Set in the high-stakes world of Minnesota suburban youth hockey, the Munson family revolves around their hockey-playing oldest son Mitch, now 12 (even though there are two other siblings, Tracy who also plays hockey, and youngest Lily). Mitch has always played in the top tier and he must keep his place on the A Team in this ever-so-critical last year of youth hockey if he’s to have any chance of advancing in high school and beyond. Mitch’s life is ruined, however, when a new kid, who happens to be an exceptional player, beats him in tryouts. The new kid, Harry, also happens to be a yeti, adopted by his exceptionally adventurous and high-achieving mountain climber parents, Hank and Judy. Over the course of hockey season, Harry leads the Prairie Lakes Blizzards to greatness, possibly even to a victory against the undefeatable youth hockey team of Thunder Bay in Canada. Mitch, meanwhile, embarks on a mission to expel Harry from Prairie Lakes, leading to increasingly desperate measures that ultimately drag both families into a storm of emotional chaos. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
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In this meta-theatrical work of investigative theater, writer/director Steve Cosson (played by an actor) is interviewing subjects for a new piece about the big question—how do we live with the uncomfortable fact that we already know the end of our story: we die. The play begins with Steve interviewing his friend Lydia, a Colombian/New Yorker artist. He wants Lydia to talk about how she successfully transcended all her death anxieties after a particularly intense ayahuasca ritual (aka ‘the vine of death’ a powerful South American hallucinogen used in traditional shamanic practices). Lydia, however, refuses to let Steve be a passive interviewer. As the night progresses and the alcohol flows, their dialogue evolves into a goofy, improvised “journey to the underworld.” As Lydia takes on the job of being Steve’s “psychopomp,” meaning a guide to the other side, they both play many of Steve’s interviews—a philosopher, a hospice nurse, an Iraq war vet, a cancer patient undergoing psilocybin therapy—eventually getting to the point where together they touch down into an intense undercurrent of existential terror.
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He smoked a clay pipe, stole books, wrote hymns to bodily orifices, and, by the age of 21, had changed the face of literature forever. But then Arthur Rimbaud disappeared. In this prismatic collage of song and story, a company of actors use music-theater to consider the life and lasting influence of modernism’s most elusive enfant terrible on the New York scenes of art, music and rock and roll. Staged musical renditions of original texts—John Ashbery’s seminal translations of the poet’s Illuminations, Rimbaud’s letters to his lover Verlaine—complement writer-director Steve Cosson’s meditations on the poet’s sexuality and influence on artists like Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and several New York poets interviewed by Cosson: Eileen Myles, Dael Orlandersmith, Ariana Reines and John Ashbery among others. The result is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a man whose verbal alchemy made the bourgeois world blush. Songs by: Adam Cochran, Michael Friedman, Rebecca Hart, Joseph Keckler, Matthew Dean Marsh and Grace McLean
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THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY was created from the company’s immersion in the Evangelical Christian world of Colorado Springs, the de facto capital of the conservative Christian movement in the U.S. As the story begins, two competing same-sex union campaigns are heating up in Colorado. The battle over gay marriage leads to some explosive and unexpected consequences, the most significant being the outing of New Life Church pastor Ted Haggard as a long-time client of a male prostitute in Denver. Already working within New Life, the company has exceptional access to the staff and congregation of this mega-church at the center of a national scandal. From this insider’s vantage point, the company tracks a seismic period in the Evangelical capital from the moment of revelation to the literal banishment of Ted Haggard from the state of Colorado. Co-written with Jim Lewis from interviews by Emily Ackerman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brad Heberlee, Stephen Plunkett and Alison Weller. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
IN THE FOOTPRINT tells the story of the community battles surrounding Brooklyn's largest and most controversial development project in its history. The Atlantic Yards is a massive project of high rises and the Barclays Arena built by a private developer with generous tax subsidies, minimal government oversight, and the use of eminent domain to eliminate a long-standing neighborhood. Made from verbatim interviews, IN THE FOOTPRINT is an epic tale captures all the passion, struggles and pitfalls of what happens when ordinary people band together to fight massive power and money. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, written with dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke and interviews from the company.
In 1871, working class Parisians overthrew the French government, declared Paris autonomous and launched an attempt to radically reinvent society. In this musical play, The Civilians brings this explosive event to life. PARIS COMMUNE employs a bold theatrical form to tell the story of this first socialist revolution in Europe. The play uses found texts and original songs from the time-period to tell the story of this extraordinary event in which the Parisian community radically reimagined its entire society. The Commune lasts only a short period until it is violently crushed by the French army, but these brief days of the Commune set the mold for the radical, popular uprising, and foreshadowed the many social upheavals of the modern age. Co-written with Michael Friedman who adapted lyrics from various songs of the period, many of them written by Jean-Baptiste Clément and Eugene Pottier, both of whom were members of the elected Council of the Commune.
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(I AM) NOBODY’S LUNCH is a dark ride through the post-Iraq invasion/Bush junior era of American public culture, a time of when consensus reality frayed and the time of “truthiness” began. In the form of a paranoid cabaret, this company-devised show asks the thorny question — how do we know what we know when everyone in power seems to be lying? Is it possible to know what's really going on in the world when all information is manipulated to serve particular interests? To make the show, the company conducted extensive interviews with subjects ranging from a policymaker at Homeland Security on the verge of a nervous breakdown to a plucky extraterrestrial (channeled by an equally funny human); from every Jessica Lynch in the phone book (who was willing to talk) to soldiers guarding the New York subway with unloaded weapons. Turning these interviews into a mercurial cabaret-play, a versatile cast inhabits an eccentric cast of characters, all taken from real life. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, interviews by the company.
A wry and idiosyncratic musical of loss devised from interviews with real-life New Yorkers by The Civilians. This collection of very personal accounts of things "gone missing"—everything from keys, personal identification, a Gucci pump to language itself and creates a unique tapestry of the ways in which we deal with loss in our lives. A flexible company of six performs more than thirty characters, intertwining these stories of lost objects with tales from some unusual "finders," ranging from a retired NYPD cop to a pet psychic. Set against eclectic and tuneful songs by Michael Friedman, GONE MISSING is cabaret-theater about the little things in life seen largely.
THE GREAT IMMENSITY is a continent-hopping thriller following a woman, Phyllis, as she pursues her husband Karl who disappeared from a tropical island while on an assignment for a nature show. Through her search, Phyllis uncovers a mysterious plot surrounding the upcoming international climate summit in Paris. As the days count down to the summit, Phyllis must decipher the plan and possibly stop it in time. With arresting projected film and video and a wide-ranging score of songs by Michael Friedman, THE GREAT IMMENSITY is a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: how can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the acting company of The Civilians leave New York City to travel to Long Lake, a small town in the Adirondacks. Their purpose is to uncover the truth behind rumors regarding the film Fly Away Home, starring a young Anna Paquin, and a lost flock of carelessly imprinted geese, abandoned by the film and left to starve in the northern winter. As the company navigates its way through Long Lake, it weaves together encounters with idiosyncratic locals, the mounting mystery of just what happened to these poor geese, and the occasional touchdown on the tremendous loss and shock of the 9/11 attacks. As the mystery finally reveals itself, the premise of the show falls apart, but what remains is in fact what the show if really about--disorientation, misplaced empathy and coming home. Created with Anne Washburn (additional text), Michael Friedman (songs), Damian Baldet, Aysan Celik, Maria Dizzia, Aimée Guillot, Anne Kauffman, Christina Kirk, Caitlin Miller, Jennifer R. Morris, Charlie Schroeder, Brian Sgambati, and Colleen Werthmann.