Crushing Baby Animals Program
Actor/Creator ….. Maria Swisher
Actor/Creator ….. Tana Sirois
Associate Producer … Andrew J Martin-Weber
Assistant Director ….. Landon Alexander
Projection Designer ….. Taylor Edelle Stuart
Composer ….. Marco Baratto
Production Manager ….. Charlotte Meyers
Stage Manager ….. Kristina Voznick
Lighting Designer ….. Eric Goodman
Voiceover Artist ….. Adam Diggle
Voiceover Artist ….. Oliver Marriage
Sound Engineer ….. Aliki Rodgers
Publicist ….. OFF OFF PR/Paul Siebold
Supernumeraries: Marissa Riggs, Judith Feingold
Special Thanks to Edjo Wheeler for giving us technical help, artistic support and a home at The Plaxall Gallery, to Soren Kisiel who gave us storytelling guidance at the most vulnerable time, and to Janet Rutkowski who curated this amazing exhibition, Welcome To The Multiverse!
In 2017, after mounting a very ambitious (and characteristically insane) production of Fernando Arrabal’s surrealist play Garden Of Delights we decided our next project should be an easily mountable uncomplicated two-hander that melded our previous styles of working together and brought us joy. As we began brainstorming ideas and creating improvisations, we kept coming back to the unbelievable synchronicity of our shared childhood nightmare.
The title of the show came easily. Little else did. When we began this journey, we never imagined we would be delving into long forgotten childhood memories, dealing with our relationships with our parents and ourselves, and spending our days studying consciousness, dreams, psychology, and even a bit of quantum physics. We also didn’t imagine that our “easily mountable two-hander” would become a tech-heavy multimedia epic, or that it would push us through an extremely intense two year rehearsal period that would test our relationship and challenge our process working together.
But, as the adage says, nothing worth doing is easy. This has been an incredibly humbling, difficult and rewarding journey. We wanted to create a piece of work that explored our desire to make art and stay connected in this crazy world with bravery, vulnerability, humor and truth. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. No where else like live theatre do you have a better metaphor for the power of collective dreaming: watching this play come together from the combined talent and effort of our entire team, our friends, and supporters can only reaffirm to us that we are much more than single organisms in this world.
As Dante and Beatrice (and Tana and Maria) have discovered, the important thing is to try to let go of expectations of ourselves and others. When we want to run, we stay with the trouble, face our dark sides, embrace a sense of play, and most importantly, trust in each other. In work and life, there may be no concrete answers, but we hope there will be many playful questions.
Thank you to Long Island City Artists for giving us the opportunity to make space for chaos at The Plaxall Gallery, and to our incredibly talented, positive, hard-working creative team who remind us everyday that we are waterfalls and not rocks.
Maria Swisher (Creator/Performer) is an actor, writer and theatre-maker originally from Marshall, Missouri. Maria studied at New York University and Strasberg Studio for Theatre and Film. She then moved to the United Kingdom where she graduated with a first class degree from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. While at LIPA, she completed her dissertation on science fiction in the theatre, and wrote her first play, The Last Eden, which was produced with support from the Arts Council England under Dirt [contained] in 2011. While in England, she has trained with the RSC and Complicite. In London she co-produced and performed with Craft Theatre Company in devising a physical theatre rendition of Dante's Inferno. Her short play, The Trip, was produced at the Lyric Hammersmith and was shortlisted this year for the John Petherbridge Award for New Writing. In 2016 she had her New York directorial debut with Garden of Delights, also at the Plaxall Gallery with Dirt [contained], which was attended by the 88 year old author, Fernando Arrabal. Acting credits include Elizabeth (When the Rain Stops Falling), Semiramis (The Chairs), Freda Caplan (Dangerous Corner), Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd), Lady (Orpheus Descending) and Estelle (No Exit, Fusion Theatre).
Tana Sirois (Creator/Performer) graduated from The Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts, with a First Class Degree in Acting. She co-founded Dirt [contained] Theatre Company in Liverpool, where she directed the original sci-fi play The Last Eden at The Kazimier night club. Other directing credits include Tomorrow In The Battle (An Ars Nova Fling), Alice In Wonderland (The Players’ Ring), The Yellow Wallpaper (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and co-director for The Chairs (The Players’ Ring). Acting credits include Froggy (Blackbird), Tracy (Seascape With Sharks And Dancer), Judy (Easy Laughter), Nina (Stupid F*cking Bird), Lais in Garden Of Delights, and Alice in Painted Alice. Tana is the Performing Arts Director for Long Island City Artists Inc., and can also be found touring the country raising money for Planned Parenthood and The ACLU with the musical sketch comedy group, Katie Goodman's Broad Comedy. A massive thank you to my mum, who has always encouraged my creative spirit to flourish.
Landon Alexander (Assistant Director) began performing at age eight in his hometown of Marshall, Missouri. Landon graduated from Missouri Valley College (MVC) with a BA in Theatre Performance / Dance Minor. He then began choreographing for the school's Show Choir, Dance Team, and Theatre Dept. and traveled as a hired choreographer. He went on to work at Northern Lights Playhouse, Maples Repertory Theatre, and Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, where he gained a dance track in the regional theatre premiere of Tim Rice and Elton John’s Aida. He was a performer and dance captain for multiple shows including Chicago, My Fair Lady, and They’re Playing Our Song. He coached dance at MVC while working as a lead instructor for Broadway Bound Dance Studio. He considers himself very lucky to be a part of this talented and dedicated theatre family. He is overjoyed and honored to be working with the deliciously twisted and astute minds behind Dirt [contained] Theatre Company, where he is making his New York City debut. Thanks mom and dad, love ya.
Taylor Edelle Stuart is a New York based theatre + filmmaker. New York theatrical projection design credits include: Friendly's Fire (The 14th St. Y), Intrusion (St. Luke's Theatre), Happy Happy Happy Happy (The Tank), Leni's Last Lament (The Chain), Turing Test (NYC Fringe Festival), Medea (Lenfest Center for the Arts), Escape Velocity (Navigators Theater Company), Rocks Water Algae Stars (Navigators Theater Company), King Lear (No Holds Bard Theatre Festival), and How I Married Myself... (Columbia University). Regional credits include: Mumburger (Carnegie Stage). Taylor is also the lead moderator and projection programmer at the TED Talks TED world theatre. Her artistic home is at New Dramatists where she started as an intern, and has collaborated with resident playwrights on integrating live media into their scripts. She's made a few shorts: I Have Been Here Before (Winner: Faultline), My Body (SEFF Binghamton), and was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Youtube | Sundance New Voices Lab for her work on a webseries called ID.
Marco Baratto (Composer) was born in Treviso, Italy and moved to the United Kingdom in 2006 to pursue multimedia Studies. He has worked in the VFX and video post-production industry since 2009 and moved to NYC in 2017 to further his career. His main instruments are piano and guitar and has always had a keen interest in scoring for film, as well as electronic music, jazz and composition. Marco’s work is often infused with a nostalgia reminiscent of late eighties/early nineties coming-of-age cinema. He is particularly influenced by composers such as Alan Silvestri and Giorgio Moroder, who through their dream melodies and bold arrangements inspired an entire generation to look up to the stars and deep within.
Charlotte Meyers (Production Manager) has been working with Dirt [contained] Theatre Company for the last five years, and is delighted to be back for their third full scale production in NYC. Her credits include Assistant Director for Funny Or Die, Stage Manager for The Greek Festival, Easy Laughter, and Pragmatic Species, and Production Manager for Garden Of Delights here at The Plaxall Gallery.
Kristina Voznick is thrilled to be back at the gallery for this innovative undertaking! She first teamed up in April of 2019 for Painted Alice and has loved working in this space ever since. As a stage manager her other credits include Into the Woods and The Cradle Will Rock with Theater 2020. She started off as a dancer training at Inland Pacific Ballet and numerous ballet schools across the county. After graduating from Marymount Manhattan College with a BFA in dance performance, she went on to perform at the Redlands Bowl in California. Much love and many thanks to Tana and Maria.
Eric Goodman is a musician and video producer living in New York City. He is a resident artist of Long Island City Artists based at the iconic Plaxall Gallery, where he is developing the latest version of his nationally-toured multimedia rock show Thus Spoke The Spectacle. Eric has assisted on many Plaxall productions, including lighting design for Escape Velocity, Stupid Fucking Bird, and Painted Alice. He studied music, economics, and philosophy at Cornell University.
Adam Diggle (Voiceover Artist) is a voice actor based in sunny Rugby UK. He spends most his days voicing wacky and wonderful characters for videogames like Lego and The Sims. He is chuffed to bits to be voicing the great Sir David in this equally wacky and wonderful show!
Oliver Marriage (Voiceover Artist) was born into great wealth but unfortunately squandered it away on drinking, gambling and a rather unusual fondness for figurine collecting. Destitute and directionless, he ran away from his life of debauchery and entered a new one via drama school in Liverpool. He continued to nurture his skills in order to become the bodiless voice you hear in this production, along with Dirt [contained]’s previous production of Garden Of Delights where he could put all of his personas to good use. He spends his time making voices in his small London flat and annoying his neighbours with his late night sobbing sessions and bad renditions of spice girl songs. He is very happy to have his voice cross over the seas as he is unable to due to an ancient curse.
Aliki Rodgers (Sound Engineer) is a production engineer, audio engineer and all round technology aficionado based in London, UK. Director of a music production company as well as many years working in sports broadcast. Partial to loud guitars, old whiskey and the works of Douglas Adams.