The Art of Stacking the Deck: A Mac Wellman Symposium

October 4 - October 6, 2019

As part of  Mac Wellman: Perfect Catastrophes, A Festival of Plays, The Flea will hold a three day symposium on October 4 – 6 exploring Mac Wellman’s profound impact on the American theater.

Mac’s foremost collaborators, protégés, and scholars will explore the unique demands of interpreting his plays; the breadth of his career across mediums, including dance, music theater, and opera; and the legacy of his writing and teaching on multiple generations of theater makers. 

The symposium includes an Opening Night Reception and select meals throughout the weekend, the opportunity to attend 2 – 4 performances of plays from Mac Wellman: Perfect Catastrophes, and access to the following events:

Mac Wellman in conversation with scholar and culture writer Helen Shaw (Time Out NY, The Village Voice).

Steve Mellor returning to his Obie-winning role in a special staged reading of Terminal Hip.

Panels with Mac’s collaborators on directing, performing, and producing his plays, featuring: 

Elena Araoz, Director  (A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds at NYTW Next Door).
Claudia Brown, Costume Designer (Bad Penny, Sincerity Forever)
Kyle Chepulis, Designer (World Premieres of Bad Penny and Sincerity Forever among over a dozen Wellman plays)
Meghan Finn, Director (The Offending Gesture  at The Tank NYC/Connely Theater, the world premiere of The Invention of Tragedy at The Flea)
Anne Hamburger, Artistic Director of En Garde Arts (Bad Penny in Central Park and Crowbar at The Victory Theater)
Jan Leslie Harding, Performer (World Premieres of Bad Penny and Sincerity Forever among over a dozen Wellman plays)
David Lang, Composer (the difficulty of crossing a field, premiere at ACT)
Paul Lazar, Director (Antigone and Girl Gone for Big Dance Theater) 
Graham Sack, Video Artist (forthcoming Bad Infinity videoscape)
Kristan Seemel,
Director (The Flea’s Bad Penny)
Maria Striar, Artistic Director of Clubbed Thumb (Mac Wellman Festival at Clubbed Thumb)

Panels on Mac’s Impact on Downtown Theater and the New Generation of American Playwrights featuring Mac’s protégés, including:

Eliza Bent, (Bonnie’s Last Flight, Indeed, Friend!)
Kate Benson,
([PORTO], A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes)
Erin Courtney
(A Map of Virtue, I Will Be Gone)
Kristine Haruna Lee (Suicide Forest, Memory Retrograde)
Young Jean Lee (Straight White Men, The Shipment)
Karinne Keithley Syers (Long Bright Day,The Lydian Gale Parr)
Sibyl Kempson, (Fondly, Collette Richard & Founder of 7 Daughters of Eve)
Anne Washburn
(Mr. Burns, Shipwreck)

Full Schedule

Friday, October 4

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Welcome Reception

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Performance of The Invention of Tragedy

Saturday, October 5

10:00 a.m. Critical & Scholarly Discussion of Mac’s Work & Nontraditional Theater

with Kate Benson, Helen Shaw, Karinne Keithley Syers, and Anne Washburn

11:30 a.m. Approaching Language in Mac’s Plays

with  Claudia Brown, Meghan Finn, Jan Leslie Harding, David Lang, Paul Lazar, and Kristan Seemel 

1:00 p.m. Lunch Provided

2:00 p.m. Producing & Directing The Event in Mac’s Plays

with Elena Araoz, Kyle Chepulis, Meghan Finn, Anne Hamburger,Graham Sack, Kristan Seemel, and Maria Striar

4:00 p.m. Performance of The Sandalwood Box & The Fez

8:00 p.m. Performance of Terminal Hip with Steve Mellor

Sunday, October 6

10:00 a.m. Teaching and Learning Playwriting

with Eliza Bent, Erin Courtney, Kristine Haruna Lee, Young Jean Lee, and Sibyl Kempson 

11:30 a.m. A Conversation with Mac and Helen Shaw

1:00 p.m. Lunch Provided

3:00 p.m. Performance of Sincerity Forever

5:00 p.m. Performance of Bad Penny

7:00 p.m. Performance of Terminal Hip with Steve Mellor

Schedule and guests subject to change. More guests to be announced at a later date.


Tickets are available in three tiers: for the Symposium only, which includes lunch and Terminal Hip; the Symposium plus two plays in the Festival; and the Symposium plus all four plays in the Festival. Student Packages are available at a reduced price.

Regular Prices

$300 Symposium with 4 Festival Shows

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$250 Symposium with 2 Festival Shows

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$175 Symposium ONLY

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Student Prices

$125 Symposium with 4 Festival Shows

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$100 Symposium with 2 Festival Shows

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$75 Symposium ONLY

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NOTE:  All student ticket holders MUST present valid student ID at WillCall upon arrival. No exceptions.


*All tickets include an additional $2 Theater Restoration Fee, which keeps the lights on in our new digs.