Orbiter 3, aka, the Legion of Doom

Orbiters: Douglas Williams, Maura Kraus, Emma Goidel, Mary Tuomanen, James Ijames, and Emily Acker.

Last week, I attended (and blogged about) the PlayPenn gala, and during the evening of drinking, eating, play-watching, and kudos-delivering, I was pleased and surprised to hear a special shout-out to a new organization in Philly: Orbiter 3.

These kids made a special announcement of their existence the week before, and I kid you not, it’s like someone upset an anthill in the Philly playwright community.  Within hours of their mass email, I received emails from half a dozen other theater artists, expressing everything from excitement to jealousy to “Why didn’t I think of that?”  You can check out their website here.

In short, they are a group of five playwrights (and one artistic director) who are tired of pounding the pavement and have banded together to produce their own stuff over the next three years, after which, their whole alliance will disband.  If that sounds at all familiar to you, that probably means you’re a theater artist and vaguely recall the Great Experiment that was 13P, which did the same thing in NYC with thirteen playwrights and similarly imploded in 2012, but not before advancing the careers of such visionaries as Sarah Ruhl, Lucy Thurber, and Sheila Callaghan.

And, Orbiter 3 has members with game.  James Ijames’ play, The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, was produced by Flashpoint Theatre last season (and nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play).  Douglas Williams’ play, Moon Cave, will be produced by Azuka Theatre later this season.  I’ve met Emma Goidel a few times and seen some very short stuff of hers through the Philadelphia New Play Initiative (God, I hate that name), and while I’ve never seen nor read Mary Tuomanen’s plays, I’ve certainly seen her act several times around the city.  I’m afraid I don’t know Emily Acker at all, but I’ve had coffee with Maura Kraus, and I can attest that she’s got her stuff together.

Even better than knowing what they’re doing, these guys look like they know what they’re doing.  Their website is cool as shit.  Cool.  As.  Shit.  No doubt thanks to member Emma, whom I spoke to at the PlayPenn thing (turns out she designs websites in her free time; why nobody pays her vast amounts of money to do so is one of those mysteries of the universe).  Also, they’re getting terrific coverage in the press, and not just local.  American Theatre picked up the story, launching them into the national spotlight, without them producing a single thing yet, or even having much more than a published plan on a cool website.  So, I kinda fear these guys a little.  They’re like the Legion of Doom.

Even their kickoff party in November looks too cool for me to attend.  I mean, I will, because that’s never stopped me before, but holy cats.  I can’t express enough how excited I am over the prospect of seeing five new plays over the next three years.  It hits the same spot in my brain that gets stimulated when I read a press release about another Avengers movie.  I think it’s the medulla oblongata, but I’m too lazy to google that, so don’t quote me.

Anyway, if you love new theater (And why the hell would you be reading my blog if you don’t?), you should definitely keep your eyes on these made-a-pact-with-the-devil bastards.  Their party’s on November 17, and if you drop by, I’ll be happy to drink with you.

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