Brittany Holdahl goes where no DIY artist has gone before

Stephen Lyons stars in “Mayan Chowder.”

Come September, practically every corner of Philadelphia will be overflowing with off-the-wall DIY theater projects as the 2012 Philly Fringe officially gets under way.

But this year, only one upstart playwright is willing to buck the Philly theater scene’s seasonal customs. This weekend, Brittany Holdahl will put her work onstage during the most barren month of all on the Philly arts calendar: July.

Holdahl graduated from Temple University’s theater program in May and is wasting no time getting her career underway. “Mayan Chowder and Other Tales” is her series of five short, eccentric comedies, including the title piece, which involves an astrophysicist and a can of clam chowder.

“Theater in Philadelphia is so saturated during Fringe. We wanted to try something different,” says
Holdahl, who has performed as an actor in the Philly Fringe for the past two festivals. “But there’s a certain benefit to that saturation, too. People are so used to going to these kinds of shows during Fringe season.”

Many DIY artists will pay close attention to both the triumphs and pitfalls of this little test case. The Live Arts Festival only charges $300 to join the noncurated Fringe segment of their programming. But for a tiny show like “Chowder,” that’s about 25 percent of the total production budget.

Director Joseph Nevin and Holdahl originally budgeted about $800, but went above and beyond expectations with an inspired campaign. “It’s still totally barebones. The set is so minimal. We had to be creative with furniture and theater blocks, and all that good stuff,” says Holdahl. “It’s still a lot of props and costuming — and hopefully some witty dialogue, if I did my job right.”

If you go
‘Mayan Chowder and Other Tales’
Through July 29, Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge St., $10, mayanchowder


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