In Solidarity.

We at Lightning Rod Special are saddened and outraged by the state-sanctioned murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others who have lost their lives in heartbreakingly similar ways. These inexcusable deaths confirm the pervasive anti-Blackness that infects this country and its institutions.

We stand in solidarity with those individuals and organizations that are working to combat white supremacy in all of its latent and overt manifestations, acknowledging first and foremost that our company has a great deal of work to do in facing and dismantling its own systemic racism. At Lightning Rod Special we try to make provocative work that conscientiously destabilizes our audiences. That work can only succeed when we begin by destabilizing and challenging ourselves.

We pledge to work harder in making a home for artists and art that envisions a better future while unequivocally acknowledging the pernicious and painful legacy of racialized violence, oppression, and invisibility.

Below are some funds that company members have donated to at this moment. If you are able, consider joining us:


Philly Bail Fund

National Bailout

Black Visions MN

Communities United Against Police Brutality


Here are further resources that company members have been engaging with:

http://bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES has a list of articles, podcasts, videos, books, and people to engage with in our work to be anti-racist. 

THIS is a helpful tool for “mapping our roles in a social change ecosystem.” Not everyone can be on the front-lines, but there is a place for everyone. We have found this document useful for identifying our individual roles.

The Movement 4 Black Lives which has details about the Week of Action happening nationally this week (with specific info about how high- or low-contact the actions are).

THIS regularly updated BlackLivesMatter toolkit.


Big Bad Success!

Thank you to all who came out to the Big Bad Funtime Bash on February 15th. It was, without a doubt, our biggest and baddest fundraiser yet. Scroll through the photos by our good friend Johanna Austin, austinart.org, to see for yourself what it was like.

We want to extend our sincerest thanks to all the volunteers who helped make the event happen, to our host committee, to all the vendors who donated their wares to our silent auction, and of course to the incredible performers who absolutely crushed it!

If you were with us that night, you know we made an exciting announcement. We will present our newest show, SPEECH, this fall at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival! SPEECH is “a poisonous love letter to cancel culture.” In a time when even President Obama is calling people out for calling people out, Lightning Rod Special is raring to tackle our next hot topic.

We’ve got a couple other tricks up our sleeve, but you’ll have to keep waiting for those….

With gratitude, mirth, and a healthy dose of mystery,

Alice, Scott, Mason, Katie, Jenn, Oona, Rebecca, and Alex

The Big Bad Funtime Bash!

Lightning Rod Special’s annual benefit cabaret, the Big Bad Funtime Bash, is back and badder than ever!

Join us on Saturday, February 15th as we raise our glasses to a triumphant 2019 and an ambitious 2020. Win big, bad funtime prizes. Bask in unusual and uncanny performances. Sumptous food, wet drinks, rigged raffles, and emboldened dancing await you… Doors open at 6pm. Performances start promptly at 7pm. Cabaret, raffles, and auction will all wrap by 9pm. Dancing and drinking will continue into the night.

General admission tickets: $30 

VIP tickets: $50 reserved seating/$100 table seating and pre-show champagne reception!

The Big Bad Funtime Bash is one of our favorite events all year long. It’s our chance to connect with YOU, our supporters and our friends, in celebration of where we’ve been and where we’re going. (It’s your chance to win incredible prizes from Philly restaurants, spas, and local boutiques. I mean, come on!)

Performers and prizes will be announced on our Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you’re following us there.

In the meantime, get your tickets today!

Jenn Kidwell raises a hand to the crowd at last year's Big Bad Funtime Bash while the audience looks on laughing.

The Appointment: Best of Theater!

We are amazed to announce that “The Appointment” has been named on not one, but THREE, of New York’s year-end Best of Theater lists! The New York Times, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine/Vulture all recognized the show, making “The Appointment” one of only four shows that was named on all three lists (and the only one that was self-produced and crowd-funded, we might add!).

A demystifying depiction of abortion and the restrictions around it, the show was as quietly thoughtful as it was boisterously, hilariously transgressive.

Laura Collins-Hughes, the New York Times
Image of a woman in a hospital gown standing in front of an exam bed. Text over top reads "The Appointment by Lightning Rod Special: Best of Theatre 2019!"

We are overjoyed by the reception of the show; this was truly a wild and wonderful end to 2019. Read for yourself what the critics said:

The New York Times

New York Magazine

Time Out New York

In case you thought that was all the year-end excitement we could handle, “Underground Railroad Game” was named the best of theater in Melbourne, Australia this year.

Ars Nova’s brilliant and brutal excoriation of race relations in America for Malthouse set the bar early in the year, and it proved too high to clear. An examination of slavery’s effect on personal relationships in a classroom setting, this was theatre as profound provocation, stunningly designed and performed. Australia isn’t ready yet to produce a work of this complexity on the subject of race, perhaps because our wounds are too raw. But when we do, we’ll look back on this searingly honest, courageous production and thank it for showing us the way.

Time Out Melbourne

We are loving that phrase, “theatre as profound provocation.” It sums us up pretty nicely, don’t you think?

Many thanks to all who have supported us this year, whether by coming to see “The Appointment” in New York and Philly, donating time, money, and resources to make our work possible, or telling your friends to see our work. We promise to keep making profound provocations in 2020 and beyond. We’re glad you’re with us.

What’s up next? Well in February we’ll have our annual fundraiser, the Big Bad Funtime Bash. Be sure to join us there. https://lightningrodspecial.ticketleap.com/big-bad-funtime-bash/details

Become a donor today to keep our #neverboring work possible:

LRS wins Wolfson Award!

On Monday, October 14th at Theatre Philadelphia’s 25th annual Barrymore Awards ceremony, Lightning Rod Special won the June and Steven Wolfson Award for an evolving theatre company!

The June and Steve Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company recognizes, promotes, and rewards the creativity, growth, and excellence of evolving theatres within the Greater Philadelphia community. The award is intended to help foster interaction within the theatre community, increase the community’s richness and diversity, and focus public awareness and accessibility to the most vibrant professional theatre community in the nation. Generously funded by the June and Steve Wolfson Family Foundation, this special Barrymore Award includes a $10,000 cash prize for the recipient.

Thank you for seeing something special in a company that consistently asks actors to play animals on stage unironically.

-Alice’s acceptance speech

We are so thrilled and honored! It means so much to be recognized in this way and to be seen in our community.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Brett Ashley Robinson (“The Cute Fetus”) was awarded the Barrymore for Outstanding Supporting Performance in a musical! We couldn’t be more proud of her. She gave a big shout out to Women’s Medical Fund in her acceptance speech, imploring folks to donate and support their good work. If you can’t donate, she said, “say the word ‘abortion’ out loud. Destigmatize it. It’s a human right.”

Well said.

You can continue to support our growth and evolution by making a donation today! We do what we do FOR you and we can’t do it without it.

And thank you thank you thank you!!!!

EIGHT Barrymore Nominations!

WOW!

We were just nominated for an astounding EIGHT Barrymore Award nominations, including SEVEN for “The Appointment” and one for Lightning Rod Special. They are:

Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Musical, Brett Ashley Robinson

Outstanding Direction of a Musical, Eva Steinmetz

Outstanding Original Music, Alex Bechtel

Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical

Outstanding Overall Musical

Brown Martin Philadelphia Award

and

Wolfson Award for an Evolving Theatre Company

The Brown Martin Philadelphia Award recognizes a production that enhances public awareness of an underserved or unrecognized community and comes with a cash prize of $25,000. The Wolfson Award recognizes a Philadelphia theatre company that is changing the game and comes with a cash prize of $10,000. We are over the moon excited and humbled to be nominated for each of these awards.

Many congratulations go out to our dear collaborators, Alex, Eva, and Brett, on their individual nominations. We are so proud of the work they put in to this show!

Awards are announced on October 14th at the big ceremony (everyone calls it “theatre prom”). Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Alice wins Best of Philly!

Congratulations to Alice who was named Philadelphia’s BEST THEATER TALENT by Philly Magazine!

Every summer Philadelphia Magazine releases their much-anticipated Best of Philly list, an exhaustive compilation of Philadelphia’s best restaurants, retailers, experiences, and offerings. They mix up the categories every year so you can always count on being introduced to the things that make Philly as special as it is.

Here’s what Philly Mag had to say about Alice:

(Click image to see it on the Philly Mag website)

She joins an exciting and growing rank of the LRS community: company member Katie Gould was awarded Best Personal Trainer in 2017 and LRS godmother Ali King was awarded Best Stationery for her company Groundswell Greetings in 2017.

We are so proud and excited for Alice! We think it is highly deserved.

Best Theatre Talent: Alice Yorke

Added Performance!

Wow! What a run we’ve been having here in New York! THE APPOINTMENT was made a Critic’s Pick by the New York Times and TimeOutNew York. We’ve had sold-out shows and, due to demand, have added an additional performance!

It’s been a wild time up here and we’ve been so excited to share the show with New York audiences. If you’re in the city, we hope you’ll join us during this last week. If you don’t have your ticket already, sales are open for our added show, Saturday May 4th at 3pm. (If you can’t make it then, the standby line opens up at 2 hours to curtain every night. People have been getting in, so be sure to come by!)

Lightning Rod Special is the Philadelphia-based company that gave us “Underground Railroad Game,” a show that used a middle-school classroom format to dive deep, really deep, into the emotional and sexual dynamics of interracial relationships. That production was a bona fide shocker, in the best tradition of taboo-busting art, and you might have thought that this troupe had gone about as far as it could go in the theater of discomfort.
But “The Appointment,” created by a four-member writing team led by Alice Yorke and directed by Eva Steinmetz, made me feel just as uneasy, offended, engrossed and, finally, enlightened as “Underground Railroad Game” had. I hasten to add that enlightenment, in this case, involves no definitive conclusions.

Only by the end are you aware of just how carefully calibrated “The Appointment” has been. This thoughtful, profoundly imaginative show concludes in a silence that is all the more eloquent for the sound and the fury that preceded it. It’s a postscript that allows plenty of space for mixed feelings.

-Ben Brantley, New York Times, https://nyti.ms/2Gzo2hZ

See you at the theatre!

One More Week in Philly!

And so many exciting announcements to make!

THE APPOINTMENT is Barrymore Recommended!

That means, for the first time ever, one of our shows is eligible to be nominated for a Barrymore Award. We are really honored to participate in a beloved hometown tradition.


Reviews are coming in!

Philly Life and Culture says, “Just as you are belly-laughing… you are sucker punched into reality.”

Philadelphia Dance says, “The laughter that the show provokes becomes the glass of water we drink to digest the bitter pills the show prescribes.”

Broad Street Review calls the show “genius,” “pitch-perfect,” “by turns hilarious and devastating,” and says, “Women are somehow both at the center of America’s obsession with abortion, and completely irrelevant to it. We’re infantilized and sexualized; glorified and stripped of agency. I hate to legitimize opposition to abortion access as a healthcare “debate.” The Appointment is not a debate. But it does confront, surprise, challenge, and entertain its audience.”


Take Us to New York!

Have you heard? THE APPOINTMENT got a last-minute offer to perform in New York Theatre Workshop’s Next Door Series just two weeks after we close in Philly! We need you to help us make it happen. If you enjoyed the show, please make a contribution in support of our tour. If you’re unable to see it, we suggest donating the price of your ticket!

This Week!

We still have six shows left in Philly and we don’t want you to miss out! Wednesday’s performance will be followed by a conversation with our partner organization, Allentown Women’s Center, about how they balance abortion care with comprehensive trans health care. We love the folks at AWC and can’t wait for our audience to hear about the amazing work they do.

Then on Friday night, stick around after the show for SEX ED TRIVIA NIGHT. Hosted by Dr. Timaree Schmit, with prizes donated by the Sexploratorium, and **free drinks** this is one time you’re gonna wanna get schooled.

Thanks for your support!

With love and lightning,

Alice, Scott, and Lightning Rod Special

LRS STRIKES NYC!

Holy moly, Batman! We got a LAST MINUTE offer from New York Theatre Workshop to perform THE APPOINTMENT as part of their Next Door Series in April and May. Yes, that’s right– two weeks after we close the show in Philly, we’re going to New York!

This is an incredible opportunity for us. There will be a lot of visibility on the company as we return to New York after the success of “Underground Railroad Game.” We believe this show, which gets more timely every day, is poised to make a big splash.

But we need your help to make it happen.

We have already raised $90,000 for this rolling, two-city presentation. We need $13,200 more to get us to the finish line.

Will you make THE APPOINTMENT?


As though that wasn’t exciting enough, WE OPEN THE SHOW IN PHILLY THIS WEEK! We hope you’ll get your tickets and join us as we lift this project off the ground. Click the image below for tickets:

http://fringearts.com/event/the-appointment/2019-03-20/
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