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About the Show
SPEECH is a poisonous love letter to cancel culture. The show isn’t just happening on stage. It’s happening in your DMs. And in your kid’s eye rolls. In your hook-up agreements. In your attempt to actually compost this year. During your daily subway cry. It’s all the things we don’t say about the things we DO say.
Lightning Rod Special (The Appointment, Underground Railroad Game) offers a satirical scrutiny of the free speech debate and the rapidly shifting terrain of civil discourse within our hyper-visible social-media-centered world. Characters careen through different microcosms of American culture in a searing look at how trepidation and performativity infect all aspects of our lives.
Philadelphia-based performance company Lightning Rod Special specializes in raucous and contemplative works that scramble theatrical conventions and intellectual assumptions. SPEECH continues their investigations into lightning rod topics, exploding complex questions with precision and play.
A Lightning Rod Special production
Creators: Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Scott R. Sheppard, and Alice Yorke
Writer: Scott R. Sheppard in collaboration with the ensemble
Director: Shayok Misha Chowdhury
Assistant Director: Andalyn Young
Creator-Performers: Fernando Gonzalez, Yuki Kawahisa, Jaime Maseda, Terran Scott, Scott R. Sheppard, Alice Yorke, Jehan O. Young
Additional Development: Billy Griffin Jr., Saori Tsukada
Scenic Designer: Peiyi Wong
Costume Designer: Kimberly Redman
Lighting Designer: Oona Curley
Sound Designer: M. Florian Staab
Prop Designer and Scenic Assistant: Victoria Gill-Gomez
Associate Producers: Lucy Jackson and Renee Blinkwolt
Production Management and Technical Direction: Lauren Tracy and Joe Daniels, Flannel & Hammer
Michael Amendola, Sarah Anton, Chris Bowser, Emily Bright, Andy Cino and Kaitlin Friedman, Ellen Chenoweth, Charlotte Ford, Jaime Jarrett, Mike Inwood and Rebecca Kanach, Chelsea Murphy and Scott Rod, Emily Pratt, Steven Rishard, JJ Tiziou, Casey York, Jerry Zee, Ars Nova, FringeArts, Guild Hall, Interact Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Vineyard Theatre, Wilma Theatre
Festival Star Producers: Mark & Tobey Dichter
Festival Producers: Carol Klein & Lawrence Spitz
Festival Co-Producers: Shelley Green & Michael Golden
Festival Associate Producer: Christie Hartwell
About the Artists
SHAYOK MISHA CHOWDHURY (director) is a Jonathan Larson Grant and Princess Grace Award winning writer and director. Misha was an inaugural Project Number One Artist at Soho Rep, where his play Public Obscenities will premiere in 2023. Recent: Brother, Brother (New York Theatre Workshop) with Aleshea Harris; MukhAgni (The Public) and The Other Other (Ars Nova) with Kameron Neal. Misha collaborated on the Grammy-winning album Calling All Dawns. Fellowships: Sundance, Fulbright, NYSCA/NYFA, NYTW 2050.
OONA CURLEY (lighting designer) is a lighting and scenic designer. Frequent/favorite collaborators include: Knud Adams, Tara Ahmadinejad, Eliza Bent, Martha Graham Cracker, Stacey DeRosier, Jordan Fein, Morgan Green, Emma Griffin, Ásta Bennie Hostetter, Qween Jean, Jenn Kidwell, Jes Levine, Taibi Magar, Gunnar Montana, Kimie Nishikawa, James Rutherford, Awoye Timpo, Annie Tippe, Masha Tsimring, and Whitney White. Oona is a member of Lightning Rod Special, Associate Artist with Bearded Ladies Cabaret, and member USA829. MFA NYU/Tisch. www.oonacurley.com
VICTORIA GILL-GOMEZ (props designer and scenic assistant) (they/them) is an emerging Philly-based scenic designer and technician. They completed their undergraduate degree at Washington College on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Previous collaborations include Theater Exile, Shakespeare in Clark Park, Quintessence Theatre Group, The Haverford School, and FringeArts. They’d like to thank Lightning Rod Special—Alice and Scott—and Peiyi for bringing them on. Love to Shawn and Iz.
FERNANDO GONZALEZ (creator-performer) is a Brooklyn-based actor/deviser, science enthusiast, ne’er-do-well, rascal, scamp, and synonym fan! Credits include: “Skinnamarink” (Next Door/New York Theatre Workshop), “Minor Character” (UTR/The Public Theater); sundry works at Classic Stage Company, Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, & The Drama League; and he translated & adapted del Valle-Inclán’s “Bohemian Lights” for Live Source’s production at HERE Arts Center. Graduate of NYU Tisch. Follow him @uniqueid… if you’ve a strong stomach for puns. Fernando-gonzalez.com
CELIA HUTTONJOHNS (stage manager) is a Philly and New York based stage manager and is thrilled to be working with Lightning Rod Special! Stage management credits include The Taming!, and Pericles, Prince of Tyre, (Shakespeare in Clark Park), Barbecue, Wolves Eat Elk, and A People’s History of Looting (Purchase Repertory Theatre). Follow her @huttonjohns_ Thanks to Alice, Scott, Misha, Andalyn, Fern, Jaime, Jehan, Terran, and Yuki for a wonderful three weeks. Love to Nat and Tane.
YUKI KAWAHISA (creator-performer), a native of Japan, is an actor, performing artist. Hailed by The New York Times as “simple and brutal as a knife to the throat.” (Americana Kamikaze by Temporary Distortion), she has been performing her own works and others in New York and internationally. Throughout the pandemic, Kawahisa has continued her practice as a creator with her project “HenSin-MetaMorPhosis” and made videos (as a Bear) everyday for 560 days. www.yukikawahisa.com
JAIME MASEDA (creator-performer) (he/him/his) is a Barrymore-nominated performer based in Philadelphia. He has worked across disciplines with various artists and companies, including Pig Iron Theatre Company, Miguel Gutierrez, Arden Theatre, the Wilma Theater, Azuka Theatre, People’s Light, Orbiter 3, Magda & Chelsea, Mel Krodman & Kelly Bond, George & Co.; as well as in collaborative partnership with NYC-based artist Iris McCloughan as No Face Performance Group.
KIMBERLY REDMAN (costume designer) (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist that trained as an actor at University of the Arts (2018). Since graduating she has worked on short films, commercials, and music videos as a Production Designer, Makeup Artist, and Stylist in Philadelphia. Her most recently completed work “Sugar” will be showing at the Smodcastle Film Festival this fall. Enjoy the show!
TERRAN SCOTT (creator-performer) (she/her) is a theatre, film, and music multi-hyphenate in Brooklyn, NY. She is making her Philly theatre return after Ragtime (Arden Theatre Co.) and Romeo & Juliet (Wilma Theater). She continues to work on Jaime Jarrett’s Wonder Boy and Storm Thomas’ Be Like Bone at places like Joe’s Pub, MTF, BCS, and the Playbill Composer Series. Check out the queer comedy web series, Big Egg. UArts grad. terranscott.com / @vegeterran
SCOTT R. SHEPPARD (creator-performer) Obie award-winning theater artist and Co-Artistic Director of Lightning Rod Special. Lead Writer/Performer in The Appointment (Best of 2019 Time Out NY, NY Mag, NYTimes Critics’ Pick). Co-creator/performer of Underground Railroad Game (Edinburgh Fringe First Award, NYTimes top 25 Best Plays of the past 25 Years). Pig Iron School graduate. Writer of Blood Meal for Theater in Quarantine (NYTimes Critics’ Pick). Credits: Period of Animate Existence, 99 Breakups, and Gentlemen Volunteers with PITC.
FLORIAN STAAB (sound designer) is a composer and sound designer based in Brooklyn, NY. Staab was born and raised in Germany and received a BA from Oberlin College and MFA from UIUC/Krannert Center. He is an associate artist with Sinking Ship Productions. His designs have been heard at the Public Theater, Irish Repertory Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, City Theatre Pittsburgh, Center Theatre Group, Mint Theater Company, The National Playwrights Conference, The Drama League, New Saloon, Opera Vanguard and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. www.florianstaab.com
LAUREN TRACY (production manager) is thrilled to be returning to Lighting Rod Special! She is the production manager for Azuka, Inis Nua Theatre and Simpatico Theatre. She is also the production manager for the Flannel & Hammer scene shop. She’d like to thank her family, friends, and Andrew for their love and support.
PEIYI WONG (scenic designer) is a scenographer/interdisciplinary artist based in NYC. Off-Bway/downtown set design: Weightless (WP Theater), The Vicksburg Project (Mabou Mines), Look Out Sh!^head (Object Collection), Songs About Trains (RadEv | Working Theater), Memoirs of a…Unicorn (NYLA, 2018 Bessie Award), Charleses (The Tank, Hewes nom); set/costume: Trial of the Catonsville Nine (Transport Group), A Hunger Artist (Sinking Ship), MukhAgni (The Public UTR); costumes for ARRAY feature film, Namour. Faculty at PHTS, NYU Tisch. MFA, CalArts. www.peiyiameliawong.com
ALICE YORKE (creator-performer) is a Philadelphia-based theatremaker. She is a Co-Artistic Director of Lightning Rod Special and the lead artist on their piece, The Appointment (Best of 2019 Theater, NYTimes, TimeOut New York, New York Magazine). Select performance credits: How to Be Brave (Inis Nua), The Gap (Azuka Theatre, Barrymore Award nomination), Down Past Passyunk (InterAct Theatre), Alex Bechtel’s The West, Pig Iron Theatre Company’s 99 Breakups and Pay Up.
ANDALYN YOUNG (assistant director) works across performance, writing, and design. She has collaborated and performed with Pig Iron Theatre Company, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, Lightning Rod Special, The Eva Steinmetz Project, Antigravity Performance Project and poet Kyle Dacuyan.
JEHAN O. YOUNG (creator-performer) (she/her) has only been permitted 75 words to summarize her accomplishments so suffice it to say that she continues to perform in countless esteemed basements with working pipes and a black curtain, mainly across New York City. Alum, Spelman College & Columbia University.
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