"a thoroughly unique theatrical experience that's full of discovery and fun." - broadwayworld.com
"wittily composed" "briskly engaging" - Washington Post
Toast premiered September 11, 2014 across DC and Maryland for 6 weeks at 9 locations it closed October 18.
More information forthcoming about the continuing life of Toast.
Toast is a participatory-performance-meets-science-fair that explores invention and discovery, the development of technology, and the intricate networks that weave us together. It distills ingredients for innovation and applies them in a multimedia, participatory performance that fully and transparently harnesses the audience as an integral resource for the completion of the show in performance.
A secret society of inventors invites the audience to collaboratively push the boundaries of our current technology and explore the awesome potential of group innovation.
Directors: Rachel Grossman and Ivania Stack, with Wyckham Avery
Performing Ensemble: Olivia Ahn, Lisa M. Austin, Colin K. Bills, Tamieka Chavis, Joan Cummins, Tyrone Giordano, Melanie Harker, Shannon Davies Mancus, Kerry McGee, Jared Mezzocchi, Quilla Otto-Jacobs, Lori Pitts, Jon Reynolds, Justin Schneider, Jorge A. Silva, Lindsey D. Snyder, Adelaide Waldrop
Devising Ensemble: Ellys Abrams, Wyckham Avery, Colin K. Bills, Jordan Beck, Joan Cummins, Zach Dalton, Melanie Harker, Jessica Lefkow, Shannon Davies Mancus, Kerry McGee, Teresa Philipp, Lori Pitts, Elaine Yuko Qualter, Lorraine Ressegger-Slone, Jon Reynolds, Justin Schneider, Rebecca Sheir, Adelaide Waldrop
Design Team: Colin K. Bills, Ivania Stack, Zachary A. Dalton, Rachel Grossman, Jenn Larsen, Kate Ahern Loveric, Jon Reynolds
Filmmakers: Theodore Lee Jones & Linsay Deming
Toast Co-Conspirators: Cartland Berge, Robert Friedel, David LaCroix, Jon Lee, Pete Miller, Joe Palca
Lead Graphic Artist: Kate Ahern Loveric
Stage Manager: Danielle Barlow, with David Kessler
ASL Interpreter: Corrie Pond
Workshop Production in 2013:
- December 5-8 at Arena Stage as part of the Kogod Cradle Series
- December 12-14 at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
Read more about the workshop production of Toast.
DEVISING PROCESS & SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
Visit the archive of our first 8-months of devising online ToastLabNotebook.com.
View photos from the first 8-months of devising ("Toast Incubator Series") here.
Some of what what we read, watched, and looked at while making Toast:
- The Idea Factory
- Where Good Ideas Come From
- Radiolab Podcast "What Technology Wants"
- Vintage Science Ads Article from Brain Pickings
- Erik Nitsche Posters for General Dynamics
- Ted Talk: "How I built a toaster -- from Scratch"
- Ted Talk: Where Good Ideas Come From
- Ted Tak: "When ideas have sex"
- New York Times Article "True Innovation"
- The New Yorker Article "GroupThink"
Special thank you to Victor Shargai, Toast developmental sponsor.
Toast funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support from Humanities Council of Washington, DC. Toast activities in June 2013 at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop supported in part by Capitol Hill Community Foundation. Toast Incubator Series Salon at Round House Silver Spring made possible in part by Maryland Humanities Council.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
An Article from our January 2013 Newsletter:
"Before electricity, how did people make toast?
It feels a bit like a trick question every time I ask it, and I know it feels even more so when it is posed to you. When technological historian, Dr. Robert Friedel queried me, I answered tentatively, just waiting for "the catch." What followed was more awakening than stumping. Following my timid description of holding bread over fire, Dr. Friedel talked about early electric toasters and, in the process, painted a simple, yet profound picture of a unique moment in history when technology fundamentally changed "everyday life" and humans crossed a technological threshold into the era of electricity.
It is this question and the story that follows it which has inspired dog & pony dc's next project, Toast.
Well, that, and the growing desire in the ensemble to cross our own threshold--finding new expressions of Audience Integration. Think back to our last two shows. Both Beertown and A Killing Game "cast" audiences into a story or narrative. While there was ample room for individuals to grow into and "own" the roles, there were inevitable constraints put in place by the ensemble, which determined the breadth and scope of audiences' interaction. Certainly, we could continue exploring the possibilities this particular expression of Audience Integration provided us, but new shows only come once every-other year and we itched to traverse new territories; explore opportunities, in which the "balance of power" between d&pdc makers ("artists") and receivers ("audience") was tipped more equally... or even in the favor of the receivers. We also wanted to respond to your curiosity (and ours) about our methodology.
So for Toast, we seek to publicly explore and share our devising process and, while doing so, involve the audience as co-creators throughout the devising and performance of the show
Like when we started devising Beertown, we have no clear idea what Toast will look like in full production. But we do know that you will be a part of determining it. If there's one thing that's surfaced in our initial "basic research": good ideas grow from a curiosity-rich environment where "different kinds of thought [can] productively collide and recombine." Or so says Steven Johnson in Where Good Ideas Come From, one of our sources of inspiration. We'll be involving a range of scientists to poke and prod at ideas with us. Inspired by "hotbeds" of cultural and technological innovation -- literary salons of the Enlightenment era; basic and applied research methods at Bell Labs in the 20th century; current-day TED talks -- we'll be opening up our devising process.
More details will emerge in the next few weeks but if you want to get a head start, we highly recommend checking out any of these sources of inspiration listed here. If something pops up for you, whether lightly browned or seriously singed, make a note. You never know where the answer will come from." - Rachel Grossman, Ring Leader