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Lightning Rod Special


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. Our work engages a highly collaborative, actor-driven approach; LRS creations are finely crafted extensions of the raw and thunderous discoveries born from spontaneous inspiration.

Like scientists, we start each project with a hypothesis and, following artistic investigations, find our way to completed pieces of theatre that twist the ordinary into the alien, provoke debate, and stir what lies dormant in the corners of an audience’s mind. With big hearts, we tackle lightning rod topics in ways that scramble theatrical conventions and intellectual assumptions.

Exploding complex questions with precision and play, Lightning Rod Special makes live performance from the ground up.


Since 2012, we have made six full-length works, touring our work to 11 US cities and internationally. Our work has received a Bonaly Award and three Lucille Lortel nominations (including Best Play); UNDERGROUND RAILROAD GAME won the 2017 OBIE for Best New American Theater Work and was listed among the New York Times’ 25 best plays of the last 25 years.

LRS projects include: Hackles (‘12 Philadelphia Fringe) a teen girl’s journey to the underworld and back, Go Long Big Softie (‘13 Philadelphia Fringe) a wild look at the mythopoetic men’s movement, Seeing the Beast (‘14 Colgate University) a fairytale play about deer overpopulation, Underground Railroad Game (‘15 FringeArts, ‘16 Ars Nova Theater) a time traveling fever dream about American race relations, Let the Dog See the Rabbit (‘15 The Rotunda Sanctuary) a performance looking at looking at animals, and Sans Everything (‘16 AS220, ‘16 Charlestown Working Theater, ‘17 FringeArts) a science fiction thriller where future intelligent life forms become dangerously obsessed with Shakespeare made in collaboration with Strange Attractor Theatre Company.

LRS has taught original performance creation at NYU, Swarthmore College, The Philadelphia School, Arthur P. Schalick High School, Haverford College, Roger Williams University, Colgate University, University of Pennsylvania, and Radford University. LRS’s work has been supported by residencies and grants from Wyncote Foundation, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Network of Ensemble Theaters, White Pines Productions, North American Cultural Lab, FringeArts, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Tuttleman Family Foundation. LRS company members have received numerous awards and recognitions for their work as individual artists including an Obie Award for Best New American Theatre Work, Fox Foundation Fellowship, Tuttle Creative Residency, FringeArts Fellowship, Lucille Lortel nomination, Barrymore nomination, Headlong Teaching Fellowship, BRAT Artist Residency, Jumpstart Artist Awards, and Independence Foundation Fellowship.

Lightning Rod Special (LRS) is a Philadelphia-based devising ensemble, made up of co-directors Mason Rosenthal, Scott Sheppard, Alice Yorke, and company members Alex Bechtel, Oona Curley, Katie Gould, Rebecca Kanach, and Jenn Kidwell.


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