The Ars Nova production of
Underground Railroad Game
JENNIFER KIDWELL is a performing artist. Recent projects – Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (Dan Hurlin), the Bessie Award winning I Understand Everything Better (David Neumann/advanced beginner group), Antigone (The Wilma Theater), Fire Burns Hot, I Promised Myself to Live Faster and 99 Break-Ups (Pig Iron Theatre Company), Dick's Last Stand (Whitney Biennial 2014, as Donelle Woolford), Zinnias: the Life of Clementine Hunter (Robert Wilson/Toshi Reagon/Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon). Projects in process include Geoff Sobelle’s House/Home, Nichole Canuso’s Body of Text, Those With Two Clocks (with PITC) and a duet with Thomas Graves. She is a PITC company member, a Wilma Theater Associated Artist, a Lightning Rod Special company member and a co-founder of JACK. Her writing has been published in movement research Performance Journal #45 and at hyperallergic.com. In 2013 she was awarded the TCG/Fox Resident Actor Fellowship (with Pig Iron Theatre Company), naming Underground Railroad Game as her primary project. In 2015 she was awarded an Art & Change Grant by the Leeway Foundation. She is a 2016 Pew Fellow.
SCOTT R. SHEPPARD is an OBIE Award-winning theater artist living in Philadelphia and New York City. He is a Co-Director of the Philadelphia-based theater company Lightning Rod Special. Select credits: Underground Railroad Game (co-creator/performer), which was named by the New York Times as one of the top ten shows of 2016 and is currently touring nationally and internationally; Pig Iron Theatre Company’s 99 Breakups and Period of Animate Existence (co-creator/performer); PITC’s Gentlemen Volunteers (performer); George & Co.’s Holden (co-creator/performer); Lightning Rod Special’s Sans Everything (co-creator/performer) and Arden Theatre Company’s The Stinky Cheeseman (performer, Barrymore nomination). Scott is a recipient of the Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Performing Arts, a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at Guild House and an OBIE Award winner for Best New American Theater Work (Underground Railroad Game). Proud graduate of the inaugural class at Pig Iron’s School for Advanced Performance Training.
TAIBI MAGAR (Director) New York: Is God Is (Soho Rep, NYT Critics Pick) Master (The Foundry, NYT Critics Pick). and Underground Railroad Game (Ars Nova, NYT Critics Pick, Obie Award for Best New American Work). Regional: Familiar (The Guthrie/Seattle Rep Co-production), Dry Powder (The Alley), We Are Proud to Present (The Guthrie) The Hunchback of Seville (Trinity Repertory). She is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a recipient of a Stephen Sondheim Fellowship, an Oregon Shakespeare Festival Fellowship, a Public Theater Shakespeare Fellowship, the TFANA Actors and Director Project Fellowship and is an alumni of Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Taibi has directed and taught at many academic institutions, including Juilliard, Fordham University, Brown University and New York University. MFA: Brown/Trinity Upcoming projects: Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap (Atlantic Theater Company) and Patrick and Daniel Lazour’s We Live In Cairo (A.R.T. Boston).
TILLY GRIMES (Production Design) is an English theatre designer based in New York. Recent Recognition - Lortel Nomination Best Costume Design, Balsamo Grant for Immigrant Artists, Irish Design Award, Irish Times Theatre Award (Nomination) & Onstage Critics Award. Credits include - ‘Underground Railroad Game’ (Lucille Lortel Nomination, International/National Tour, Ars Nova), 'Small Mouth Sounds’ by Bess Wohl, dir. Rachel Chavkin (New York /National Tour), ‘What We’re Up Against’ by Theresa Rebeck (WP Theatre), ‘The Government Inspector’ with Michael Urie (Duke, New World Stages). In New York she has worked with companies such as Roundabout Theatre Company, The Atlantic, Ars Nova, WP Theatre, Red Bull Theater Company, Clubbed Thumb, Here Arts Centre, The Barrow Group, New Georges and La Mama Theatre. Regionally her work has been seen at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Wilma, Shakespeare Theatre DC, Goodspeed Opera, Two Rivers Theatre Company, Trinity Repertory Company, Pittsburgh Public. and Westport County Playhouse. She received her M.F.A from NYU Tisch School.
STEVEN DUFALA (Scenic Design) is a multidisciplinary artist and musician based in Philadelphia. He works primarily in collaboration with his brother Billy as The Dufala Brothers, and has been working intermittently with dance and theatre as a designer for about 15 years. Steven has worked with Pig Iron Theatre Company, BalletX, Kate Watson Wallace/anonymous bodies, Geoff Sobelle and others. With Billy, Steven co-teaches sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is represented by the Fleisher/Ollman gallery in Philadelphia. The Dufala Brothers work is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the West Collection, Pafa and many private collections.
OONA CURLEY (Lighting Design) Oona Curley is a lighting and scenic designer from New York specializing in new and devised work. Her work has been seen in New York (Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater Co., The Cherry Lane, The Flea, Joe’s Pub, JACK, La MaMa, The New Ohio, NYU/Tisch), Philadelphia (The Arden Theatre, Curtis Opera, Opera Philadelphia, FringeArts, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Team Sunshine Performance Co.), and regionally (Sharon Playhouse, Brown/Trinity Rep, Chester Theatre, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Historic Asolo Theater). Oona earned her MFA from NYU/Tisch, where she received the J.S. Seidman Award for Design Excellence and was their nominee for a Princess Grace Award. Oona is an associate artist with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret in Philadelphia, and is a visiting professor of lighting design at Connecticut College. oonacurley.com.
MIKAAL SULAIMAN (Sound Design) is a Los Angeles based sound designer. He attended the University of the Arts and later studied the Jacque Lecoq approach to physical theater at LISPA. Currently, Mikaal sound designs for film, theatre and dance. He has worked in the U.K., Sweden and Saudi Arabia. His most recent collaboration was on Holoscenes, with Lars Jan of Early Morning Opera, at the London’s Burning event in conjunction with the Artichoke Trust. salaam.
LISA McGINN (Production Stage Manager) Recent credits: Geoff Sobelle’s Home and The Object Lesson; Sleep (Ripe Time Theatre); Chimera and The Wholehearted (Stein | Holum Projects); This is Reading (Lynn Nottage, lead artist, Kate Whoriskey, director); Jacuzzi and The Light Years (The Debate Society); Eager to Lose (Ars Nova); How to Build a Forest (PearlDamour + Shawn Hall); Revolt. She said. Revolt Again and Winners and Losers (Soho Rep); Rememberer and Open House (Steven Reker); Forbidden Creature Virgin Whore; From the Spot Where We/You/I Stand (Stood) (Miller Rothlein Dance); You, My Mother (Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf); Card and Gift and Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb); The Seagull and Ivanov (Chekhov at Lake Lucille); Temporal Powers and Donogoo (Mint Theater Company); The Room Sings, The Peripherals; Hot Lunch Apostles (Talking Band).
NATALIE HRATKO (Assistant Stage Manager) With Ars Nova: The Lucky Ones, KPOP, Underground Railroad Game (NYC & international tour), The Wildness: Sky Pony’s Rock Fairy Tale, The Rise & Fall of Marcus Monroe, By the Water (with MTC), many ANT Fests, Showgasms and Galas. Natalie toured as the PSM of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, nationally and internationally. Other credits: Oh, Hello! (Cherry Lane Theatre), Scenes From A Marriage (NYTW),In Your Arms (NYSAF), Broadway Dance Lab, The Alvin Ailey School and Martha Graham Dance Company.
OCTOPUS THEATRICALS (Producer) Founded by creative producer Mara Isaacs, Octopus Theatricals collaborates with artists and organizations to foster an expansive range of compelling theatrical works for local, national and international audiences. We eschew boundaries—aesthetic, geopolitical, institutional—and thrive on a nimble and rigorous practice. Current projects: Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell (Broadway, 8 Tony® Awards including Best Musical); Iphigenia, a new opera by Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding; Dreaming Zenzile by Somi Kakoma, An Iliad by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson; Theatre for One; and Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals. We are also proud to work with Phantom Limb Company, Ripe Time, Lola Arias, Song of the Goat Theatre and more. www.octopustheatricals.com
ARS NOVA (Jason Eagan, Founding Artistic Director | Renee Blinkwolt, Managing Director) exists to discover, develop and launch singular theater, music and comedy artists in the early stages of their professional careers. Our dynamic slate of programs supports outside-the-box thinking and encourages innovative, genre-bending work. Dubbed by The New York Times as a “fertile incubator of offbeat theater,” Ars Nova blurs genres and subverts the status quo. With our feverish bounty of programming, we are the stomping ground and launching pad for visionary, adventurous artists of all stripes. By providing a protective environment where risk-taking and collaboration are paramount, Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of diverse artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work.
Ars Nova has been honored with an OBIE Award and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle for sustained quality and commitment to the development and production of new work. Notable past productions include: the extended, sold-out The Lucky Ones, created by The Bengsons and Sarah Gancher, directed by Anne Kauffman; “Outstanding Musical” Lortel Award-winner KPOP, created by Jason Kim, Max Vernon, Helen Park and Woodshed Collective, directed by Teddy Bergman; “Best New American Theatre Work” OBIE Award-winner and The New York Times’ “Best of 2016” Underground Railroad Game by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard with Lightning Rod Special, directed by Taibi Magar (now on international tour); “Outstanding Musical” Lortel Award-winner FUTURITY, by César Alvarez with The Lisps, directed by Sarah Benson; The New York Times’ and New York Post’s “Best of 2015,” Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl, directed by Rachel Chavkin; Time Out New York’s “Best of 2014,” JACUZZI by The Debate Society, directed by Oliver Butler; the Tony Award-winning smash-hit Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 by Dave Malloy, directed by Rachel Chavkin; Jollyship the Whiz-Bang by Nick Jones and Raja Azar, directed by Sam Gold; the world premiere of the 2009 season’s most-produced play boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, directed by Alex Timbers; the show that put Bridget Everett on the map, At Least It’s Pink by Everett, Michael Patrick King, and Kenny Mellman, directed by King; and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail’s first New York production, Freestyle Love Supreme by Anthony Veneziale and Miranda, directed by Thomas Kail. ARSNOVANYC.COM
LIGHTNING ROD SPECIAL is a Philadelphia-based devised theatre company, co-directed by Katie Gould, Mason Rosenthal, Scott R. Sheppard, and Alice Yorke. Exploding complex questions with precision and play, Lightning Rod Special makes live performance from the ground up. www.lightningrodspecial.com