The Propaganda Machine Show

$1,720 of $5,500 goal

Raised by 24 people in 3 months
Created July 19, 2018
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-Murphy31456082_1532018906238903_r.jpeg
Tenor – Wesley Morgan31456082_1532018922638521_r.jpeg
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 ENAensemble.org 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.31456082_15320192175536_r.jpeg

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 ENAensemble.org!

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.
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WOWZA! A sold out run for our first ENAensemble production! We'd like to extend our deepest thanks for your support of this new project we've embarked upon.

When the three of us first met to discuss this project in May, we weren't sure we could pull it off. Although we collectively had over 25 years' experience performing, we knew there were a number of hats that we would each need to wear for the first time to make this production a reality. Evan and Anais took on administrative and technical roles for the first time, while Nicole directed her first opera and arranged tunes for the cabaret. We assumed we would be playing to a room half-full of our family and close friends, so imagine our surprise when we saw the names of strangers (or as we like to call them, future friends) filling up our box office lists!

Your support of our vision not only made it possible to rent a venue, but also allowed us to pay our artists. The three of us are all too familiar with the plight of the emerging artist - graduate with a degree in the arts, get a day job, play/sing/act gigs that pay only in "exposure," rinse, and repeat. We are thrilled to have been able to compensate the performers, and we are truly grateful for your direct support of that goal.

We are already hard at work on our next project, and we can't wait to share what we have in store for you! In the meantime, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us - what do YOU want to see, hear, and experience? We're all ears!

All the best,

Evan, Nicole, and Anais
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With Opening Night successfully in the books - all of us at ENAensemble wanted to give a special thank you to all of our donors! We're so incredibly grateful for your investment in our talents, hard work, and artistic energy!

Excitingly, we've sold most of our tickets, with the last night nearly Sold Out!

We're going to start sharing photos from the production soon! In the meantime, here's a couple of shots from one of our staging rehearsals, taken by Tara Hempstead!
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$1,720 of $5,500 goal

Raised by 24 people in 3 months
Created July 19, 2018
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