Bricolage Production Company was founded by a small group of mutli-disciplinary artists in 2001, led by Jeffrey Carpenter, a native Pittsburgher and graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. His inspiration for the company was based largely on the environmental philosophy of Claude Levi Strauss, who used the term ‘bricolage’ to mean the innovative use of what’s at hand.
In our inaugural years,
we were a nomadic company, producing site-specific works in various locations, like an abandoned church (Wild Signs), an former firehouse (Biedermann and the Firebugs) and the boiler room of a long-defunct brewery (Holler). Fueled by the idea that “what’s at hand” wasn’t limited to the material world, and that a big budget wasn’t the only path to quality theater, our early work introduced us as a company not afraid of taking risks.
Tami Dixon, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, joined the company and brought with her a vision for inclusion and engagement. We moved into a new home: a former Turkish bathhouse in Downtown Pittsburgh. No longer itinerant, we continued to produce new and exciting theater, but with more focus on including the audience as a stake holder in our work. We often say, “without an audience, we’re just rehearsing.” Understanding that the audience is a vital part of the artistic process and crucial to the culminating experience, our engagement methods explored a variety of forms, from the very simple act of asking patrons to vote on the plays they wanted to see in full production (Staged Reading Performance Series), to encouraging audience members to close their eyes and experience the work through their senses (Midnight Radio); or making room for patrons to contribute material for a devised process (In the Raw), or inviting them onto the stage to tell their own stories (WordPlay). It was only a matter of time before we broke the fourth wall all together and ventured into the world of immersive theater.
we convened a group of dynamic collaborators and took audience engagement to an exciting new level by creating STRATA, the world’s first Strategic Training Resource, and Testing Agency. In STRATA, Pittsburgh’s premier “re-fitnessing” center, solo participants traversed a series of personal encounters designed as tests, in an effort to achieve what in the world of the play was termed “iConsciousness.” Described as the “most ambitious production in local theater history” by Pittsburgh City Paper, the production garnered unprecedented attention and catapulted Bricolage onto the national landscape with a cover story in American Theatre Magazine. Since then, Bricolage has become a key voice in the national conversation about this new frontier of adventurous theater.
post pandemic, after much quiet and contemplation, conversations and consultations, a renewed sense of purpose has emerged. In January 2022, Bricolage made the momentous decision, after almost 20 years located in the heart of the cultural district downtown, to relocate the company’s base of operations to Community Forge, an inclusive community center in Wilkinsburg, PA. We hope you will take some time to explore our refreshed website and see all that we’ve been up to, and find out about all the exciting things to come.
During the pandemic our dynamic Midnight Radio Education Program has soared to exciting new heights!
We are proud of the work our teaching artists and students have made together.
Give a listen here: