Theater Artist

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Workshop with the Builders Association

In the middle of all the other things happening this summer, I'll be in New York next week to assistant direct a workshop with the Builders Association.  We'll be working on their upcoming Strange Window, a take on Henry James's classic The Turn of the Screw, which will premiere at BAM this fall.

 photo by James Gibbs

photo by James Gibbs

Summer 2018: full to the brim! To get a taste of what I've been up to at the Institute for Women's Policy Research, check out its blog, FemChat, which features a bunch of recent posts written by me (some with my name attached, some without)!

Rachel Karp
Barn Arts Residency

My summer is really shaping up! In addition to my internship at the Institute for Women's Policy Research, this summer I will be a Hamilton Resident at Barn Arts in Maine. I'll spend 10 days there developing It's in the Bag along with a host of other exciting artists and projects. Read all about Barn Arts' 2018 Season here!

I'm particularly thrilled about going to Maine because one of the more fascinating women to have run for president, Margaret Chase Smith, was from Maine. She was a Representative and Senator for Maine for almost 40 years. There's a lovely Margaret Chase Smith Library nearby that I hope to be able to visit.

Here's to summer, Maine, and Margaret Chase Smith!

Rachel Karp
Institute for Women's Policy Research

This summer, I'll be spending the bulk of my time interning at the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, DC! As my work engages policy, I've been wanting to get directly involved in policy and particularly women's policy and the research that goes into making it. I'll have the perfect chance to do that at IWPR. I'm going to DC as part of the Friedman Internship Program offered by Carnegie Mellon's Office of Government Relations, which funds policy-based internships in DC and provides extra policy-oriented programming throughout the summer. I'm so excited to dive into a new world--and to get to know DC's theater scene while I'm there! 

Rachel Karp
Devising Performance with Humans and Robots

Early this semester I met Michal Luria, a Ph.D. candidate at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon. With her I've gotten back into the robotics research I spent much of 2015 and 2016 doing through my residency at Mabou Mines (see: Let's Make A Lil' Human That Looks Like You And Me). But now, because of Michal and the robotics powerhouse that is Carnegie Mellon, I get to do the research WITH ROBOTS! I'm thrilled to be continuing and advancing my investigations into our robotics-filled future--and what it might mean for us humans, too.

We'll be getting down to devising later this month; stay tuned for updates from that. In the meantime, please enjoy the below very short video of a "Roomba Knife Fight."

Rachel Karp
Community Engagement Fellowship

I am thrilled to share that I was accepted into Organizing for Action's Community Engagement Fellowship Program for Spring 2018! In OFA's own words, the program's purpose is to "train the next generation of progressive change-makers."

As I continue to seek to make change through progressive art, I'm increasingly seeking to make change through direct advocacy, too. OFA'S Fellowship gives me a perfect opportunity to do that. 

Read more about the Fellowship here!

Rachel Karp
Next Up: "It's in the Bag"

Carnegie Mellon announced its 2018-19 season last week, and so I can announce that next year I will be creating and directing "It's in the Bag," which looks at the many women who have run for President of the United States throughout the country's history. Did you know that the very first woman ran all the way back in 1872? Her name was Victoria Woodhull, and she was a treasure. Start getting inside my head by reading up on her here.

 Of course, Woodhull faced the kind of prejudice that all female presidential candidates have faced; here she is depicted as Mrs. Satan.

Of course, Woodhull faced the kind of prejudice that all female presidential candidates have faced; here she is depicted as Mrs. Satan.

Rachel Karp
Mixed Reality Performance

As a John Wells MFA Directing Fellow at Carnegie Mellon, I am part of The Contemporary Performance Think Tank, which researches specific topics on contemporary performance each year. This past year, I researched "mixed reality performance." As defined by Steve Benford and Gabriella Giannachi:

mixed reality performances deliberately adopt hybrid forms that combine the real and virtual in multiple ways and through this, encourage multiple and shifting viewpoints

My research was just published in full on Contemporary Performance. Read the full write-up here to learn more about mixed reality performance and some of its practitioners, including Blast Theory, Rimini Protokoll, The Builders Association, CREW, Yehuda Duenyas, and more.

  Situation Rooms  by Rimini Protokoll

Situation Rooms by Rimini Protokoll

Rachel Karp
"How to Put On a Sock" success!

How to Put On a Sock had an exceptionally successful run! With sold-out, engaged, and thoroughly moved audiences, the interactive sex ed show rocked its performances at CMU. Thanks to the many, many extraordinarily talented people who helped make it happen, including actors Harry Thornton, Roma Scarano, and Jonathan Eric Norwood; dramaturg Emma McIntosh; and designers Yijun Yang, Yujia Zhang, Alex Fasciolo, Aaron Landgraf, Giada Sun, Joyce Wang, and SooA Kim.

Read more about the show in an interview I did for CMU's website, available here.

How to Put On a Sock.jpg

Additional pictures coming soon!

Rachel Karp
"How to Put On a Sock" opens tonight!

How to Put On a Sock, my investigation into sex ed and abortion policy and legislation across the United States, opens tonight! 

How to Put On a Sock.jpg

Those in Pittsburgh, make sure to come out! Those in other places, stay tuned for pictures and more! 

Rachel Karp
"Stories Women Tell"

To keep on the video train, I'll share one of the most powerful videos I've found in my research: the abortion documentary "Stories Women Tell," which is available through HBO.

According to HBO's summary: "Awarding-winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on the contentious issue with a focus not on the [abortion] debate, but rather on the women themselves – those struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on both sides of the issue hoping to sway decisions and lives."

Hearing from all sides made for an illuminating and heart-rending 90 minutes.

Check out the trailer below.

And check out the companion website here.

Rachel Karp
How to Put On a Sock: Spotlight on Mississippi

If you're wondering where my show, How to Put On a Sock, got its title, wonder no longer. It comes from a very well-meaning YouTube video, below, in which a sex educator in Mississippi demonstrated how to put on a sock because--under Mississippi law--he was not allowed to teach about how to put on a condom. 

To learn more about sex education in Mississippi, check out this article from the Los Angeles Times. It's one of the first articles I found when I started researching sex education, and I haven't been able to look at a Peppermint Pattie the same way since.

TUNICA, Miss. — Marie Barnard was delighted when, after decades of silence on the topic, Mississippi passed a law requiring school districts to teach sex education. But the lesson involving the Peppermint Pattie wasn’t what she had in mind for her sons.
— "Sex education stumbles in Mississippi," Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times
CMU Semester 2

My second year of grad school starts tomorrow! The summer was wonderful, with devising a new play, directing a new play, and seeing tons of new plays across New York. Now I'm back in Pittsburgh and ready to dive in to everything that the coming semester holds.

Chief among that is the show I'm creating and directing called How to Put On a Sock, which looks at sex education and abortion policy across the United States today. It's inspired by Frank Wedekind's classic play Spring Awakening and actual sex ed curricula and abortion legislation. It'll be my biggest project to date, by far.

I've been doing endless research to create the show, and I'll share some of it here throughout the semester.

To start, here's a recent article from the New York Times about abstinence-until-marriage education--and how problematic it is.

Enjoy (as much as possible)! And check out How to Put On a Sock at CMU November 1-3.

#liberated nominated for NY IT Awards!

#liberated, which I co-created and -directed for its premiere at IRT Theater in June 2016, has been nominated for TWO New York Innovative Theatre Awards!

Frank Oliva was nominated for Outstanding Set Design.
Scot Gianelli was nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design.

Congratulations to Frank and Scot for their incredibly well-deserved nominations!

Read the full list of nominees here.

New Summer, New Website

Hello and welcome to my new website! The old one was, well, old, and it couldn't do lots of things that websites tend to do these days. This new one can do it all and makes it easy to update on all things happening in Rachel Karp Directing Land. And so--here's update #1!

After finishing my first year of graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University, where I directed two shows (Oil and Watercolor by Seanan Palmero and Giant Slalom by Jess Honovich), assistant directed one (Opacity by Big Art Group), and learned more than my head can honestly hold, I am back in New York for the summer to work on a number of projects:
- directing Motherland by Cecilia Corrigan, presented at The Brick Theater through its This Is Not Normal: an Arts & Activism Festival, June 24th through July 2nd. We got a great mention in The New York Times' write-up of summer festivals--get tickets here and check out some activist art!
- devising and directing a new piece with Ben Hoover through theater company The Instigators, going up June 24th and 25th at Access Theater
- workshopping my big grad school second-year project, How to Put On a Sock
and more!

Check back here for update #2--and beyond--coming soon!

  Motherland  by Cecilia Corrigan

Motherland by Cecilia Corrigan