I could sense immediately that this was an organization very much like our own: a company of long-term collaborators, and soon found out that we were, in fact, about the same age.” (NPL is 14 years old, the Riot Group is 13.)
“I also detected a mirror image of the work that we do,” continues Shaplin. “Whereas ours is minimalist and very text- driven, NPL’s is visually rich and totally physical.
Artistic Director of NPL, Whit MacLaughlin, says, “We wondered what would happen if we smashed our two companies together.”
Though MacLaughlin has since directed two of the Riot Group’s original works, the collaboration’s first-born is the production of FREEDOM CLUB, written by Shaplin and directed by MacLaughlin.
NPL’s work has been presented at the Ontological Theatre and PS 122 in NYC, at the Walker Art Center and Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, the Princeton Atelier, at the Humana Festival of New American Plays, as well as at residencies in a variety of colleges and universities all over the country. FREEDOM CLUB is NPL’s ninth show to premiere at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. Past works include Fatebook (2009), BATCH (originally commissioned by the Humana Festival of New American Plays, 2007), Planetary Enzyme Blues (2005), Don Juan in Nirvana (2004), Rose Selavy Takes a Lover in Philadelphia (2003), This Mansion is a Hole (2001), the Obie Award-winning The Fab 4 Reach the Pearly Gates (2000), Stupor (1999), and Gold Russian Finger Love. PROM, a work of fake anthropology for young adults, premiered at The Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis.
Past works include Wreck the Airline Barrier (1999), Victory at the Dirt Palace (2002), Pugilist Specialist (2003), Switch Triptych (2005) and Hearts of Man (2007). The Riot Group have performed in New York at The Culture Project, 59E59 and the Ohio Theatre; in London at the Soho Theatre and Riverside Studios; the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, Theater Der Welt Festival in Stuttgart, ARCHES in Glasgow, the Flynn Center for the Arts and the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. The Riot Group are veterans of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where they previously received four Scotsman Fringe Firsts. In 2007, the Riot Group presented Hearts of Man as part of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival.
Prior to founding NPL, he was a charter member, for 17 years, of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, originally under the artistic direction of Alvina Krause. Since 1978, he has acted in, directed, or written over 100 productions—most of these involved researching the techniques of collaborative theater creation. NPL’s work has been presented at the Ontological Theatre and PS 122 in NYC, at the Walker Art Center and Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, at the Humana Festival of New American Plays, as well as at residencies at colleges and universities nationwide. MacLaughlin earned a BA in Buddhism from Northwestern University and an MFA in directing from Virginia Polytechnic University. He has studied Suzuki Actor Training Method in Toga-mura, Japan, Grotowski Actor Training in France, and mime with Bud Beyer in Chicago.
the Sloan Foundation, London’s Soho Theatre, Playwright’s Horizons and New Paradise Laboratories. From 2006 to 2008 Adriano served as the first International Playwright-in-Residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his first play for the RSC, The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes, debuted in London in 2008. His plays for the Riot Group are published in the United Kingdom by Oberon Books and have been performed in translation in Greece, Austria, Denmark, Brazil, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Recent projects include Survive! with Swim Pony, The Robot Etudes with Pig Iron, and Black Pearl Sings! with InterAct. Other projects include Twelfth Night, Big Love, Ses Voyages Sauvages, Never the Sinner, Victory at the Dirt Palace, Pugilist Specialist, Mort, Crumble: Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake, Hedda Gabler, and Angels in America: Part One. Maria is a member of The Riot Group and Applied Mechanics Theatre Company.
Previous designs include Batch, Prom, Planetary Enzyme Blues, and This Mansion is a Hole. Other companies Rosemarie has designed for include the Arden Theatre Company, People’s Light and Theatre Company, The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, InterAct Theatre Company, Theatre Exile, and Pig Iron Theatre Company. Rosemarie has won two Barrymore awards (2007, Caroline or Change, Arden Theatre; 2009, Something Intangible, Arden Theatre) and she was also nominated in 2009 for her work in Cinderella at People’s Light & Theatre Company. When Rosemarie is not designing she is an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design.
Jeb Kreager* is a founding member of New Paradise Laboratories; Freedom Club marks his 12th original work with the company. His recent work includes THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY and FROZEN (both at InterAct), Mr. Marmalade (Theatre Exile), and the ESPN 30 for 30 film Silly Little Game. Jeb is a graduate of Virginia Tech and attended Antonio Fava's Scuola Internazionale dell'Attore Comico (Reggio Emilia, Italy) and Circle in the Square (NYC).
*appearing courtesy of The Actors Equity Association
Drew Friedman is a founding member and co-artistic director of The Riot Group. Since 1997, he has co-created and performed in every Riot Group production. He is the 2006 recipient of the Arches New Work commission in collaboration with Stephanie Viola and Alan McKendrick. The resulting production, Finished with Engines, opened at the 2006 Arches Live! Festival in Glasgow, Scotland and was produced at the Traverse Theatre for the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Currently, he is a Theatre PhD candidate at CUNY’s Graduate Center and teaches theater history and acting at City College in New York.
Stephanie Viola (performer) is a founding member and co-artistic director of the Riot Group. Company credits include: Speaker 1 in Why I Want to Shoot Ronald Reagan, Sarah in Wreck the Airline Barrier, Trout in The Zero Yard, K. Mann in Victory at the Dirt Palace, Lt. Emma Stein in Pugilist Specialist, Lucille in Switch Triptych, and Vicki DeFazio in Hearts of Man. National and International venues include: Philadelphia Live Arts, Soho Think Tank Ice Factory, Edinburgh Fringe, Arches Live!, Theatre der Welt festivals; The Traverse Theatre, The Pleasance, Riverside Studios, Soho Theatre, The Arches, Walker Center for the Arts, Magic Theater, Flynn Space, Arden Theatre; Ohio Theater, 59E59, Culture Project, The Kitchen (NYC); 2009 Atelier Artists in Residency Program, Princeton University and participant in The Field's 2010 Emerging Artist Residency (NYC). Stephanie holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Theater, Sarah Lawrence College.
Paul Schnabel has acted professionally for 34 years. He studied theater at the University of Vermont and while working with the Champlain Shakespeare Festival he studied acting with Dudley Swetland and stage combat with David Leong. He was nominated for The Irene Ryan Excellence in Acting National Award for his performance as Virgil in Bus Stop and was named Best Actor by the Vermont Stage and Screen Awards for his performance in Stephen Goldberg’s Arnie Gets It Good. He is cofounder and president of Off Center for the Dramatic Arts in Burlington, Vermont. Schnabel has many feature and independent film credits and has taught elements of drama in workshops and classes at middle school, high school, and adult levels. He has worked with The Riot Group since 2001.
McKenna Kerrigan* New York: The Really Big Once and 10 Blocks on the Camino Real (Target Margin); The Bereaved (Partial Comfort); NPL's Fab 4 Reach the Pearly Gates (PS 122); Love Dr. Mueller (West End Theatre); SOHO/Think Tank’s Ice Factory Festival (Ohio Theatre). McKenna is a company member of NPL, and has performed with them at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival, Walker Art Center and the Andy Warhol Museum, among others. She has also performed with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Pig Iron Theatre Company, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Headlong Dance Theatre, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and toured Ireland performing in the ReJoyce Festival. McKenna is an Associated Artist with Target Margin Theatre and a company member of Partial Comfort Productions. Film: “Lebanon, PA” “Ready or Not” TV: Hack, All My Children, My Father’s Gun.
*appearing courtesy of The Actors Equity Association
Mary McCool* is a co-founder of New Paradise Laboratories and thrilled to be collaborating with The Riot Group. She has created and performed with NPL at P.S. 122, the Andy Warhol Museum, Humana Festival of New Plays, the Ontological-Hysteric, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, Walker Arts Center, and more. She last performed Mr. Shaplin’s text as the prince in Hell Meets Henry Halfway with Pig Iron Theatre Company. McCool has also worked with 1812 Productions, the Arden Theatre Co., Brat Productions, InterAct Theatre Co., Lantern Theater, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Theatre Exile, and the Wilma Theater, among others. Recent credits include the Off-Broadway hit Enjoy at 59E59th with the Play Company, and the US premiere of Vaclav Havel’s Leaving at the Wilma. She is a recipient of a 2010 Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts.
*appearing courtesy of The Actors Equity Association
220 East 4th Street, NYC 10009
Thu 1/6 - 8:00pm
Fri 1/7 - 8:00pm
Sat 1/8 - 7:00pm AND 10:00pm
Sun 1/9 - 4:00pm AND 7:00pm
Tue 1/11 - 8:00pm
Wed 1/12 - 8:00pm
Thu 1/13 - 8:00pm
Fri 1/14 - 8:00pm
Sat 1/15 - 7:00pm AND 10:00pm
A fierce, undead tension animates the American frontier: the struggle between the freedom of the individual and the question of who or what belongs in the club. FREEDOM CLUB is a savage comedy about the delirium and danger in American extremism, a hallucination on national themes. It time-travels from a feverish dream-play starring Shakespearean assassin John Wilkes Booth to Virginia, 2015, where a determined group of self-styled radicals are rapidly coming unglued.
Funny, lyrical, and provocative, FREEDOM CLUB is the result of an intense collaboration between New York experimental theater company The Riot Group, known for their potent barrage of language, and New Paradise Laboratories, who are famous for their witty and dynamic physicality. Together the two companies present a Lincoln White House full of prophetic visions, a Tea Party from beyond the grave, and a group of feckless separatists careening to their destiny.
“Epic theatre…possessing a unique, violent, and total language, at once written, spoken, and played.” –CultureBot
“In Freedom Club the darker underpinnings of human liberty are considered with a grim cackle.” –The New York Times
"A daring mashup by two experimental companies (Philadelphia's New Paradise Laboratories and New York's the Riot Group) and two eras (1865 and 2015), "Freedom Club" indicts fanatical radicalism in America. Aptly self-described as "a hallucination on national themes," the satire vividly skewers self-aggrandizing extremists from John Wilkes Booth to a feminist collective that spawns another presidential assassin." -Variety
“Brilliantly eerie, Freedom Club slyly skewers today’s polarized politics.” –Philadelphia City Paper
“John Wilkes Booth [is] played with volcanic intensity by Jeb Kreager…Lincoln looms, top-hat bowed in shame - one of many symbolic images that punches you in the gut…provocative…dizzying… [a] take-no-prisoners political play in perilous times.” –EDGE Philadelphia
“A visual feast…marvelously theatrical…haunting…[a] unique view of history dominated by sex and politics…terrific…a must-see.” –Philadelphia Weekly
“Superb, sexy, scary…a visual pleasure…hilarious…dazzling…a daring mash-up.” –Variety
“Shaplin’s script is sharp, funny and abstract enough to foster a genuine curiosity.” -Philadelphia Inquirer
"The pairing is the thing: Just as FREEDOM CLUB’s two halves play off of each other, in their differences as much as in their similarities, so do the two companies in performance. New Paradise is known for the physical- and image-based nature of its work and process, while the feisty Riot Group is driven by Shaplin’s writing and a minimalist acting style. But both are tightly-knit ensembles driven by experimental approaches, and both have been creating original work for over a decade—oh, and both seem to think John Wilkes Booth is a pretty cool character." -CultureBot
New Paradise Laboratories and the Riot Group have been in the studio generating FREEDOM CLUB for over a year. Our work has included a series of full-tech workshops: at the Princeton Atelier, at Drexel University, and most recently at Off Center Theatre in Burlington, Vermont.
Here is the evidence.
Production Photographs courtesy of James Jackson - 212-499-6613
Rehearsal Photographs courtesy Emily Rea.
NEW PARADISE LABORATORIES is a performance ensemble that imagines theatre as visionary experience. Our pieces value sudden inspiration, paradigm shifts, and shocks to the system. We aim towards the ecstatic in both the form and content of our work.
Our mission is to create and perform controlled burnings, also known as swailing, a technique used in forest management, ritual performance, prairie restoration and experimental tragi-comedy.
Fire, both real and metaphoric, is a natural part of both forest and cultural ecology, and controlled fire can be a tool for both foresters and artists.
Riot Group experiments with language, narrative, acting and content in incendiary ways.