Theater in Asylum (TIA) is a New York-based theater company founded in 2010 to provide asylum to highly charged subjects and characters. With ensemble-driven performance we investigate to inspire curiosity, empathy, and action. We seek a freer world and believe theater is both the means and the ends.
Co-artistic directors Paul Bedard and Katie Palmer founded TIA simultaneously with their first production, Nijinsky in Asylum. This dance piece unpacks the story of Vaslav Nijinsky, famed dancer and choreographer of the Ballet Russes. He spent the first 30 years of his life building a career and the second 30 years in an insane asylum. We focused not on the asylum he was kept in, but on the asylum we could offer him. Just as countries provide political asylum to whistle-blowers, dissidents, and refugees, we seek to provide asylum through theater. We seek to use the stage as a safe space for unsafe ideas so that audiences may walk away active and empowered.
For the next three years we worked at a rapid pace. Frankenstein, our first piece after Nijinsky in Asylum, married Ray Kurzweil’s theories of the Singularity—the idea that computers are becoming exponentially faster and will soon surpass the human mind’s ability—with Mary Shelley’s classic story of creator and creation.
Next, Revolution in 1, a meditation on the cyclical nature of revolution, and #Coriolanus, a Twitter-filled investigation of Shakespeare’s play of populism vs. elitism, investigated the nature of leadership and popular uprise. And then we stumbled upon letters passed between the two of the twentieth century’s greatest artists.
¡Olé!, a flamenco-infused piece about an affair between Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí, investigates the very nature of art and why we humans insist on making it. ¡Olé! toured to the Chicago Fringe Festival where it won the Audience Favorite Award, to the Rochester Fringe Festival where it won Best Touring Production, and overseas to the Czech Republic. The Prague Fringe Review acclaimed, "Boldly offering the right kind of asylum to two significantly edgy masters, this is essential theater, and it is beautiful."