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

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/
Continue reading

THE APPOINTMENT premieres at FringeArts!

We are so excited to announce that this March, after three years of research and development, THE APPOINTMENT will premiere at FringeArts. THE APPOINTMENT is a dark satire with original music about the hypocrisy, misogyny, and absurdity surrounding the abortion debate in America.

After raising almost $5,000 for safe abortion access at our work-in-progress showing in August 2017 (titled “Unformed Consent”), this premiere will feature a bunch of awesome activities to help connect the content of the show with reproductive justice work that happens every day in Philly. Details of the events are to be announced, but will include conversations with Women’s Medical Fund, Puentes de Salud, and more organizations to come!

We are so proud of this show and where it’s come since that early showing. We hope you’ll join us at the premiere in March! Get more info HERE.

Wednesday, Mar 20 at 8pm* (preview)
Thursday, Mar 21 at 8pm (opening!)
Friday, Mar 22 at 8pm
Saturday, Mar 23 at 2pm
Saturday, Mar 23 at 8pm
Sunday, Mar 24 at 3pm
Wednesday, Mar 27 at 8pm
Thursday, Mar 28 at 8pm
Friday, Mar 29 at 8pm
Saturday, Mar 30 at 2pm
Saturday, Mar 30 at 8pm
Sunday, Mar 31 at 2pm

!!!

We are deeply humbled to announce that UNDERGROUND RAILROAD GAME was named #21 of the 25 best plays of the last 25 years by the New York Times.

Better 25

From the article:

Physical-theater artists who wrote this daring show for themselves to perform, Ms. Kidwell and Mr. Sheppard are accustomed to making work that’s rooted in the body. “Underground Railroad Game” is more text-based than they’re used to, yet it’s rooted in the body, too — the black body and the white body, female and male, locked in a poisoned dynamic of scarring damage and enormous pain.

Read it HERE.

We have been working on this piece since 2013, for all five years of our life as a company. From the cramped RV we drove down to New Orleans that fall, to the esteemed OBIE Award ceremony last spring, we have been bowled over by reception to this work. To find our show on this list, amongst plays like “August: Osage County,” “The Laramie Project,” “The Vagina Monologues,” and “An Octoroon” is more than we could ever have dreamed of.

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD GAME stands as a testament to the continuing power of live theatre. If you have been moved by the show and believe in our mission of exploding complex questions with precision and play, we urge you to secure the future of Lightning Rod Special’s work:

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Make a donation here.

Your tax-deductible donation ensures that we can maintain our commitment to creating intelligent, considered work that provokes the cobwebbed corners of our audiences’ minds. Donations of all sizes have a huge impact. If you are interested in making a donation of $2,500+ or in becoming an honorary producer of our future work, please contact Alice@lightningrodspecial.com.

Thank you.

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For more information about the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD GAME tour and art book/script, click HERE.

To stay up-to-date on all things LRS, click HERE.