New Paradise Laboratories (NPL) is an experimental performance ensemble that explores radical means to bend conventional ideas of theater, while valuing wild humor, a muscular visual sensibility, and a fascination with the utopian impulse. Led by Pew Fellow and Obie Award-winner Whit MacLaughlin, NPL uses a variety of creative strategies including company-devised techniques, cross-media design elements, and site-specific installations. Center-supported work has included Fatebook, featuring an audience experience that began online before becoming live, and Extremely Public Displays of Privacy, an ambitious three-part, multimedia work. In 2015, NPL received a Center Discovery grant to expand its devised theater techniques and lay the groundwork for a series of new pieces, through investigations of improvisational structures, games of chance, and audience interactivity. This research has informed the Center-supported presentation of Hello Blackout!, a new theater work integrating contingency into NPL's physical theater style, with live music by composer and Pew Fellow Bhob Rainey.
New Paradise Laboratories (NPL) is an experimental performance ensemble that has reshaped conventional notions of theater with productions that harness social media and new technology as vital tools for audience participation. In Fatebook (2009), over 14,000 people from 137 countries interacted with the show's "characters" via Facebook, ultimately shaping the content of the live production. The 2012 production Extremely Public Displays of Privacy asked viewers to visit sites around Philadelphia, where they accessed exclusive performance clips via cell phone and mobile device. NPL built a new Web-based engagement tool called FRAME, which invites audiences to participate and collaborate with NPL's theater artists online, providing NPL with a constant source of inspiration.
FRAME is maintained by a new position of FRAME coordinator, who acts as the social network's online coordinator and works with NPL performers to generate and curate content in this online space. The FRAME coordinator's work is supplemented by a connectivity coordinator, who works more broadly with social media tools in addition to the website presence. NPL plans to expand its reach to audiences beyond Philadelphia and use FRAME to actively participate in international conversations, in order to boost creative momentum. The FRAME project has been the focus of considerable attention in the media, including articles in American Theatre and Mashable. [fn]Management grants, through the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative, were awarded through 2013 following which a new funding category, Advancement grants, was introduced to support substantial long-term organizational development.[/fn]