The following are unusual projects that don't fit into the "Productions" category, or props/masks/puppets/etc. that Evolve Company has made for other companies.


DEVIL AND THE DEEP (Theater East)
(click any of the above images for a closer look)
A musical reinvention of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, by Graham Russell (Air Supply), Katie McGhie (Of Eden) and playwright Melissa Bell, and directed by Lisa Devine. Seizing on the idea of light and darkness explored in the script and lyrics, we wound up incorporating a throughline of puppetry into the production, revolving around illuminated lantern puppets that included a miniature ship that represents the journey of protagonist Jim Hawkins, and Long John Silver's iconic parrot companion Cap'n Flint, a fully articulated character manipulated in full view of the audience by actress Skyler Volpe. Boat Photo by James Wilson. Parrot Photos by Evolve Company.



CAT'S CRADLE (Untitled Theater Company #61)
(click the image for more photos)
For this calypso musical adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Tanya & Barry were asked to design and create two bookcase-sized shelves filled with models of all of the book's locations. The character of Frank Hoenniker (played by Barry) moved a video camera on a rod through these locations with one hand, manipulating practical lighting instruments and scenic elements with the other. The results were projected onto a giant screen behind the actors to create a strong sense of place, as well as establishing Frank, a modelmaker who possesses a world-destroying weapon, as the "puppetmaster" behind the scenes of the action. This was some of our most detailed and intricate work, and the largest production (with a cast of 22 actor/singer/musicians) that we've been involved with to date. Photos by Edward Einhorn.



HIROSHIMA: CRUCIBLE OF LIGHT (Untitled Theatre Company #61)
(click the image for more photos)
For video sequences in Henry Akona's production of Robert Lawson's play, Evolve Company's Tanya Khordoc created intricate models of a watchtower and a pair of Leonardo daVinci-style mechanical wings designed to look like delicate Japanese paper and wood creations. The models were stop-motion animated to assemble themselves, and were then burned for the camera. The actual burning took place in the living room of Tanya's apartment, which was a hair-raising experience for all concerned. Luckily, the results were smoke-free and very beautiful. Photos by Henry Akona.



HOPE & ANCHOR (Third Rail Projects)
Evolve Company's Barry Weil turned dancer Marissa Nielsen-Pincus into an unconventional mermaid for this outdoor dance-theatre piece (by Zach Morris & Keely Garfield) at NYC's South Street Seaport. Marissa had to crawl and flop across concrete and cobblestones in her fishtail, as well as climb fences and drag herself through some truly nasty puddles. We're very proud of the fact that the tail (made of layered, latex-impregnated fabric) only needed one small hole patched throughout the entire run. The mermaid character (and the tail) have since made appearances in Third Rail's Squall and Undercurrents and Exchange. Photo by Arthur Donowski.



VELVET VÁCLAV (UNICEF auction doll)
Evolve Company was one of several theatre companies asked to create a doll inspired by the Havel Festival, for a UNICEF auction to benefit needy children in Eastern Europe. Tanya & Barry came up with "Velvet Václav," a play on the traditional "dress-up" doll in tribute to President Havel himself. His velvet (for the Velvet Revolution) jacket opens to reveal a typewriter near his heart and his famous "Charter 77" printed on the jacket's lining. In an inside pocket, he has a symbolic "key to the castle," and by unzipping his mouth, one can unreel a ribbon bearing an actual quote from the "playwright president". We're happy to say he found a very good home. Photos by Edward Einhorn.


UNAUTHORIZED MAGIC IN OZ (Untitled Theatre Company #61)

Author Edward Einhorn adapted part of his book The Living House of Oz into a toy-theater puppet play, with an assist from Evolve Company's co-artistic directors. Barry co-designed puppets, mechanisms and sets (with Berit Johnson) and Tanya (pictured at right) performed the roles of good witch Glinda and misunderstood witch Mordra. Photos by Edward Einhorn.



SCREAMING SHRUBBERY (Third Rail Projects)
Barry created large topiary bird headdresses in the style of macabre artist Edward Gorey for this dance/theatre piece. To our surprise, the birds wound up being caricatured by The New Yorker in an article about the piece. Photo by Richard Termine.



FEAST OF THE DEAD (Mantis Dance Company)
For this eerily funny outdoor celebration of the Mexican Day of the Dead, choreographer Donna Ahmadi asked Barry to create four giant skull heads with lots of character, that could be worn by dancers and actually appear to "eat" a banquet's worth of food. The result, as you can see, managed to be charming and disturbing at the same time.



FUNNY AS A CRUTCH (Foolish Theatre Company)
(click the image for a closer look)
Playwright Rich Orloff's evening of short comedies about disability (performed by a cast of disabled actors) featured five large glove puppets, designed and built by Barry in a traditional puppet-theater style. Featured in a parody of the classic puppet film Lili, most represented disabled characters from literature (larger photo, L-R: Tiny Tim, Oedipus Rex, Captain Hook and Quasimodo with performers Shannon DeVido & Stephen Jutras; inset: Jutras with "Mr. Puppet".) Photos by Jason A. Specland.



PLAYING DREIDEL WITH JUDAH MACCABEE (Untitled Theatre Company #61)
(click the image for more photos)
For Edward Einhorn's Hanukkah play, Tanya & Barry created a detailed temple ark containing a scroll which, when backlit, served as a shadow puppet screen. The play concerns Jonathan, a modern boy, and the legendary Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, who meet in an abandoned room which somehow exists both in Jonathan's modern temple in the United States and in Judah's ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Evolve's shadow sequences were used as interludes between scenes, and served as a window to life in the ancient Temple. Photos by Edward Einhorn.



UNDERCURRENTS AND EXCHANGE (Third Rail Projects)
(click the image for more photos)
This project, a series of interrelated dance pieces taking place inside the Winter Garden of NYC's World Finance Center, also features a collection of mysteriously evolving art installations by Zach Morris. As one installation required a (somewhat fanciful) reconstruction of Archaeopteryx, the feathered dinosaur-like creature known as the "first bird," Zach called on Barry to create a one-foot-tall, completely posable model of the creature. It's something of an homage to the work of one of Barry's major influences, stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. For more on Undercurrents and Exchange, and their other work, go to Third Rail's website. To see a video detailing all of the phases of the changing installations, click here (the Archaeopteryx display begins at 6:20). Photos by Zach Morris.


THE STEAMPUNK HAUNTED HOUSE (Third Rail Projects)
(click the image for a closer look)
Barry designed and created an assortment of masks and puppets for the 2009 and 2010 versions of this elegant, artistic frightfest, staged inside the 100-year-old Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of NYC by Zach Morris and Third Rail Projects. Barry's creations included a clockwork mask with functional, moving gears (pictured above); a huge mechanical "Beast" skeleton and a trio of giant spiders attempting to disguise themselves as humans. For more information on the Steampunk Haunted House and their other projects, go to Third Rail's website. Photo by Chad Heird.



DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? (Untitled Theater Company #61)
For writer/director Edward Einhorn's stage adaptation of Philip K. Dick's classic science fiction novel (previously adapted as the movie Blade Runner), Barry was asked to create a full-sized android sheep that could appear to have been torn apart, revealing the mechanics beneath its realistic latex skin, glass eyes and woolly coat. Above, actors Alex Emanuel and Yvonne Roen are pictured holding the sheep's decapitated head. Barry also contributed a traditional wooden marionette of a sheep (surprisingly, the first actual marionette he'd ever built) to the production. The robotic sheep later traveled to Los Angeles for the West Coast premiere of the play, presented by Sacred Fools Theatre Company. For more information on the play, go to UTC #61's website. Photo by Edward Einhorn.



THE 12 DAYS OF NYC PUPPET CHRISTMAS (Manhattan Marionettes)
(Click the link below to watch the video on YouTube)
The 12 Days of NYC Puppet Christmas
For the 2014 holiday season, Manhattan Marionettes asked Evolve to join several other NYC-based puppet companies in contributing verses to this version of the classic carol "The 12 Days of Christmas". We chose to use a pair of robot puppets that were originally built for our piece Evolution: A Tale of Friendship (you'll notice their strong resemblance to the other Evolution characters), but were never used. We're glad they got to finally make their debut alongside so many of our talented colleagues: Joshua Holden, Carol Sterling, Brian T. Carson, James Wojtal Jr., Ronny Wasserstrom, Michael J. Meindl, Craig Marin & Olga Felgemacher Marin, Kim Fraczed, Erik McGregor and Morgan Jenness.



STAR WARS KAMIKAZE: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (Drama of Works)
(Click the image for a closer look)
And sometimes we just get completely silly. This was a fun project created by our friends at Drama of Works as part of their Punch Puppet Slam series at Dixon Place. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was divided into seven sections and handed to seven different puppet companies to interpret as they saw fit. Evolve was given the section containing the asteroid field scene, Lord Vader's communication with the Emperor and the introduction of the bounty hunters. Our interpretation went from the sublime to the ridiculous: the sublime included the insanely detailed rod puppets (can you tell we're Star Wars fans?), the ridiculous involved handing out crumpled balls of paper and encouraging the audience to pelt us with them so we could simulate traveling through the asteroid field. Above, L-R: Chewbacca, C-3PO, Princess Leia and Han Solo. Inset: Tanya, performing the Darth Vader puppet, and Barry, who's put his sweatshirt hood on and is holding a flashlight under his face so he can accurately impersonate Emperor Palpatine.