Category: 2017-2018 Season

REVIEW: “The Old Man and the Old Moon” at City Theatre

November 22nd, 2017

The Pittsburgh Tatler | By Wendy Arons
November 22, 2017

“But as charming as the wizardry of their puppetry and sound effects are, the real source of enchantment in The Old Man and the Old Moon comes from its keen insight into the human heart.”

<Read the full article at The Pittsburgh Tatler>

REVIEW: If you like deeply impassioned work, then PigPen Theatre Co. is for you

November 22nd, 2017

Pittsburgh City Paper | By Stuart Sheppard
November 22, 2017

“The shadow-puppet scenes — mini plays within the play — are mesmerizing, as are the sound effects, which are executed with a kind of raw, Foley magic. You see both being done, but you don’t know how.”

<Read the full article at Pittsburgh City Paper>

REVIEW: The Old Man and the Old Moon

November 22nd, 2017

Pittsburgh in the Round | By Mark Skalski
Nov. 22, 2017

“The Old Man and the Old Moon reminds us that the world is full of amazing stuff, and that adventure will always await those who choose to seek it.”

<Read the full review at Pittsburgh in the Round>

CitySpeaks: PigPen Theatre Co. Brings Storytelling Back To Its Roots

November 20th, 2017

The Old Man and The Old Moon appeals to human nature’s need to connect with others and tell stories.

By Jillian Bradshaw
Artistic Intern

PigPen Theatre Co.’s The Old Man And The Old Moon at The Gym at Judson on Broadway.

When you hear the word “storyteller,” what comes to mind? A stand-up comedian? A wise old man who recounts stories of his past? Or a poet, perhaps? How about an ensemble theatre company that’s taken DIY (do-it-yourself) theatre across the country? PigPen Theatre Co. originated in 2007 when the creators met as freshmen at Carnegie Mellon University. Since graduation, the company has produced their original plays in New York City and toured them across the country, produced an album and EP, as well as made their feature film debut in Jonathan Demme’s Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep. As part of their creative methodology, PigPen is known to use found objects to create props. A sheet becomes ocean waves; a mop head and empty cleaning container becomes a shaggy dog; and a piece of cardboard lit with a flashlight creates a rickety old ship. In addition, the creative team behind The Old Man and The Old Moon provides indie-folk music and Foley SFX (stage reproductions of everyday sounds) to enhance the play’s sense of time, space, and movement. With the use of found objects, light, and music, PigPen Theatre Co. is able to bring this intimate story to life with some theatre magic.

“Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.” ~ Maya Angelou

Whether teaching lessons and morals, providing inspiration, or preserving history, storytelling is innately human. In order to tell stories based in fact or fiction, you must have use of your imagination. That’s why children make the perfect storytellers. Although you may not fancy yourself a storyteller now, there is no doubt that as a child, you once dipped into your imagination to tell a story; if only for entertainment’s sake. When watching The Old Man and The Old Moon, you may be struck by the imaginative world and childlike essence of the production. PigPen has mastered the art of creating a world so fantastic, yet grounded in the tradition of storytelling.

PigPen Theatre Co. in The Old Man and The Old Moon.

The transition from oral storytelling to theatrically-staged performances has created a framework that deeply influenced the theatrical experience of PigPen’s production. Beginning as an oral tradition passed from generation to generation, folklore and stories developed into a theatrical form around the world. The roots of oral storytelling are evident in Japan’s Rakugo, a theatrical performance in which a single performer gives a complicated, yet comical performance by themselves while seated in front of an audience. The Old Man and The Old Moon shares similarities with the Japanese puppet theatre, Bunraku. In Bunraku, puppets act as the visual medium for audiences, while music and songs are provided by separate performers. Like this traditional form of theatrical storytelling, the characters in The Old Man and The Old Moon transition from being portrayed as puppets to the actors performing as the characters without a mask.

“There is no force on earth, be it electric, hydraulic, or whatever you call the other one for wind, that comes even near close to matching the power of memory.” ~ PigPen Theatre Co.’s The Old Man and The Old Moon

After observing a tech rehearsal for The Old Man and The Old Moon, I can say without a doubt that the story is transformed by the Foley SFX, folk music, props, and lighting. These tools help the story stay grounded in the concept of memory. Although not a memory play in the traditional sense, The Old Man and The Old Moon, uses memory to transport characters from one scene to another. In The Old Man and The Old Moon, The Old Man is on a quest to find his wife who is traveling to the end of the world searching for the source of a tune she hears calling for her. The tune she hears comes from a memory that both the Old Man and the Old Woman share but neither can remember. Their love for each other is tested and grows stronger through the journey they undertake, presenting a message of love and forgiveness, aligning this piece with stories that have been told since the beginning of time.

The guys of PigPen Theatre Co. from left to right: Curtis Gillen, Dan Weschler, Arya Shahi, Ryan Melia, Alex Falberg, Matt Nuernberger, and Ben Ferguson.

If you would like to see PigPen Theatre Co. give an in-depth interview on their approach to storytelling, check out their TEDxTalk presented at Columbia University in 2013:

The Old Man and The Old Moon runs at City Theatre from Nov. 11 – Dec. 3, 2017. Tickets for PigPen Theatre Co.’s, The Old Man and The Old Moon can be purchased here, or by calling the City Theatre box office at 412-431-2489.

By the light of the silvery moon – a review of ‘The Old Man and the Old Moon”

November 20th, 2017

‘Burgh Vivant | By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli
November 20, 2017

“The folktale is bright and imaginative. It’s a sophisticated children’s show. While it can be enjoyed by younger audiences, PigPen never panders to the lowest common denominator. It’s more of a mishmash of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”  It is a quantum leap from “Disney on Ice” or “Sesame Street Live.”

<Read the full article at ‘Burgh Vivant>

REVIEW: Over the moon for PigPen’s musical folktale at City Theatre

November 19th, 2017

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | By Sharon Eberson
November 19, 2017

“The production’s stop in Pittsburgh marks a triumphant return to the PigPen seven’s college town, in a show that aims for the moon and lands with a giant leap in artful, engaging storytelling.”

 

<Read the full article at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette>

City Theatre Presents ‘The Old Man And The Old Moon’

November 14th, 2017

Pittsburgh Today Live
November 14, 2017

 

<See the full video at Pittsburgh Today Live>

PigPen troupe of CMU grads brings unique brand of music, magic to South Side

November 9th, 2017

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | By Sharon Eberson
November 9, 2017

“It is this show that defined our aesthetic, our way of telling a story, because this show is so universal that people have a tendency of leaning in very early…There’s a really wonderful sense in the room, right from the beginning of Matt [Nuernberger’s] beautiful narration at the top that really invites people in.” – Arya Shahi, PigPen Theatre Co. member

<Read the full article at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette>

City Theatre presents the Pittsburgh premiere of THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON A New Musical Folktale By PigPen Theatre Co.

October 16th, 2017

City Theatre presents the Pittsburgh premiere of
THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON
A New Musical Folktale
By PigPen Theatre Co.

November 11 – December 3, 2017
City Theatre Main Stage

“It’s like watching child geniuses at play.” – The New Yorker

“Captivating.” – The New York Times

“So infectious you almost want to leap onstage to join in the fun.”
Time Out New York

“A glorious fusion of music and theatrics!” – BroadwayWorld

Pittsburgh, PA (October 13, 2017) – City Theatre is thrilled to produce the Pittsburgh premiere of
The Old Man and The Old Moon by Carnegie Mellon School of Drama alumni PigPen Theatre Co. Directed by City Theatre favorite Stuart Carden and PigPen Theatre Co., the production runs on the Main Stage November 11 – December 3, 2017. Tickets are on sale now.

“We are thrilled to share with Pittsburghers the theatrical event of the year,” said James McNeel, City Theatre Managing Director. “It’s a real coup to have the PigPen gents make their triumphant return to town – after inspiring audiences and critics around the country – and appear on our stage with this whimsical and transcendent musical. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving holiday show for families and friends and, no matter your age, we are in for something special.”

About The Old Man and The Old Moon: Who keeps the moon shining bright? A mysterious disappearance sends the Old Man charged with that task on an epic adventure in this swirling tale of memory and love, set to a wildly imaginative indie-folk soundtrack performed live. A one-of-a-kind theatrical experience, The Old Man and The Old Moon enchants audiences of all ages with spellbinding storytelling, ingenious puppetry, and the transformational cast of seven Carnegie Mellon alumni who are PigPen Theatre Co.

“The first ever ‘PigPen rehearsal’ took place in a practice room at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh in 2007,” said PigPen Theatre Co. “We were seven acting students trying to figure out how we would tell a ghost story. Little did we know we’d get to spend the next ten years sharing our stories, plays, and music with hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. We’ve had the privilege of returning to the ‘Burgh to play concerts—Stage AE, Mr. Smalls, Rex Theatre, Altar Bar, Smiling Moose—but never the good fortune of sharing a complete theatrical folktale in the city that started it all… Until now!”

“I can’t wait to show our friends and family how much it’s grown,” added Curtis Gillen, co-founder and Chartiers Valley High School Alum.

PigPen Theatre Co. will appear at Made Local on Thursday, November 2 at 6:00 p.m., in partnership with Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. In an evening of storytelling and song, they will explore their creative process and give a sneak peek into the magical world of PigPen Theatre Co. Perfect for curious students and adults alike. Free, but reservations are required; visit PittsburghLectures.org to RSVP.

City Theatre’s production of The Old Man and The Old Moon is directed by Stuart Carden and PigPen Theatre Co. The company includes Alex Falberg, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Ryan Melia, Matt Nuernberger, Arya Shahi, and Dan Weschler. Lydia Fine is scenic and costume designer, Bart Cortright is lighting designer, Mikhail Fiksel is sound designer, and Patti Kelly is stage manager. Puppetry design by Lydia Fine and PigPen Theatre Co.

PigPen Theatre Co. began creating their unique brand of theatre, music, and film as freshmen at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2007. They have since produced their original plays in New York City and toured the country – earning them critic’s picks from The New York Times, Time Out New York, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, and many more, ranking them in the top ten theatrical events of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016. They were the first group to win the NYC Fringe Festival’s top honor for a play two years in a row (2010/11) and have gone on to win IRNE (2012, 2015) and Jeff Awards (2014) for their theatrical productions. In 2016, Sir Trevor Nunn invited PigPen to be a part of his first American acting company for a production of Shakespeare’s “Pericles.”

PigPen’s debut album, “Bremen,” was named #10 album of the year in The Huffington Post’s 2012 Grammy preview, sending PigPen on tour playing to sold-out crowds across the country. American Songwriter premiered their follow-up EP, “The Way I’m Running”, in 2013 while the band was playing a series of concerts that became one of the most popular residencies of the past decade at the legendary Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago. In 2015, PigPen released their sophomore album, “Whole Sun,” performed at Mumford & Sons’ return to the Gentlemen of the Road Festival, and made their feature film debut in Jonathan Demme’s Ricki and the Flash starring Meryl Streep.

THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
November 11 – December 3, 2017

Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and/or 7:00 p.m.

Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.

Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and/or 9:00 p.m.

Sundays at 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.

*There will be no performance on Thanksgiving Day, November 23

For a complete listing of show times, please visit CityTheatreCompany.org or call 412-431-2489.

PRESS & OPENING NIGHT
Friday, November 17 at 8:00 p.m.

SPECIAL EVENTS

City Connects Happy Hour | Wednesday, November 15 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Meet the City Connects partners for the 2017-18 season and learn more about how to get involved with your community by bridging art and activism. Enjoy drink specials and mingling in the Gordon Lounge beginning at 5:30 p.m. A brief introduction to Achieva – featured City Connects partner for the evening – will take place on the stage immediately before the performance.

Post-Show Talkbacks | Sundays November 19 and 26, following the 2:00 p.m. performances
Hosted by Director of New Play Development, Clare Drobot, post-show talkbacks encourage audiences to engage with the artists behind the performances.

Greenroom: Art & Afterparty | Friday, November 24 at 8:00 p.m.
Join the cast and artistic team for a party in the Gordon Lounge following the performance, with an interactive project lead by artists from Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse. Complimentary house wine, Penn Brewery beer, and light snacks will be provided. Tickets are just $30 for the evening with promocode GREENROOM.

Pay-What-You-Want | Saturday, November 25 at 1:00 p.m.
A block of tickets is reserved for audience members to name their own price at this performance. Walk up sales only, beginning two hours before curtain. Call the box office to check on availability.

Shadow Puppet Workshop | Sunday, November 26 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Puppeteer and teaching artist Meredith Hoppe will lead participants through the process of creating their own shadow puppets out of new and found materials, teaching movement and storytelling techniques in a group setting. Limited to 20 guests. Ticket details to be announced.

ACCESSIBLE PERFORMANCES:
ASL Interpretation Tuesday, November 28 at 7:00 p.m.
Open Caption & Audio Description Sunday, December 3 at 2:00 p.m.

BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:
412.431.CITY (2489) or CityTheatreCompany.org
Tickets start at $38.

This production is appropriate for children ages 8 and up. No babes-in-arms or toddlers will be admitted. All attendees must have a ticket.

DISCOUNTS:
Under 30: Reserve $15 tickets in advance for performances except Opening Night and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; rush tickets may be available at those performances. Must present ID to receive Under 30 pricing.
Seniors age 62 and older: $24 rush tickets may be purchased at the box office beginning two hours before curtain, based on availability.
Groups of ten or more: Contact Joel Ambrose at 412.431.4400 x286.

WHERE:
1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)
Port Authority bus routes: 48, 51, 54, 81, 83

PARKING:
Patron parking is available in the lot across from the City Theatre entrances for $8, subject to availability.
South Side Nite Rider: On Friday and Saturday evenings only, patrons may park for free at the Second Avenue Parking Plaza and use a shuttle with drop off at nearby Bedford Square. Details: ssniterider.com.

ABOUT CITY THEATRE:
City Theatre is Pittsburgh’s home for bold new plays. Located in the historic South Side, the company produces a season of regional and world premieres, including the upcoming Citizens Market by Cori Thomas and Nomad Motel by Carla Ching. City Theatre’s mission is to provide an artistic home for the development and production of contemporary plays of substance and ideas that engage and challenge a diverse audience.

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CitySpeaks: Cancer on the American Stage

October 13th, 2017

While cancer is not an easy topic to tackle, it’s certainly a relatable subject. How has City Theatre managed this issue while working with A Funny Thing Happened…?

By Emily Ernst, Literary Intern

What do these statistics mean for the cast, creative team, and staff at City Theatre for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City? Comedies such as Halley Feiffer’s play seem as though they’d be a laugh a minute in rehearsal, but the personal realities surrounding these topics can be challenging to a theatrical team. I spoke with a few of the staff members here at City Theatre, and this is what they say about how their individual experiences with cancer have influenced their relationship to the script:

On the closeness of cancer…

Have you or have you ever known anyone that has fought cancer? Have those experiences influenced your work on the production?

Leah Blackwood, Scenic Artist

“My father was treated at Sloan-Kettering from 1996-98. It was exciting for him to know the hospital was world renowned and his doctors were at the top in their field. Sadly, they could not save him and he died in 1998. Also, only two weeks ago, I lost my best friend to cancer. She had been in Sloan-Kettering’s care for seven years fighting colon and liver cancer, and eventually lung and bone cancer as it spread… Working on this play has made me very emotional, from building Tony Ferrieri’s model to seeing the completed set. When Patti Kelly took the actors onto the set at the first day of tech in costume, I was swept over with emotion.”

Christina Bordini, Company Manager

“I’ve unfortunately known too many loved ones to be stricken by cancer. Some have survived, some have not. But nothing hits you quite as hard as when you find out one of your parents has been diagnosed. When I was a freshman in high school, my family found out on the day before Christmas Eve that my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Needless to say, that winter break was not the most fun of my adolescence. For the next few months that turned into years, my mom fought her hardest, and thankfully, came out on the other end with a clean bill of health. But every year when she goes for her check-up, we all hold our breath… The word “cancer” itself is very scary, and it shakes you to your core when it’s in association with a loved one. That’s why I love that this play is a comedy; when you go through a situation like that, a good sense of humor and optimism can make all the difference… I believe it’s important to make our audiences laugh, while also dealing with a heavy subject matter like cancer. It’s a universal issue. I believe our audiences will appreciate the humor, while also relating to the nitty gritty of the down moments. All we have is each other. If we can’t laugh at the little things in our unfortunate times, all we’ll do is cry.”

Taylor Meszaros, Properties Assistant

“I have known many people who fought cancer, but the one person whose struggle impacted me most was my best friend, Meghan. From ages 21-23 she battled with two forms of cancer, and her journey greatly influenced me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a young person accept their fate with such grace and strength as she did… I have not worked intricately with the script of A Funny Thing… but I do know that going through that experience of my best friend’s struggle and death has shaped the way I react to art. I cry more easily with heartfelt stories, especially those of a medical or illness-related nature. I can sympathize a bit more with people going through difficult situations.”

Clare Drobot, Director of New Play Development

“Table work for A Funny Thing… sort of caught me by surprise. My grandmother died of cancer when I was 17. It all happened very quickly; she was diagnosed in September and passed by December. It was one of my first real experiences with seeing death and caregiving up close. I remember driving home from rehearsal one night and feeling a little overwhelmed with all these memories. What it was like to go through that and not knowing how to be there for my parents at the time (or how to process what was happening myself). It really helped me to understand Karla’s character and appreciate how nuanced Halley’s portrayal of her journey and relationship to Marcie is.”

James McNeel, Managing Director

“During this production process, I keep harkening back that this play, and these characters, are given the much-needed voice of those that endure the disease. I salute Halley Feiffer for taking her own personal experience and making it universal. And, ironically, she has taken a singular word experience – cancer – and blown it up with a 22-word title. Those who are diagnosed, or have loved ones who are, deserve more than two syllables. Their journey needs to be told. And this is an example of that. With jokes. Because laughter can really be the best medicine.”

 

See A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City at City Theatre now through Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. Tickets are available here!