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Work Samples

Stranger Kindness

Excerpt from The Acme Corporation's "Stranger Kindness," directed, adapted and arranged by Stephen Nunns and Lola B. Pierson. Sound design by Stephen Nunns. Video by Thomas Kessler. Stranger Kindness was a misinterpretation of the American classic "A Streetcar Named Desire." "Scene 3: Stanley and Stella argue about Blanche." (Performer: Britt Olsen-Ecker)

follow no strangers.mp3

"And now it is and there's nothing left to say," from "Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places." Composed and performed by Stephen Nunns. The play lovingly followed two characters’ repeated—and constantly interrupted—attempts at making a piece of theatre. Short vignettes of various styles of theatre and performance were presented. Live performance recording from May 2018. Vocals: Molly Cohen, Deirdre McAllister, Kristina Szilagyi and Caelyn Somerville.

shantih shantih.mp3

Demo for "The Waste Land Project," "shantih shantih." Text: T.S. Eliot Music: Stephen Nunns The Waste Land Project will be produced in the spring of 2019 by The Acme Corporation.

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About Stephen

Baltimore City

Stephen Nunns's picture
Stephen Nunns is the cofounder of the Baltimore theatre company, The Acme Corporation, where he has co-directed, arranged and adapted, composed music and designed sound for a number of productions, including Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places (“Best Play – 2018,” Baltimore Magazine) Stranger Kindness (a “misinterpretation” of A Streetcar Named Desire, which received “Best Play – 2017,” from Baltimore City Paper) and the company's 24-hour production of Samuel Beckett's Play (“Best Production” -... more

The Waste Land Project

The Waste Land Project is the working title of a new piece that I am currently composing and will be directing in the Spring of 2019. The piece is a musical adaptation of T.S. Eliot's classic modernist text. By placing Eliot's words in a contemporary musical setting for three female voices, and connecting it to a non-linear narrative exploring the life of Eliot's first wife, Vivienne, the piece will explore the connections and dichotomies of presenting The Waste Land in a 21st century context. The Waste Land Project will be produced by The Acme Corporation.

These recordings are working demos of this project-in-process.

  • april.mp3

    Demo for "The Waste Land Project." Text: T.S. Eliot Music: Stephen Nunns
  • shantih shantih.mp3

    Demo for "The Waste Land Project," "shantih shantih." Text: T.S. Eliot Music: Stephen Nunns The Waste Land Project will be produced in the spring of 2019 by The Acme Corporation.
  • Madame Sosostris.mp3

    Demo for "The Waste Land Project." Text: T.S. Eliot Music: Stephen Nunns
  • hyacinth girl.mp3

    Demo for "The Waste Land Project." Text: T.S. Eliot Music: Stephen Nunns

Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

Co-director and composer. Produced by The Acme Corportion in 2017.

Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places by Lola B. Pierson deconstructed the audience’s experience of watching. The play lovingly followed two characters’ repeated—and constantly interrupted—attempts at making a piece of theatre.

Short vignettes of various styles of theatre and performance were presented: A short play in the style of Samuel Beckett; a Phillip Glass-style composition presented in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Einstein on the Beach; and a German-language puppet show were among the pieces presented. Meanwhile, audience members were at various times instructed to listen--via individual headsets--to a narration that deconstructed the experience of watching the piece.

Through constant breaks, disruptions and disconnections, the show broke down theatrical narrative; explored the relation of fiction to real life; and ultimately tried to answer the question of why anyone would want to make art in the first place.

"Best Play - 2018" ~ Baltimore Magazine

"[Follow No Strangers] is next-level stuff. And it’s brilliant."
~ Cassandra Miller, DCMetroTheaterArts

“...if there’s one thing Acme doesn’t do is odd and weird for its own sake. There’s an intentionality behind every element of the presentation… if you allow it, this Acme production encourages you to start thinking about everything else you consume in different ways. Take the red pill.”
~ Bret McCabe, Bmore Art

  • Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

    "Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places" (co-director and composer, The Acme Corporation, 2018)
  • follow no strangers.mp3

    "And now it is and there's nothing left to say," from "Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places." Composed and performed by Stephen Nunns. The play lovingly followed two characters’ repeated—and constantly interrupted—attempts at making a piece of theatre. Short vignettes of various styles of theatre and performance were presented. Live performance recording from May 2018. Vocals: Molly Cohen, Deirdre McAllister, Kristina Szilagyi and Caelyn Somerville.
  • Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

    Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places (co-director), The Acme Corporation, 2017
  • Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places

    "Follow No Strangers To All The Fun Places"

Stranger Kindness

Co-direction, adaptation, arrangement and sound design. Stranger Kindness was a misinterpretation of the American classic A Streetcar Named Desire. Using the actions, intentions and emotions of the original script, the piece alternated between a play and a video being live filmed for the audience.

Williams' play was distilled down to a four-character hour-and-a-quarter performance. The dialogue from the play was substituted with other texts: Blanche DuBois' lines came from various Samuel Beckett plays and prose, Stella's lines were pulled from Thornton Wilder's "Our Town, and the character Mitch spoke lines from a variety of feminist theory texts. Stanley Kowalski's language was actually pulled from the soundtrack of the classic 1951 film, so Marlon Brando's disembodied voice was the only trace left--language-wise--of Williams' text. Portions of the performance were presented via live video to twenty small monitors that were situated in front of the audience members.

"Best Play - 2017" ~ Baltimore City Paper

"Acme offers up probably the most radical and punk rock art thing happening in the city right now. And yet, it's faithful to the Williams play in the ways that matter—namely, mood, message, and atmosphere."
~ The Baltimore City Paper

"The whole experience is uncanny, difficult, and exhilarating."
~ Abraham Burickson, Odyssey Works

Killer's Head

(Director) This Sam Shepard monologue–the last fleeting thoughts of a man about to die in an electric chair–was performed by Chris Ashworth and produced by the Acme Corporation in 2013.

The play was staged it in the bell tower of St. Mark’s Church, a claustrophobic, stone-encased, dungeon of a room that fit approximately 18 people per performance. In a mere 10 minutes, Ashworth’s bravura performance went through a myriad of thoughts and emotions during the condemned man’s final moments.

Selected by The Baltimore Sun as one of the “Best on Baltimore stages in 2013,” Sun reviewer Tim Smith referred to Ashworth’s performance as one of “virtuosic nuance and arresting intensity.”

Play

Play, co-directed with Lola B. Pierson, took Samuel Beckett’s stage direction—“repeat play”—at the end of the script literally: the piece ran repeatedly for 12 hours starting at 12 p.m. on March 15, 2013 (concluding at 12 a.m. on March 16), and 24 hours starting at 12 p.m. on March 22 (concluding at 12 p.m. on March 23). Audience members came to performance anytime during the 12- or 24-hour run of the piece.

This was partially an experiment in endurance—the company was particularly interested in seeing how the piece would “break down” over an extended period of time. Such temporal concerns are not that uncommon in the world of performance art, but it is not something that one normally encounters in traditional theatrical settings.

There were a total of four iterations of the play, with each repetition taking approximately one hour. (The text normally takes about ten minutes to perform.) First, the play was presented in a more or less “traditional” way, with individual lights illuminating each of the characters as they stand side by side reciting their lines. The second iteration was a typically British bourgeois cocktail party that broke down into a drunken revelry. The third was a metatheatrical moment in which the actors relaxed, ate and recited the lines out of character. The last iteration were monologues created for each character from the text.

Play was recognized as Best Production in the City Paper’s Best of Baltimore for 2013 and one of the performers, Sophie Hinderberger, won best actress for 2013 in part for her work in the piece.

  • Play

    Play (co-director), The Acme Corporation, 2013.
  • Play

    Play (co-director), The Acme Corporation

Not I

(Director) Not I was produced as part of Acme Corporation’s Rogue Waves—an evening of short plays in February 2012 at the Bell Foundry. The presentation of the piece was a radical rethinking of Samuel Beckett's play. Rather than presenting it in the traditional way—“a stage in darkness but for a mouth . . . faintly lit from close-up and below”—the actress, Sarah Lloyd’s face was totally lit and her voice was amplified by a visible microphone. At the end of each section of the play, Lloyd put her head in a 50 gallon fish tank filled with water, with a video camera underneath. The image of her face under water was shown on a television screen stage left.

  • Not I

    Not I (director) - The Acme Corporation, 2012
  • Play

    Play (director) The Acme Corporation 2012

Fucking A

(Director) Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlet Letter, Fucking A by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, offers a bleak and dystopian view of the sadistic power games we are forced to play as members of a ‘free’ and modern society.

REVIEWS

“Fucking A is fucking brilliant…this is a terrific production, and we can only be grateful to Iron Crow for bringing it to us.” – John B. Gohn, Broadway World Baltimore

“Baltimore’s queer theater, Iron Crow, proves the perfect push-the-envelope match for Parks’ distinctive theatrics. They are more than up to the linguistic, musical, political and sexual demands of the play and their production crackles with danger and unsettling power.” – Jayne Blanchard, DC Theatre Scene

“…an extremely unusual, gripping, and powerful play, which is now being given a splendid new production by Baltimore’s Iron Crow Theatre.” – Michael Poandl, DC Metro Theatre Arts

“Evocative, intensely performed and strongly directed, Fucking A stays with you, especially in a time like this. Incredibly well done. See it.” – Pandora Locks, The Bad Oracle

“Iron Crow Theatre has found its niche with these edgy, queer and dark productions. Fucking A is the latest entry in the catalogue of well-performed and directed plays and is highly recommended.” – Steve Charring, OUTspoken

The Memo

(Director) The Memo by Václav Havel, produced by Single Carrot Theatre, 2014. Upon reflection, it became apparent that 50 years after the first production of Havel’s critique of Communist Party bureaucracy and conformity and 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union and its satellites didn’t have the corner on top-heavy bureaucracies. Anyone who’s gone to the Maryland DMV knows that.

So, rather than simply making this a send-up of Czechoslovakia or Communism, I set the play in the contemporary United States in a government office in Washington, DC. In a moment of corporate personhood, government gridlock, surveillance techniques and torture were in the forefront of our national consciousness, the choice had more than a little resonance.

“With The Memo, Single Carrot manages to balance its tendency toward avant garde, progressive theater with excellent acting and staging, resulting in one of the best local productions this year.” – Evan Serpick, City Paper

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