Fringe at 20 Profile: Scott Sheppard
Above Photo: (L to R) Jesse Paulsen, Jack Meaney, Sheppard, and Alison King in Speed of Surprise (photo by Pete English)
Name: Scott Sheppard
Type of Artist: Theater Artist
Companies: Lightning Rod Special, Groundswell Theater Company, Pig Iron Theatre Co.
Fringe shows I’ve participated in:
How to Solve a Bear, 2010 – played Connie LaPire, co-creator
Speed of Surprise, 2011 – played Bernie, co-creator
Hackles, 2012 – played Greg, co-creator
Go Long Big Softie, 2013 – played Derek, co-creator
99 Breakups, 2014 – played guy in bed, co-creator
Underground Railroad Game, 2015 – played Stuart, co-creator
First Fringe I attended: I’m not sure if it was the first Fringe I attended, but I remember watching Untitled Project #213 in 2010 and then sitting outside of Caribou Cafe for a few hours talking about the show, deciding that I wanted to make theater for the rest of my life.
First Fringe I participated in: I played Harry Truman in a rock opera one year about a political campaign for an invented position. The most memorable moment was when I was caught doing steroids but sang a song about how I did it because I loved Philadelphia so much. Everyone cheered.
First show I produced/created at the Fringe: How to Solve a Bear, 2010. My favorite moment was getting pulled out of the ranger station by the hairy arms of the bear (our co-writer and Assistant Stage Manager Alex Cohen), getting pulled back and forth, clinging to a trash can for dear life until finally, Sandy, my sweetheart in the play, lit a stick of dynamite (cardboard tubing with a sparkler adhered) and stuck it in my hand, so that when the bear tried to eat me we would explode together in one fiery ball of martyrdom and chaos.
The Fringiest show, venue, action, or moment I ever experienced: I may have to say Go Long Big Softie, which we made in an old South Philly boxing gym, 7up bottling plant, Vietnamese Cultural Center. We literally made that show amidst 5-15 hippy, burner artists who were living in the space at the same time as we made the show. One night two of them got married on the roof of the space during our performance and we had to really implore them to stay on the roof until the show ended. It was one of those, “it’s fine if you guys want to have your wedding up there right now, but just make sure everyone goes to the bathroom, because when the show starts you’re trapped up there,” kind of situations.
A Fringe show that influenced me as an artist: Welcome to Yuba City. It was one of those pieces that made me appreciate rhythm and characters rooted in strong physical choices. It dreamed up a space and a time and a feeling, and it made me want to make work that birthed new worlds.
Artists I have met or was exposed to in the Fringe who I went on to collaborate with: Charlotte Ford, Sarah Sanford, Pig Iron, Alex Bechtel, Jess Conda, Matteo Scammell, Leah Walton, Justin Jain, Kevin Meehan, Jaime Maseda, Katherine Fritz.
The craziest idea for a Fringe show I wish I had done or to one day do: I would love to do a bizarre Moby Dick on a boat.
Fringe notes: My favorite Fringe memory was leaving Elephant Room at the Plays and Players Theater, walking outside only to realize that I had a “magic text” from the show. As I listened to the text and began to enthusiastically express that this was one of the best shows I had ever seen, the three magicians came zooming by on one moped, like the three amigos on one horse, Geoff Sobelle howling in character.