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Sibyl Kempson’s plays have been presented in NYC at New York Live Arts, Mass Live Arts, The Chocolate Factory, Dixon Place, Soho Rep, Performance Space 122, Little Theater, Brick Theater, the Fusebox Festival in Austin, TX, the Great Plains Theater Conference in Omaha, the Walker Arts Center and Red Eye Theater in Minneapolis, and Theater Bonn in Germany. Current and recent collaborators include Elevator Repair Service (Fondly, Collette Richland), Big Dance Theater (Ich, Kurbisgeist), David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group (Restless Eye and the upcoming I Understand Everything Better), Rude Mechs & Salvage Vanguard Theater (From The Pig Pile: The Requisite Gesture(s) of Narrow Approach), Abrons Arts Center (Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag), and New York Theatre Workshop with Sarah Benson (Kyckling and Screaming). She is recipient of the 2013 McKnight National Residency and Commission, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Commission, a New Dramatists/Full Stage USA commission, and a National Presenters Network Creation Fund Award; she is a 2010 MacDowell Colony Fellow and a member of New Dramatists, an NYTW Usual Suspect, and holds an MFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College, where she studied under the instigation of Mac Wellman. She has taught playwriting as an adjunct lecturer and a guest artist at Brooklyn College, The New School, Bloomfield College, Duke University, and Sarah Lawrence College. Her plays are published by 53rd State Press, PAJ, and PLAY: A Journal of Plays.

“… one of the most radical, transgressive, and hilarious playwright/performers out there. She has a singular theatrical imagination, a searing stage presence, a ferocious intellect…” – BOMB Magazine

“… a playwright of terrifying gifts … frighteningly in command of devastating linguistic weapons” – Time Out New York

PLAYS

FONDLY, COLLETTE RICHLAND
When Mr. and Mrs. "Fritz" Fitzhubert are summoned through a wee little secret door in their living room, they enter into a phantasmagorical world of Alpen hotels, mysterious employees, souvenir shopping, and perilous hikes, that will leave their lives forever altered.
World premiere at New York Theatre Workshop (September 2015).

"A witty, fastidiously wrought and thoroughly disorienting visual and aural universe in which the solid and the known keep melting at the edges." - New York Times Critics' Pick

“(4 out of 5 stars) Thickly encrypted and swaddled in mystery, Fondly defies description and cozy comprehension." - Time Out New York

LET US NOW PRAISE SUSAN SONTAG
An irrational musical contemplation of the ethical pitfalls in the collision of art and journalism. This is a story of an extended family of sharecroppers mired in desperate poverty, who are visited, interviewed, and photographed by two live-in reporters from the “big city.” With help from the journals of Symbolist painter Odilon Redon, The NEW American Machinists Handbook, and ancient Assyrian mythological seals from the JP Morgan collection, and the strict alchemical procedure of the Broadway musical.
Premiered at Abrons Arts Center (April 2015). 

THE SECURELY CONFERRED, VOUCHSAFED KEEPSAKES OF MAERY S.
(2F, 3M)
A false contemplation of Mary Shelley, a mix-up of definitions of the term "Gothic," a conglomeration of time periods and geographies. The Mary we always suspected but which history denied ends up on the open American road, circa 1987, having kidnapped and been kidnapped by a terrible monster of her own imagination. Sightings are reported along the interstate in many states, eyewitness accounts that share a language, whilst Maery and the Monster learn the language of love for the scarcely-human.

FROM THE PIG PILE: THE REQUISITE GESTURE(S) OF NARROW APPROACH
For three {hundred thousand} years now, we of the Pig Pile have squirmed and squealed and de-structed our way across a vast landscape of associative histories. At times, under the influence of certain alignments, they morph together into a narrative structure, and at others elude us completely. We continue to uproot and overturn, faithful to an underlying order beneath our normal reality we cannot see or know until we lay it bare. There is no panacea for feral swine work. The closer we get to the complicated, complicated porcine truth of what it means to be human, the more our numbers have dwindled, and we are now on the brink of extinction. Only you can help us to piece these pieces together, before it’s too late. Note: If you have any wooden items that you wish to be preserved for all eternity, you may please to bring them with you to the occasion.
Premiered at Salvage Vanguard in association with Fusebox Festival, April 2014.

ICH, KÜRBISGEIST
An old-tyme, agricultural revenge play written in another language, for Hallowe’en.
Video and Music by Karinne Keithley
Premiered at The Chocolate Factory, A Big Dance Theater production, Fall 2012. Commissioned and produced by PS122.
Publication in concert with the Chocolate Factory production by 53rd State Press/Ugly Duckling Presse, as a double volume with THE SECRET DEATH OF PUPPETS (or) HOW DO PUPPETS DIE? (or) PUPPETS DIE IN SECRET.

“…impressively inscrutable…This is largely because Ms. Kempson has created a dialect that sounds something like Middle English…The jokes keep coming…the world is whole, and surprisingly powerful. Sometimes the gut understands better than the brain.” – New York Times

“Kempson is a playwright of authentic, appealing, and full-bore weirdness. Her works amalgamate myth, trash, ingenuity, and thrill. And she clearly has a thing for potentially sentient vegetables…The creators and cast have fashioned moments of such exuberant, unclassifiable theatricality that asking for narrative unity or linguistic coherence seems churlish. Instead, feast your eyes, ears, and nose on the joyous excess of vegetable flesh and orange-colored eccentricity.” – Village Voice

THE SECRET DEATH OF PUPPETS (OR) HOW DO PUPPETS DIE? (OR) PUPPETS DIE IN SECRET
6F, 9M
Three playlets about forbidden knowledge, in response and in homage to the work of Victoria Nelson. Written for puppets, objects, and object-inspired human performers.
Commissioned and presented by Dixon Place (2011). Developed at Little Theater, Dixon Place, and the CATCH! Performance Series.

CRIME OR EMERGENCY
5-7F, 4-8M
A routine medical examination goes critical, spirals. A play about personal violence that you regret right away, and about the impersonal kind that you move on from immediately. Contains impossibly expensive stage directions and early Bruce Springsteen songs.
Commissioned by Dixon Place 2007, developed at Soho Rep Studio Series, 2008.
NY Premiere at Performance Space 122, 2009. European Premiere at Theater Bonn, Germany, 2010.

Top Ten Best Plays of 2009 – Time Out New York

“A piece of hysterical realism that plays out in a doctor’s office, in a parking garage, at a rodeo, on a boat, etc. As both actor and playwright, Kempson has a gift for rendering the fairly normal as intensely weird.” – The Village Voice

POTATOES OF AUGUST
2-3F, 2-3M
Four retirees encounter a sack of sentient potatoes, and find their outworn belief systems forcibly confronted by the challenges of a highly integrated, enlightened metaphysics. These potatoes have brains, have read their Swedenborg, and don’t always play fair. Songs by Mike Iveson, Jr. and Sibyl Kempson.
Commissioned and produced by Dixon Place, 2008-09.

“Kempson splices avant-weirdness (are her potatoes escapees from Richard Foreman’s Potatoland?) to thrilling runs of everyday speech, thus forestalling the trance that poetically adventurous work can create. Her characters have bite and humor, which helps her lyricism maintain point and thrust. Want something impeccably julienned? Look elsewhere. But if you want to see the new Fornes (or Churchill or Kennedy) before she’s even peeled, get thee downtown.” - Time Out New York

SO MUCH TO GO CRAZY (THE SHOW MIGHT GO ON) (SEHR LANGSAM)
2F, 8M
A translation of Knut Hamsun’s 1895 play VED RIGETS PORT: FORSPIL (AT THE KINGDOM’S GATE: PRELUDE), in keeping with Walter Benjamin’s theory of translation that the source language must transform the target language, not the other way around. We experience our own English language, and Hamsun’s hauntingly brilliant and timely play, in Scandinavian syntax – a disorienting but immensely rewarding experience.
Developed at Little Theater, presented in workshop at the Off Center in Austin TX, by the Fusebox Festival, 2010.

BAD GIRLS GOOD WRITERS
6F, 6M
These girls are bad, bad girls. But they know how to write. But they are totally, completely badass. An ode to the Brooklyn College literary scene. Written on a dare by Mac Wellman.
Presented at the Brick Theater, 2006, and New Works Festival, Bennington College, 2007.