Theatermaking

Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.
— Augusto Boal

I've been a performer since the kindergarten Christmas play, making an appearance as a police officer who yelled, "Stop!" I didn't stop, and since then, I've worked on stages from raw warehouses to abandoned art deco moviehouses to the Guthrie, in everything from Shakespeare to deconstructed Tennessee Williams to contemporary drama to avant-garde performance to my own solo monologues.

I've had the good fortune of learning from great professors, actors, technicians, artists and all sorts of other collaborators, developed a thick skin and honed skills for all aspects of a production. I've been especially lucky to be a part of two key companies, Savage Umbrella and Lamb Lays with Lion, along the way. To see my current theater resume, click here.

Savage Umbrella, 2010-present

Savage Umbrella makes theatre; we can’t help or stop ourselves. We lust for the uncharted and the unknown; we embrace and dissect the familiar. We create brand new works, and adapt classics to find their current resonances. Our plays have explored the power of family, our small town hometowns, the identity of artists in our communities, the effects of wealth and more. We hold public workshops for our full productions, so that you get a chance to shape the work that you'll see onstage - we love it when someone tells us "I remember talking about that!".

We work with movement and live music to create a unique feel to each of our productions, and make each production a space for conversation and interaction by inviting people in through games, questions and food. We find we can do more together than we could do alone. By shouldering tasks together, we create the space for our imaginations to expand, rising upward and outward to gain a greater view of our world, and have bigger and broader conversations together.

Through some incredible good fortune (see this blog post) Savage Umbrella has recently been able to launch SPACE, a new rehearsal/workshop/performance venue at Vandalia Tower in Saint Paul. We're excited to be able to offer up these 2,000 square feet for our use and for the use of the community that has nurtured and supported us. It's going to be another exciting step in making new work, and we hope you join us. Together is better than alone. Get under the umbrella.

Lamb Lays with Lion, 2007-2010

Lamb Lays with Lion is an original and experimental performance company currently based in Brooklyn, NY.  We have presented original works at New York's The Brick, The Tank and The 14th Street Y Theater, Minneapolis' Guthrie Theatre, The Southern Theater, The Bedlam Theater, The Bryant Lake Bowl, as well as The Rude Mechanical’s Off-Center in Austin, TX.

We dedicate ourselves to the maintained integrity of performance, the exploration of unique and radical new forms, the discovery of virtual and spectral expressions, and most importantly, we strive toward being a leading force behind the thrust into a new age of art.


Select Reviews

But special kudos go to Carl Atiya Swanson as the angry brother, and to transgender actor Erica Fields as the pastor and Shawn Eric Hoffman as the cop, for their sweet burgeoning romance.
Star Tribune, But Not For Love
Carl Atiya Swanson does a terrific job as the police officer, wrapping him in both cool authority and agitated defensiveness.
— Star Tribune, Sleep Deprivation Chamber
These kids are smart and whatever they’re doing, I think it’s important work. I felt good walking out of that theatre.
Minnesota Playlist, Ex-Gays
Swanson is pitch-perfect: we see that the sincere respect hiding beneath his rakish exterior is exactly what Edna falls in love with, but is also a quality that might turn her off if it paralyzes him when he needs to act.
Twin Cities Daily Planet, The Awakening

Select Performance Shots

this.here. by Sam Johns, supported by Irrigate Creative Placemaking, 2013 - Photo by Marcus Metropolis

this.here. by Sam Johns, supported by Irrigate Creative Placemaking, 2013 - Photo by Marcus Metropolis

But Not For Love by Matthew Everrett, directed by Richard Jackson, a Flower Shop Production at Workhouse Theater, 2012 - Photo by Duane Atter

But Not For Love by Matthew Everrett, directed by Richard Jackson, a Flower Shop Production at Workhouse Theater, 2012 - Photo by Duane Atter

The Ravagers, by Laura Leffler-McCabe, directed by Blake E. Bolan, a Savage Umbrella production at the Hollywood Theater, 2012 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

The Ravagers, by Laura Leffler-McCabe, directed by Blake E. Bolan, a Savage Umbrella production at the Hollywood Theater, 2012 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Ex-Gays, by Eric F. Avery, directed by Laura Leffler-McCabe, a Savage Umbrella production, 2011 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Ex-Gays, by Eric F. Avery, directed by Laura Leffler-McCabe, a Savage Umbrella production, 2011 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

The Awakening, written & directed by Laura Leffler-McCabe, a Savage Umbrella production at Gremlin Theater, 2010 - Photo by Laurie Fulk

The Awakening, written & directed by Laura Leffler-McCabe, a Savage Umbrella production at Gremlin Theater, 2010 - Photo by Laurie Fulk

The Depressed Person Tells A Joke by Carl Atiya Swanson, at Art of This Gallery, 2010 - Photo by Dan O'Neil

The Depressed Person Tells A Joke by Carl Atiya Swanson, at Art of This Gallery, 2010 - Photo by Dan O'Neil

The Mars Project by Savannah Reich, directed by Sam Johns, at 1419, 2009 - Photo by Marcus Metropolis

The Mars Project by Savannah Reich, directed by Sam Johns, at 1419, 2009 - Photo by Marcus Metropolis

A Response Too Long for the Deaf Man on the Train, by Carl Atiya Swanson, at SPIT, a Lamb Lays with Lion production, 2008 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

A Response Too Long for the Deaf Man on the Train, by Carl Atiya Swanson, at SPIT, a Lamb Lays with Lion production, 2008 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Idigaragua, an Indie-Rock Opera by Fort Wilson Riot, Directed by Jeremey Catterton, a Lamb Lays with Lion production, 2008 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Idigaragua, an Indie-Rock Opera by Fort Wilson Riot, Directed by Jeremey Catterton, a Lamb Lays with Lion production, 2008 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Poems for a time of difficulty by Carl Atiya Swanson, at ExcerciseEXORCISE, a Lamb Lays with Lion production, 2008 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz

Poems for a time of difficulty by Carl Atiya Swanson, at ExcerciseEXORCISE, a Lamb Lays with Lion production, 2008 - Photo by Stacy Schwartz