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IndyFringe Brings Tommy Lewey’s “Red Couch” Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre (Acco Fringe), Sept. 21-28

by Rita Kohn
June 21, 2018
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
One red couch, two people. Indianapolis-based choreographer Tommy Lewey creates dance-drama out of ordinary ways we relate as we ‘umm’ get to know each other, progressing from ‘like’ to ’like-like’ …until the red couch takes on a life and ordinary is out the window and we’re left hitting all the emotion buttons from awkward to zowie.

Winner of the 2014 Columbus [Indiana] Invitational Arts Competition with a sweep of First Place, Best of Show, Most Creative, Most Depth, and Audience Favorite, “Red Couch” equally wowed IndyFringe audiences during its 2011 and 2017 Festivals, with Lewey performing alongside dancers Aggie Schmank and Morgan Skiles, respectively. By 2017 the couch required reupholstering.

As an encore, IndyFringe is sponsoring “Red Couch” for its international debut in the Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre (Acco Fringe), Sept. 21-28, 2018.

“Indianapolis author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. wrote, "Wherever you go, there is always a Hoosier doing something very important there,” said Andrea Hawman, IndyFringe Associate Director, in response to why IndyFringe feels it is important to sponsor Tommy Lewey as the first American to perform in the Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre.

“The idea of taking Red Couch abroad was initiated by Ellen Shevitz, longtime IndyFringe supporter, and Pauline Moffat, IndyFringe CEO, following a visit to the Acco Fringe last fall,” said Hawman.

"Ellen and I attended the Acco Fringe Festival with a group called ‘Women on the Fringe,’” said Moffat. “This was a dream come true for all of us, offering an opportunity to experience Israel through local and international artists and performances. Our whole group knew immediately that ‘Red Couch’ was the one show which would captivate audiences and transcend language. We decided then and there to make this happen and put an Indianapolis artist on the world map!”

“As a working choreographer, I am always looking for opportunities to bring my work to new audiences, but this is something truly special,” said Lewey, a veteran performer in the Indianapolis theatre scene. “I will not only be sharing my work, but also representing the Indianapolis arts community and the vision of an American artist.”

Lewey co-created “Red Couch” with longtime friend Mikael Burke, a 2017 recipient of the Princess Grace Award for theatre scholarship.

Lewey graduated from Butler University with a degree in dance pedagogy in 2009. He currently serves as a dance faculty member at Broad Ripple Magnet High School, and as the associate director of development for NoExit Performance.

In an interview with Katelyn Coyne, for a June 12, 2014 NUVO Newsweekly story, Lewey said, ”It's my job to take you on a journey — to choose what to show and what to hide. My hope is to get audiences to look at their own lives, their own relationships, their own choices."

Lewey also studied at the Jordan College Academy of Dance, Nutmeg Conservatory, LINES Ballet, and Bates Dance Festival. He maintains “a heavy involvement with the Indianapolis community” through extensive collaborations. “My original work has been hailed as “visceral” and “proactively entertaining,” he said, quoting reviews.

“The Acco Fringe takes place within the walls of a Crusader fortress in the city of Acre, Israel - a UNESCO World Heritage site,” said Hawman. “The festival is a symbol of coexistence between the city's Jewish and Arab inhabitants. The four-day arts extravaganza coincides with the intermediate days of Sukkot, a major Jewish festival held in the autumn that commemorates the sheltering of the Israelites in the wilderness. Known for its Crusader-era citadels and knights' halls that hug the Mediterranean Sea, the city of Acre stages unconventional theatre in many of its historic venues.

“The Acco Fringe festival hosts its participants with stage, lodging, and accommodations, lowering some overhead expenses,” added Hawman. “IndyFringe, acting as Lewey's fiscal agent, is raising funds for the travel expenses.”

Anyone wishing to support can can make tax-deductible donations at http://www.indyfringe.org/donate-indyfringe-0 or may purchase t-shirts at www.teespring.com/ilikeyou.

Lewey is staging a benefit performance at IndyFringe on Saturday, July 28 at 8 p.m., followed by a Q&A and desserts and drinks. Tickets are $36 and available at www.indyfringe.org

Patrons interested in seeing “Red Couch” at the Acco Fringe are invited to travel with the artists to Israel. Tour dates are set from Sept. 21 thru Sept 28, 2018, and organized by Da’at Educational Expeditions. The trip includes accommodations, festival activities, and trips to historic ruins and religious sites. For pricing and more information, search “Back to the Fringe” at www.daattravel.com , or contact Ellen Shevitz at (317) 730-0939 or ellenshevitz@gmail.com.

Contact Pauline Moffat at (317) 522-8099, or by email at pauline@indyfringe.org for more information about the production.

IndyFringe, a 501(c) (3) arts organization, exists to encourage, support and assist independent artists by providing an accessible, affordable outlet that draws diverse elements of the community together and inspires creative experience through the arts. Founded in 2005, IndyFringe began as an annual performing arts festival and expanded in 2008 to also provide a year- round, low-cost performance and event venue. Today, the festival is an 11-day event that hosts 64 companies performing 384 times in up to eight different venues. The organization works with artists of every experience level, style, ethnicity or background, providing both an innovative outlet for original and established work and a financial incentive to remain in Indianapolis. This, in turn, generates a rich culture of local authentic theatre.

Photo © & courtesy of Photographer Unknown

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