Friday, February 17, 2012

What is "In This Place..." and "Place Philadelphia"?


The Painted Bride Art Center will give Philadelphia audiences a glimpse into an untold story from American history as it continues the build-up to the World Premiere of Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson’s Place Philadelphia in 2013. The three-time Obie Winner, Gordon, is presenting his one-woman show, In This Place… Thursday, March 8-Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. at the Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 day of show. Tickets are available online at or by phone at 215-925-9914.

In 1830, Samuel and Daphney Oldham were the first free African-Americans to build their own home in Lexington, Kentucky. Five years later they were gone. In This Place ... imagines the full story behind these bare facts from Daphney’s perspective. Gordon wrote and directed this piece which stars Michelle Hurst. The video is by Joan Brannon.

In This Place… was originally a collaboration with LexArts made possible, in part, with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Multi Arts Production Fund (MAP) and produced by Pick Up Performance Co(s). Gordon’s goal was to find an untold story in the Lexington, Kentucky area. While walking around town, Gordon came upon a block were there were several homes with historical markers, and one that had none. That house was due to be demolished.  Gordon decided to explore the history of the house and discovered that the Oldham’s were its original owners.  His efforts and the original production saved the house.

This is the first installment of the Painted Bride’s two-year project examining place. Gordon and noted Philadelphia documentary filmmaker Nadine Patterson have begun an 18 month residency that will culminate in a new theatrical work, Working Title; Place Philadelphia.  With the support of a grant from the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, the Painted Bride Art Center commissioned writer/director/actor Gordon to create a new play that unearths a “forgotten” story from Philadelphia’s past. Over the course of the18-month residency, he will work in collaboration with Patterson to do an in-depth search of the area in order to find an untold or unknown story that will come to be the subject of the play. The two artists will conduct interviews, visit archives, and traverse the city.

The Bride is partnering with The National Museum of American Jewish History, The Free Library of Philadelphia, Scribe Video Center, and Mother Bethel African Methodist Church to provide Gordon and Patterson with entryways into a diverse range of communities and will host events as the work is developed. Once research is complete, Gordon will write, cast, and direct the show’s production in May 2013.

Gordon has built his career on work that focuses on marginalized/forgotten history and the invisible players who inhabit that space. His work carries a particular blend of historical fact/imagined truth. The Bride began conversations with Gordon in 2010 when he was part of the cast of Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell. The Bride paired Gordon with Patterson, after he brought up how he likes to partner with a local artist, who centers his or her practice in another medium.  Patterson is an independent producer of documentary, experimental and narrative film. She has experience in multicultural programming and works with artists and community organizations in using media to disseminate information and raise awareness about critical issues.

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