The Ballad of Joe Hill by Swim Pony Performing Arts

By FringeArts (other events)

13 Dates Through Sep 15, 2013

Sunday, September 8 ONLY: 8pm performance followed by a post-show discussion moderated by Joseph M. Schwartz, professor of political science, Temple University.


“The fact that Joe Hill doesn’t fit our usual picture of a hero is intriguing and complex and makes me what to know him more.” Adrienne Mackey, director of The Ballad of Joe Hill

"Affecting and thought provoking." J. Cooper Robb, Philadelphia Weekly


Inside Eastern State Penitentiary, a lone woman sings a haunting refrain before kicking off a raucous vaudeville party with a ragtag band of clowns. With dark humor and the high-energy movement of early animation, they enact the story of Joe Hill, union leader, songwriter, and the defendant in a sensationalistic murder trial that ended with his execution.

This re-imaging of the  2006 Philly Fringe hit features huge and loud singing steeped in union-style song, music made from found percussion—saws, vases, pots—and the lyrics of Joe Hill echoing down the prison cellblock. Prepare yourself for a journey of railcars, murder, sham trials, secrets taken to the grave, dreams, mystery women, and the war between unions and robber barons.


Past Festival shows: Lady M (2011), Recitatif (2007)


Director Adrienne Mackey Lead Artists Adrienne Mackey and Bradley Wrenn Lyrics Joe Hill Additional Text Tim Martin Lighting Maria Shaplin Costumes Rebecca Kanach Performers/Creators Ross Beschler, Robert DaPonte, Dawn Falato, Justin Jain, Ed Miller, David Sweeny, Bradley Wrenn


Helmed by artistic director Adrienne Mackey, Swim Pony Performing Arts is loud, strange, and never seen before on earth! In 2010 the company premiered its critically acclaimed first work SURVIVE!, a 22,000 square foot choose-your-own adventure installation exploring how humanity understands the universe and man's place within it. For the 2011 Live Arts Festival the company created Lady M, an all female take on Macbeth that Philadelphia City Paper called “a peppery, satisfyingly complex dream-theater stew.” In 2012 Swim Pony received a Knight Arts Challenge for “Outside the (Black) Box” to weave the arts into non-traditional spaces. The following year brought a second Knight Arts Challenge “Cross-Pollination,” which will combine creators of different genres into original and surprising short performances. Also watch for a first showing of the company’s newest traveling sound installation The Game of Regret as part of the Mandell Residency at Drexel University in 2014.


This presentation of The Ballad of Joe Hill is supported in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund
, The Knight Foundation
, The Wyncote Foundation
, The Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Project Stream
, The Charlotte Cushman Foundation, and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.


All sales are final. Ticket exchanges are for 2013-14 Annual Members only. Memberships are $65 for one and $100 for two. For more info and to become a Member, call the Box Office at 215.413.1318.

E-Tickets: There are no tickets to pick up. All tickets are sent to you as a link in an email. Tickets are required at the door and need to be scanned before entering. Bring your ticket as a print-out or display the QR code on your mobile device.

No late seating: Entry is not guaranteed after the start time.

Mailing Address

140 N. Columbus Blvd. (at Race St.) Philadelphia, PA 19106