Since 2009, the Drama Desk Nominated company The Mad Ones have emerged as a vibrant, unique player in New York City’s downtown theatre scene. The Mad Ones create visceral, immersive, and highly detailed theatrical experiences that investigate cultural memory and nostalgia. Productions are devised collectively, through the rigorous, ongoing collaboration of actors, designers, and director, from a project’s inception. The Mad Ones employ stream of consciousness writing, in-depth dramaturgical research, and structured improvisation to generate a piece. From an initial seed idea, actors, in collaboration with the director, generate characters, text, and context – and then develop and clarify the world of a production with the input of designers.
As part of the Performer Trilogy- a chronicle of the on-set lives of performers in 20th century radio, theater and film, The Mad Ones have produced the acclaimed full length works Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War (The Brick, Ars Nova, The New Ohio Theater) and The Tremendous Tremendous (The Brick), which both incorporate live music, appropriate popular American genres of performance and playfully re-imagine world history. Through the strategic use of various performance styles, the trilogy examines the purpose of performance itself, how performance and artifice can reveal quiet truths, and how vivid stories can be teased out of silence and ambiguities. The Performer Trilogy will be completed with the world premiere of the Film Set Play and the culmination of the Archive Alliance in 2013 or early 2014 at the New Ohio Theater. The Mad Ones have also created three ten-minute plays, Inspector Pennywhistle & The Nefarious Case of the Sweet Shop Murder (commissioned by Clubbed Thumb as part of Summerworks 2010 Hot Dish), Professor Fallweather Presents an Introduction and The Revenge of Our Hometown Guadalupe and My Uncle Pepe’s Store: Caballero Pepe (Amios Theatre Company).
Over the past three years, The Mad Ones have accumulated significant accolades and critical praise. Helen Shaw of Time Out New York says, “…rest assured, you are safe in the hands of some confident new theatrical talents.” Samuel & Alasdair: a Personal History of the Robot War garnered a Drama Desk Nomination, a New York Times Critic’s Pick, New York Magazine’s Pick of the Week, 7 New York Innovative Theatre Award Nominations and 3 wins for Outstanding Sound Design, Ensemble, and Production of a Play, and New York Magazine’s Top 10 of 2012. The Tremendous Tremendous earned a New York Innovative Theatre Award Nomination for Outstanding Ensemble and L Magazine’s Top 10 of 2011. Martin Denton of nytheatre.com describes The Mad Ones as “definitely a company to watch.”
Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War combines golden age radio drama, vintage country music, and Soviet Science as a team of Russian radio hosts, warmed to a lost culture of 1950s Americana, broadcasts a story of brothers’ love drawn straight from the heartland. Created over a three month developmental period in the Spring of 2009, Samuel & Alasdair enjoyed a workshop production in the Brick’s Antidepressant Festival and Ars Nova’s ANT Fest before it’s 2010 mainstage run at the Brick in April. The production attracted praise from top critics and received a sold-out extension. Helen Shaw of Time Out New York remarked, “The show may feel as fragile as a vacuum tube, but it’s actually unbreakably deft- and delightful to its minutest detail.” (4 stars). The Village Voice’s Alexis Soloski raved, “…pleasantly eccentric and unexpectedly poignant … the acting is dynamic.”
After a four month developmental period, The Mad Ones returned to the Brick’s 2011 mainstage season in April for the premiere of the second installment of the Performer Trilogy, The Tremendous Tremendous. Set on the closing night of the 1939 World’s Fair, The Tremendous Tremendous pulls the curtain back on the Tremendous Traveling Abbotts to reveal a dark past and a more unsettling future. Called “unwaveringly on target” by L Magazine, the production played to sold out houses. Helen Shaw of Time Out New York gave it four stars, asserting, “The Mad Ones project is nostalgia—exploring it and creating it—and in an elegant marriage of form and content, The Tremendous Tremendous exists most sweetly in memory… carefully articulated in the service of a heartbreaking cumulative affect.” Martin Denton of nytheatre.com described it as “…a rich and rewarding work of theatre that transports its audience not only to the time and place where it unfolds but to other locations private and personal to each of us.”
In the summer of 2012, The Mad Ones launched a new educational initiative, intent on sharing our creative methodology as teaching artists. The company developed a two-week intensive workshop on ensemble-driven theater practices and implemented an inaugural workshop with The Actors Theatre of Louisville Acting Apprentice Company.
The Mad Ones are one of two companies selected for the inaugural Archive Alliance, a two year developmental residency created through a partnership between The New Ohio Theatre and IRT. Through the support of the residency, The Mad Ones are creating the third and final installment of the Performer Trilogy, the currently untitled Film Set Play.
The Mad Ones are Co-Artistic Directors Marc Bovino (performer/writer), Joe Curnutte (performer/writer), Lila Neugebauer (director/writer), Stephanie Wright Thompson (performer/writer); Company Members Michael Dalto (performer/music director), Stowe Nelson (sound designer); and Affiliated Artists Mike Inwood (lighting designer), Laura Jellinek (set designer) and Sarah Lunnie (dramaturg).
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