for Pay Up with Pig Iron Theatre Company. Other acting credits include work with Shakespeare in Clark Park, Flashpoint Theatre Company, The Walnut Street Theatre, Cabaret Red Light, Revival Burlesque, and The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret. Jess has a BFA from Arcadia University.

Erik Ransom (Resident Artist) is an actor, composer and playwright who splits his time between the stages of New York and Philadelphia. He is an alum of the Walnut St. Theatre Dorothy Haas Acting Apprenticeship Program, has a B.A. in vocal music performance from TCNJ, and has studied private voice with Jerome Hines and Enrico DiGiuseppe. Erik originated the role of Rodney in the ongoing Off-Broadway production of My Big Gay Italian Wedding and has starred in Naked Cocktail and Carrie with Brat Productions. Shortly after closing Carrie, Erik was able to fulfill the lifelong dream of starring in a musical of his own design, which happened in the form of Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions for which Ransom wrote the book, lyrics, and music. It played at the Prince Music Theatre to rave reviews and packed houses in January 2011. Erik is in the process of planning and preparing for the New York premiere of Coming.


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