The path of pins or the path of needles
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About the Show
Welcome, pregnant one, to our sunset reality. Here at the edge of day and night, awake and asleep, we fall through the veil. Walk quickly. Hide the garlic in your pocket. You found your way here, but can you find your way back out? Will these whispers protect your unborn child from the curse?
Visionary writer and filmmaker Josephine Decker joins forces with Pig Iron Theater Company for a dark fairy tale about the terrors, joys, and deep uncertainties of pregnancy. Inspired by Maria Tatar’s research on the history of fairy tales, this immersive performance dreamscape explores the complex decisions that mothers, fictional and real, must make about their children’s lives.
Each audience member becomes “The Pregnant Dreamer,” seeking to evade a curse on their unborn child by choosing their own path through Rigby Mansion and its grounds. Interactive scenes — weaving contemporary dance, physical theater, and performance art — unlock secret knowledge and whispers of horror.
Concept and Direction: Josephine Decker
Text by Josephine Decker in collaboration with the ensemble
Co-Director: Dan Rothenberg
Scenic Design by Maiko Matsushima
Lighting Design by Tuçe Yasak
Sound Design by Tina Hanae-Miller
Costume Design by Alicia J. Austin
Dramaturgy by Sally Ollove
Associate Directors: Nicola Bullock and Vanessa Ogbuehi
Movement Consultants: Nicola Bullock and Faye Driscoll
Ensemble: Jessica Almasy, Sanchel Brown, Miranda Calderon, Ching-I Chang, Anisa George, John Maria Gutierrez, Courtney Henry, Alex Tatarsky
Swings/Understudies: Meagan Kimberly Smith, Jacinta Yelland
Major support for The Path of Pins or the Path of Needles has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support from the Charlotte Cushman Foundation.
Festival Executive Producer: Carol Beam
Festival Producers: Chris Deephouse, Donna Hunt, Ed & Anne Wagner
Festival Co-Producers: Bill & Joyce Kunkle
We extend our gratitude to our Executive Producers, Ricki and Andrew Eisenstein, for their generous support of The Path of Pins or the Path of Needles.
Thank you also to Chad Brown and Frank Reis for their support and encouragement.
About the Artists
Josephine Decker (Concept/Writer/Co-Director) is an award-winning writer, director, and filmmaker whose work tends to bend the space between imagination and reality. Her feature Shirley won Sundance 2020’s U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Auteur Filmmaking. Her feature Madeline’s Madeline, scripted through a devised process with ten actors, played Sundance, Berlinale and scores of festivals worldwide, was nominated for Best Picture at the IFP Gotham Awards and for two Independent Spirit Awards. She explores collaborative storytelling via directing TV, documentary-making, performance art, VR and teaching. Her latest film The Sky is Everywhere (A24, Apple, released spring 2022) was a New York Times Critic’s Pick.
Dan Rothenberg (Co-Director) is one of the founding artistic directors at Pig Iron Theatre Company, where he seeds artistic collisions and new approaches to performance. He works closely with ensembles of actor-creators who co-create (“devise”) Pig Iron’s work. An OBIE- and Barrymore-winning director and writer, his work ranges from large scale visual theater to hybrid clown pieces and concerts. Outside of Pig Iron, he has directed at Bowerbird, Play Company (NYC), and the Acting Company (national tour), and received commissions from the Kimmel Center and Tiwary Entertainment Group. Recent collaborations include work with acclaimed Japanese playwright Toshiki Okada, Emmy-winning composer Troy Herion, and MacArthur “Genius” Mimi Lien. USA Artists Fellow (2010); Penn Program in Environmental Humanities Artist in Residence (2017).
Pig Iron Theater Company has been creating interdisciplinary performances in Philadelphia since 1995. Now a national leader in the movement of alternative theater makers, the company has created over 33 original works and has toured to festivals and theaters in 15 countries on four continents, with stops at the Humana Festival, Under the Radar Festival, TR Warzawa, La Jolla Playhouse, and the Tokyo Performing Arts Market. The OBIE Award-winning company has been nominated for more than 35 Barrymore Awards, winning 10. During the pandemic, the company pivoted to digital work with an acclaimed Zoom adaptation of their collaboration with Japanese playwright Toshiki Okada, Zero Cost House, and an interactive two-player iPhone app called Franklin’s Secret City. The company recently launched a Digital / Film / Interactive initiative, with support from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, to explore how their devising methodology can be applied in the digital arena. Since 2015, Pig Iron has partnered with University of the Arts to offer both a Graduate Certificate and an MFA in Devised Performance, training the next generation of adventurous makers of hybrid performance. www.pigiron.org
About the Creative Team
Alicia Austin (Costume Design) is a Brooklyn-based costume designer. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and the recipient of the Princess Grace Award in Theatre, Pierre Cardin Honor.
Nicola Bullock (Associate Director & Movement Consultant) is a choreographer, dancer, and teacher based out of Berlin. At times she is also a writer, producer, actor, and director. Her work has been shown at venues and festivals in Canada, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Tunisia, and the USA. Most recently Nicola has had the pleasure of collaborating with choreographer Min Yoon | Citizen Truth and visual artist Kieran Ionescu on performance projects and films. She is currently pursuing her MFA in dance at the University of the Arts.
Faye Driscoll (Movement Consultant)
Shayna Strype (Assistant Scenic Designer)
Maiko Matsushima (Visual Design) is a Philadelphia-based visual artist, costume, set, and installation designer. Her designs have been seen at Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, Arden, BalletX, Headlong Dance Theater, and Pig Iron, as well as in Broadway productions such as Spring Awakening, Radio Golf, Assassins, and Pacific Overtures where she served as the associate costume designer. Matsushima and Headlong Dance Theater now create publicly engaged art. Their most recent collaboration was The Quiet Circus, a 15-month residency at the Washington Avenue Green that led to free weekly performances with a porous cast (audience members could sign up to participate) and a series of outdoor installations and games that audience members touched and operated.
Tina-Hanaé Miller (Sound Design) is a musician, producer, and composer, creating music for experimental theater, TV, and AR/VR. She has been in residence with Sundance Theatre Lab, Brooklyn College, and The Public Theater. Her composing work has premiered on the High Line and at Lincoln Center. As a musician, she has performed at the Brooklyn Museum, The Troubadour, The Imperial, Music Hall of Williamsburg, among others – opening for Japanese Breakfast, Shea Diamond, and Kiiara. As the artist Hanaé, she has released a music video for her debut single, ‘All of This,’ off of a forthcoming EP.
Vanessa Ogbuehi (Associate Director)
Sally Ollove (Dramaturg) is a Philadelphia and Seattle-based dramaturg and director. She is the Associate Artistic Director of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, the Resident Dramaturg of Azuka Theatre, and the Programming Director of The Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous in Seattle. Formerly the Literary Manager at Arden Theatre Company, other credits include TheatreExile, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and The Foundry, ACT, and Untitled Theatre Company #61 among others. She has served as adjunct faculty at Rowan University and University of the Arts. Sally is a graduate of the ART/MXAT Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard, a member of the 2011 Director’s Lab at Lincoln Center, and a 2016 recipient of the LMDA Bly Creative Capacity Fellowship.
Tuçe Yasak (Lighting Design) has created over 100 site-specific light installations for performance in the US and abroad since her move from Istanbul to New York in 2009. Yasak received the 2018 Bessie Award for Memoirs of a… Unicorn by Marjani Forte-Saunders at Collapsable Hole and NYLA and a 2019 Bessie Award for Outstanding Visual Design for her work on Oba Qween Baba King Baba by Ni’Ja Whitson at Danspace. She has been collaborating with Raja Feather Kelly and the feath3r theory since 2015. Other recent collaborations: Miguel Gutierrez, Autumn Knight, Alec Duffy. Yasak’s work has toured to Walker Arts Center, Montpelier Dance Festival, Ars Nova NY, PICA, the Bushwick Starr and On the Boards.
Jessica Almasy (Performer-Creator)
400+ audiobooks, recipient of Audie, Golden Voice, Golden Earphones awards. Actress, writer, producer, director. Film, theatre, and television with Hilton Als, Haruna Lee, Sanaz Ghajar, Heather Christian, The Bengsons, Kristen Sieh, Tim Robbins, Peter Friedman, Andrew Ondrejcak, Lee Sunday Evans, Pig Iron, Dan Rothenberg, Rachel Chavkin, Tectonic, Friendly’s Ice Cream, and Law and Order: SVU, originating roles in American premieres by Toshiki Okada, Kate Benson, and Bess Wohl. Writing work at the National London, the Almeida, the EIF, the Walker, PS122, Under the Radar, the Barbican, Battersea Arts Center, National Theater of Scotland, Bath Shakespeare, on Twitch, and in Hong Kong, Australia, Portugal, and Appalachia. Lourna Dee in Star Wars: Tempest Runner, with Lucas Films and Penguin Randomhouse.
Sanchel Brown (Performer-Creator)
Sanchel Brown is a mother/performer/ healer/choreographer originally from Baltimore, MD. She obtained her B.F.A from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014. Her studies continued at L’Ecole De Sable in Senegal, West Africa, and Rhapsody James in Los Angeles. Her performance highlights include Let ‘Im Move You: This is a Formation (National Tour), Urban Bush Women Apprenticeship, Davido’s Coming to America Tour and Theatre Horizon’s Black Nativity (Barrymore Win!). Choreography highlights include Theatre Horizon’s The Color Purple Regional PREMIERE (nominated for Barymore’s Outstanding Movement/Choreography) and Yale Dramat’s Dreamgirls. Sanchel produces independent works with her company Nubienne Productions.
Miranda Calderon (Performer-Creator)
Miranda wrote and plays every role in the upcoming feature SALOME LEARNS TO DANCE, directed by Jason Trucco and produced by Hawkeye Pictures, and she will soon appear in Sheila Pye’s first feature THE YOUNG ARSONISTS. Acting for stage includes NATHAN THE WISE and BIRDS OF A KIND (Stratford Festival), BUTCHER (Mirvish), TAKING CARE OF BABY (Storefront Theatre), PRIMA DONNA (BAM), and SALOME (Aurora Theatre). On-camera acting includes TITANS, 11.22.63, and her short films, ALEGRA & JIM and BODY PARTS. Miranda did her MFA in Lecoq Based Theatre at LISPA and her BA at Columbia University.
Ching-I Chang (Performer-Creator)
Made in Taiwan. MFA in dance and Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). Ching-I is a lover of dance and loves bananas.
Anisa George (Performer-Creator)
Anisa George is a Philly-based writer, theater artist, forest therapy guide, and aspiring farmer. Her work focuses on the intersection of ecology, culture, and performance. Her plays have been seen at The Public Theater, Ice Factory Festival, Philadelphia International Festival, Fringe Arts, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her written work can be found in the American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, Emergence Magazine and The Hopper.
Courtney Henry (Performer-Creator)
Courtney Henry grew up on the occupied lands of West Palm Beach, FL and was further educated at Fordham University in New York City. She is an interdisciplinary creator, performer, writer, educator, mentor, and mother. Through an Afro-futurist approach where time and space are non-linear, all of her practices spring from a liberatory imagining. She is currently an Artist-In-Residence at the University of the Arts as well as a recent M.F.A. graduate.
Meagan Kimberly Smith (Performer-Creator Swing)
Meagan Kimberly Smith is a mixed race (Black & white) actress. She is the Co-founder of Mixed in America. Meagan received her BFA in drama at UNCSA. Her TV & Film credits include: Comedy Central’s Other Two, Banana Split on Netflix, Blindspot on NBC and ACTORS directed by Betsey Brown. Theatre credits include: Hannah + the Healing Stone at The Drake, Wyck Live directed by Kyle Metzger and La Rouge at Lincoln Center. Meagan is thrilled to be making her Pig Iron Theatre Company debut. She’d like to thank her husband Ryan Pater for being her source of light.
Alex Tatarsky (Performer-Creator)
Alex Tatarsky makes performances in the unfortunate in-between zone of comedy, performance art, dance-theater and deluded rant; they are obsessed with compost.
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