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By Robin Barnes, Philadelphia Live Arts

Philadelphia Live Arts announces the launch of Scratch Night as part of the organization’s year-round programming at the Live Arts Brewery (LAB). Beginning on January 12, 2012 Scratch Night is a monthly salon designed to foster the social, interactive, and accessible qualities of art-making while investing in artists’ creation of new works of dance, theater, or cross-genre performance. Funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia will underwrite the first two seasons of the program, which will run annually from October through May.

The first event on Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. will feature LAB Fellow Justin Jain of The Berserker Residents and playwright and performance artist Jeffrey Stanly.  Jain will present brief excerpts of his in-progress work Bedtime Stories for Special Boys.  As part of his LAB Fellowship research, this theatrical piece explores gay male identity through the ensemble’s personal narratives, children’s fairy tales, and audience interaction.  This showing will be used as an experiment to investigate some of the more audience participatory moments created in the studio.  Collaborators/co-creators on the project are: Thomas Choinacky, James Ijames, John Jarboe, Scott McPheeters, and Steve Pacek. Stanley will be presenting a portion of his 2011 hilly Fringe show Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead as he continues to develop it for planned productions in Philadelphia and New York City later this season.  This autobiographical solo show is a dark comedy about alcoholism, family, and contacting the dead.  It features a supernatural element and audience participation.  Photos and audio clips are used in the show, and Stanley is exploring whether it’s advantageous to go high tech with these elements (using slide projections, video and audio clips, etc.) or whether this will destroy the show’s intimate ”living room” aesthetic.  The show was originally directed by Daniel Student.

Scratch Night invites audiences into the artistic process and plays a key role for artists who are testing, experimenting and building new ideas. Derived from its predecessor the Live Arts 2nd Thursday Series, Scratch Night builds upon the core concept that candid audience feedback offers artists valuable insight as they work to develop new performance-based work. Artists will show brief segments of newly developed material, and audiences will offer feedback directly through a moderated talk-back, as well as anonymously by sharing their thoughts via a survey. At the close of the season in May, nine Scratch artists will be asked to submit proposals for the LAB Fellowship program, from which one candidate will be selected by Live Arts programming staff. Knight Foundation support will underwrite two LAB Fellows over the course of the next two seasons.

Upcoming Scratch Nights: All Scratch Nights are held at the Live Arts Studio, 919 North 5th St., Philadelphia, PA 19123. Admission is free, however advance reservations are encouraged by RSVP’ing online or calling (215) 413-9006.

  • Thursday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Mar. 8 at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Apr.12 at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 10 at 7 p.m.

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