Letter from the School Director

Dear Prospective APT Student,

Thanks for your interest in the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training.  In 2011, we launched the School, attracting a pioneer class of bold, curious, theatre innovators who were united by their fierce desire to buck theatrical conventions and re-awaken theatrical imagination.  In its inaugural years, APT has proven to be a space for inquiry, rigor, play, passionate experimentation and daring performance.  We are searching for students who will continue what has been started by making APT their artistic home for 2 years where they will grow as artists, collaborators, and theatre-makers.  Let me share with you the origins of the program and the core values that guide the school's path.  

Pig Iron Theatre Company was forged in 1995 by a group of restless students, eager to push the boundaries of what live performance could be.  We believed that theatre was a hybrid art form, requiring the mixing of disciplines and a collaborative process of creation.  We invited artists to join our experiments who shared a common set of ideals:

  • a willingness to start with the seed of an idea rather than a finished vision
  • an excitement about a process that asks its performers, director, writer and designers to be co-creators, co-owners and co-conspirators on the birth of a new performance work
  • a desire to move the art form forward by expanding the definition of what is possible onstage
  • a curiosity about the world around us
  • the physical and creative skills necessary to make world-class performance

We also wanted our experiments to be accessible to a wide audience, so our process considers the audience as a partner in the performance.  Through humor, sleights of hand, surprises, and a general yearning to break convention to stir a contemporary audience, the Pig Iron founders relished creating performance works that drew the audience in only to offer them something unexpected.

Eighteen years later, Pig Iron, a physical theatre ensemble that plays on Philadelphia, national, and international stages, is thriving and continues to be guided by these core principles.  We have been called “one of the few companies taking theatre in new directions” in The New York Times, and have premiered an eclectic array of 25 original works.  They include intimate one-man shows; theatrical “installations” with casts of more than 20 actors; wild and dreamlike plays on proscenium stages; and interactive, site-specific performances in which our audiences follow the action “in promenade.” 

Pig Iron believes that the ensemble approach to making and performing theatre is a metaphor for the ways in which humans depend on one another.  Ensemble work gives a much-needed sense of interdependence, group clarity, and shared vision.   A great ensemble invents universes and evokes worlds.  In its hands, a performance becomes an symphony of surprises.  

Out of this vision, The Pig Iron School for Advance Performance Training (APT) was born.  A two-year program in physical and devised theatre, referencing the pedagogical and artistic inquiries of Jacques Lecoq and of Joe Chaikin, among others, as well as Pig Iron's own theatrical investigations, APT passes on the tools of Pig Iron's trade to a new generation of theatrical inventors.

APT is a place of unconstrained experimentation mixed with rigorous training and exceptionally high standards for performance quality.  The faculty aims to push students to discover theatre as a poetic and vital form, to forge deep collaborations with their fellow students, and to leave with an awakened sense of the limitless possibilities of live performance.  The school's aim is not to reproduce what has already been, but to utilize performance tools and techniques toward the emergence of each student's unique artistic vision.  This vision could land in any realm of the performing arts.  

As Pig Iron continues to march into unimagined artistic territory, APT is a place for emerging actors and directors to forge their own journeys of original ensemble creation with all the bravery, skill, imagination, playfulness and honesty these journeys require.

Here's to the future,