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 collaboratively created and developed the world premiere of Freedom Club, a sci-fi/historical riff on the American Civil War and a futuristic showdown inspired by the government's raid on white separatists at Ruby Ridge in 1992. Collaborators included Adriano Shaplin and the Riot Group, based in New York City. A language-based piece from a company that has specialized in movement-based work, Freedom Club represented a watershed experience for New Paradise Laboratories. Prior pieces from the ensemble had been decidedly allusive and metaphoric in structure and intent, while Freedom Club aggressively explored the company's responses to real-world concerns. Reflecting after the production, the company wrote, "We observed that the younger audience demographic—the very audience we have tried to develop for our work—responded strongly. They seemed to crave political engagement with their world but also strive to avoid the received political perspectives of their parents. For these folks, Freedom Club reverberated with a prophetic resonance." This production of Freedom Club was subsequently performed at the Connelly Theatre in New York City.