Found Theater Company is a collective ensemble of theater-makers that tests the limits of bodies, music, and performance. Our mission is to take audiences on an immersive journey outside the boundaries of traditional narrative, into a world of visceral and surprising spectacles. We aim to challenge and to entertain. To find joy in getting lost.
HOW WE WORK
Found Theater has developed a collective way of working that is a mixture of devised performance methods introduced to us by Felipe Vergara and expanded upon by our ensemble throughout our time together. Vergara, our first director and the person who brought us together, began working in assignment based devised theatre with us over five years ago. Since then we have developed an ensemble of rotating directors, designers, and performers, and are continuously expanding upon the way we create new work.
Now, we start by collectively picking a theme around which to base our new performance. It usually ends up being something we're all curious about. 'Outer space,' for example, was the theme of This is the Twilight Kigdom, while Event End was based around 'the end of the world.' Then we begin creating in a process that takes about 3 months...
Alison Mae Hoban
Emily R. Johnson
Promotional Image for This is the Twilight Kingdom
Each member of the ensemble picks a relevant topic to research that is related to the broader theme. We gather images, essays, poems, facts, and definitions, and present our findings to eachother. Then we combine our findings into a physical book that includes everyone's research. This book provides in-the-room inspiration for creating performance pieces.
The director begins by giving a series of assignments to the ensemble members. These are usually short performances, and include movement, text, and music inspired by the theme. The completed assignments make up the material from which the performers can pull during long form rehearsal improvisations and later become the puzzle pieces from which the director can form the final production.
At the beginning of every rehearsal we physically train together as an ensemble to strengthen ourselves, challenge eachother, and connect as a group. We explore physical theater techniques like contact improvisation, Le Coq, dance, butoh, and Michael Chekhov. Sometimes we run, chant, sing, meditate, or toss each other up in the air...but whatever we do, there's always sweat!
Original music is an important part of our productions. Ensemble members often write music as an answer to the assignments that the director gives. This music is fully realized when the whole group adds to it. Using voices, guitars, or whatever we have, the music we find becomes an integrated part of our daily physical trainings and finalizes in our performances.
This is the culmination of the research, assignments, movement, and music explored over the rehearsal process. The director uses all of the performer created assignments to piece together the final production in a non-narrative theatre/dance/musical hybrid performance experience that has become Found's signature style.
Found was born in the spring of 2009—then just a group of undergraduate theater students at Temple University who were selected by Felipe Vergara, a Colombian MFA Directing candidate, to train as an ensemble and perform in his thirty minute piece, The Myth Project. The group of students spent the entire spring together, training in the ways of moving in space as one entity and the art of listening with the entire body. After the performance in May, the nameless group realized that they wanted to continue delving into the work that they had just begun to scratch the surface of. Spring turned into summer, and the group worked relentlessly, transforming the material from The Myth Project, into a full-length Philly Fringe performance entitled Something With Wings, a vaudevillian meditation on the death of god. The next year brought change and clarity for Found. After the success of the 2009 Fringe, the group solidified as a company, creating a name, a logo, a bank account, and a relationship with press. In the 2010 Fringe, the group added new members and worked to create its next offering, Tales. This performance marked the last collaboration between Found and Vergara, a departure that put the true nature of the ensemble into the foreground. The other company members found themselves filling the shoes their mentor had worn previously, taking on the tasks of directing, producing, and managing money and press. The students discovered what it meant to run a company as opposed to just performing as one. They graduated from Temple and began to spread their wings in the Philadelphia theater community. In the intervening years, Found has devised three more full length Fringe shows (Event End in 2011, Electric Jungle in 2012, and This is the Twilight Kingdom in 2013), been commissioned by Painted Bride Art Center and White Pines Productions (performing in the Let's Make a Ruckus Festival and The Happenings Series, respectively), teamed up with Philadelphia director Brenna Geffers for a guerilla-style musical Nativity scene in the streets of Philadelphia (Found Jesus), been reviewed by Stage Magazine, Philadelphia Weekly, Philly Metro, Citypaper, and Phindie, and been selected as Sponsored Artists of the White Pines Exchange for 2013-2014.
Found Theater Company 2010, cast and crew of Tales