Phantom Limb Company (PLC), New York City-based, is known for its work with marionette-puppetry and focus on collaborative, multi-media theatrical production and design. Co-founded in 2007 by artist, director and set designer Jessica Grindstaff and composer and puppet maker Erik Sanko, Phantom Limb has been lauded for its unconventional approach to this venerable format with a particular focus on combining the body, dance and puppetry. Phantom Limb includes a large rotating cast of friends, collaborators, artists, dancers and puppeteers.
They have collaborated with Tony Taccone, Lemony Snicket, Danny Elfman, Jim Jarmusch, The Kronos Quartet, GavinFriday, Ryan Heffington, Jeffery Zeigler, Sophie Hunter among other luminaries.
For the past decade, PLC has been developing a trilogy that grapples with human relationship to nature and climate change through several different lenses. The first, 69˚S. opened in 2011 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and toured extensively. The second, set to premiere this fall is entitled Memory Rings and the final piece, Falling Out is a cross cultural collaboration with Japan and is in development now.
Phantom Limb has an active consulting, teaching and fabricating component that compliments their live theatre work.
Phantom Limb has received generous support and grants from the Jim Henson Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the National Science Foundation Artist and Writers Program, The New York State Composer’s Grant, the MAP Fund, Edith Luytens and Norman Bel Geddes Design Enhancement Fund, New Music USA, and the Japan Foundation as well as being Hermitage Artist Residency Fellows, Robert Rauschenberg Residency Fellows and Recipients of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award.
ARTISTS & CLIMATE CHANGE FEATURE INTERVIEW
COMPANY AND COLLABORATORS
Founder, Director & Set Designer
Jessica Grindstaff is a New York City-based artist who has been known as a creator of haunting, meticulously constructed music box dioramas and paintings in wax and chalkboard as well as a jewelry line/ on-going performance piece of prize ribbons and medals. Within the context of Phantom Limb company she is a creative director that consistently takes a fine art approach to set design with a strident commitment to making collaborative theatrical work. Jessica has collaborated with such diverse artists as: Mark Z. Danielewski, Ulrike Quade, the Kronos Quartet, Ping Chong, and Geoff Sobelle. In 2010 Jessica production designed Lemony Snicket’s “The Composer is Dead” at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and began an early collaboration on an opera about Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla, directed by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. “69˚S.”, directed by Sophie Hunter brought Jessica to a teaching residency in Melbourne Australia, a research residency with original expedition journals at Dartmouth College, residencies at Brooklyn Academy of Music, MASS MoCA, EMPAC, the Grand Theatre in the Netherlands and most dramatically to the continent of Antarctica itself.
In 2014/15 Jessica was the set and costume designer for a Danish production of Peer Gynt, directed by Rolf Heim and produced by Republique Theatre in Copenhagen.
Her most recent project and directorial debut, "Memory Rings" had its world premiere at OZ Arts Nashville followed by subsequent performances at CAP UCLA, both to sold out audiences and critical acclaim. "Memory Rings" will have its NYC premiere at Brooklyn Academy of Music Nov 17-21 2016. It is about the world’s oldest living tree.
"69˚S." and "Memory Rings" were the first two pieces in a trilogy bound by environmental crisis. The third piece in development now is called "Falling Out" and focuses on Fukushima, Butoh, water and a romantic breakup. Phantom Limb is collaborating with Dai Matsuoka of Sankai Juku on this work set to premiere in 2017/18.
Jessica is co-founder and artistic director of Phantom Limb and continues to have a diverse and creative engagement with interior set design, consulting, immersive marketing, installation and fabrication for commercial clients such as Dedon, General Assembly, Tiffany & Co, Civic Entertainment Group and Eileen Fisher.
Founder, Puppet Designer and Composer
Erik Sanko is best known as a fixture of the NYC downtown music scene, having recorded and toured with John Cale, Yoko Ono, Gavin Friday, Jim Carroll, James Chance and the Contortions among others as well as being a 16-year veteran of The Lounge Lizards and his own band, Skeleton Key. In 2006, his first complete puppet play, The Fortune Teller, debuted at HERE Arts Center in New York City. The Kronos Quartet commissioned Erik to create “Dear Mme.,” an original music composition and marionette play for the 25th Anniversary of the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Erik composed and performed music for Ulrike Quade's The Wall and in 2007 Erik formed Phantom Limb with Jessica Grindstaff, under which all of their subsequent projects have been created, with Erik serving as composer and puppet designer/builder. With Phantom Limb he scored and designed marionettes for Ping Chong’s “The Devil You Know” and designed marionettes for the Lemony Snicket production “The Composer is Dead” at The Berkeley Repertory Theater in Dec. 2010. In 2011 Phantom Limb presented “69˚ S.” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in collaboration with The Kronos Quartet“69˚S.” was the first piece in a trilogy revolving around issues of climate change. In 2014 Phantom Limb designed “Peer Gynt” in collaboration with Republique in Copenhagen, with Erik serving as puppet designer and costume co-designer. In 2015 Phantom Limb presented ‘Memory Rings”, the second environmentally centered piece about the world’s oldest living tree. “Memory Rings will be coming to The Brooklyn Academy of music in November 2016. Jessica and Erik have just begun preliminary studies for the third installation in the trilogy called “Falling Out”. This piece focuses on humanity’s relationship to water by way of a faltering love affair and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Erik released his second solo record in 15 years appropriately titled “Puppet Boy”. Since 2014 Erik has taught puppetry and performance at The Rhode Island School of Design and he presently developing a course based on theories of biomimicry as applied to puppetry. He holds a B.F.A. from Cooper Union and has been a closet puppet maker since childhood.
JANICE PARAN (Dramaturg)
Janice is a New Jersey-based dramaturg and a Senior Program Associate for the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, which provides creative support for the development of new work for the stage. Prior to joining Sundance, she spent 14 seasons as the Director of Play Development at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ. She has worked closely with numerous writers and artists, including Annie Baker, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Emily Mann, Dael Orlandersmith, Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson, Polly Pen, Stephen Wadsworth, Tracey Scott Wilson and Doug Wright. She is the recipient of a Bly Creative Capacity Fellowship for her work on Memory Rings. Recent projects include The Figaro Plays at McCarter Theatre and Bel Canto at Lyric Opera of Chicago. She is a Civilians Associate Artist, an artistic advisor to the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Weston, Vermont, and she was recently named to the roster of Fulbright specialists. She has taught at Princeton University, Drew University and NYU, and she holds M.F.A. degrees from Catholic University and the Yale School of Drama.
DARRON WEST (Sound Designer)
Darron West is a TONY and OBIE award winning sound designer whose work for theater and dance has been heard in over 500 productions Internationally, in numerous regional theaters across the U.S. and in New York both On and Off Broadway. His additional accolades for sound design include the Connecticut Theater Critics Circle Award, the Lucilla Lortel and the AUDELCO. He is a two time Henry Hewes Design Award winner and a proud recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Award Statue.
KEITH SKRETCH (Video Designer)
is an award-winning video designer with a knack for collaborative development and a yen for conceptual rigor. He’s worked with performing artists including Mallory Catlett, Big Dance Theater, Palissimo, LA Contemporary Dance Company, Noveller, Jay Scheib, Travis Preston, Zoe Moore, Son of Semele Ensemble, Tal Yarden, and Daniel Fish, and for such institutions as Center Theatre Group, La Jolla Playhouse, Automata LA, The Old Globe, Yale Rep, Boston Court, Monkey Town LA, Royal & Derngate, and the CalArts Center for New Performance. He recently designed large-scale multichannel visuals and interactives for the public art installation “Union Station 360” with The Hettema Group, and crafted a monitor and VHS-based installation and rehearsal methodology for Grand Lady Dance House’s “House Music” residency at The Mistake Room in downtown Los Angeles. He’s been a recurring collaborator of WNYC’s Radiolab and art funk collective Mothership LA. Since 2014 he’s served as resident video designer to the Live Arts Exchange/LAX festival. Skretch’s video installations have been exhibited in New York and Los Angeles, and his experimental short Waves of Grain, a strata-cut animation created by planing through a block of lumber and photographing it after each pass, screened at festivals internationally before going viral online, being featured on sites including Huffington Post, Creators Project, Gizmodo, and Colossal. Skretch holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MFA from CalArts, where he was an inaugural graduate from the School of Theater’s Video for Performance specialization. He’s been nominated for LA Weekly, Craig Noel, and Stage Raw design awards, and his work on the Obie-winning This Was The End (Chocolate Factory Theater) earned a 2014 Bessie Award and Henry Hewes Design Award. He is based in Los Angeles.
MARA ISAACS (Producer)
Mara Isaacs is a creative producer and founder of Octopus Theatricals, a theatrical producing and consulting company dedicated to fostering an expansive range of compelling theatrical works for local, national and international audiences. She has been collaborating with Phantom Limb since 2013. Current projects include Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell, directed by Rachel Chavkin (NYTW 2016); Songs of Lear by Poland’s legendary Song of the Goat Theatre (US Tour September 2016); Theatre For One, the mobile performance unit created by designer Christine Jones featuring original plays performed by one actor for one audience member at a time; and An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare. Broadway: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Tony Award best play), Translations, Anna in the Tropics, Electra; off-Broadway: Fiasco Theater’s Into The Woods, The Brother/Sister Plays, Crowns, The Laramie Project; and over 100 productions at theatres across the US and internationally. She also serves as a consultant and advisor to The Jerome Robbins Foundation, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Fiasco Theater, Tectonic Theatre Project and The Civilians. Mara was Producing Director at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ (1995-2013) and previously produced new play development programs and productions for Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (1990-1995). Mara serves as a visiting faculty member for the CalArts MFA Producing program and for Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. She serves on the board of the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund; Tofte Lake Center in Ely, MN; and was a founding board member and remains an advisor to Almasi Arts Alliance in Harare, Zimbabwe.
BRIAN SCOTT (Lighting Designer)
Brian Scott, a Lighting and Scenic Designer based in New York City, is resident designer for Austin TX based Rude Mechanicals, where he designed Stop Hitting Yourself at Lincoln Center, Now Now Oh Now, Method Gun, I’ve Never Been So Happy, How Late It Was How Late, Lipstick Traces, Requium for Tesla, and Matchplay. He created lighting for Tears become…Streams become, Oktophonie, and with Ann Hamilton The Event Of A Thread and Theatre is a Blank Page. He designed lighting for Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet’s Landfall. As a SITI Company member he designed lighting for Steel Hammer with Bang on a Can All Stars, The Persians and Trojan Women with the Getty Villa, American Document with the Martha Graham company, , Cafe Variations, Under Construction, WhoDoYouThinkYouAre, Hotel Cassioepia,Death and the Ploughman, bobrauschenbergamerica(Henry Hewes Design Award 2004), Radio MacBeth and War of the Worlds Radio Play.
SIERRA URICH (Documentation)
Sierra Urich is a Brooklyn based art director for narrative and commercial film. She is also a filmmaker and artist. More of her work can be seen at sierraurich.com. Sierra grew up in small town Vermont, where she learned her deep appreciation for the natural world. Before moving to New York, she received her BFA in Illustration and Film from the Rhode Island School of Design, which fostered her passion for interdisciplinary work. Sierra first started collaborating with Phantom Limb in 2012. Since then she's documented the creation of Memory Rings at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, OZ Arts Nashville, and the team's expedition through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest to find the world's oldest living tree.
RANDI RIVERA (Stage Manager)
Randi Rivera is a native New Yorker. She holds a BA in Theater from Hamilton College, studied Technical Theater at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and Production Management at Universidad San Pablo (CEU) in Madrid, Spain. Randi is the Stage Manager & Lighting Director for Half Straddle theater company, traveling both internationally and domestically with their work since 2012. She proudly works with many performing arts organizations both in NYC and on the road - favorites include Keigwin + Company, Faye Driscoll Group, Doug Elkins Choreography Etc, and Sidra Bell Dance NY. Randi is thrilled to be on the Phantom Limb team. All of her work is for her family.
TAKEMI KITAMURA (Performer)
TaKemi Kitamura is a native of Osaka, Japan. She is a dancer, puppeteer, actor, Japanese sword fighter. Her work has been presented at numerous venues in New York. Her latest performance credits include The Oldest Boy(puppeteer/dancer) by Lincoln Center Theater, and The Indian Queen (dancer), opera directed by Peter Sellars, Shank's Mare (puppeteer) by Tom Lee and Koryu Nishikawa V. She has worked with numerous dance and theater companies, such as Sondra Loring, Nami Yamamoto, Sally Silvers, Christopher Williams, The BodyCartography Project, Crossing Jamaica Avenue, Ripe Time to name a few. TaKemi holds a BA in Dance-Education from Hunter College, where she received a Choreographic Award from the Dance Program.
EMERI FETZER (Performer)
Emeri Fetzer is a Utah native turned New York based performer and writer. Emeri graduated magna cum laude with BA’s in Dance Choreography and English from Goucher College in Baltimore. While studying abroad at Accademia dell’Arte in Italy, Emeri cultivated a passion for narrative performance that led to 2 years of multiple roles in Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More NYC. While in New York, she has also performed in full-evening original work produced by GreenSpace in LIC and at WestFest at WestBeth, and in collaborative solos with choreographer Grace Courvoisier at CPR and as part of the CRAWL Series. As Managing Editor for DancePulp.com in collaboration with Drew Jacoby, Emeri stayed connected to the dance community through an editorial perspective, interviewing many artists on process and preference. Emeri joined Phantom Limb Company with Memory Rings and continues this valuable work in Falling Out.
CARLTON CYRUS WARD (Performer)
Carlton Cyrus Ward is a dancer, circus performer and actor from the woods of northern Vermont. He came to NYC to study theater at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Carlton has recently been very busy. He has worked with Third Rail Projects onLearning Curve, Sweet & Lucky, The Grand Paradise, and Then She Fell. He has also works with Phantom Limb Company. He played Shackleton in 69 S and is performing in their newest work, Memory Rings. He has also worked with Becky Radway Dance Projects, The Artigiani Troupe, and Circus Amok. He recently created and performed his first one-man show,Bomont: A Clown Story, a solo version of Footloose. Carlton, along with Becky Radway and Joel Marsh Garland, made a dance film, 219 Gates. You should look it up on youtube.
ROWAN MAGEE (Performer)
Rowan Magee is a Brooklyn based performer, director, builder and educator of theater and puppetry. He has been performing and exploring with Phantom Limb since 2011. He recently debuted Hagoromo with Wendy Whelan at BAM, andDemolishing Everything with Amazing Speed by Dan Hurlin, at the Fisher Center at Bard College. Rowan has toured nationally and internationally with Phantom Limb's 69ºS and with Robin Frohardt's The Pigeoning. He has performed in multiple workshops at the Puppet Lab festival at St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, where he designed his own original puppet work, No 1 Chinese, highlighting undocumented Fujianese families running Chinese restaurants in NYC. As a director and collaborator, Rowan uses choreographic puppetry including bunraku and marionette styles to make ensemble adaptations. Rowan holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, is a student at Bo Law Kung Fu, and hails from Troy, NY. email@example.com
AARON MATTOCKS (Former Associate Director, Performer)
Aaron Mattocks, “one of the finest young actor-dancers in New York” (New York Times), is a Pennsylvania native, Sarah Lawrence College alumnus, and two time New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award nominee for Outstanding Performer (2016, 2013). He has worked with Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar/Big Dance Theater since 2009, appearing inGoats (OtherShore/Ringling Museum), Supernatural Wife (BAM Next Wave 2011), Comme Toujours Here I Stand (2012 NYLA revival), Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov (Hartford Stage/national tour), Alan Smithee...Triple Feature (BAM Next Wave 2014), and Short Form (The Kitchen/national tour); and with Phantom Limb Company since 2011, in 69°S. (BAM Next Wave 2011/national tour), and Memory Rings (world premiere, OZ Arts Nashville 2015/BAM Next Wave 2016). He has also created roles in premieres by Ursula Eagly, Doug Elkins, David Gordon, John Heginbotham, Jodi Melnick, Stephen Petronio, Steven Reker, Christopher Williams, and Kathy Westwater. He has appeared as a guest artist with Yoshiko Chuma, Faye Driscoll, John Kelly, Dean Moss, David Parker, Karen Sherman, and the Bessie Award winning production Then She Fell, and has performed in projects by 600 HIGHWAYMEN, Joanna Furnans, Shaun Irons/Lauren Petty, Courtney Krantz, Abigail Levine, and Amanda Villalobos. He was the associate choreographer for Jonathan Demme’s feature film Ricki and the Flash, choreographed by Annie-B Parson and starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Audra McDonald (TriStar, summer 2015), and assisted Ms. Parson on a new solo for ballerina Wendy Whelan which premiered at the Royal Opera House/London in 2015. He produced projects for choreographers Beth Gill and Pam Tanowitz, and was formerly executive director of Big Dance Theater. Aaron is currently the Director of Programming at the Joyce Theater.
GIA WOLFF (Design Architect)
Gia Wolff (Design Architect) is an architectural designer who is interested in architecture that embodies a reciprocal relationship between the user and the built environment and questions the performative aspects of the discipline. In 2013, Wolff was winner of the Wheelwright Prize (Harvard GSD) for her project,Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats. She is presently an Adjunct Assistant professor at the Pratt Institute, School of Architecture, New York and an Assistant Professor at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union, New York. Her work has been featured in recent exhibitions including Canopy, an installation in the Tate Modern's turbine hall for the show Up Hill Down Hall: An indoor carnival (London, England, 2014); Cataviary in collaboration with Freecell Architecture (Real Art Ways, Hartford, Connecticut, 2014, & 356 Mission, Los Angeles, California, 2015), Tubes Over Tubes Under Tubes, in collaboration with Freecell Architecture (White Columns Gallery, New York, 2013), Jambalaya (Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, 2013), and What to Maintain (Peter Fingesten Gallery, Pace University, New York, 2014). Wolff is also a collaborator with the Phantom Limb Company on marionette set designs including The Devil You Know (La Mama Experimental Theater, New York, 2010), The Composer Is Dead (Berkeley Repertory Theater, Berkeley, 2010), and 69° South (BAM Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn, 2011).
TOBY BILLOWITZ (Performer)
Over the last 20 years, Toby Billowitz has danced with too many choreographers and companies to list comprehensively, but they include Jordan Fuchs, Artichoke Dance, Freefall, Jill Sigman/thinkdance, and Ben Munisteri. He has puppeteered at drag shows, NYC Halloween parades, and on Broadway in the National Theatre's production of War Horse at Lincoln Center. In addition to dance, he has taught gymnastics and trampoline to children and adults, social dance to teens, movement to senior citizens, and puppetry to children in an area of the Dominican Republic so rural neither the kids nor teachers were familiar with the Spanish word for puppet or the concept. He also works as a personal trainer.
DANIEL SELON (Performer)
Daniel Selon is a Los Angeles based Costume Designer and occasional puppeteer. His costume design and creature fabrication work for commercials, television and film is featured internationally. See more at danielselon.com Originally hailing from the Midwest, he discovered the joys of performance and puppetry at a young age while at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theater and Music from Occidental College where he fell in love with craft and design.
CORPS LIMINIS (Production Management)
Recent projects include: Broadway Asia’s China Goes Pop (Chinese Tour), Tony Oursler’s Imponderable (MoMA), Lisa Dwan’s Beckett Trilogy (2016 US Tour), Anri Sala’s Ravel Ravel (The New Museum), Sankai Juku’s Umusuna (2015 US Tour), Live Ideas 2015 Festival curated by Laurie Anderson (New York Live Arts, Michel Gondry’s Hyperballad Wall (part the Björk retrospective at MoMA), Bryce Dessner’s Black Mountain Songs (Barbican), Isaac Julien’s 10,000 Waves (MoMA), Robert Wilson’s Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter (Montclair State University), and Karen O’s Stop The Virgens (Sydney Opera House).