Play, Media, Text

Artists in Residence w/ Anne Carson & Robert Currie, Lead Artists

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Play, Media, Text

Reading w/ Anne Carson, Lead Artist

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In a recent interview, Anne Carson points to the risks of reducing works of theater to moralizing objects and object lessons: ‘[W]orks of art don’t have a message, do they? They offer an experience and possibly a transformation.” How do the multifold adaptations of literature across the material book, illustration, and digital text shape the experience of readers? How specifically do performances function as imagined spaces where communities both ancient and contemporary can reflect on the social realities of human experience through myriad forms? Can the liveness of performance retain its precious salience in a world of social media and polemical sound bites? What can theater reveal to its audiences about the dissemination of information, artistic consumption and production?

In a collaboration involving poet, playwright, professor and author Anne Carson, visual artist Robert Currie, Haverford College faculty members Laura McGrane and Deborah Roberts and Philadelphia-based theater company Lightning Rod Special, this PACC initiative ‘Play, Media Text: Making it Live’ will contemplate what the performances of the past have to say about the future of performance. Working with texts from the classical period and eighteenth century through the contemporary moment, our project will culminate with an immersive, theatrical reading of Carson’s never-produced play KRAPP Hour. How does this piece encourage its audiences to reconsider how they get information, how it is made and disseminated, who fills the airwaves and talk shows, and why should we trust any of it? Throughout the collaborative, students and community members will inhabit theater as adaptive social practice through workshops, readings and live performances.


Lead Artist

Anne Carson is Canadian poet, essayist, translator, and Classicist whose work treats Classical subjects in what has been called a postmodern fashion. Carson’s genre-averse approach to writing mixes poetry with essay, literary criticism, and other forms of prose, and her style is at once quirky, inventive, and erudite.

Lead Artist

Robert Currie is an artist.


Lightning Rod Special

Scott R. Sheppard is an OBIE Award-winning theater artist living in Philadelphia and New York City. He is a Co-Director of the Philadelphia-based theater company Lightning Rod Special. Recent credits: Underground Railroad Game (co-creator/perfomer), which was named by the New York Times in 2018 as one of the top 25 plays in the past 25 years and is currently touring nationally and internationally; Pig Iron Theatre Company’s 99 Breakups and Period of Animate Existence (deviser/performer); PITC’s Gentlemen Volunteers (performer); George & Co.’s Holden (co-creator/performer); Lightning Rod Special’s Sans Everything (co-creator/performer) and Arden Theatre Company’s The Stinky Cheeseman (performer, Barrymore nomination). Scott is a recipient of the Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Performing Arts, OBIE Award winner for Best New American Theater Work, and a recipient of Edinburgh’s Fringe First Award (Underground Railroad Game). Proud graduate of the inaugural class at Pig Iron’s School for Advanced Performance Training and Guild Hall resident artist for 2018.


Lightning Rod Special

Alice Yorke is a Philadelphia-based actor, creator, director, and producer. She is a Co-Director of Lightning Rod Special, with whom she created and performed in Hackles, Let the Dog See the Rabbit, and Sans Everything; she is the lead artist on their newest piece, The Appointment, a satire with original music that reveals the absurdity, hypocrisy, and misogyny of the abortion debate in America. She recently directed White Feminist by Lee Minora, a scorching indictment of white women in feminism, the hit of the 2018 Fringe Festival. Her performance in The Gap at Azuka Theatre was recognized with a Bonaly Award for excellent performance and a Barrymore Award nomination for outstanding supporting performance. For five years she has been seen across music venues in Philly and New York at the wild dancer Candy Scrapple of Red 40 and the Last Groovement. She is a proud graduate of the inaugural class of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training.

Associate Professor of English

Haverford College

Laura McGrane is Director of Visual Culture Arts and Media (VCAM) and Associate Professor of English at Haverford College. She served as Director of the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities and is Principal Investigator for multiple grants in the arts and visual studies, including Maker Arts funding. Her work and workshops in eighteenth-century print culture and digital media integrate scholarship on interface and institutional approaches to digital humanities with the history of the book.

Professor of Classics

Haverford College

Deborah H. Roberts is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Haverford College. Her research and teaching interests include Greek tragedy, ancient literary theory and the history of literary theory, the modern reception of classical literature, and translation studies. She has translated Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound (2012) and other Greek tragedies, and is co-author, with Sheila Murnaghan, of Childhood and the Classics: Britain and America, 1850-1965 (2018).


Anne Carson & Robert Currie, Lead Artists

Artist in Residence


Haverford College, VCAM 202

Anne Carson and Robert Currie will be visiting Philadelphia several times during the Spring 2019 semester and will be performing a reading on February 12th at Haverford College, a version of “Lecture on the History of Skywriting” in March, and a new performance in collaboration with Lightning Rod Special of “Krapp Hour” on April 13th at Haverford College.

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Refashioning the Classics: Dramatization and Illustration Course Visit w/ Anne Carson and Robert Currie, Lead Artists

Course Visit


2:15-3:45pm, Haverford College, VCAM 201

Poets & artists Anne Carson and Robert Currie took over Deborah Robert’s course ‘Refashioning the Classics: Dramatization and Illustration’. Anne and Currie posed a series of prompts for the students including an exercise in making 10 drawings and then creating a movement or a sound that expresses that drawing and a small group assignment to perform something both inside/outside a boundary.

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Sometimes It's Necessary to State the Obvious



7:30-9pm, Haverford College, Sharpless Auditorium

Sometimes It’s Necessary To State the Obvious
Tuesday, February 12th
7:30 – 9pm
Sharpless Auditorium, Haverford College, 370 Lancaster Avenue
Free and open to the public.

Join us for a reading by Anne Carson — poet, essayist, translator and classicist. Her recent body of work includes NOX, Antigonick, Red Doc>, and Float.

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Why Theater Should Be Dangerous



12-1:00pm, Haverford College, VCAM Lounge & Community Kitchen

Lightning Rod Special: Why Theater Should be Dangerous
Friday, February 22
VCAM Community Kitchen

Lightning Rod Special makes a case that theater should be revitalizing our democracy through provocation and complexity. Part discussion, part rehearsal, part communal meditation: witness how Lightning Rod Special asks dangerous questions through a radical practice of devising original theater. They will demonstrate creation methods and have an open conversation about how they approach new performance work. Lightning Rod Special company members are Barrymore and OBIE Award-winning artists who have toured their work all over the world. Known most recently for Underground Railroad Game which was named by the NYTimes as one of the top 25 plays in the past 25 years.

This event is free and open to the public, lunch provided.

Crosslisted = Students, faculty, staff, and guests talking about research, the arts, humanities, and anything else in an informal setting. Contact: Stephanie Bursese.

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Topics in 18th-century Literature: New(s) Media, Performance and Print Culture Course Visit w/ Lightning Rod Special, Nonprofit Organization

Course Visit


1:30-4pm, Haverford College, Woodside Meditation Room

Scott R Sheppard and Alice Yorke, co-founders of Lightning Rod Special, led a movement workshop for students in Laura McGrane’s course ‘Topics in 18th-century Literature: New(s) Media, Performance and Print Culture’. The students experienced a slice of LRS’ creative process, learning to move like a puppet and “not acting” in a scene LRS call a “re-do”.

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Lecture on the History of Skywriting, Anne Carson, Robert Currie, Lead Artists, & Faisal bin Ali Jaber



7-8:30pm, Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N American St, Philadelphia

Anne Carson will perform a ‘Lecture on the History of Skywriting’ with her collaborator Robert Currie and Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an engineer from Yemen whose brother-in-law and nephew were killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2012.

The performance will last roughly 45 minutes with no intermission and be followed by a Q & A session with Anne Carson, Robert Currie and Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, her biography below.

This event is free and open to the public. Image by Andrew Kist.

Shelby Sullivan-Bennis is a Senior Staff Attorney at Reprieve U.S., working on abuses in counter-terrorism and other national security concerns. She represents several prisoners currently held without trial or charge at Guantánamo Bay, as well as multiple victims of America’s overseas targeted killing program. Shelby has previously worked as criminal defense counsel in terrorism cases being litigated in the Southern District of New York – notably, that of Nazih al Raghie (“Anas al-Liby”), a Libyan national extra-judicially rendered to the United States to stand trial for charges relating to the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. She has also worked for the Legal Aid Society (state criminal law issues), the International Rescue Committee (immigration cases), and as pre-indictment defense counsel for Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR), at the CUNY School of Law. She holds a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island and a J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law. She is admitted in New York and to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Southern District of New York. Shelby is a Member of the American Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association (and its Committees on Capital Punishment and International Human Rights), and the National Lawyers Guild.

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"The Appointment" Original Screenplay written and performed by Lightning Rod Special

Field Trip


8:00-9:30pm, Fringe Arts, 140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia

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Lightning Rod Special, Non-Profit Partner in Residence



Haverford College, VCAM Create Space 202

Lightning Rod Special is a Philadelphia-based original performance company that creates raucous and contemplative works to ask questions of ourselves, our audience, and the world at large. Exploding complex questions with precision and play, Lightning Rod Special makes live performance from the ground up. Come chat. Explore.

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1:00-2:30pm & 4:00-5:30pm, Haverford College, VCAM

Witness and engage in a reading of Anne Carson’s KRAPP Hour, adapted and staged as a live performance by Lightning Rod Special at Haverford College in the new Visual, Culture, Arts, and Media (VCAM) building. In the first iteration of this never-produced play, originally published in Granta Magazine in 2014, Lightning Rod Special cracks open the world that KRAPP Hour dares us to imagine.

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"Norma Jeanne Baker of Troy" Original Text by Anne Carson, Commissioned by The Shed in NYC, and Performed by Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming

Field Trip


3:00-4:30pm, The Shed NY, 545 W 30th St, New York, NY

Haverford faculty, students, staff and partners traveled to The Shed on Sunday, April 28th to see Anne Carson’s new work Norma Jeane Baker of Troy Part opera, part theater, part performance piece, in Norma Jean Baker of Troy “Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming star in a dramatic work by Anne Carson exploring the lives of two iconic beauties millennia apart”.

The Shed just opened along the High Line in NYC and has an ambitious directive, you can read more about it in the latest NYT piece here.

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