!!!

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.

The Big Bad Funtime Bash: Five Years of LRS

It’s that time of year again: days are getting shorter and colder, but it’s warm and bright inside the annual LRS party!

This year the party, The Big Bad Funtime Bash, celebrates our fifth anniversary. Five years of making provocative, incendiary original performance in Philadelphia. This party will celebrate our trickster spirit by indulging all things bad. Let yourself be a little naughty this year and join us on Monday, December 11th from 6-9pm at the Maas Building. 

Details and tickets: Click here!

Featuring performances by Salty Brine, Isaac Oliver, Jess Conda, and the cast of “Unformed Consent.” Plus Magic Mike bartenders, deviant spiritual guides, prizes from Groundswell Greetings, KG Strong, Good King Tavern, and more. Live auction prizes include roundtrip train fare to New York City to enjoy dinner at Morimoto before seeing “The Lucky Ones” produced by Ars Nova.

All funds raised at the Big Bad Funtime Bash will support our continued development on “Unformed Consent.” Help us continue to make this timely, socially important work!

We’ll see you there!

~Alice, Katie, Scott, and Mason

 

LRS goes to Orchard Project

We’re excited to announce that LRS will be working on our in-progress piece this summer at Orchard Project. A week-long residency in Saratoga Springs, Orchard Project provides us time and space away from the city to focus in on the new work so that we can hit the ground running when rehearsals begin in August.

More info on the residency here:


THE ORCHARD PROJECT ANNOUNCES ARTISTS
SELECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 
2017 ORCHARD PROJECT SUMMER LAB PROGRAM 
AND PERFORMANCE SERIES

Participating Artists and Teams Creating New Work in Residence Include Mo Rocca, Taylor Mac, Dell Arte International, Alarm Will Sound, Itamar Moses, Lightning Rod Special, and more.

New Programs This Summer: Integrated Childcare for Participating Artists, An Expansion of the Orchard Project’s Cabaret and Musical Theatre Program, and the Launch of BUSK!: A Street Performance Event to Launch the Saratoga Summer

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY — The Orchard Project is proud to announce the artists, teams and ensembles participating in its eleventh summer residency program, running from June 1-July 2, 2017. Twenty-six artists and ensembles were selected from the nearly 600 theatre artists who applied to develop big, new ideas. The Orchard Project is a laboratory program where theatre artists and companies come to innovate, develop, and refine new shows. Past productions developed at the Orchard Project have gone on to be performed on Broadway and around the globe for more than 1.5 million people, winning every theater award from TONY® to OBIE to Oliviers, and being turned into acclaimed films.

“The Orchard Project clears the runway for amazing artists to make great work,” Artistic Director Ari Edelson said. “I couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming season, when we will support a more diverse group of artists than ever before and launch our new Family Initiative to support working families.”

In addition to its laboratory program, the Orchard Project is holding a series of public events, including 8:00pm Cabarets on Friday, June 9, Saturday, June 17, and Friday, June 23. On Sunday, June 4th from Noon-6:00pm, it will launch BUSK!, a spontaneous, outrageous, family-friendly event showcasing world-class performers alongside local talent. BUSK! aims to offer something to everyone — from local bands and magicians to spectacular circus artists and stunt performers. BUSK! will culminate in an evening cabaret at Putnam Den, kicking off at 8:00PM. All Orchard Project events are free, with special reserved seating for members. For more information about becoming a member, call 646-760-6767.

The artists selected to participate in the Orchard Project laboratory program will come to Saratoga Springs from around the world to accelerate projects at various stages of development. They include:

  • Lub Dub Theatre Company (NY), developing their immersive piece filled with music and magic, The Doubtful Guest;

  • Atlas Circus Company (NY), working on a new piece incorporating acrobatic slapstick, magic, and inventive circus skills;

  • Beloved street performers The Red Trouser Show (MA), creating a new show;

  • Mia Chung (NY) and Peter Stopschinski (TX), creating a new musical about the Korean War;

  • Lightning Rod Special (PA), creating a butoh-bouffon musical about birth and babies;

  • New Perspectives (United Kingdom), adapting award-winning Romanian film Tales From The Golden Age;

  • Dell Arte International (CA), collaborating with Til Lalezar (Denmark) on the large scale devised work, Life Boats;

  • Michelle Tattenbaum and Itamar Moses (NY), developing Mr. Moses’ non-verbal play cycle, Ideas;

  • Paul Lucas (NY), creating a second piece in his well-received Transcripts series of works;

  • Playwrights in residence Bernard White (CA), Neena Beber (NY), Lila Rose Kaplan (MA), Heidi Armbruster (NY), and Sarah Gancher (NY);

  • Shakespeare Theatre of St Louis (MO), working with Alarm Will Sound (NY) and Taylor Mac (NY), working on Taylor Mac’s adaption of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

The Orchard Project is also continuing and expanding its Cabaret and Musical Theatre Program, launched last year in partnership with the Putnam Den. This year, the Orchard Project has made annual favorite Julian Fleisher director of cabaret and musical theatre, and will be hosting new work by a slew of the most exciting artists around:

  • Mo Rocca (NY)

  • David Cale (NY)

  • Rebekah Allen (NY)

  • Howard Fishman (NY)

  • Jack Bartholet (NY)

  • Ryan Scott Oliver (NY)

  • Molly Rice (PA) and Milia Ayache (Lebanon)

  • John Arthur Hill (CA)

THE FAMILY INITIATIVE

In 2017, the Orchard Project’s Family Initiative looks to raise the bar for all arts organizations by saying child care should not just be an occasional option but standard operating procedure. While the Orchard Project has always been family friendly, as of this summer it will provide form-fitting childcare to visiting artists. The Orchard Project Family Initiative will not be restricted to one week or one project, and will provide different resources to parents based on age and need.

Says Edelson, “The simple truth is that the field makes it tremendously difficult for theatre makers with young families to have the time and space to create new work, and if anyone is interested in the representation of diverse voices on stage, such a commitment is most important at institutions like the Orchard Project, which overwhelmingly seed the content produced by theatres around the country.”

ABOUT THE ORCHARD PROJECT

Hundreds of theatre companies and creative artists from around the United States and world have applied each year to develop their big ideas at the Orchard Project. In its original home in Hunter, NY, the Orchard Project supported more than 700 artists and 200 shows. In 2015, The Orchard Project expanded and moved to Saratoga Springs, NY, where it added a new series of public programs, Orchard Project Presents, allowing the public and theatre industry to get sneak peeks of ground-breaking new work.

The Orchard Project supports work that go to a wide variety of other theaters – from Broadway to the West End to independent theaters across the world. Recent productions include Amelie (Broadway), The Iphigenia Quartet (Gate Theater), Empathy School (Abrons Arts), All the Way (Broadway, Asolo Rep, Arena Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, OSF, A.R.T, HBO Films and more), The Object Lesson (BAM Next Wave Festival and New York Theatre Workshop), and I Promised Myself to Live Faster (Humana Festival).

Writers, teams, and ensembles join the Orchard Project for overlapping residencies, during which they are provided with free rehearsal space, room and board, and the support of fellow artists.

The Orchard Project’s elite education program, the Core Company, draws talented young artists from across the country. The young artists who are members of the Core Company train and create new work alongside resident artists and companies — and support the professional artists in residence.

Past Orchard Project supported companies include The Royal Court, the Public Theater, Tectonic Theatre Project, The Atlantic Theater Company, Pig Iron, The Rude Mechs, American Repertory Theater, Paines Plough, The TEAM, Mabou Mines, and many others. Work developed at the Orchard Project has gone on to win awards including Obies, Drama Desks, Olivier Awards and the 2014 TONY Award for Best Play for All The Way, which was written at the Orchard Project in 2010 and 2011. By even the most conservative estimate, these shows have been seen by more than 1,500,000 people in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and as far afield as Tokyo and Stockholm.

TWO SHOWS LEFT

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SANS EVERYTHING has two performances left before it gets swallowed up by the universe. Today, Saturday Feb 11, at 2pm and 8pm. Shows have been selling out (!!) but there are still tickets available for both performances.

Rave review on DC Metro Arts: “feels like magic”

—->Get your tickets now<—–

Set so far in the future that human bodies have been abandoned, Evolved Intelligence are plugged in to the human life cycle for the very first time. When they encounter Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Elizabethan-style chaos ensues: a total collapse of world order.

What do we owe the past when thinking about the future? How is humanity best expressed: through what we do or who we are? Love, art, escape, the cycle of life—Sans Everything impels audiences to question where humanity is going and what will happen when it gets there.

Get a taste before you go: watch the trailer

Guest Blog Post #2

January 28th, 2017

Tenara here again.

Today in rehearsal, our marvelous outside eye/director Rebecca Noon said the following: “Today, we are deep sea explorers. We are diving into the darkness. We are probably going to encounter some beautiful coral reefs, but we might get a little lost, and that might make us panic a little bit. But we all have oxygen masks, and we can all share our oxygen. Look around the room – these people are deep diving with you, and if you need them, you can rely on them.” And she sent off the creators to generate the last third of the play.

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Fearless explorer, Rebecca Noon

On the idea of deep dive theatrical exploration: the creators at Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor have been working on Sans Everything for three years. Not every artist has the opportunity – the wonderful, challenging, ultimately edifying opportunity – to live in and mine out one artistic world for that long a time. For this stretch of Sans Everything, we’ve only got three and a half weeks to carve out the final and most true iteration of Sans. That’s very little time, but the good news is that we’re not starting from square one. Actually, the opposite is true.

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Jenn got the bends — er, the giggles

The challenge in these kinds of timelines is how to hold onto what feels most gold, how to kill your darlings, and how to find, remind, re-find, and rework what the ultimate question of the show is. For Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor, the creators don’t feel particularly obligated to be chained to one static and perhaps unyielding conceptual question this play is asking – but then when are we leaving behind what no longer applies, and when are we scrapping everything we’ve done to create something completely different? Is that bad? Is that useful? Is that still Sans Everything? Is it another show? Is Sans Everything merely a proposal, or a play made of marble that we are responsible for sculpting? To answer any of these questions in a way that is theatrically satisfying for all requires creators with brains and instincts that move rapidly from performer to playwright to audience to director to performing artist and back. You can rest assured that Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor supply just that.

But then, in an instant, it clicks. You find yourself in an improvisation that is offering absolutely everything you’ve been looking for – it’s the right tone, it’s the right question, it’s theatrically mesmerizing, and suddenly you know that while it may not be the exact scene that goes into the show, it is the first yellow brick on your road to what the audience will see on February 9th. You sit down with your fellow artists and share what it was that made that moment the right moment, and the action plan of how to make it the best moment, the piece’s moment. These kinds of rehearsals are the product of deep sea theatrical diving, and of witnessing the most gorgeous coral reefs down at the bottom.

~Tenara

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From Thursday’s designer run

What we’re watching this week: Time Lapse View of Earth from Space, by astronauts on the ISS

Do you have your tickets yet? Get them HERE.

Another Transcendent LRS Party

JOIN US FOR

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Warm your hearts, raise some funds, and revel in…

THE EVERYTHING SPECTACULAR

Monday, December 5th

Starting at 6pm

Performances at 7pm

The Maas Building, 1320 N 5th Street, garden entrance

Funds raised at The Everything Spectacular will benefit the upcoming FringeArts premiere of SANS EVERYTHING, our collaboration with Strange Attractor. Maybe you caught a sneak peak at an early draft last year at the Special Strange, but after a year of development, plus a stellar Philly design team, we’ve got tricks up our sleeve.

The Everything Spectacular will feature performances by NYC Cabaret Legends Molly Pope and Erin Markey, Philly’s own Almanac, and LRS friend Alex Tartarsky (more to be announced). Plus: Silent auction! Live auction! Homecooked food and, of course, the signature Lightning Rod Special cocktail.

Live auction grand prize is a New York package with tickets to NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812. Don’t miss your chance!

CLICK HERE TO GET TICKETS

To make sure you stay updated on scintillating party details, sign up for our mailing list: