Applied Mechanics is a radical theater collective. We create intricate, immersive worlds and invite our audience in to watch all the stories that unfold there. We believe that there is more than one story to tell about any given thing: our work depicts many stories at once and invites the audience to choose what to watch.  Our work asks performers and audience to share space, and gives audience members agency and freedom of movement. Our art is an exercise in empathy and transformation. We believe that art can be a powerful force in the struggle against nationalism, fascism, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. The art we make is part of that fight.


Applied Mechanics makes plays that you can walk through, with immersive sets that you are invited to explore. Many stories unfold simultaneously and each audience member is free to choose how to watch them.   Whether you rummage through a character’s suitcase, eavesdrop on a conversation, or read the writing on the wall, no two people see the same show.  We build alternative worlds, in intricate full-surround detail, and invite you into them. Our process is highly collaborative and based on a commitment to organizational and artistic innovation. We are inspired by dioramas, theme parties, choose-your-own adventure books, zines, feminism, collectivity, and social justice movements.


Applied Mechanics has been making original, immersive theater since 2009. Founded by director Rebecca Wright and designer Maria Shaplin, the company’s inaugural show put a fishing village in a West Philly apartment on Valentine’s Day and invited audience members to explore the town as the myth of the Selkie unfolded around them, complete with a saw-playing seal. Since then, Applied Mechanics has become a standing ensemble of five artists and created nine original works. Their adventures have included touring from Texas to Maine with their invasion play Portmanteau, rocking out as their all-girl band the Cherry Jones Administration, condensing the Napoleonic Empire into an hour-long movement opera with 26 actors, conducting a workshop on immersive storytelling at Microsoft, and winning a cult following with their revolutionary feminist punk play We Are Bandits. They host bi-annual Community Dinners — free home-cooked meals that anyone is welcome to attend — and have thrown six excellent immersive theme parties, including a Science Fair at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and an adolescence-themed Awkward Ball. They have garnered grants from the Wyncote Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Fels Foundation, Network of Ensemble Theaters, and the Charlotte Cushman Foundation, among others.  They have been featured in American Theater Magazine and presented by the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts and the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. Applied Mechanics is Rebecca Wright, Maria Shaplin, Jessica Hurley, Thomas Choinacky, and Mary Tuomanen.  They are based in Philadelphia. They share a home-cooked meal at every rehearsal.


Applied mechanics is a branch of the physical sciences and the practical application of mechanics. Applied mechanics examines the response of bodies or systems of bodies to external forces. Some examples of mechanical systems include the flow of a liquid under pressure, the fracture of a solid from an applied force, or the vibration of an ear in response to sound.




DEBBIE SHAPIRO: Hello Arts Festival, thINKingDANCE, Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Leah Stein Dance Company, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, Pig Iron Theatre Company, David Gordon/Pickup Performance Co(s), White Pines Productions, Headlong Dance Theater, Dance USA/Philadelphia: Listener, Connector, Organizer, Philly Mom

JENNIFER CHILDS: 1812 Productions, Arden Theatre Company, Wilma Theater, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Walnut Street Theatre, New Freedom Theater, University of the Arts, Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, St. Peters Church, Kohler Performing Arts Center, City Theatre Pittsburgh, Act 2 Playhouse, WHYY, playwright, director, performer, comedy nerd, Mom. www.1812productions.org.
GENEVIEVE RANSOM: Communications and Program Manager at Headlong and oversees the Headlong Performance Institute. Following a long and varied background in the for-profit world she’s spent the last few years helping the next generation of artists promote their work and keep their money. Dance. Taxes. And Ramen.
MEGHANN WILLIAMS: Chlamydia dell’Arte: A Sex-Ed Burlesque, Flashpoint Theatre Company, The Antidote, Tribe of Fools, SoLow Festival, Thomas Choinacky, Your Sunday Best, First Person Arts, Philly Fringe; writer, performer, solo-pieces-in-the-home maker, sometimes director.