as•sem•bly |ə-sěm'blē| (noun)
1. a group of people gathered in one place for a common purpose.
2. a public facility to meet for open discussion.
3. the action of fitting together component parts of a machine or
4. a collective of artists dedicated to realizing a new American theater.
The Assembly, 2017. photo by Kent Meister
The Assembly chooses work in seasons that take anywhere from three to five years to complete. This season includes:
IN CORPO (a new musical written by Ben Beckley and Nate Weida, currently in progress)
The Inaugural Series of Deceleration Labs led by Jess Cummings and Nehassaiu deGannes
SEAGULLMACHINE (premiered spring 2018 at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theater)
I WILL LOOK FORWARD TO THIS LATER (premiered spring 2016 at The New Ohio Theatre)
THAT POOR DREAM (premiered winter 2014 at The New Ohio Theatre)
HOME/SICK (premiered 2011 at The Collapsable Hole)
THE THREE SISTERS (premiered 2010 in The Red Room)
THE DARK HEART OF METEOROLOGY (premiered 2009 at The Philadelphia Fringe Festival)
We recognize that we occupy Native land. Much of our work occurs in Lenapehoking, on the traditional homeland of the Munsee-Lenape. The Assembly pays respect to the Lenape peoples of the past, present, and future and acknowledges the legacies of colonialism and erasure that we have inherited. We are committed to decolonizing our work through practices of inclusion, equity, and engagement with our responsibility to society and the environment.
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 our audiences. Our 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.
Holding firm to the belief that history repeats itself, The Assembly's projects look to the past to make sense of the present moment. The company's first project, We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, examined the company's understanding of the events of September 11th through the lens of the catastrophic Barnum & Bailey circus fire of 1944. The play premiered at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was nominated for the coveted Fringe First Award.
Later projects have explored topics such as the crisis of speculative capitalism in the Gold Rush and the Dot-Com Boom (Clementine and the Cyber Ducks) and the radical politics of the Weather Underground in HOME/SICK, which earned a New York Times and Backstage Critics' Pick, and was revived by undergroundzero festival, Wesleyan University, The Living Theater, and The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in Los Angeles.
Our most recent season began with That Poor Dream, an exploration of how class and race shape identity in contemporary America with a text freely adapted from Charles Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations. That Poor Dream premiered at The New Ohio Theatre in Oct 2014 and returned to The Tank in January 2015 as part of its curated Flint & Tinder series. The Assembly was granted the highly selective Archive Residency for 2015-2016, where we developed the second play in our season, I Will Look Forward to This Later—an inter-generational meditation on aging—that premeired at the New Ohio Theater in April of 2016. We premiered the third play in our season, SEAGULLMACHINE, a radical hybrid of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull and Heiner Müller's hamletmachine, set site-specifically in La MaMa's historic Ellen Stewart Theatre.
A feature article about the company's work and process by Cindy Rosenthal was published in the Fall 2016 issue of The Drama Review under the title "Circling Up with The Assembly: A Theatre Collective Comes of Age."
We have been developing our singular collaborative style since 2006 and working formally as The Assembly since 2008.