Cannonball Festival Announces “Panel Pick” Award Recipients

Cannonball Festival

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Cannonball, the largest hub of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, has selected the winners of its four panel-adjudicated production tracks (called “Panel Picks”). Together, winners and finalists for these awards will receive over $37,000 in direct financial support, as well as full  presentation support at one of Cannonball’s four venues. These financial awards make it possible for a diverse group of independent artists to create new works of performance and share them as part of the Philly Fringe. Cannonball is artist-run and community-curated, and will run September 1-30 at venues across the River Wards. Tickets will be available in mid-July and more information can be found at the festival’s website

Award recipients span the genres of dance, circus, theater, performance art, and immersive works. Highlights include: an immersive production of a new Turkish play about a queer romance in a tradition club from Fulbright scholar and Pig Iron School 3rd year Faysal Dakni, a full length solo multimedia circus production from chinese pole artist and acrobat Toni Cannon, and a garbage-art theater production that uses a story about encountering a magical piece of trash to unpack grief for young people from 2022 Cannonball Artists Rough & Tumble Productions.

Each stipend track is panel-adjudicated by a group of peer artists, and awards were competitive – Cannonball received over 250 applications this year. 2023 marks the second year of the BIPOC New Work Presentation Track, which offers a $2750 stipend to BIPOC artists presenting new-full length works of any discipline. New this year are: the Performance for Young Audiences Development Cohort (PYAC) which offers mentorship, development support, and a $750 stipend;  the CSAW Award for New Work by Circus Artists of Color which comes with a $5600 stipend; and the Snack Track for Small Audience and Immersive Works, which comes with a $600 stipend. Overall, Cannonball is offering over $37,000 for artists to produce in its festival. Cannonball is actively fundraising to support these awards, which are additionally made possible by funders such as the WIlliam Penn Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, individual donors, and discounted/donated space from Venue Partners such as The Maas Building and Fidget.

Cannonball distributes curatorial decision-making across a diverse group of panelists and producers. The panelists included previous winners, artists, and young people. The BIPOC New Work Track panelists include: track Artistic Producer Nathan Alford-Tate, 2022 Finalists Mark Wong and Nia Benjamin and 2022 winner Shavon Norris. The CSAW Award panelists include Tate, Shenea Booth, and Amy Chen. The PYAC Panelists include track Artistic Producer Sam Tower, Sabriaya Shipley, and teenagers Ganiah Bracy and Sterling Bickford. The Snack Track Panelists include: Jen Cleary, Isabella “Izzy” Sazak, and Colby Calhoun. The recipients include artists local to Philadelphia and from around the country.

“Cannonball is a space where we take risks. On artists, on ideas, on resources and sharing,” says panelist Nia Benjamin. Artistic Producer Sam Tower adds, “Panelists have selected works that they perceive as risky and in need of peer to peer support. At Cannonball, artists historically operating in the margins are encouraged to experiment. By prioritizing artists of color with offers of direct financial support, we are investing in a more equitable and dynamic Fringe Festival experience.”

The recipients are:

BIPOC New Work Presentation Track Recipients

  • Santi Castro –  Manflor  – A radically magical new play tracking a queer Latin-Indigenous journey of self-discovery across Philadelphia.
  • Faysal Dakni – Misket – An immersive production of a new Turkish play that follows a queer romance at an Ankara pavyon.
  • Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez – She Was a Conquistawhore – A bawdy standup tale about a woman and her cowboy vagina named Pete in search of intergenerational healing.
  • Very Good Dance Theatre – The Other Gardeners – A Black, trans reimagining of the Adam and Eve story incorporating dance, music, and performance art that conjures auto-biographies that never came to be.
  • Angel Shanel Edwards, Jonathan González, & Marguerite Angelica Monique Hemmings- xxJAMxx – An improvisational manifesto score in four parts that attends to the preposterous task of performing and being Black.

CSAW Award Recipient

  • Toni Cannon – ReFlection – A new multimedia circus production that tells the story of self-acceptance of a Black trans masculine person through acrobatics, Chinese Pole, film and more.
  • PYAC Recipients
  • Id Circo Theatre Group – Clown in the Round – A clown take on Shakespeare for audiences aged 7-12 that shows how to pull success from the jaws of failure.
  • Rough & Tumble Productions – Magic Trash Day – A clown dance theatre piece for ages 5-12 about a Philly kid who finds a magical piece of trash among the rubble, helping them move through grief.
  • Ants on a Log – Pride Jam – An interactive concert for queer kids, families, and allies, featuring a musical performance and short creative activities. Best for ages 4-11.
  • The Exuberance – Read Me A World – An interactive, audience-led storytelling experience for friends and family nestled in cozy outdoor reading nooks. All ages.
  • Eliana Fabiyi – Socrates, an odyssey – A puppetry odyssey for ages 5-11 about a normal everyday sock thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

Snack Track Recipients

  • Connor Hogan & Francesca Chilcote – Dinner! Franny and Connor Wrote a Cookbook – An immersive cooking show live-directed by two self-described food influencers turned clowns turned cookbook writers who have no prior knowledge of the ingredients and no formal cooking training, but who share a deep passion for the connections made over food.
  • Taj Rauch – Jefferson Huxley: A Retrospective – An interactive, site-responsive experience for five people about the greatest visual artist you’ve never heard of.
  • Jedidjah Julia Noomen – Last One Standing – A phone call for one person to the last remaining survivors of real-life disasters and triumphs.
  • Janine Renee Cunningham – Object Transfer Station – A purgatory-esque check-in station run by a garbage undertaker where participants offer items they no longer wish to possess to a ritualistic release.
  • Donna Oblongata & Patrick Costello – Privy Privy – An actual glory hole for ice cream offers an unexpected physical encounter with a stranger, resulting in a moment of pleasure and a tasty treat.

Cannonball Festival presents risk-taking independent artists in back-to-back performances next to delicious lounge spaces, fostering creative collisions and community conversation. Cannonball disrupts traditional arts presenting models by centering artist-to-artist curation, pooling and redistributing resources to provide small-scale, high-impact production opportunities for wild, under-resourced performances, and building a sustainable arts ecosystem from the ground up. In its inaugural year in 2021, Cannonball produced 28 unique works over 21 days for 150 performances in a single venue during the Philadelphia Fringe, welcoming over 2500 audience members and winning three overall Fringie Awards. In 2023, Cannonball will return to the Maas Building and the nearby Icebox Project Space, and add programming at Fidget in Kensington and free, outdoor performances at Liberty Lands Park for families. The festival is offering even more production and presentation opportunities for independent artists from Philadelphia. It runs September 1-30, 2023.

By pooling resources, Cannonball offers affordable production opportunities to performing artists of all disciplines. The Cannonball experience is one of community and exchange: they offer lots of support to artists, create social events and preview opportunities, and carefully curate fun and inclusive social spaces to hang out in all festival long. Alongside buy-in options, co-presenting options, and split bills, Cannonball offers four stipend tracks. The stipend tracks are competitive presentation and/or development tracks which come with additional opportunities and resources.

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