Après moi, le déluge de Tastykake – Bastille Day at Eastern State
By Carly Harris
Who doesn’t love to eat butterscotch krimpets, drink beer, and watch men in drag? (Ed. note: No one I ever want to meet, that’s who.) On Saturday, July 12th, Eastern State Penitentiary will bring the French Revolution to life for its 20th annual Bastille Day festival, where spectacle goers will have a laugh, snag some free Tastykakes from the sky, and enjoy a night on Fairmount Avenue at one of the largest free theatrical events in Philadelphia. The Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe, will retell the storming of the Bastille through song and dance (and with the help of a rather realistic guillotine). The performance will feature familiar faces such as Napoleon, Joan of Arc, a 6-foot-tall French Baguette, and Philadelphia’s own noted Francophile, Benjamin Franklin. But perhaps the character that will bring the most applause is Marie Antoinette, played by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar. (Pro Tip: Be on the lookout when she cries, “Let them eat Tastykake!” It’s every man for himself when more than 2,000 Tastykakes are flung from the prison’s towers!)
Après-beheading, Fairmount restaurants will feature French-themed entertainment as well as food and drink specials, and the penitentiary will reopen for rare twilight tours. Twilight tour admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, students and kids (ages 7-12).
The performance begins at 5:30 pm in front of Est Pénitencier de l’État, at 22nd and Fairmount. Did we mention this event is free and open to members of the Third Estate (i.e. the public)? For more information, visit the Bastille Day website.
About the Bearded Ladies
Bearded Ladies Cabaret is a troupe of artists who insist that art can be both intellectual and accessible, entertaining and meaningful, stupid good and just plain stupid. They fuse cabaret and theater to tackle the politics of gender, identity, and artistic invention with sparkle and wit. Bearded Ladies are always live, always smart, and never quite what you expect. Bearded Ladies are currently the cabaret company in residence at The Wilma Theater. Shows include No Regrets: A Piaf Affair, Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret, Beards Are For Shaving: A 007 Cabaret, and Marlene and the Machine.
About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is open seven days a week, year round. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 7-12. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) Tickets are available online at easternstate.org or at the door, subject to availability. Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Hands-On History interactive experiences; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.
Carly Harris is a Marketing & PR Intern at Eastern State Penitentiary, a Penn State Student and a full-on Francophile. She tweets @CarlyHarrisPSU.