Performing for an audience goes as far back as Alice Yorke can remember.
“It’s always been the thing I loved doing,” Yorke recalled with a laugh. “As a child, I would put on circus performances at my house. I would just be rolling around in the mud, getting dirty, but to me, it was a big performance.”
She’s come a long way.
Yorke, who has lived in various spots in South Philly over the last decade and now calls Point Breeze home, has her hands full with multiple projects involving local theater.
In her early circus performances, she considered herself more of a ringleader. She now excels at juggling. Yorke is starring in Inis Nua Theatre’s “How to be Brave” while simultaneously launching a new audio series for Lightning Rod Special, which is a theater company she co-founded a few years ago. Following a year in which theaters went dark due to the pandemic, Yorke is regaining momentum after traveling to New York with her 2019 show “The Appointment,”, in which she was the lead artist. It had received rave reviews from the New York Times, receiving Best of 2019 Theatre designation.
“The first few days we were literally giving tickets away to people on the street,” Yorke said. “Then the review came out and the rest of the run sold out quickly. You couldn’t find a ticket anywhere. It was amazing.”
Yorke has made a habit of traveling to find opportunity. The Rumson, New Jersey native studied liberal arts at Marymount Manhattan College on New York’s Upper East Side, surrounding herself in the fine arts. About 10 years ago, she took a chance, moving to Philadelphia to join the Pig Iron Theatre Company in Northern Liberties.
“It was definitely scary,” Yorke said. “I only knew one person when I was moving here. But it seemed like the right choice at the time and I went for it.”
Over that time, Yorke has taken on several projects and has worn many hats. She is credited as an actor, director, producer and writer, just to name a few. She has performed in Philadelphia, New York, Michigan, London and Scotland. Her time abroad helped her prepare for her current role in “How to be Brave,” as the show is set in Wales. It is described as a whirlwind solo show, that is that is a heartwarming story of motherhood and finding joy in the most challenging moments.
Directed by Barrymore Award-nominated director and Inis Nua Founder and Artistic Director Tom Reing, the show will be recorded in advance and available for on-demand virtual viewing only from April 14 through April 18. Tickets are $10-$15. By reservation at inisnuatheatre.org.
“It was challenging,” said Yorke, who performs in front of a green screen. “I’ve never done a solo performance before. It’s a lot easier to do when you have other people to interact with. But it was rewarding.”
Yorke’s character, Katie, takes a wild ride through Newport, Wales on a stolen BMX bike in an uplifting story that reminds viewers how hometowns shape their young residents.
“I saw ‘How to be Brave’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 and thought it was very funny.,” said Reing. “The play has a positive message about the strength we find in ourselves when times are tough, and that feels especially important today for our audience.”
There will be a free post-show Zoom talk exploring the play’s themes and relevant events by guest scholars and theater practitioners, Reing, playwright Siân Owen, and artists involved in the production will take part in the discussion on April 18 at 4 p.m.
At the same time “How to be Brave” is showing online, Yorke’s other big project “Sound Break” will be released in the form of a series of audio works. Lightning Rod Special is unveiling three new audio shows that are designed for at-home listening and will be available free online.
The first installation “Nosejob” will be available on April 16 on the Lightning Rod Special website, lightningrodspecial.com. “Nosejob” combines the stories of a 9th -century abbey of nuns who cut off their noses to repel a pack of rapacious vikings, with a 21st -century college, where boys sexually assault their female classmates as part of a school-wide prank. At the center of this wicked satire is college student Devon Chase, a feminist in search of a fantasy life she can live with. The audio work resembles a podcast with a theatrical delivery.
The style of an audio series was discussed well before the pandemic, but became more prevalent during the pandemic as artists attempt to find different ways to navigate rough waters of theater over the last year.
“It certainly had a lot to do with the pandemic,” Yorke said. “I’m lucky enough that I work a full-time job teaching at a local university but many others are struggling. We’re trying to find ways to adapt.”