2014 FringeArts Festival, Philadelphia PA
Broad Street Ministry’s historic Sanctuary space on Broad Street
Nellie/Nellie is a collaboration between composers, literary writers and physical theatre creators inspired by investigative journalist Nellie Bly’s 1887 exposé ‘Ten Days in a Mad-House.’ This genre-bending piece, driven by original music inspired by torch songs, turn of the century Americana, and chamber opera, is at once funny, gritty, graceful and heartbreaking as it magnifies and twists Bly’s account to the edge of sanity, whatever that may be.
Told from the perspectives of two unreliable versions of Nellie Bly competing for control of the story (one as the band’s lead vocalist, the other-a separate performer-as the lead actor in the “on stage” story), Antigravity transforms a sensationalist, socially-minded, feminist writing on the treatment of the mentally ill into a gutsy music-dance-theatre work.
Co-Creators and Performers: Johanna Kasimow, Andalyn Young, Alex Kryger, Francesca Montanile, Ilse Torlin Zoerb, Alicia Crosby, Sara Vanasse, Michael Costagliola, and Michael T. Williams
Director – Michael T. Williams
Sounds Designer/Composer – Michael Costagliola
Additional Songs & Lyrics – Ned Riseley
Poet/Words – Kyle Dacuyan
Producer – Megan Thibodeaux
Media Director – Johanna Kasimov
Assistant Director/Lighting Designer – Noah Levine
Broad Street Review praised the piece for its “extraordinary physical performances” where the “fearless dance ensemble rolls, leaps, collides, contorts, and slams into the walls and pillars of the Broad Street Ministry’s sanctuary.”
Phindie noted the piece both for its “imagination and whimsy” and its ability to leave the audience with stimulating questions: “Is everyone just doing some kind of dance to keep their innermost thoughts from making them go mad? Are there any safe places when the mind is so deep and the depths so unknown?” The performance left the reviewer, “with a maddening desire to see what’s next for the Antigravity.”