A colorful collage of physical movement culled from classic American war films and stories from our country’s veterans, Gonna See a Movie Called Gunga Din examines the similarities and differences between cinematic depictions of soldiers and the men and women these depictions aim to represent. The play’s physical tale is constructed from over twenty quintessential war films depicting American conflicts abroad. Compelling scenes from these movies are physically reconstructed on stage by actors who simultaneously recite the veterans’ stories word-for-word.
In 2009, Van Cougar presented the first inception of Rocky Philly, a 90-minute play that weaves personal stories collected from citizens of Philadelphia with the movements of the characters from the classic Academy Award-winning film at The Bushwick Starr theater in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Rocky Philly juxtaposes two forms of storytelling: a cinematic underdog story created as entertainment and the personal stories of everyday people. We layer one over the other--story over movement--to emphasize the relationship between the way stories are told to us in modern entertainments, and told by us when connecting with members of our own communities.
The structure of the movie is held in tact: the well-known characters Mick, Adrian, Paulie, Jergen and Apollo Creed join a female Rocky in retelling the tale of the Italian Stallion. The actors recite recorded stories from Philadelphians verbatim; stories which have been carefully woven together by co-writers Mark Sitko and Erica Rippy. Speaking first-hand about their experiences in the City of Brotherly Love, these numerous storytellers unknowingly provide insight into the creation of a story--the beginning, end and in-between--revealing something much more comprehensive and accurate to their real lives than can be captured in a motion picture.
September 9 - October 3, 2009
The Bushwick Starr
Rebecca Lingafelter - Rocky
Noel Allain - Adrian
Marty Brown - Mick
Julia Sirna-Frest - Paulie
Erin McCarson - Apollo
Sam Traylor - Jergen
Paul Alexander - Executive Director
Rena Anakwe - Boxing Coach
Ned Buskirk - Board Member
Mike Cassedy - Piano Coach
Antonia Ford-Roberts - Costume Design
David Gladden - Video Design
Bobby McElver - Video Design
Chris Morris - Set Design
Elizabeth Nielsen - Stage Manager
Erica Rippy - Dramaturg
Erin Shea - Board Member
Mark Sitko - Director
Dan Stearns - Assistant Director
Mark Valadez - Sound Design
Christina Watanabe - Lighting Design
The first incarnation of Rocky Philly began in October 2008 in New York City with a group of six actors (Marty Brown, Sarah Claspell, David Frank, Megan Hart, Rebecca Lingafelter and Ian Merrigan), Artistic Director Mark Sitko, and two new Van Cougar members – Literary Director Erica Rippy and Executive Director Paul Alexander. We built a 10-minute section of the piece that was shared at Catch 34, curated by Jeff Larson, Andrew Dinwiddie and Caleb Hammonds in Brooklyn, NY, in February 2009.