September 5–15, 2019Refineries, dams, and wastewater treatment plants tower over us and sprawl beneath us. These massive works of infrastructure seem almost anti-human in their complexity and scale—like machines that run themselves—but they are the beating hearts that allow a city to function.
On the outskirts of an unknown city, massive structures emerge from the murk. Nine performers embody our hunger for permanence and our dreams of utopia in a melancholy contemplation of our skin, our organs, and our deepest urges
A world premiere by acclaimed Fringe veterans Pig Iron Theatre Company (A Period of Animate Existence, Pay Up, Welcome to Yuba City) and award-winning designer Mimi Lien, Superterranean is a new work of visual theater driven by Lien’s fascinations with urban infrastructure and the human body’s place within it.
Food and beverages are available for purchase at 2300 Arena before and after the show. There is no late seating or reentry once the performance begins.
Visit the companion work Section, Void at Cherry Street Pier.
“When I see a huge refinery, with its vast and intricate system of metal pipes, tanks, catwalks, I feel inexplicably emotional. Why do these structures evoke in my body such a deep-seated feeling of pleasure and despair?” Mimi Lien
“One of the few companies taking theatre in new directions.” The New York Times
Member discounts available
Concept, Scenario and Set Design Mimi Lien Scenario & Direction Dan Rothenberg Performers Rolls André, Isaac Calvin, Evelyn Chen, Jenn Kidwell*, Mel Krodman, Chelsea Murphy, Dito van Reigersberg, Tony Torn*, and Saori Tsukada Original Music Lea Bertucci Lighting Designer Barbara Samuels Costume Designer Olivera Gajic Sound Designer Lea Bertucci Sound Production Engineer Toby Pettit Stage Manager Lisa Iacucci* Dramaturg Geoff Manaugh Choreographic Consultant Rosie Herrera Puppetry Consultant Shayna Strype Movement Consultant Chelsea Murphy Props Artisan Noah Mease Associate Scenic Designer Colin McIlvaine Assistant Director Francesca Montanile Assistant Lighting Designer Catherine Girardi Assistant Costume Designer Scott McMaster Assistant Sound Designer Justin Smith Assistant Stage Manager Adam Swez Technical Directors Lauren Tracy and Joe Daniels, Flannel & Hammer Venue Manager/Master Electrician Sydney Justice Audio Engineer Amanda Hanna Master Carpenter Scott Halstead Wardrobe Supervisor Seana Benz Dresser Kate Tenen Run Crew Sam Wall and Eli Marsh Production Assistants Gary Bowman, Emma Gordon, Kelly Hayes, and Nancy Merlin Pig Iron Company Members Jenn Kidwell, Mel Krodman, Mimi Lien, Dan Rothenberg, Dito van Reigersberg
*Appears through the courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Photos by Jauhien Sasnou / Picturebox Creative
Festival Star Producers Al & Nancy Hirsig
Festival Co-Producers Libby Harwitz & Burton Blender
Intimate Immensity: A Superterranean Conversation
Sept 7 at 5:30pm at 2300 Arena (in advance of the 7:30pm performance)
Moderated by Geoff Manaugh, lauded author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City. Dive into the terrifying and awe-inspiring world of Superterranean by participating in this panel conversation with writers, artists, and architects. See the world around you in a whole new way as they discuss the invisible structures that dictate our daily behavior. Featuring Conrad Benner (founder and editor of the Streets Dept blog), Annette Fierro (Associate Chair of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania), and Superterranean lead artist Mimi Lien.
Superterranean: Live Podcast Recording
Sept 13 at 4pm at the Fringe Festival Bookstore at Cherry Street Pier
Dan Rothenberg and Tony Torn from Pig Iron Theatre Company, moderated by Peter Woodall (Hidden City Philadelphia).
September 10–22 at Cherry Street Pier
A public artwork and installation that serves as a companion work of visual art to Superterranean, Section, Void creates a primal architectural experience of seeing and sensing, and a way for viewers to contemplate the human body’s peculiar vibrations amid large constructions.
While at the installation, enjoy a custom Section, Void ice cream from Little Baby’s Ice Cream at Cherry Street Pier.
Happy Hour on the Fringe
On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, Mimi Lien shares her inspirations for Superterranean, from seeing a rat disappear into the darkness of a subway to the immense structures, tunnels, and systems working all around us, as well as the human body’s place within it all. Listen to episode below or read the transcript on the FringeArts Blog!
About Mimi Lien
Mimi Lien is a designer of sets and environments for theater, dance, and opera.
Arriving at set design from a background in architecture, her work often focuses on the interaction between audience/environment and object/performer. She is a company member at Pig Iron Theatre Company, an artistic associate at the Civilians, resident designer at BalletTech, and co-founder of JACK, a performance/art space in Brooklyn. She was named a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, and is the first set designer ever to achieve this distinction.
Selected theater designs include Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812 (Tony Award, Lortel Award, Hewes Design Award), An Octoroon (Drama Desk and Lortel nominations, Soho Rep/TFANA), Appropriate (LA Drama Critics Circle Award, Mark Taper Forum), John (Hewes Design Award, Signature Theatre), Preludes and The Oldest Boy (Lincoln Center), Stop Hitting Yourself (Rude Mechs/LCT3), Black Mountain Songs (BAM Next Wave), and Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse) and A Period of Animate Existence (Pig Iron/FringeArts). Mimi’s designs for dance have been presented in the Netherlands, Russia, and Taiwan. Her installation/public art work includes Model Home, a commission for La Jolla Playhouse’s 2017 Without Walls Festival (WoW); 2×4 Tree, a kinetic sculpture created for the 2016 Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), and Memory Palace, a participatory walk created for Elastic City inside the Pennsylvania Hotel.
Lien is a recipient of the Joan and Joseph F. Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity at Lincoln Center Theater, Lucille Lortel Award, American Theatre Wing Hewes Design Award, LA Drama Critics Circle Award, Barrymore Award, four Barrymore nominations, two Drama Desk nominations, Audelco Award nomination, Bay Area Critics Circle nomination, and a 2012 OBIE Award for sustained excellence. Mimi is the 2017 Tony recipient in scenic design.
About Dan Rothenberg
Dan Rothenberg is a Philadelphia-based director and creator of experimental performance. As co-founder and co-artistic director of Pig Iron Theatre Company, Dan has directed and co-created almost all of Pig Iron’s original performance works. Together with Quinn Bauriedel and Dito van Reigersberg, he received a Pew Fellowship in Performance Art (2002) and a USA Artists Knight Fellowship (2010). With Pig Iron, Rothenberg has directed and co-created more than 30 original works, including the OBIE-winning productions Hell Meets Henry Halfway (2005) and Chekhov Lizardbrain (2010).
At Pig Iron, Rothenberg engages in collaborations with visionary artists who push the ensemble in new directions. Collaborators have included: director Joseph Chaikin; playwright Toshiki Okada; designers Mimi Lien and Machine Dazzle; songwriter and performance artist Cynthia Hopkins; Daniel Rudholm of Stockholm’s Teater Slava; and choreographers Sam Pinkleton and David Brick.
Rothenberg’s work with Pig Iron has toured to 15 countries on four continents. Pig Iron has performed across Philadelphia and the company has been seen at the Public Theater, Abrons Art Center, Woolly Mammoth, La Jolla Playhouse, and the Humana Festival, among others. Pig Iron has been selected for creative residencies at Yale University, Temple University, Brown University, Drexel University, Swarthmore, Montclair State University, Dance Theater Workshop, the Public Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Playmakers’ Rep, EMPAC, About Face Theater, the Orchard Project, and as part of the Atelier program at Princeton University.
Outside of Pig Iron, Dan has directed three critically-acclaimed English-language premieres of plays by Toshiki Okada for the Play Company in NYC, as well as a national tour for the Acting Company, with stops at the Guthrie, New Victory, and Lincoln Center. He designed sound for painter Alexandra Grant’s solo show at MOCA in LA, and directed the Berserker Residents’ Annihilation Point (Phila. Fringe & Abrons Arts Center).
About Pig Iron Theatre Company
The mission of Pig Iron Theatre Company is to expand what is possible in performance by creating rigorous, unusual, ensemble-devised works.
Founded in 1995 as an interdisciplinary ensemble, Pig Iron has created over 30 original works and has toured to festivals and theatres in England, Scotland, Poland, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Italy, Romania, Sweden and Germany, among others, with stops at the Under the Radar Festival, the Humana Festival, TR Warszawa, Woolly Mammoth, Dance Theater Workshop, and the Tokyo Performing Arts Market. The many creative residencies that have incubated the company’s work include Baryshnikov Arts Center, the Public, La Jolla Playhouse, the Orchard Project, EMPAC, and the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities.
Pig Iron has no “house style,” and the company has made a name for itself with creations that range from site-specific works to hybrid cabarets to works of clown-theater and of visual spectacle. Notable collaborators include legendary director Joseph Chaikin; composers Troy Herion and Cynthia Hopkins; playwrights Toshiki Okada and Will Eno; and ensembles such as the Crossing, Contemporaneous, Sweden’s Teater Slava, and the indie rock band Dr. Dog. Pig Iron’s current core company is Mimi Lien, Jenn Kidwell, Mel Krodman, Dan Rothenberg, Dito van Reigersberg.
The company has won two OBIE Awards, and has been nominated for 2 Helen Hayes awards and 39 Barrymore Awards, winning 10. Pig Iron’s staging of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (2011) was nominated for ten Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, winning four, and enjoyed sold-out performances at Philadelphia Theater Company and later at Abrons Art Center in NYC (2013). Pig Iron has been named Theatre Company of the Year by Philadelphia Weekly and Philadelphia City Paper.
In 2011, Pig Iron launched a 2-year graduate program in physical and devised theater at a new home in North Philadelphia. In 2015, the company partnered with University of the Arts to offer both a Graduate Certificate and an MFA in Devised Performance.