PlayPenn

A collaborative workshop perfect for theater artists of all experience levels!*

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Join Applied Mechanics - PlayPenn Conference Director Rebecca Wright, Mary Tuomanen and Thomas Choinacky - to learn new play skills that rely heavily on evocative research and "disposable art," encouraging generative artists to produce text quickly and banish self-judgement.

"My whole perspective shifted. While I knew theatre-making like this existed, to be a part of it was completely different. I feel liberated!" -UArts, Workshop Participant

"Applied Mechanics are working against a brutal opponent: American cynicism." -Phindie

"You are just as likely to see a character starting a revolution as you are to see a character brushing her teeth." -Philadelphia City Paper

napoleon coronation

Applied Mechanics generates an abundance of material so that each word or idea is not overly-precious; when the best idea presents itself, we let the others fall away. 

In this workshop, participants are gently guided through concentrated exercises in which objects, landscapes, images, movement and text become provocations to jar the writer and other creators out of familiar patterns in which not the ego but the id does the driving.

This method strives to find the evocative over the didatic, the dangerous over the familiar. Individual research is combined and translated into staging proposals, soundscapes and texts which can be collaged together in startling ways. The workshop also provides artists the opportunity to participate in exercises in which we scavenger hunt for creative dramturgy; bringing disparate elements together in a way that encourages bold, poetic and often surprising connections. Finally, participants ricochet off one another's ideas, learning to rely on each other as collaborative allies and face complex challenges together. som rad

Preparation required: A few found research pieces - we will let you know before the class begins (this will require no heavy intellectual lifting - not yet, anyway)

TUITION:  $175

DATES/TIMES: Mondays, May 8, 15, 22 and Tuesday, May 23 from 5:30-8:30pm

LOCATION: PYP Learning Lab, Asian Arts Initiative, Second Floor, 1219 Vine St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

*This collaborative workshop is part of PlayPenn Education's new METHODS series in which generative groups share artistic tools they've created specifically for their unique processes with the community in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about creating text for performance. The Debate Society and The Berserker Residents led former METHOD workshops.

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Applied Mechanics is a collaborative ensemble that has been making original, immersive theater since 2009. Founded by director Rebecca Wright and designer Maria Shaplin, the company's inaugural show put a fishing village in a West Philly apartment on Valentine's Day and invited audience members to explore the town as the myth of the Selkie unfolded around them, complete with a saw-playing seal. Since then, Applied Mechanics has become a standing ensemble of five artists and created nine original works. Their adventures have included touring from Texas to Maine with their invasion play Portmanteau, rocking out as their all-girl band the Cherry Jones Administration, condensing the Napoleonic Empire into an hour-long movement opera with 26-actors, conducting a workshop on immersive storytelling at Microsoft, and winning a cult following with their revolutionary feminist punk play, We Are Bandits. They host bi-annual Community Dinners - free home-cooked meals that anyone is welcome to attend - and ahve thrown six excellent immersive theme parties, including a Science Fair at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and an adolescence-themed Awkward Ball. They have garnered grants from the Wyncote Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Fels Foundation, Network of Ensemble Theaters, and the Charlotte Cushman Foundation, among others. They have been featured in American Theater Magazine and presented by the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts and the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. Applied Mechanics is Rebecca Wright, Maria Shaplin, Jessica Hurley, Thomas Choinacky, and Mary Tuomanen. They are based in Philadelphia. They share a home-cooked meal at every rehearsal. http://www.appliedmechanics.us

Rebecca Wright is a director-creator based in Philadelphia, and the artistic director of Applied Mechanics with whom she has created ten immersive performance pieces. Recent credits include At Home with the Humorless Bastard with Annie Wilson at FringeArts, Kafka's The Metamorphesis and Shaw's St. Joan with Quintessence Theater Group, Sarah Flood in Salem Mass at The Flea (NYC), Sophie Gets the Horns with The Riot Group (NYC and touring), and Feed and We are Bandits with Applied Mechanics. Rebecca has worked with students at the University of Michigan, the University of the Arts, Temple University, Arcadia University, Swarthmore College, the University of Minnesota, and Columbia University, where she created and directed Joan of Arc: Voices in the Fire with MFA students and Kristin Linklater.

Mary Tuomanen is a performer and playwright educated at the Lecoq School for Movement Theater in Paris. Her play shave been developed at the Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Theatre Exile, the Foundry, and the Dael Orlandersmith Solo Performance Residency at the Kimmel Center. Her solo work has been performed at the Kimmel Center's SEI Inovation Studio, the Annenberg Center, Bloomsberg Theatre Ensemble, FringeArts, and University of Pennsylvania's Penn Radicals conference. Her play Marcus/Emma is premiering at InterAct this season and her Orbiter 3 play Peaceable Kingdom will be co-produced with Christ Church Neighborhood House.

Thomas Choinacky is a performance artist and playwright who finds equal expression in the creation of new performance and in organizing the convening of artists and audiences around ideas. He founded SoLow Festival, an annual 11-day performance fesival, and is a company member of Applied Mechanics. Thomas has been a grantee of 1812 Productions Jilline Ringle Solo Performance Program (Thomas is Titanic) and has been awarded artist residencies at Kutuuritehas Polymer in Tallin, Estonia and Elsewhere in Greensboro, NC. His interest in the use of time and space in performance has led to Magnitute (a nine-hour long performance viewable through a peephole) and Substance (staged throughout a South Philly apartment). 2017 projects include A User's Manual, This is My Allowance, and an exhibition at Terminal 136 in San Antonio, TX. thomaschoinacky.com

(Pictured: Director Rebecca Wright; Applied Mechanics shows)

Questions? Email our Director of Education at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In very extreme circumstances, we may need to cancel a class for reasons beyond our control and will offer full refunds. Otherwise, classes are non-refundable.

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