where oh where to begin?
february isn’t even over and yet the wheels spin like the fires in my heart…! change is afoot in kippy-land but so it goes. i am pleased to announce many upcoming incredible things. (vagueries are the keynotes of self-promotion!) but for now i must rue the thing i shall miss this weekend, philadelphia and other stories, produced by the intrepid chip rodgers.
philadelphia and other stories played at the bushwick starr in december for all-too-brief a moment and it’s returned to walker space this month. and rightly so! for it received critical acclaim its first go round (the curators at the starr being a savvy bunch). but once again the time is never enough and this kippy shall miss it this weekend, which is why i wanted to catch up with les artistes.
before i introduce paul rome and roarke menzies to vous (the respective writer and composer of philadelphia and other stories) i want to take a moment to recall my first encounter with mr. rodgers (chip, that is!)
i was running late for a half straddle meeting at the new museum when i spotted rodgers clad in the most adorable preppy outfit in the world. it was late summer so i was in saffron sirong but chip had on a nice collared shirt with tiny whales on it and salmon toned bermuda shorts. “ms. winston? are you here for half straddle?” and thus was the start of mutual fandome b/w chip and kip. c’est vrais. he is as polite as he is an unfailing wit and i’m glad to know him.
its no wonder he’s helping bring to life what sounds like a lovely and love-filled evening of radio-inspired theatre. but before i wax on let’s here from the artists menzies and rome themselves.
a show that i hope occurs again
What sparked the idea of this show for you?
PR: I was interested in exploring the interstitials of love, to capture love, or potential love, in that moment of transition, when everything feels open, as yet undetermined, but where there’s simultaneously an awareness of one’s options, of how the romance might play out, or not. Road trips or train rides, as different narrator’s in Philadelphia and Other Stories recount, parallel this state of flux: should I go left or right? East or West? Or perhaps stay where I am? I was also just drawn to the purely blissful feeling inspired by travel, the pleasure of moving, the way a song on the radio hits you when driving along an open road.
RM: Musically, I was interested in all the pop music referenced in Paul’s stories. I wanted to use the tools of contemporary pop music to create long form pieces that really allow you to settle in and get comfortable in the sonic spaces created.
I do love a montage of memory and modern love .. tell me do you have a favorite tale?
PR: For me, it’s probably the title story, “Philadelphia.”
RM: One of the standouts for me is a story Paul reads called “The Rash.”
I’m already scratching!
Tell me, what is the reduction sauce version of that tale in three sentences?
PR: Two brooklyn transplants wake up next to each other. They’ve been casually seeing each other off and on for the past two or three months. It’s New Year’s Day and they decide to drive to Philadelphia to see a 19th century automaton, a mechanical boy who draws pictures and writes poetry. They have a really lovely day together. Could it be they’re falling in love?
RM: A guy has this weird thing on his skin that neither he, nor his friends, family, or multiple doctors can identify. Is it allegic? Is it psychosomatic? Is he dying? Is he just making it up somehow? Is he losing his mind? Health issues get moralized in weird ways in our society. People often, weirdly, have sort of a ‘blame the victim’ mentality. As though, because you have this thing you somehow deserved it or brought on yourself through an irresponsible or immoral lifestyle or just plain hubris; that it’s somehow a reflection of your character. “The Rash” is a fun, and funny, very honest exploration of those subjects.
Would love to hear a freestyle riff on the Cheesesteak and other peculiarities about the city of brotherly love.
RM: The cheesesteak is one of the great sandwiches in existence. An instant classic, from the first bite. I’ve only been to Philly a couple of times and never even had an ‘authentic’ one, but it’s my sandwich of choice from most New York bodegas.
RM: The last time I was in Philly I was completing a score for a ballet company called BalletX. They have a theatre district on one of the main streets where a lot of the major performing arts institutions are — University of the Arts, the Kimmel Center, the Wilma Theater (that’s where we were working). There aren’t many cities in America with bones as old as Philadelphia’s. I grew up on the West Coast where most of the cities, and their attendant architectural DNAs, are much younger than Philadelphia’s. You see it immediately in the materials used — cobblestone streets, old growth wood, brick, etc. — as well as the styles. It’s a very handsome city. The main branch of the post office there and Penn Station are just like the ones in New York (although, in what can only be seen as a horrible call, New York demolished the original Penn Station and put up the impeccably drab non-thing that exists there now).
Philadelphia has its own life, its own stories and subjectivities. But in my life, it feels a bit like an attractive stranger you’ve bumped into here and there, but only ever exchanged a few words with.
Aye, perhaps a man in uniform! A man who knows how to fix things and uses his hands.
did i see you driving in the city of the cheesesteak?
PR: I waited in line for “real” cheesesteak in Philly. It was delicious.
mon ami, i have waited in line for a real cheesesteak too! and though i have paid for it later i have never regretted a cheesesteak in my life.
a sandwich that is as disgusting as it is delicious !
tell me, what is your secret guilty pleasure inspiration?
RM: Whiskey. Although, I guess I’m not very guilty about it.
PR: Movies in the daytime and buying cassettes for my boombox.
Fine pleasures to indulge in!! Oh I really am sad to miss this show. I hope it goes marvelously well and that it plays again soon.