Found Collaborates with Philadelphia Young Playwrights!
One of the more exciting aspects about working with a company like Found is the opportunity to
collaborate with artists of all different backgrounds. Some of us know how to manipulate light to
create stunning atmospheres, some are more adept at plucking a stirring melody on a guitar
and others, like myself, attempt to render the world in verbs, adjectives and nouns. This vibrant
spectrum of talents gives the rehearsal room a certain energy, an electric pulse that flows
through each person and zip-zaps into the conversations on how the show will be shaped.
Though there are are leaders in the room, focused directors and brilliant minds wearing multiple
proverbial hats, the idea of the collective is at the core of each rehearsal and, ultimately, each
The chance for Found to work with the Philadelphia Young Playwrights was both an honor and a
chance for growth, and I was excited when the company asked if I’d want to perform on the
project. I’ll admit that my first thought was that it would be a nice change after coming off several
months of crafting Found’s 2016 production “Nothing to See Here.” The project had been
immensely satisfying and downright fun to devise but it was refreshing to think about working
with a set text again. It would be back to basics: get a script, learn some lines and do what the
Of course, those adages about assumptions are ubiquitously repeated for a reason. Instead of
the prototypical theater experience, or even the buzz of the hive mind of the devised theater
world, the collaboration between PYP and Found on “Nearly Famous” was something else
entirely. Jay Gilman, the director tasked with rustling together myself and fellow performers
Emily R. Johnson and Joe Wozniak, wanted to stay true to the words of playwright Emma
Baxter’s text while also letting us infuse the piece with some Found flavors. So, in Found
fashion, a play about two brothers who work at a dry cleaner became packed with humming,
dings, subway pole brooms, and a reality where everything is made of cardboard.
With Found’s Kerry Brind’Amour in the producer’s chair and lightsmith Will Jones in the room to
help the piece find its illumination we all came together to bring the words of a talented young
playwright to life. We got lucky, too. The text was already clever and fluid, and our stage
managers Michal Kortsarts and Benn Iffrig were meticulous about keeping us on-schedule while
remaining calm, helpful and friendly through it all.
Emma came to check out “Nothing to See Here” before work on “Nearly Famous” began, to get
an idea of Found’s style. Her reaction to devised theater, one of genuine interest and curious
excitement, helped to propel the project. Emma allowed us to take her text and try pretty much
anything we pitched. This was a collaboration on all fronts. Everyone from the playwright to the
wonderful David O’Connor at PYP to the performers became a unit moving together, building
sets, painting cardboard to look like shirts and pants, giving life to a new work.
Found is a collaborative unit through and through. Teaming with PYP was a joy, and one that
helped us all to explore new ways to collaborate. And, of course, the chance to bring a young
artist’s work to the stage was as humbling as it was fulfilling.
Nearly Famous by Emma Q. Baxter and directed by Jay Gilman was produced by Found Theater Company in partnership with Philadelphia Young Playwrights in 2016 at both the JUNK BoyScout Room in South Philadelphia and The Writers Theatre of New Jersey.