Students explore the art of storytelling in this year’s Philly Fringe production of “Tales.”
After last year’s production of “Something With Wings,” Felipe Vergara and the Found Theater Company return to the Philadelphia Live Arts and Fringe Festival with a production that makes audiences wonder what role storytelling plays in their lives.
The cast is assembled entirely of current Temple students and alumni. They include Kerry Brind’Amour, Laura Edoff, Alison Hoban, Sara Yoko Howard, Sean Lally, Claire Lenahan, Lee Minora, Phoebe Schaub, Kathryn Sullivan and Joe Wozniak.
Together, they create an energy that fills every space of the room. The relationship they share is one that has been evolving since last year’s production of “Something With Wings.”
“Tales” allowed the members of the newly formed theater company to connect with each other. The months of preparation involved physical training and a series of workshops, in which the actors prepared assignments and exchanged their own stories.
“We are very lucky to have had this chance to be together for so long and to really connect – not just creatively, but emotionally and mentally,” said Temple alumna Laura Edoff, 22, who majored in theater. “We have been able to share with each other our deepest secrets, and laugh together about the most ridiculous things, all without judgment.”
Not only was the play based on these stories, but “Tales” is also loosely based on Ovid’s “Tristia,” an ancient story of the poet’s journey into exile. Writer and director Vergara adapted the text into a piece that takes the audience on a journey with the poet.
“Tales” plot is not always clear, and, at times, audience members may not know exactly what is happening – think “Inception” – yet the story is completely intriguing. The play is a series of stories, each with a different topic, such family, love or loneliness.
Michael Libnhart, 23, a Temple graduate, described the play as, “very surreal – you leave shell shocked.”
Vergara opens a window for the audience to absorb the play, leaving them to take away their own interpretations.
“‘Tales’ was unlike any play I have ever seen before,” audience member Quinn Vaccarino said.
“The more I tried to figure it out, the more difficult it was to absorb … when I stopped thinking about it and just let myself take it all in, I found I could find myself relating to the characters stories or emotions – a very dream-like performance,” Vaccarino added.
Audience member Julie Becker, a Temple adjunct, said she was especially moved by the story of the relationship between a girl and her grandmother who develops dementia.
Sean Lally, 22, a Temple alumnus who majored in theater and a member of the “Tales” cast, said the show is all about connecting with people.
“While I’m on stage, I am in my own world. I am acting [and] making my connection with another actor,” Lally said. “What the audience understands from my movements may be completely different than my own. It’s about making connections, on a large and small scale.”
Bookspace, a used bookstore warehouse on Frankford Avenue in Fishtown, serves as the venue for the show. The play could not have been staged in a more appropriate place.
“They used the space exceptionally well,” audience member Alisa Crawley said.
“You felt the space itself was a character,” Becker said, adding that the books offered a “presence of their own.”
Jessica Lopez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.