The Propaganda Machine Show

The Propaganda Machine Show is a three part performance of film, opera, and cabaret – presented as part of the Philadelphia FringeArts Festival on September 10th, 14th, 17th, and 21st. Part I – a screening of the 1939 propaganda film Refuge will be one of the first public screenings of the film ever, and is accompanied by a new score by Philadelphia-based composer Joshua Hartman. Part II – the US Premiere of the chamber opera Greenland by Evan Kassof and Aleksandar Hut-Kono, starring Anaïs Naharro-Murphy, about German filmmakers stranded in Greenland in 1940.  Part III – a cabaret devised by Nicole Renna with three female singers satirizing today’s modes of propaganda.  Held at 1fiftyone Gallery + Art Space, The Propaganda Machine Show will be embedded in a newly formed show of propaganda-inspired visual art curated by Gus Gscheidle. This small and agile performance space holds approximately 25 people per performance, promising an intimate evening of film, opera, and cabaret. 

Funding this project means paying the musicians quickly at a rate matching their worth. The chamber orchestra has nine players, the opera has three singers and two speakers, there’s three stage crew members, and, combined with other miscellaneous production costs, The Propaganda Machine Show is an expensive production. All told, there are twenty immensely talented, hardworking, dedicated performers who are putting their time, skills, and sweat into this performance. We estimate that over 250 combined years of experience are going into this production. Your donation helps ensure the performers who bring this project to life are paid what they deserve.

Along these lines, if you’re able, please consider sponsoring a specific performer! For $300, your name will be prominently featured in the program as endowing the cast-member's or performer's participation in the production!

The Opera Singers:
Soprano – Anaïs Naharro-Murphy
Tenor – Wesley Morgan
Baritone – Anthony Sharp

The Cabaret Singers:
Renée Drezner
Nicole Renna
Julia Kershetsky

The Orchestra:
Flute and Piccolo
Clarinet and Bass Clarinet
Bassoon and Contrabassoon

The Composers:
Refuge - Joshua Hartman
Greenland - Evan Kassof

All Donations $50 and up will also have the donors’ names included in the program and will be featured on the website!

And most importantly, EVERY donation, no matter how small will be received with the utmost gratitude. Donating to this project means more than just paying performers what they’re worth, it is an investment in the future careers of these young, fantastic musicians and crew. Donating to The Propaganda Machine Show means investing in the message that working to fight the slowly rising flood of propaganda and totalitarianism is a valid act of artistic expression.

The shared vision that inspires this project is simple: We fear that our collective discourse has significantly changed. Where there was once reason, rationality, and respect, now there is only polarities, personal attacks, and propaganda. Through this show, we’re hoping to illuminate the power of propaganda. Its muddled identity as art, entertainment, design, technology, rhetoric, and politics lulls us each into quiet temptation.

Thank you for considering our vision and donating to our show!

More on The Propaganda Machine Show:

Why these works?

About Greenland:

“While truly totalitarian regimes are a rarity today, they were the norm for much of the 20thcentury. Not so long ago, half of the world population was ruled by governments resembling that of North Korea. What did living in such an environment feel like? A helpful parallel is perhaps imagining life in extreme climates – so hot or so cold that the atmospheric conditions interfere with everything you say, do, perceive, think, feel and dream. Imagine braving -58F degrees 300 days a year! How talkative would you feel most of the time?

What fascinated Evan and me was the possibility of human adaptation to a hostile, totalitarian environment. How and at what cost does an individual normalise the strikingly abnormal? And, crucially, how does a woman climb to the very top of a society as phenomenally misogynist as Nazi Germany?

Various totalitarian regimes of the past century had one common characteristic – a seductive and harmful simplification of reality. Hitler rose to prominence in the 1930s mainly because he was the biggest simplifier of the complex political universe of the Weimar Republic. Other great “saviours” included Mao and Stalin who, again, lobotomized the vast empires they ruled in order to save them from the intricacies of reality. Sadly, our time is once again a stage for incompetent political simpletons. It is up to us to decide if we want to succumb to the perverse allure of totalitarianism only to become the future victims of that same regime.” – Aleksandar Hut-Kono (Greenland Librettist)

About the Cabaret:

“We are faced with messages every day meant to sway us one way or another in all genres of music – in a way, music itself is propaganda.” – Nicole Renna (Director)

A more thorough background on the program:

Refuge was an artistic and political tool created by the New York Office of the Spanish Refugee Relief Campaign (SRRC) that shortened and dubbed a film by Jean Paul Le Chanois (alias Jean Paul Dreyfus) titled Un people attend. First screened in 2009 after it was thought lost, Refuge combines original footage, newsreel, and footage taken from a camera hidden in a grocery bag depicting the plight of the Spanish Refugees in France. The 30-minute film is accompanied by a new score by Joshua Hartman, which reorients the images of Refuge as historical artifacts, rediscovered with particularly timely messages.

Greenland was premiered in 2015 at the Barbican Centre in London (production still below), and subsequently performed at the Royal Opera House and the Liszt Academy in Budapest. The 30-minute opera sets a Leni Riefenstahl-like film director (soprano Anaïs Naharro-Murphy), her stuntman (tenor Wesley Morgan), and her cameraman (baritone Anthony Sharp) on the glaciers of Greenland in 1940 shooting footage for a new Nazi propaganda film.

Singer and director Nicole Renna’s cabaret rearranges popular songs for three female singers and ensemble, and casts them as tools of soft-propaganda. This 40-minute performance, accompanied by members of ENAensemble’s orchestra, features singers Renée Drezner, Julia Kershetsky, and director Nicole Renna.

The Propaganda Machine Show is produced by the ENAensemble. Founded by Evan Kassof, Nicole Renna, and Anaïs Naharro-Murphy, ENAensemble is a new performance group in Philadelphia. More info can be found at!

Production Timeline:

Rehearsals for The Propaganda Machine Show being on August 20th and continue daily through Opening Night, September 10th.

The Performances are September 10th and 17th at 7pm and 14th and 21st at 8pm.

Donations (24)

  • Hayden Smirh
    • $20 
    • 5 yrs


Evan Kassof
Philadelphia, PA

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.