We are thrilled and honored to reach this milestone, and grateful for the conversations, rehearsals, donations, volunteer hours, and heartfelt performances that made it possible.
We founded the company to “provide asylum to characters and subjects in need. With ensemble-driven performance we investigate to inspire curiosity, empathy, and action.” In our first 10 years we’ve offered asylum to artists like Vaslav Nijinsky, Federico García Lorca, and the Brontë sisters, as well as to subjects like revolution and democratic debate. We’ve offered our stage to guest artists at our cabarets, and our love of play-reading to our community in our Cold Reading series. We’ve traveled to Chicago and Prague, and performed at theaters all over New York City.
When we decided to formally organize as a company, we set out to create a space to play, explore, and learn with friends and collaborators who challenge and inspire us. We cannot thank you and this vibrant community enough for all the work and growth you’ve made possible.
10 years after our first piece––Nijinsky in Asylum––premiered, we pause to reflect on our past and imagine our future. We hope you enjoy this retrospective and are as eager for what’s next as we are. Onwards!
Peace, power, and love to you,
Paul Bedard, Katie Palmer, Kathryn Appleton, and Hilarie Spangler
Thank you to everyone who made this milestone possible.
Thank you to our friends, families, and supporters who were there at the beginning, including the Appletons, Andrew Balmer, the Bedards, Judy “Cuz” Berger, Bailey Carr, Mark Costello, Rick Fudge, Kate Gazzaniga, Elizabeth Hess, Marilyn Lawson, Maggie Low, Eric Mercado, the Palmers, Greg Redlawsk, Jacob Marx Rice, Mandy Robbins, Abby Schreer, Bessie Taliaferro, Valeska von Schirmeister, Stephanie Warren, and the Wohlers.
Thank you to those early and frequent collaborators Frankie Alicea, Laura Aristovulos, Jessie Atkinson, Christian Avíla, Ariella Axelbank, Jake Beckhard, Adrian Bridges, Theresa Burns, Matt Clemons, Kelly Colburn, Calandra Daby, Christopher DeSantis, Nadia Diamond, Lawrence Dreyfuss, Yonit Friedman, Amanda Ghosh, Linnea Gregg, Arielle Hader, Kara Hankard, Gethsemane Herron-Coward, Willie Johnson, Meghan Kennedy, Samantha Keogh, Esther Yumi Ko, Jacob Lasser, Amelia Lembeck, Julia Levine, Diana Levy, Sofia Lund, Andrea Marks, Hogan McLaughlin, the Miliones, Makha Mthembu, Lucy Myrtue, Patricia Noonan, Ben Otto, Lizzy Palmer, Russell Peck, Alice Pencavel, Katie Polin, Zac Porter, Jonelle Robinson, Ramsey Scott, Zach Stephens, Dani Stompor, Blake Sugarman, Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed, Jen Tash, Slats Toole, Alison Walter, Kelly Webb, Ran Xia, and Sarah Ziegler.
Thank you Theater in Asylum company members, past and present, who have defined the work and culture of the company: Randall Benichak, Samantha Keogh, Jacob Lasser, Hilarie Spangler, and Dan Stearns.
Thank you to the Playwrights Horizons Theater School for bringing us together and prompting our very first piece. Thank you to Erez Ziv and everyone at the Horse Trade Theater Group for taking a chance on us and pushing us to become a company. Thank you to Piper Theatre, The Episcopal Actors’ Guild, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and all the groups who have given us opportunities since.
Thank you to the League of Independent Theater, Fractured Atlas, A.R.T./New York, and The Artist Co-op for supporting and advocating for us.
Thank you to everyone who has worked on or attended a Theater in Asylum project. We are so grateful for the love and support and ideas and energy you give. You make this company.
Our hearts are breaking and our blood is boiling. The systemic de-valuing, persecution, and killing of Black people in the United States is abhorrent, unjust, and unacceptable at all times and in all places. But the murder of George Floyd demands further statements of solidarity and soul-searching.
The assault on black lives this week, months, and throughout our nation's history, is devastating, outrageous, and unacceptable. Black Lives Matter.
It is part of the bigger systemic problem of white supremacy that has oppressed, injured, and killed millions of Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, disabled and immunosuppressant people, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, refugees, and people in poverty. Every death and every ruined life is too many.
We know that as an arts organization run by white people, Theater in Asylum is a beneficiary of the brutal system of white supremacy. We recognize this, and through each action we do and each space we hold, we try to create a room of good faith and equality. It is not enough. We will continue to listen, watch, read, protest, and stand next to Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, and all who are hurt by white supremacy. We believe it is important to send this email, to state clearly that we believe Black lives matter. It is only one step and we will continue the work of making ourselves and our theater company anti-racist.
Here are some resources we have found that we would like to amplify:
Natl Resource List #GeorgeFloyd+
Compiled JaLoni Amor Owens, a New York based community organizer and freelance writer
Inspired by What To Send Up When It Goes Down by Aleshea Harris
Black Lives Matter Syllabus
A website full of resources, readings, and videos created by Frank Leon Roberts
Nothing to add: A Challenge to White Silence in Racial Discussions
An article on white silence by Robin DiAngelo
43 Bail Funds You Can Support Right Now
Compiled by Carmen Phillips, published on BlackLivesMatterSyllabus.com and Autostraddle.com
Another unarmed black person has been killed. It’s no wonder we can’t breathe.
An Op-ed by Ben Crump, lawyer representing George Floyd's family
We would like to assert again a truth we believe deeply:
Black Lives Matter.
Safety, power, and love to you,
Paul, Katie, Kathryn, Hilarie, and Samantha
Theater in Asylum
These are wild times, but these are also times when the ties of community and family become clearer. Thank you for all you're doing to support those around you, be it hand washing or FaceTime. We had our final performance of Hephaestus last night and it was such a joy. We'll be sending photos soon! But it is now with a heavy heart, and out of an abundance of caution, that we have to inform you of a few changes to our upcoming events:
We are watching the news closely and are discussing what to do next. We hope you are keeping yourself safe and healthy, but also hopeful and engaged with the community. If you are an artist and are struggling as we are with all the cancelled gigs, you can find lots of resources here.
Thank you so much and hope to see you online on Monday!
Love and gratitude,
Paul, Katie, Kathryn, and Hilarie
Tell us a little about yourself.
Growing up in Appalachia taught me many things about music, mountains and storytelling, and those ideas have influenced my work for the past 5 years. In a professional sense, I split myself between New York and Appalachia, and run around seeking ways that rural-urban exchanges can happen in our artistic endeavors. I work with Amy Brooks to cultivate spaces through our collective, Cardinal Cross. As a human, I have always been interested in how we create community and where music comes in. I love breve lattes, my fuzzy cats, making music, especially with others and Joni Mitchell.
What drew you to The Debates?
I met Paul a few years back, as a fill in stage manager and really felt inspired by his work and his connection to community and politics. When I moved back to NYC, I really wanted to find a way to get back involved in the civic and political landscape of NYC, in the same way that I was always involved in Political groups in Kentucky, and The Debates seemed like a perfect fit. It was a super important, fun project, and I could collaborate with amazing people that inspire me, everyday.
How do you think arts and politics work together or relate?
Art and politics mirror one another, in my opinion, and I don't necessarily believe that art can be outside of politics. Both art and the political landscape are outlets and spaces for conversation that encourage people, to actively use their voices, both as artists and as citizens, to speak up about the problems occurring in their community. Art is a vessel in which others are able to realize the strongest tool they have to foster change is their voices. In my opinion, these political voices belong to a greater, more profound catalyst for societal change that are found in our younger generation; the generation that defines what it means to be a modern human in trying times. And that's who we're seeing making a difference in the political sphere today. As artists, our work reflects our experience and the world we are living in today is inherently political. Right now especially, we have the power to shape our our narratives and hopefully, we can breathe new life into old traditions and pave the way for stronger systems to come in our communities and economies.
Learn more about Theater in Asylum's staff here.
Hephaestus performs next week!
March 11-13, 2020
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
31-10 Thomson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101
God of fire, god of the forge, the worker god: Hephaestus. At once a meditation on labor, dis/ability, and beauty, Hephaestus interrogates our relationships to our bodies, and our ideas of beauty and divinity. Drawing on texts ancient and new, Hephaestus explores the limitations of the body and the self, and our desire to transcend them.
Learn more and find tickets here.
Like our next logo for The Debates?
The Debates 2020 is a theatrical adaptation of the Democratic Primary debates and we've got two events in March and a big show in April that we'll tell you more about later. In the meantime....
Debate Watch Party
Join us to watch the debate live as it happens.
Sunday, March 15 (RSVP)
Political Analysis Meeting
Help us figure out what happened and what should go in our show.
Monday, March 16 (RSVP)
Happy new year! We've hit the ground running and we're pretty much non-stop until the New York primary on April 28. Thank you so much to everyone who is helping us make this amazing avalanche of events happen!
The Debates 2020
We're turning the Democratic Primary debates into a play that will tour the five boroughs in April. To prepare, we have a ton of upcoming events. At Watch Parties, we gather simple to watch the debates on TV, live as they happen. At Political Analysis Meetings, we go through the transcript and try to sift for material that should go in our eventual play. In early February, our Electability Cabaret will showcase some of our original material, as well as the work of guest artists. Join us!
Our Cold Reading series is back! Each month, we'll gather for an informal and totally unrehearsed reading of a great play with wonderful conversation and delicious wine. We start with a reading facilitated by our beloved Kara Hankard. Kara's been to many, many readings and this is her first time facilitating. For January, she chose Sarah Treem's A Feminine Ending, which we'll read on Wednesday, January 22. A few weeks later, Katie Palmer will facilitate a reading on Thursday, February 13. Learn more and RSVP to a reading here.
We're developing Willie Johnson's new play Hephaestus for a workshop production in the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center's Rough Draft Festival! We are thrilled at this opportunity and cannot wait to share the work with you. We're holding auditions for our ensemble cast on Thursday, January 16 and we'll be hosting a fundraiser monologue party on Friday, January 31. You can also learn more about Hephaestus here.
See you soooooon!
We are so excited (and gloriously exhausted) by all that's to come. Thank you for all your help and support and we'll see you sooon!
Cheers to 2020!
With love and gratitude,
Paul, Katie, Kathryn, Samantha
Ps. Did you hear Katie and Paul interviewed by Adam Mace on The Talkback?
"In his thirty-seventh episode, Adam is joined by the Co-Artistic Directors of Theatre in Asylum, Paul Bedard & Katie Palmer. The two are chatting about how they started their company, why is exists and what they are doing in the world of political theatre. They are also going into detail on their exciting series, "The Debates." Theatre in Asylum is also heading into their tenth year! So they are letting us know how we can support them and even join them in their work!"
Theater in Asylum (TIA) is a New York-based theater company founded in 2010 to joyfully pursues a theater of learning, empathy, and growth. With rigorous research and an ensemble-driven approach, we create performances to investigate our past, interpret our present, and imagine our future. We strive to offer space to question, space to process –asylum– for theater and conversation that challenges and empowers ourselves and our community.
Copyright © 2020 THEATER IN ASYLUM. All rights reserved.