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Performance Work

Uncle Mike's All-Day Apple Butter (2023)

A Durational Apple Butter Making Performative Installation

Created and Performed by mike durkin with Angela Trovato

Part of the FringeArts Festival and Cannonball Festival

Maas Garden

1320 N 5th St

Philadelphia, PA 19122

Sunday, 9/10/2023 12pm-8pm


Silence.  Absolute silence.  Finding commune with each other.  The volume of the outside world turned completely down.  Utter presence.  Uncle Mike’s All-Day Apple Butter is a durational performance and installation.  Uncle Mike begins by coring, peeling and chopping the apples, cooking them, and pureeing them.  Then for 6 hours, Mike stands, in meditation, stirring the pot (so to speak but also literally)  At 7pm, Uncle Mike seasons the apple butter and jars the butter before distributing it to the audience members for a shared experience.  Audience members are invited to come and go during the full day installation, observing, contemplating, savoring, and witnessing Mike stirring.  


Inspired by Quaker traditions of solemn meditation, the seasonal explosion of fall, and the iconography of apples in religious and pop cultures.  Uncle Mike in contemplation invites audiences to be utterly present. Maybe we will sing a song, maybe dance, maybe yell, or whatever comes to him in this meditation.  Apple Butter looks at our associations and romanticization of Quaker traditions, slow-life cultures, and the simple life.  We think about authenticity, earnestness, and objectification through the critiquing of these communities that occur in pop culture. 

Uncle Mike's All-Day Apple Butter (2022)

An all day apple butter making installation

Part of the Inverse Performance Arts Festival

at the Momentary, Bentonville, AR

November 5th, 2022


Mike Durkin will perform Uncle Mike’s All-Day Apple Butter (2022), a durational performance and installation. Uncle Mike stands, in meditation, stirring the pot (so to speak but also literally). Guests are invited to come and go during the full-day installation, observing, contemplating, savoring, and witnessing Mike stirring.

Inspired by Quaker traditions of solemn meditation, Mike in contemplation, may sing a song, may dance, may yell, or whatever comes to him in this meditation. Apple Butter looks at our associations and romanticization of Ozark and Appalachian cultures, a CrackerBarrelification, if you will. We think about authenticity, earnestness, and objectification through the critiquing of these communities that occur in pop culture.

Yes, We’re Ready, We’ll Split an Order of Fries for The Table--Does That Work for You?--Sure, One Check Is Fine

A table-top show about diners and the people inhabiting those space
Created by mike durkin and Nick Schwasman 
Part of FringeArts Fest
September 9-17, 2022

Work-In-Progress, SoLow Festival June 24-25, 2022 

Yes, we’re ready, we’ll split an order of fries for the table.  Does that work for you?  Sure, one check is fine.  The clanking of the spoon against the ceramic mug, embossed with the diner’s logo.  The flickering of the fluorescents in the kitchen.  Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” cuts through the shuffling of feet.  Meetings, comings, goings, and reunions.  Blue plate specials, no substitutions, and gratuity added on parties over 8 fill the menu.  A table top show about diners and the people inhabiting those spaces.  Artists, mike durkin and Nick Schwasman will lead audiences between 1-3 through a series of conversations, and performances, all while splitting an order of fries either at the Melrose Street Diner or Broad Street Diner in South Philadelphia.  


What If We Gather...And Look Up At the Clouds While We Dance With Plants (2021-2022)

In Philadelphia (Spring ‘21)
Over Zoom with Pieter Performance Group (Summer ‘21)
In Asheville for the Asheville Fringe Festival (Winter ‘22)

A Performative Gathering
In-person and over Zoom
Created by mike durkin



The performance is an interactive collective gathering, meditation, and group dance held on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens and performed safely outside.  Multidisciplinary artist, mike durkin will lead a series of prompts exploring public space, our initial impulses, shared impulses, as well as a guided meditation finding balance between the body, the natural environment, and technological worlds we occupy on a daily basis. 


The goal of the performance is slowing down, focusing on stillness and the hyperactivity of the world around us.  Finding harmony amongst the multiple worlds we make contact with on a daily basis- natural, digital, and personal.  Everything is at play, the plants, the trees, the birds, the keyboard, the clouds.  How does our body move within these constraints, how can we receive natural landscapes at the same level as a digital landscape.  What shapes, structures, movements can be made while reflecting the various worlds around us.  The movements will continue to be developed by viewing each other’s movements. 

Primary Realities (2018)

A Lecture In Response to Bomb Cyclones, Geodesic Domes, Chaos Theory, and Global Expenditure After R. Buckminster Fuller
Developed through Pig Iron Theatre Company School, Residency at Drop Forge and Tool, and residency at PhillyCAM


Created And Performed by mike durkin, Sterling Melcher, and Nick Schwasman

Geodesic domes, Epcot center, synergy, triangles- Dr. Reginald Ulysses will unpack some of the principles associated with famous architect, theorist, urban designer- R. Buckminster Fuller through a live performance lecture. Dr. Ulysses will answer questions from the audience as well as callers about the bigger questions of life. How do we become a better species?

Recorded live at PhillyCAM, November 2, 2018

Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks
Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks
Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks (2015)

Created and Directed by mike durkin


Performed at the Garage Bar (adjacent to Pat’s and Geno’s Cheesesteak Sandwiches)

June 2013

As Part of the SoLow Festival


Featuring Ama Bollinger, Amanda Damron, Chris Davis, Doug Greene, Alan Johnson McNutt, Rose Luardo, Kevin Rodden, and Steve Wright


South Philadelphia Eating World (SPEW) Presents:

The 37th Annual Cheesesteak Eating Whiz Off Jamboree

Man VS. Cheesesteak

So It Is Written And So It Shall Be Done

Held in the pulsating heart of Cheesesteak Vegas


Competitors: Boris Kirilenko, the Russian comrade; Glamron, the diva; Cousin Rose, the single; A.J., the rookie; Richie Santoro, the Cheez Whiz Kid; 5-time Defending Champion: Terry Amoroso.

Master of Ceremonies: Steve, the captain; Color Commentary: Doug Greene, the vegan


“Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.” -Philippians 3:19  


Hot dog eating competitions, monster truck rallies, Faygo Red Pop, backyard wrestling, THESE COLORS DON’T RUN, Freedom Fries, Megamillions, snap into a Slim Jim, Dale Earnhardt, jean shorts, Busch Light, Staind.

On The Road For 17,527 Miles (2015)

GPS Directions Written by Gregor Weichbrodt using places traveled to from On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Conceived and Directed by mike durkin
Performed by Julius Ferraro, Scott Rodrigue, Sam Sherburne, and Dani Solomon

Music by Adam Vidiksis
Lighting Design by Eric Baker
Zine Creation by Daniel Kent
Dramaturgy by Erin Washburn

March 5-8, 2015
Third Floor Skinner Studio
Plays and Players, Philadelphia PA

On The Road for 17527 Miles by Gregor Weichbrodt is based on the novel “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and Google Maps Direction Service.  The exact and approximate spots Kerouac traveled and described are taken from the book and parsed by Google Direction Service API. The result is a huge direction instruction of 55 pages. The chapters match those of the original book. All in all, as Google shows, the journey takes 272.26 hours (for 17,527 miles).

On the Road for 17,727 Miles is a quest for meaning, a search for purpose: four incurably young adults--frustrated, aimless, adrift--decide to take to the road and follow the same route Sal Paradise travelled in Jack Kerouac's beat classic On the Road. But instead of using the novel as a guide, the philosophic cadre decides to find their purpose in the turn-by-turn directions of Paradise's journey. Rather than playing out a script, or even reading out Kerouac's words, 14th Street will explore the entirely human concepts of restlessness and identity solely through the mechanical intonations of GPS directions. On the Road for 17,727 Miles will transform the droning text of these GPS directions into dialogue and dances, monologues and meditation. With the scope of Kerouac's journey compressed into each turn and toll road, 14th Street asks whether the voyage to nirvana can be captured in the sum of its parts, and when the steps of traveling overwhelm the journey itself.

Inspired by Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Produced by The Renegade Company

Conceived and Directed by mike durkin

Performed at First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia Sanctuary


Movement by Mason Rosenthal in collaboration with the ensemble and Annie Wilson

Original Composition by Joo Won Park and Adam Vidiksis


Featuring Doug Greene, Dan Higbee, Shamus Hunter McCarty, Lee Minora, Eric Scotolati, Steve Wright, and Anna Zaida Szapiro.


“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  What happens when we let obsession pulsate through our veins?  Are we capable of denouncing our beliefs for the sake of lust?  Inspired by the silent films of the 1920’s and told through the deafened and disfigured perspective of Quasimodo, Renegade will transform Victor Hugo’s novel into a nightmarish expressionist landscape begging the question, what does it mean to be a monster?  

Collaboration with Le Puppet Regime
For Hunchback we collaborated with puppet artist, Genevieve Geer of Le Puppet Regime.  She provided puppets that were incorporated into a pre and post performance that told the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  




The Hunchback of Notre Dame...A Mute Play (2014)

Bathtub Moby-Dick (2013)

From Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, or The Whale

Conceived and Directed by Michael Durkin

Written by mike durkin and Ed Swidey

Featuring Ed Swidey

Performed at Wharton Heights, September 2013

Design by Daniel Kontz, and Robin Stamey

“For there is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.”  How do we cope with loss?  What prevents us from escaping from life?  Robert, recently divorced, loses his job and retreats to his bathtub.  Disillusioned and overwhelmed by his troubles, he picks up Herman Melville’s novel and begins a journey.  Set in a bathtub in a bathroom, I recreate Melville’s characters’ experiences aboard the ship.

For Bathtub Moby-Dick we connected with an unconventional community collaborator to create a sensory component to the show.  We connected with The Medicine Womyn Mixology School to create cocktails inspired by sea travel and the novel.  Our collaboration started with discussions about the correlation between a devout feminist organization and a very masculine novel such as Melville’s.  We discussed the universal properties of our organizations as well as creating a cocktail that would bring an audience to the sea and memories associated with that.  The way the audience participated in consumption was through a birthday party where they could have punch concocted by the performer.  The Mixology school created the “punch”.  We also held a curated tasting where the organization created two cocktails and walked an audience through the ingredients and their relationship to Moby-Dick.


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