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About


Vision | Artistic Directors | Staff | Critical Response

 

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About


Vision | Artistic Directors | Staff | Critical Response

 

Above Photo by Starboard Photos

About the Company

Third Rail Projects has been hailed as one of the foremost companies creating site-specific, immersive, and experiential performance. The company is led by Artistic Directors Zach MorrisTom Pearson, and Jennine Willett, and is dedicated to re-envisioning ways in which audiences engage with contemporary performance. They have made work in New York, nationally, and abroad since 2000. The company’s currently running, award-winning immersive hit Then She Fell, was named as one of the “Top Ten Shows of 2012” by Ben Brantley of The New York Times and acclaimed as one of the best theater experiences of 2013 by Vogue.

Fundamental to Third Rail Projects’ work is the notion of re-imagining contexts for presenting contemporary performance, as exemplified by a history of creating projects that have been sought after by avid theater goers as well as underserved populations and those seeking unique experiences. Collaboration is integral to all of Third Rail’s work, in the creative process as well as in partnerships with each new site, community, and cultural landscape in which they work. This manifests in numerous points of inquiry and programmatic objectives that foster artistic exchange and shared practice across unique communities.

In recent years, the company has launched several major works, all of which were met with massive critical and audience recognition: As Time Goes By in St. Petersburg, Russia; Sweet & Lucky with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts; Learning Curve with Albany Park Theater Project in Chicago; Ghost Light with Lincoln Center Theater’s LTC3 at the Clare Tow Theater; Behind The City with The Macallan; and The Grand Paradise, which ran for 11 months and garnered rave reviews and Critic’s Picks from The New York Times and Time Out New York, among others.

The artistic directors and company work nationally on new immersive and site-specific projects, and internationally through the Global Performance Studio (GPS), which combines the company’s creative and educational offerings through a program of cultural listening and exchange. Third Rail Projects has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including: two New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards; a Chita Rivera Award for Choreography; several fellowship awards including two CEC Artslink Back Apartment Residencies (Russia); a Theater Fellowship from the Bogliasco Foundation (Italy); an IllumiNation Award from the Ford Foundation and National Museum of the American Indian; and more. Third Rail Projects has also been recognized as part of the creative team of the Emmy Award-winning virtual reality adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Wolves in the Walls. In 2016, the artistic directors were named among the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn Culture by Brooklyn Magazine.

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Artistic Directors


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Artistic Directors


Above Photo by Starboard Photos

Meet The artistic directors

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Zach Morris (Third Rail Projects Co-Artistic Director) is co-creator of the immersive theater hits Then She Fell, The Grand Paradise, Sweet & Lucky, and most recently Ghost Light at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater.  Zach's work includes site-specific performance, multimedia installation art and environments, and experiential performance.  He is particularly interested in creating projects that place contemporary art and performance in non-traditional contexts. 

Zach is fascinated by colliding dream-like, archetypal images with the pedestrian, highly personal realities of everyday life to create juxtapositions and metaphors that resonate on a fundamental, intuitive level and allow us access to more elusive but equally potent ways of understanding ourselves and our world. Critics have described his work as “visually stunning,” “wickedly clever,” and “hauntingly melancholy.” Others have said, “there is no escaping the feeling that you have been doing drugs for the past hour. Good drugs.”

Zach has been honored with numerous awards, including two BESSIE awards, and was recently named as one of the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn culture by Brooklyn Magazine.  His work has been presented nationally and internationally with the support of numerous grants, commissions, and residencies and he has had the pleasure of teaching, mentoring, and creating new platforms to support the work of artists both at home and abroad.  Zach holds a BFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University.

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Tom Pearson (Third Rail Projects Co-Artistic Director) is an artist working in dance, theater, and performance as well as film, poetry, and visual media. He is best known for his original works for theater, including the long-running immersive theater hits Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise, and as a founder and co-artistic director of the New York City-based performance company Third Rail Projects. Pearson’s work draws from depth psychology, archetypal studies, and deep dream practices as well as the ceremony of his native Tsalagi (Eastern Band Cherokee) heritage and its focus on right relationship and story as medicine. He holds an MA from New York University in Performance Studies, and he has received two Bessie Awards for choreography, a Kingsbury Award for writing, and an IllumiNation Award from the Ford Foundation and National Museum of the American Indian for his work in Native Theater. He helms the Global Performance Studio, Third Rail’s international program for cultural listening and exchange. Pearson was recently named among the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn culture by Brooklyn Magazine and awarded artist fellowships in Saint Petersburg, Russia from CEC Artslink (Back Apartment Residency), in the U.S. from the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University; and in Italy from the Bogliasco Foundation. He has been named Creative-in-Reference for Olin College for 2019-2020. His published work is available at tompearsonnyc.com.

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Jennine Willett (Third Rail Projects Co-Artistic Director) is a director, choreographer, educator, and creative consultant. She is co-creator of the Brooklyn immersive theater hits Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise, and the popular touring work, Roadside Attraction. She led a two-year collaboration between Third Rail Projects and Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project, culminating in the production of Learning Curve, an immersive journey into a Chicago public high school. Performed by 33 youth artists, Learning Curve was named one of the Top Ten shows of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, Time-Out, and the Chicago Sun-Times, who called it “an altogether wondrous, one-of-a-kind, ‘immersive’ masterwork.” Most recently, Jennine co-created Ghost Light at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater.

Jennine looks for ways to transport and connect to audiences by exploring relatable life experiences, with the hopes of building human connections and fostering mutual understanding through performance. Her work takes shape in many forms including staged dance pieces, site-specific works in public spaces, and large-scale immersive performances.  

At the helm of Third Rail’s education initiatives, Jennine oversees the company’s public workshop offerings and has taught courses for numerous academic institutions and arts organizations nationally and internationally, most recently including Princeton University, Gibney Dance, Lincoln Center Theater, Columbia Teachers College, the Association for Theater in Higher Education, and China Dream Entertainment. She has been honored with two BESSIE Awards and a Chita Rivera Award, and was named as one of the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn culture by Brooklyn Magazine. Jennine holds an MFA degree from Florida State University in Performance and Choreography.

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Company Staff


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Company Staff


Above Photo by Starboard Photos

Who we are

 
 
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Press


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Press


Above Photo by Starboard Photos

Features + Reviews

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Interviews


Other Critical Response


MEDIA

FOX5 NY | The Grand Paradise

American Theatre Wing

Off Book from PBS

Brooklyn Independent TV

NBC NY | Niteside