Works of Groundswell Theatre Company

Underground Railroad Game – New Orleans Fringe Festival 2013

Forget everything you thought you knew about history. No more tedious memorization. No more boring dates and facts related to distant people and events. We take history off the page and make it real (again). All aboard for a perilous and sexy journey through time with…Underground Railroad Game! Whether you’re a winner or a loser, you’re always a learner!

Go Long, Big Softie – Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2013

Following the 2012 Fringe hit Hackles, this avant-garde bromance by FringeArts Lab fellow Mason Rosenthal and Pig Iron School graduate Scott Sheppard asks the hard and soft questions about contemporary masculinity. Under the assistance of Charlotte Ford, who delighted audiences in 2012 with BANG, a clown show about female sexuality, Go Long Big Softie enters the world of defunct 1980’s means’ groups, taking audiences on a mythopoetic journey to healing the wounds of the male psyche. The site-specific piece took place at the Torrent Collective, a dilapidated architectural palimpsest in the Italian Market District. The building was a 7UP bottling factory, a boxing club, and a Vietnamese cultural center. Currently, it is a space for fire spinners, DJ’s, martial artists, and rappers. Now falling apart and having gone through its own masculine identity crisis the Torrent Collective was the perfect place to investigate the past, present, and future of male identity. *The Torrent Collective is now demolished.

Hackles – Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2012

For Hackles, the collaborative team was been fascinated by the zeal and sophistication of pseudoscientific approaches to ghost-hunting. The piece was inspired by cultural touchstones such as Mary Roach’s book Spook, the film Paranormal Activity as well as the cult popularity of ghost-hunter Zak Bagans. Additionally, actor-creator Nick Gillette, who has worked for many years as a tour guide at the Eastern State Penitentiary, shared many first-hand accounts of ghost hunters in action. Hackles shine a faulty flashlight on the mysteries that lie beyond death. It takes its audience on an intimate tour through the parts of the human psyche that indulge those hair-raising moments and create space for the possibility of a spiritual underworld. Hackles make you wonder, what’s more frightening: a haunted house or a perfectly logical one?

The Speed of Surprise – Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2011

The Speed of Surprise is a devised piece that takes audiences back to the silver screen days of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Always with an open mind to unlikely collaborators, Groundswell found a partner in The Hacktory, a burgeoning non-profit organization committed to promoting technology in the arts. Housed in the Nonprofit Technology Resources warehouse on Brandywine Street, the Hacktory donated materials from its vast collection of old computer parts and obsolete technology to help Groundswell’s design team create a nuanced and farcical science fiction aesthetic.

Always challenging the scope and scale of their productions, Groundswell was thrilled to incorporate the flair and vision of director Charlotte Ford, creator of esteemed Live Arts pieces Chicken and Flesh and Blood and Fish and Fowl. Scott Sheppard, Artistic Director, explains why Charlotte was such an integral part of the production: “Coming from a background of sketch and improv comedy, our plays have always been highly verbal and plot heavy. Charlotte inspired us to reinvest in physical, visual, and emotional elements of our comedy. Her voice helped our style mature in really exciting ways.”

How to Solve a Bear – Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2010

How to Solve a Bear is an original work that was developed through experimental improvisation. It combines the playfulness and spontaneity of improv comedy with the focused exploration of a written drama. “We were inspired by films like Scotland, PA and Waiting for Guffman,” company member Ali King explains. “Especially the way that they find humor in the obsessions and passions of ordinary and unglamorous people.” The company’s collaborative process is highly inspired by fellow Philadelphia theater company, Pig Iron. At the play’s beginning, Watches State Park is on the verge of closure at the hands of the budget-strapped state government. The park’s lone prized bear, Shiva, is stirring up more trouble than its rangers (played by Jack Meaney and Ali King) can handle. Once the darling of the “Dance No More” program, an initiative to rescue Dancing Bears from India and re-locate them to the wilderness, Shiva has become Watchupee’s greatest embarrassment. She causes mayhem at the local town-fair by knocking over a corndog stand, and the park’s rangers are left demoralized and lost. Connie Lapierre, a disturbed but charismatic drifter (played by Scott Sheppard), who idolizes Lewis and Clark arrives at the park and proposes an unsettling solution. The rangers and Pete, a charmed lost-soul who lives uninvited on the park grounds (played by Jesse Paulsen), are divided by Connie’s offer. But as the bear’s shenanigans get more personal, it becomes clear that Shiva is calling for a showdown.