Devised and Created by The Wardrobe Ensemble
Directed by Sara Katzoff
All photos: Jeremy Winchester, 2017
Performed by students in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Andrew Pietrykowski, Sebastian Phillips, John J. Kelly,
Alex Sasso, Brianna McDermott, Lindsay DeWinkeleer, Rachel Grzelak
Keaira Person, Meri Mauro, Conner Noblit, Philip Shedd, Courtney Stewart
Eric Hero Robbins, Tim Downes
Set & Lighting Design: Jeremy Winchester
Sound Design/Music Direction: Peter Wise
Costume Design: Andrea Williams
“I guess all you can do is try and stop it before everyone forgets who they are”
I first saw RIOT at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and was immediately inspired by how current it was and how deeply it resonated with American consumer culture. Devised and created by the Wardrobe Ensemble from Bristol, UK, my collaborators and I brought RIOT to The Berkshire Fringe for its U.S. premiere in 2012. Since then, music director Peter Wise and I have been working closely with the company to adapt RIOT for performance outside of their ensemble.
The production you are about to see was created in response to an actual riot that broke out at the grand opening the largest Swedish furniture store in the United Kingdom. On February 10, 2005, the British public stormed through the electronic doors and shoved, kicked and punched their way to £45 sofas and £35 bed frames. The event only lasted 30 minutes but in that time, nine ambulances were called, 33 people were sent to the hospital and one person was fatally stabbed.
Using interviews and eyewitness accounts, the Wardrobe Ensemble has created an imagined storyline of the employees and customers before, during and after the events of February 10. RIOT is a reflection of their aesthetic, perspective and unique point of view as young artists, adapted and reimagined by our ensemble of theater makers here at MCLA. By focusing on the tragic irony, absurdity and sheer madness of this event,RIOT places a darkly humorous lens over the frenzied nature of consumer culture and asks us to consider what we truly value.
It has been a pleasure to bring this piece to life alongside such a talented ensemble of collaborators, colleagues and designers. Now more than ever is a time for artists, writers, thinkers and theater makers to generate new work in responses to what is happening in the world around us. It is my sincerest hope that this show will empower students to make their own work, create their own show that asks huge questions and create spaces for vital human connection and empathy.
Thank you for being here and for choosing to spend this time with us.
Special thanks to The Wardrobe Ensemble: Tom Brennan, Emily Greenslade, Jesse Jones, Kerry Lovell, Jesse Meadows, Helena Middleton, James Newton, Ben Vardy, Edith Woolley and Kate Mayne