Mission and History


Exploding complex questions with precision and play, Lightning Rod Special makes live performance from the ground up.


Lightning Rod Special is a raucous and contemplative physical theatre company based in Philadelphia. Our work engages a highly collaborative, actor-driven approach. With artistic roots in the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, Headlong Performance Institute, Double Edge Theatre, The Atlantic Theater Company, and long-form improvisation, LRS creations are a finely orchestrated extension of the raw and thunderous discoveries born from spontaneous inspiration.

Like scientists, we begin each project with a hypothesis. Following artistic investigations, we find our way to completed works of theatre that are varied in their form, style, and content. In this way, creating original work is a process we utilize to ask questions of ourselves, our audience, and the world at large.

LRS projects include: Hackles (‘12 Philadelphia Fringe) a teen girl’s journey to the underworld and back, Go Long Big Softie (‘13 Philadelphia Fringe) a wild look at the mythopoetic men’s movement, Seeing the Beast (‘14 Colgate University) a fairytale play about deer overpopulation, Underground Railroad Game (‘15 FringeArts, ‘16 Ars Nova Theater) a time traveling fever dream about American race relations, Let the Dog See the Rabbit (‘15 The Rotunda Sanctuary) a performance looking at looking at animals, and Sans Everything (‘16 AS220, ‘16 Charlestown Working Theater, ‘17 FringeArts) a science fiction thriller where future intelligent life forms become dangerously obsessed with Shakespeare made in collaboration with Strange Attractor Theatre Company.

LRS has taught original performance creation at NYU, Swarthmore College, The Philadelphia School, Arthur P. Schalick High School, Haverford College, Roger Williams University, Colgate University, University of Pennsylvania, and Radford University. LRS’s work has been supported by residencies and grants from Wyncote Foundation, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Network of Ensemble Theaters, White Pines Productions, North American Cultural Lab, FringeArts, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Tuttleman Family Foundation. LRS company members have received numerous awards and recognitions for their work as individual artists including an Obie Award for Best New American Theatre Work, Fox Foundation Fellowship, Tuttle Creative Residency, FringeArts Fellowship, Lucille Lortel nomination, Barrymore nomination, Headlong Teaching Fellowship, BRAT Artist Residency, Jumpstart Artist Awards, and Independence Foundation Fellowship.

Lightning Rod Special (LRS) is a Philadelphia-based devising ensemble, made up of co-directors Katie Gould, Mason Rosenthal, Scott Sheppard, Alice Yorke, and associate artist Jenn Kidwell.