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Andy Boyd, syd island, Philip Santos Schaffer, and Soomi Kim Develop New Work In The Assembly's Deceleration Lab

Learn more about the full upcoming lineup!

Andy Boyd, syd island, Philip Santos Schaffer, and Soomi Kim Develop New Work In The Assembly's Deceleration Lab

The Assembly announces its third cohort of artists in the Deceleration Lab, an initiative to foster new theatrical projects that experiment with multi-perspective and multi-disciplinary models of creation.

This year's Lab Artists are Andy Boyd, syd island, and Philip Santos Schaffer, collaborating on Room, Room, Room, in the many Mansions of eternal glory for Thee and for everyone, an acoustic hyperpop folk opera about gender, celebrity, belief, and slander exploring the life of 18th-century American mystic Publick Universal Friend (PUF); and Soomi Kim, developing Body Through Which the Dream Flows, a dance/acro theater work looking at the culture of gymnastics with a cast of seven female competitive gymnasts. The artists will share excerpts of their works-in-progress and participate in a discussion about their process at free public events to be announced later in 2022.

The Assembly, a collaborative theater collective whose ten original plays include New York Times Critic's Pick HOME/SICK and Seagullmachine, launched the Deceleration Lab in 2020 to support artists in The Assembly's broader community to develop work that takes artistic risks, challenges traditional hierarchical structures, and creates new professional opportunities for the participating artists. Previous Lab artists include Nehassaiu deGannes, Dante Green, Matthew Paul Olmos, and Melisa Tien.

Room, Room, Room, in the many Mansions of eternal glory for Thee and for everyone will be an acoustic hyperpop folk opera about gender, celebrity, belief, and slander exploring the life of Publick Universal Friend (PUF) - an American mystic who had a vision in 1776 in which they were told by two angels to preach the word of God. From the moment of their vision on, the newly reborn PUF refused to use gendered pronouns or presentation, and when asked what gender they were, would simply reply "I am that I am." Room, Room, Room will incorporate experimental and contemporary queer music as well as ecstatic religious music and group-singing. The performance will highlight questions of queer history, and investigate the realities of intentionally antagonistic second-hand sources. While problematizing the American vision of utopia, the work aims to invoke a temporary genderless/genderful? utopia with its audience (even if just for a second).

Body Through Which the Dream Flows is dance/acro theatre work about gymnastics in the time of the #metoo and #cancelculture movements and will feature veteran coach, choreographer and theatre artist Soomi Kim as well as 6-7 competitive gymnasts. It began in 2018 after the scandal broke about Dr. Larry Nassar's systemic sexual abuse of 100s of gymnasts. The culture of gymnastics quickly unraveled as USAG was under fire for their role in enabling the culture of sexual and emotional abuse (and, most recently, the FBI's lack of action). Outraged, Kim felt it essential to merge her professions as a competitive coach and theatre-maker. Through dance & acrobatics, text and ensemble devising work, Body Through Which the Dream Flows will intersect Kim's personal gymnastics history, the deconstruction of the governing body of the sport and personal stories from gymnasts (age 11-17) in order to help us to better understand the moment we are in now. This project is told from an insider's lens and will explore original forms with non-actor gymnasts in this never before seen "downtown theatre-style" performance.

Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, where he studied with David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Charles Mee, Kelly Stuart, and Doug Wright. His plays have been produced by Theater in Asylum, Naked Theatre Company, IRT Theater, and Epic Theatre Company. His plays have been developed or presented at/by Pipeline Theatre Company, The Gingold Group, Dixon Place, The Kennedy Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, Out Loud Theatre, Contemporary Theater Company, The Trunk Space, Columbia University, Marquette University, and Harvard University. He is the host of the New Books in Performing Arts Podcast and the co-host with Danny Erickson of the socialist theatre podcast Better than Shakespeare. His work has been supported by the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts

syd island (they/them) is a queer, nonbinary, Black, "biracial," performing, music, and visual artist currently based in Canarsie, Lenapehoking (so-called Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY). as a vocalist and music creator, syd enjoys collaborating on various musical styles from improvisational experimental music to medieval sacred choral music. they have experience as a dancer/performer in devised and improvised experimental dance. as a visual artist, they document their life through colorful self-portraits and create digital and watercolor protest posters. syd has a BA in Music Theory, History, and Composition from Brown University and is a graduate of Arizona School for the Arts. they have performed at Roulette Intermedium, the Exponential Festival, Judson Memorial Church, and the Brick Theater.

Philip Santos Schaffer (they/he) is a playmaker creating interactive performances in intimate and unconventional settings. Philip's work has been seen in bathtubs across the country, listened to over the phone, and found in a series of living rooms (as well as appearing in more traditional spaces). Philip's work deals with politics, pop culture, intimacy and empathy through participation, humor, music, and more. Philip has a BFA in Directing from Hofstra University and an MFA in Dramaturgy from Columbia University. Philip is 1/5 of the creative team behind WalkUpArts, which they co-founded in 2015.

Soomi Kim is a New York City based actor/movement artist and has conceived (and co-devised with director Suzi Takahashi) a trilogy of work based on Asian American visionaries: Lee/gendary, dictee: bells fall a peal to sky and Chang(e). Chang(e) was developed through the HERE Artist in Residency Program (2012-2015). Dictee: bells fall a peal to sky (dance theatre adaptation of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee) premiered at Culture Project's Women Center Stage Festival in 2012. Lee/gendary ran at HERE Arts Center's main stage. Kim's autobiographical dance theatre show, MLCG (My Little China Girl) was commissioned by Dixon Place (2017). Awards: HERE A.I.R. (2015), Dixon Place commission (2017), Orchard Project's Greenhouse Lab (2020-21), Marble House A.I.R. (2019), Hemispheric Institute (2014), Asian Arts Intiative (2012 & 2013), Mabou Mines A.I.R. (2014). In 2018 she was named Coach of the Year at Chelsea Piers, NY and is the founder of GymKim Choreo LLC. | | IG: @soomdawg

THE ASSEMBLY is a collective of multi-disciplinary performance artists committed to realizing a visceral and intelligent theater for a new generation. Assembly members unite varied perspectives in service of wide-reaching, unabashedly theatrical and rigorously researched ensemble performances, crafted to spark conversation with their audiences. Their work embraces the complexities of our present moment; it is a call for empathy and engagement. Embracing collaboration as the core of the creative process, the company chooses projects through consensus and develops text, action and design side-by-side within the rehearsal environment. From workshops to productions to post-performance discussions, The Assembly is dedicated to rooting its artists, audiences, and peers in a profound sense of community.

The company has performed at venues across New York such as La MaMa ETC, Jack, New Ohio Theatre (Archive Residency Award), The Incubator, The Prelude Festival, HERE Arts Center, Horse Trade, and The Collapsable Hole, and has toured to the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, Wesleyan University, the Edinburgh Fringe (Fringe First nomination) and the Philly Fringe. In 2016, The Assembly's process was documented by Professor Cindy Rosenthal in the cover essay of the industry's leading academic journal, The Drama Review: "Circling Up with The Assembly: A Theatre Collective Comes of Age." The Assembly's educational workshops are designed to foster empowered and empowering collaborators, training young artists in the ethics and techniques of their unique method of ground-up creation. The company has worked with students at top-tier colleges and universities like Columbia, NYU, Dartmouth, Williams, and Wesleyan, as well as workshops in NYC, LA, and online. The Assembly is currently developing the company's first musical In Corpo, by Nate Weida and Ben Beckley, which will premiere in November 2022 at Theatre Row. For more information visit or follow The Assembly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @assemblytheater.

The Assembly is Stephen Aubrey, Ben Beckley, Emily Caffery, Jess Chayes and Meredith Lucio.

The Deceleration Lab is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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