This couch is good therapy for theater buffs

    Over the next few weeks, the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia will be putting a big red couch in public places, and plant a prominent local actor on it. Passersby will be encouraged to sit and chat.

    Theater people are taking to the city streets, trying to get more patrons inside.

     Over the next few weeks, the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia will be putting a big red couch in public places, and plant a prominent local actor on it. Passersby will be encouraged to sit and chat. 

    Actor Fran Prisco is often seen under stage lights at the Walnut Theater, less often in the bright light of day.  Sitting in Love Park late last week, he asked Eleanor van der Kook, a nurse, about what she gets out of the theater.

    van der Kook [cook] works as a nurse. She says one of the reasons she and her husband moved downtown is to be closer to theater.

    van der Kook:  “I get to listen to other people tell me stories, and for a while I get to be in the story. And then I leave and go back to my life without having moved. There’s not enough drama in my life, so if I need some I go borrow some for a little while.”

    It’s part street theater, part fact-finding mission by the Theater Alliance, which is producing a video of tales from the casting couch.

    It’s a gimmick, but one that executive director Marjie Salvante hopes will be valuable for both audiences and actors.

    Salvante: Philadelphia theater is asking its audience what they get out from the work we do. So this is a chance for the audience to contribute to the conversation and tell us about their experiences at the theater.

    There will be seven appearances of the red couch in seven different locations.  (See list below.)

    On the first day of the campaign in Love Park, many participants admitted they knew very little about local theater. Others took the opportunity to express why they go to see plays.

    One  participant was Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. When asked if he characterizes his life as a drama, a comedy, an experimental piece, or a Broadway musical, he answered: “Comedy.”

    Schedule of Casting Couch Appearances and Special Guests

    Last Friday:  JFK Plaza/LOVE Park

    Hosted by:  Jen Childs, Johnnie Hobbs, Jr. and Fran Prisco

    Featured screen tests for: Mayor Michael Nutter and State Senator Larry
    Farnese

    April 9 at Reading Terminal Market, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Hosted by: Kala Moses Baxter, Joe Guzman and Fran Prisco

    Featured screen tests for: Philadelphia Inquirer Food Critic Rick Nichols

    and Fork Restaurant’s Ellen Yin

    April 10 at Please Touch Museum, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Hosted by: Grace Gonglewski and Fran Prisco

    Featured screen test for: Philadelphia’s most famous public school

    teacher, Tony Danza

    April 17 at Independence Visitor Center, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Hosted by: Tom McCarthy and Fran Prisco

    Featured screen test for: Historical Statesman Benjamin Franklin

    April 21 at Taller Puertorriqueño, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Hosted by: José Avilés and Fran Prisco

    Featured screen test for: Pulitzer Nominated Playwright Quiara Alegria

    Hudes

    April 23 at Independence National Historical Park, 11:30 am – 2:00 pm

    Hosted by: Fran Prisco and Jeff Coon

    Featured screen tests for: Broadway stars from the cast of The Lion King,

    Tony Freeman and Ben Lipitz

    April 30 at Rittenhouse Square, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

    Hosted by: Madi Distefano, Geneviève Perrier, and Fran Prisco

    Featured screen test for: Philadelphia’s Fashion Ambassador, Rakia Reynolds

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