Back when Philly’s Fringe youngins were still sucking on teats, Greg Giovanni made avant-garde inroads in the local scene with Big Mess Theatre. Starting in 1988, Big Mess was where drag-centric, gender-babbling sexuality and twisted adult-themed takes on classic literature met uncomfortably with a boozy glam-cabaret soundtrack. It might seem strange, then, that Giovanni’s newest major work, A Minor Cycle (Feb. 8 and 9, Painted Bride), is a kids’ thing. But Giovanni believes that Big Mess’ finest work was for children. “I always considered Taking Tiger Mountain, our Eno-inspired show, a kids’ thing,” says Giovanni. “My 10-year-old nephew had to explain it to my parents. It was very funny watching him, he got more out of it than most adults, I think. Then again, kids have more depth than we give them credit for. Besides, I never grew up. I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done minus the drag queens, strippers and cursing.” Giovanni’s new take on children’s tales benefits from his last two decades spent honing skills in expressionist Japanese Noh theater practices. A Minor Cycle isn’t just Noh. There are puppets and Kabuki in there, too. “It sprung from my imagination,” says Giovanni. “I can say that the pieces are slow but short. The music is funny. It’s traditional but weird. And there’s a giant chicken and a dragon! What could be more fun?”
When the Cuban coffee shop/avant-jazz venue Café Clave (4305 Locust St.) closed in December, my Latin heart broke into a million pieces. Now, I see on the West Philly Local that area couple Yasser Aiq and Kate Steenstra have taken over the space, renamed it Café Renata and will fill it with Clave-esque drinks and nibbles. Could live music be far off?
Feb. 9 is all about Jane, the killer lesbian-centric film being produced by onetime City Paper mad-man-turned-actor Sonny Vellozzi and director/writer Sean McKnight. Those two — along with producing partner Robert Bizik and star Victoria Gates — will hold an LGBT-focused fundraiser/fashion show/dance party at 2 p.m. at the William Way Center (1315 Spruce St.) to snag completion funds. More fun than Kickstarter, I assure you.
Blogger/restaurateur Harry Spivak and his brother/chef Jon have opened an outpost of Chive Cafe & Catering at the loud-ass rock palace Electric Factory. Chive opened its first spot at Peddler’s Village in Bucks County in 2012. The Electric Chive is all about personal pizzas and handmade sausage sandwiches.
A sad farewell to Edmond J. Tayoun — brother to Jimmy and dad to Joe, William, Ed and the late Michael. This Tayoun, who died Jan. 30, was co-owner of the Middle East Restaurant, an entertainment hub that this city still misses.
More Icepack at citypaper.net/criticalmass.