"I believe a site can be a co-author, even an active one; a physical space redolent of spent passion and prior personal effort that impact tangibly or not."
Ain Gordon has worked as a playwright, director, and actor since 1984. He is known for creating theatrical works focused on people, places, and events that have been lost or otherwise forgotten in the "official" historical record. He served as the Center's inaugural Visiting Artist from 2011–13, and is returning as a 2018-19 Visiting Artist, in a residency designed as a creative exchange between a working artist and the Center’s staff, constituents, and communities. In serving as a conduit between the Center and its grantees, Gordon’s past work includes the creation of the White Box Residencies, a program that invited outside artists to creatively explore the physical space of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and to interact with its staff, and An Experiment in Five Acts, a program designed for artists and cultural producers negotiating mid-career challenges. Gordon also contributed to Push Me, Pull You, a series addressing issues of co-authorship and collaboration. Read more about his previous tenure as Visiting Artist here.
Notable works include In This Place..., inspired by the real-life story of the first free African Americans who built their own home in Lexington, KY; A Disaster Begins, about a lone woman's relationship with the Galveston, TX, hurricane of 1900 and the subsequent deadly flood; and If She Stood,commissioned by the Painted Bride Art Center and based on the stories of Philadelphia's early female abolitionists. In May 2018 Gordon’s Pick Up Performance Co(s) and Philadelphia’s Equality Forum partnered to bring 217 Boxes of Dr. Anonymous to the Baryshnikov Arts Center for a two-week run coinciding with 45th anniversary of the decision to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The play was informed by a Center-supported two-year residency at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, where Gordon conducted research in the organization’s archives.
Among Gordon's many accolades are three Obie Awards, two NYFA Fellowships, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting. He has been a core writer of the Playwrights' Center, artist-in-residence at the Center for Creative Research, co-founder of Urban Memory Project and co-director of Pick Up Performance Co(s).