Local art collective takes on David Lynch

Weird. Wild. Fascinating. Upsetting. These words and many more describe the world of David Lynch, the mastermind behind “Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks.” Lynch’s aesthetic has proven irresistible for artists — like Michael Osinski, local out director and founder of The Antitode, a collective of artists creating productions that “blend contemporary pop culture with classic plots to create a new way of telling stories.”

The Antitode’s newest production, “Red Lodge, Montana,” was conceived after Osinski watched the 2017 reboot of “Twin Peaks.” Part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, “Red Lodge Montana” will run Sept. 7-15 at the BOK Building in South Philly.

In advance of the production, the collective will be hosting a Lynch-themed fundraiser on Aug. 17. PGN spoke with Osinski and cast members Josh Hitchens and Amanda Schoonover about the creative process, their histories with Lynch and, of course, pie.


PGN: How would you describe your relationship to David Lynch and his work?

AS: I first discovered David Lynch when I was about 11 years old. I grew up in a remote area of Pennsylvania, and we didn’t get a lot of television reception, but we did get some public access channels that would play old movies. One night they aired “Eraserhead” for a midnight movie showing. The film upset me so much that I got sick to my stomach. I was absolutely shocked, horrified and thrilled. It was the beginning of my love affair with his work and has shaped a lot of the work I have been drawn to throughout my career.

JH: David Lynch is my favorite director of all time. I deeply love everything he’s put into the world. I got to see him at the Free Library of Philadelphia about a month before “Twin Peaks: The Return” was announced, and he said something I’ve never forgotten: “As an artist, you have a responsibility to stay true to the idea you fell in love with.” I feel like David Lynch puts on screen exactly what he envisions in his head, which I’ve tried to stay true to in my own work.

MO: I came to the David Lynch party a little late. I was introduced to him by a friend I was living with after college, and she basically made me watch the entire “Twin Peaks” series. Most of his work has appealed to me because he’s really good at piercing through the veneer in our daily lives and uncovering the dark stuff we don’t necessarily want to confront. From a form standpoint, I love stories that are told in a circuitous way, and he doesn’t spoon-feed answers to his audience.


PGN: How does “Red Lodge, Montana” engage with “Twin Peaks” (and Lynch in general)?

MO: We use all of his work as a jumping-off point, and it’s also an unapologetic love letter to him. We created it simply because we all love David Lynch’s work, and we wanted to see what kind of weird, kooky thing we could make. We had no set intention about what the content would be.

AS: “Twin Peaks” is only a small part of David Lynch’s body of work, so it can only be a small part of our show as well. (Spoilers?)

JH: “Inland Empire” [a 2006 Lynch film] was also a big influence on us, which is way out on the other end of weirdness and comprehension (or lack thereof).


PGN: The Antidote has played with ideas of gender and sexuality in past shows. Lynch is not a queer artist, but what do you think makes his work attractive for consideration through a queer lens?

AS: Lynch’s work is definitely from the straight white male gaze. Our company, however, spans the entire queer and gender spectrum, so we decided we needed to filter his work through our lens. We are experimenting with many of his themes (love, objectification, violence) and how they play out when gender and sexuality go against the traditional, expected casting.

MO: A lot of Lynch’s work tends to feature a female body up against violence, and we decided from the beginning that we did not want to perpetuate that imagery. And Alan, the character played by Josh, is showcasing his sexuality in the piece, and that is a queer sexuality. David Lynch doesn’t generally feature many queer characters in his work, but I feel there are queer artists out there who are influenced by him.

JH: Because there really is almost no queer representation in his work, it was a personal motivation for me in creating who Alan is. During this process, we’ve all talked at length about the ways in which David Lynch’s work is problematic, particularly in the way he deals with violence against women and the near invisibility of people of color in his films. It is important to me that Alan be queer and for his sexuality not to be hidden — for it to be at the core of what he’s doing in the play. And since Lynch has very often showcased female nudity but not male nudity in his work, that is also something I felt very strongly about turning on its head. It felt integral and important to Alan’s journey for me to really go there.


PGN: What can you say about the upcoming fundraiser?

MO: It’s called “The Riddle of Red Lodge,” and it’s going to be happening at a house in South Philly. The address is revealed once you buy your ticket. There’s going to be themed food and a coffee-inspired cocktail. When people show up, they’ll be given a template for a riddle they have to solve, and artifacts from the show will be placed throughout the rooms of the house. Whoever solves the overall riddle wins a prize to be determined. It’s like a low-key escape room.


PGN: Since we’re talking “Twin Peaks,” I have to ask: What is your favorite kind of pie?

JH: Strawberry rhubarb!

AS: Pumpkin pie with whipped cream! And maybe a little ice cream on the side.

MO: Generally I would go for a chocolate cream. But in Lynch world, I feel like it has to be a fruit pie, and in that case, it’s apple.  


Responses were condensed for clarity.