Marquee Dinner spotlight on Alex Bechtel | Theatre Philadelphia
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Marquee Dinner spotlight on Alex Bechtel

Jan 25, 2018

On February 5th, we will host the Marquee Dinner, honoring the Independence Foundation and celebrating new plays and playwrights in Philadelphia. This spotlight shares some background on key the artists that make our region a hotbed for new theatrical work. 

I'm Alex Bechtel, and I make new works of theatre in Philadelphia as a composer, writer, actor, divisor, sound designer, and music director.  

I have won Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Original Music (The Light Princess), Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical (The Light Princess), Outstanding Music Direction (My Way), and Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical (Into the Woods). I was a 2015 and 2016 finalist for the F. Otto Haas Award, and in 2015 I was awarded an Independence Fellowship to study with Kentucky-based new music composer Rachel Grimes. 

The Independence Foundation was instrumental in funding so many projects that have enriched my artistic life. Most recently, the funding Tony Lawton received helped us to create The Light Princess in 2015, which went on to be produced in The Arden Children’s Theatre season last year. And most notably for me personally, The Independence Fellowship I received to study with Rachel Grimes. The time I spent with Rachel in Louisville was some of the most challenging, exciting, and formative moments in my artistic career. It is a memory I will always cherish, and for which I am very grateful.

I choose to make work in Philadelphia, because I choose to make work with the Philadelphians I have met here. I have found collaborators in this city that cannot be matched or replaced. I love the work we are making here. The city itself inspires my work in so many ways. I have always been drawn to the ways that the fantastic collide with the mundane — I find that to be alive in a beautiful way in Philly. 

One piece that I’m working on right now is an experimental chamber musical called Philadelphia Nocturne. It’s a play about the Moon renting an apartment in Philly to get away from it all, and the way her lunar proximity throws the citizens into depression and disarray. It came about because I was falling in love in a dark time, and seeing the multiplicity of emotional experience play out within my own heart. It also came about because I wanted to make something narrated by a city, and so I wrote a musical where the band plays the City of Philadelphia, and they tell the story. It feels like a worthwhile experiment. 

Who has supported me as an artist? How much time do you have? I would not be where I’m at without Jennifer Childs. <— How many dozens of Philly theatre artists could say that sentence and not be lying. Also, the support, encouragement, and challenges set upon me by so many Philly artists (Tony Braithwaite, Matt Pfeiffer, Terry Nolen, Matt Decker, my teachers at UArts and The Pig Iron School...). I stand on the shoulders of many generous souls (which is rough for them, because I’m a tall guy). 

Who are the writers of new work that inspire me? Oh god, so many: James Ijames, Emma Goidel, Applied Mechanics, Mary Tuomanen, The Bearded Ladies, Sam Tower + Ensemble, Chelsea & Magda, Plant Me Here, Nicole Canuso. And so many so many more. There’s a lot to be excited about.  I can’t say it enough: I love new work made by artists who are making the thing because they care so much they coudn’t not make it if they tried. 

Hear more from Alex, and share a meal alongside other creators of new work, at the Marquee Dinner on February 5th and Panorama Restaurant!