A Moment with Chris DeFillipp (company: Chimera Theatre Collective) of STORY GAUNTLET
Why did you choose PortFringe this year? PortFringe is our home fringe, and we were originally part of the 2020 in-person PortFringe with a completely different project before the pandemic shuttered everything. When we were given the opportunity to participate in this year’s virtual fest, we thought about the challenge of film (for us as theater folks) and how that could be used to help us take the circumstances of the pandemic and use them to our advantage!
How was your PortFringe show born? I, Chris, am a big nerd, and have been a fan of Critical Role for a few years. One of the many programming pivots they did during the pandemic was creating a filmed-from-home series called Narrative Telephone, a very funny video-based game of telephone with the cast of performers telling stories in a raw, unscripted way. With a 20 minute limit for the virtual 2021 PortFringe, it felt like a format that would be easy to adapt and execute. Plus, I have a lot of very talented playwright and performer friends all over the US, so it felt like a project that would let me work with them across distances and bring their work to PortFringe!
What about the world *right now* makes your show important? Just because we couldn’t connect in person like we’re used to doesn’t mean we can’t connect. This project was done entirely virtually and self-filmed in the homes of the friends who make up the Gauntlet. We were able to have fun creating chaos across a distance that otherwise would’ve been impossible given this group of collaborators (from Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, and various points in Mass, NH, and Maine!), and we feel that it’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves and realize we don’t have to be perfect, especially after this past year. This project, in all its chaos, is the living embodiment of that.
What have you learned as an artist during the last year of pandemic times? There are ways to connect without having to be in person. It’s okay to give yourself space to be imperfect. Humor helps, a lot.
Why is FRINGE important? It forces us to find what little bits of our work and process stand out, and in many ways, asks us to be innovative and try new things that might be out of our (or the mainstream’s) comfort zones. It’s not your typical theater, and not always polished the ways you’d expect, but it’s full of heart and energy and raw creativity. How can we do something down and dirty with little budget and little spectacle and really bare the bones of our work and ourselves for our audiences? How can we connect on a more intimate level? That is fringe.
It’s PortFringe’s 10th Birthday! What do you remember or miss about being ten years old? Innocence. Trampolines. Manhunt/Hide and Seek at night in the next street over. Watching Saturday Morning Cartoons. The wonders of not knowing, then learning. Recess at school. The wonders of bookstores and getting a new book. Never-ending discovery.
Have you checked out the other PF21 show listings? Pick one you’re excited to see or learn more about, and tell us why! There’s a lot of really fun and interesting shows this year that I want to see, and choosing one is always hard (go see them all, they sound great and it’s never been easier to see the whole fest!), but there are two specific ones.
The first show I’m excited for is American Altars by Dana Fadel. It sounds like such a cool exploration of the importance of the fridge and the memorial it is to our lives, and I’m excited to watch it!
I’d also like to shout out Selkie by Erica Murphy, both because I loaned my fishing poles and tackle box to the piece and wanna see how they were used, and because I’ve been a real big fan of both Erica’s work and the Irish mythology of the Selkie, so I can’t wait to see the final piece and how it came together!
Write a haiku about your show!
One Story, never told the
Same way twice. Chaos.