Pig Iron Theatre Company to Reprise LOVE UNPUNISHED

This mostly wordless hour-long piece asks audiences to contemplate the ordinariness and confusion of evacuees who wonder: Is this an emergency or is this a drill?

By: Aug. 18, 2021
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Pig Iron Theatre Company to Reprise LOVE UNPUNISHED

Pig Iron Theatre Company, Philadelphia's acclaimed creators of interdisciplinary performance, and Swarthmore College will co-present 10 performances of Love Unpunished, a hypnotic dance-theater piece about the moments just before the collapse of the World Trade Center, as part of the 2021 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, presented by FringeArts. Set on 20 feet of escape stairs, this mostly wordless hour-long piece asks audiences to contemplate the ordinariness and confusion of evacuees who wonder: Is this an emergency or is this a drill? Directed by Dan Rothenberg and David Brick, with an acclaimed, iconic set design by MacArthur Fellow and Tony Winner Mimi Lien, Love Unpunished runs September 3-11, 2021 at the Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

In Love Unpunished, waiters, traders, administrators, custodians, secretaries, bike messengers - the denizens of any metropolitan skyscraper - move from panic into a ghost world of memory and loss. Some are unconcerned, some are in shock, and some run for their lives. Love Unpunished draws from a simple palette of movement to open up the unreal space between life and death, a space of tenderness that lies within catastrophe. The work originally premiered in 2006 - but with the 20-year anniversary of the Towers' collapse arriving on the heels of an unprecedented pandemic, Pig Iron's artistic directors felt compelled to return to this contemplative piece, a piece that centers the fragility of the human body amid enormous forces.

"When tragedy is all around us, we feel this impulse toward tenderness, and then the need to steel ourselves, and then we flip back to tenderness - and this piece is an invitation to stay with that tenderness," explains Rothenberg. "Love Unpunished is an attempt to reconnect with the human impulses we felt watching the catastrophes that have become defining moments of our generation - both the anger and the empathy, as well as those strange feelings which have no name, feelings which rise unbidden and which can't find a place in political discourse."

Though made in response to the events of 9/11, Love Unpunished does not make any specific reference to the World Trade Center, but rather invites audiences to contemplate the simple, distinctive movement of bodies descending stairs, evacuating, confused about when to panic and when to stay calm. Love Unpunished highlights the ordinariness and confusion of the evacuees, and in doing so asks audiences to contemplate the space of grief in response to collective tragedy; to search for the possibility of tenderness in the face of politically-charged catastrophes; and to reimagine the sensation of time itself in moments of rupture and violence.

The piece features an iconic scenic design from longtime company member, MacArthur Fellow and Tony-winner Mimi Lien, and lighting design by Tony-winner Tyler Micoleau. It is co-directed by Pig Iron's founder Dan Rothenberg and Bessie Award winning choreographer David Brick. Reprising their original roles from Pig Iron's core ensemble are Pig Iron co-founders Quinn Bauriedel and Dito van Reigserberg; Hinako Arao, Makoto Hirano, and Wendy Staton. Pig Iron adds Jordan Deal, Jenna Horton, Jaime Maseda, and Kyle Vincent Terry to the ensemble.

The full production team includes Dan Rothenberg (Concept and Direction), David Brick (Choreography and Co-Director), Mimi Lien (Scenic Design), Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Oana Botez (Costume Design), Sadah Espii Proctor (Sound Design & Additional Composition), Troy Herion and Sean Mattio (Original Composition), Deborah Stein (Consulting Playwright), Zaina Dana (Assistant Director), Adam Swez (Production Stage Manager), Leslie Ann Boyden (Stage Manager), Steph Smith (Assistant Stage Manager), Toby Petitt (Audio Consultant), Elliot Konstant (Lighting Supervisor), Flannel and Hammer and Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall (Technical Director), and Ian Morales Gaskin (Production Management Intern).

Performances are Friday 9/3 at 8pm, Saturday 9/4 at 2pm & 8pm, Sunday 9/5 at 4pm, Wednesday 9/8 at 8pm, Thursday 9/9 at 6pm & 9pm, Friday 9/10 at 8pm, Saturday 9/11 at 2pm & 8pm. Tickets are $30 (general) and $15 (students and 25-and-under). Membership discounts available. Purchase at https://fringearts.com/event/love-unpunished/ or by calling the FringeArts box office at 215.413.1318. Wheelchair accessible. Running time is 60 minutes.


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