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The Riot Group

The Riot Group
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Friday, September 14, 7:30 pm
Saturday, September 15, 7:30 pm

Post-show discussions with Adriano Shaplin and company September 9 & 14.

The William J. Cooper Foundation and the Department of Theatre present the world premiere of Hearts of Man, the newest performance by American playwright/actor/director Adriano Shaplin and his company The Riot Group on Sunday, September 9 at 7:30 pm in the Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC. Hearts of Man is co-presented by the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and co-commissioned by the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont. In addition, The Riot Group will perform the Philadelphia premiere of Pugilist Specialist, the company's most acclaimed work, on Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15 at 7:30 pm in the Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC. A post-show discussion with Adriano Shaplin and members of The Riot Group will follow the performances on September 9th and 14th. All performances are free and open to the public without reservations.

Adriano Shaplin (b. 1979) is the co-founder and guiding spirit of The Riot Group, which was established while he and his collaborators were still students at Sarah Lawrence University. Over the years, The Riot Group has regularly performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where they have won a rare series of five Fringe First Awards, the only American company to do so in the history of the festival. As a result, The Riot Group has been invited to perform repeatedly in London and on extensive national tours of the U.K. and Ireland.

Shaplin has become the most discussed American playwright of his generation in British theater. His plays have been consistently published in Britain after their first performances there. His work has also enjoyed critical success in New York and on national tours in the U.S., though with less exposure and promotion to date than in the U.K. In 2006, he was invited to become the first international playwright-in-residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon, an invitation which includes a commission of a new play for the RSC. His unique dramaturgical voice and emphasis on complex poetic language is at the center of this critical acclaim. He cites Shakespeare, Pinter, Mamet, rap music and hip hop as inspirations for his work. Ben Brantley of The New York Times aptly described his writing as "techno-baroque." His plays are often riffs on Shakespearean characters and plots: The Riot Group's award-winning production of Victory in the Dirt Palace was quickly grasped by critics as a contemporary satirical retelling of King Lear. The language of Hearts of Man will be in a contemporary version of blank verse-an experiment growing out of Shaplin's ongoing work as a production dramaturg on Shakespeare's history plays at the RSC in collaboration with the company's artistic director Michael Boyd. Shaplin's work is always concerned in its content with flashpoints in contemporary culture and politics and does so through a sophisticated theatrical and theoretical lens.

Hearts of Man is the company's reflection on the technological, legal, and popular-cultural issues raised by the use of the internet by pedophiles and is freely inspired by the history of the Megan's Law controversy in New Jersey. Pugilist Specialist is set in the near future in the midst of an American invasion of an unnamed Middle Eastern country and is a Brechtian portrait of four members in the U.S. military involved with a secret tactical mission to capture the country's dictator. Shaplin serves as director of both productions, and plays one of the roles in Pugilist Specialist.

Shaplin initially established a tie with the Department of Theater at Swarthmore College through his collaboration with the Pig Iron Theater Company on their 2004 production of Hell Meets Henry Halfway, which was created and first performed on campus with the support of the Swarthmore Project in Theater. Shaplin's script for Hell Meets Henry Halfway was his first for a company other than The Riot Group. The production has gone on to critically-acclaimed national and international tours that have included a three-week run in New York City that resulted in a Special Citation for the production at the 2005 OBIE Awards. Shaplin also shared a Barrymore Award for the production in Philadelphia in 2005. In spring 2006, he taught a playwriting workshop class in the Department of Theater.

The company will offer a two day workshop while on campus, September 12 & 13 from 4:10-6:40pm in Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC. Students may sign up in the Theater Department office (Room 13, LPAC).

For more information contact Liza Clark at (610)328-8260 or email

Location: Pearson-Hall Theatre
Dates: September 9, 2007 - September 15, 2007
Times: HEARTS OF MAN Sunday, September 9, 7:30 pm