New Boon(e) and The Off White Beast

Arts / Article

Newer than new is one of Philadelphia’s freshest art and performance locales, the appropriately named New Boon(e), which has only been in its current manifestation in Old City since the fall of 2013. They have a rotating cast of art, artists, performances, and even critique nights in which some of the dozen artists that call the space home base offer their works for analysis by, well… anybody that wants to attend.

Poster for “The Off White Beast.” Currently New Boon(e) is in the midst of a small theatrical production entitled “The Off White Beast.” This storytelling performance is headed by Josh Beaver, who, beneath a warm hanging light, narrates and sets the stage for the evening. Set in Sweet Heart City, Beaver explains how many of the town’s younger denizens are sucked into the foul neighborhood of Snake Belly, an area known for its poverty, drugs and general oppressive nature.

Josh Beaver narrating the tale of the Off White Beast.

Josh Beaver narrating the tale of the Off White Beast.

Weaving a not-altogether-foreign tale of young, ambitious creative types lured to a bustling metropolis only to find themselves cynical, hardened and disenchanted, Beaver illustrates the world of Snake Belly in a matter-of-fact tone which is both no-nonsense and vernacular. He makes no reservations about the most infamous among those who call Snake Belly home – the Off White Beast.

The set of "Off White Beast". Left to right: Space Whale Orchestra, Josh Beaver, Stephen Ignatius.

The set of “Off White Beast.” Left to right: Space Whale Orchestra, Josh Beaver, Stephen Ignatius.

Once a human, this creature came to be through a mix of heroin addiction, the curse of Snake Belly, and a test posed to God. The Off White Beast actually outsmarted the creator and wound up with the knowledge that only the dead possess: the voice of God himself. All that the beast bargained with was his already pitiful life, and what he gained was a high that never ends… although he can never again obtain meaningful interaction with another person; he is further cursed forever to his own devices.

The Off White Beast lunges forward during the final segment of the performance.

The Off White Beast lunges forward during the final segment of the performance.

The performance includes an appearance by a wildly costumed Off White Beast complete with bandaged horns and poppy flowers sprouting from its back, as well as a cardboard-covered room and a television screen showing only static. Guitarist Stephen Ignatius plays the music of the formerly human Off White Beast, while the free jazz ensemble Space Whale Orchestra provides the booming sound of God’s voice. Food will be provided at the event courtesy Chef Pat Higgins.

It should be known that this particular show is a one night only affair, on January 23 at 8 p.m. Doors will open at 7:45 p.m., so be timely. New Boon(e) also has a lot of other events planned for the next month, starting with their next critique night on January 28 and an exhibit of new work by Dimitria Ermeidou opening on First Friday, February 7.

New Boon(e) is located at 253 North 3rd St., Philadelphia; [email protected]; newboone.com.