Swim Pony Performing Arts: Loud, strange and never seen before on earth! Swim Pony is committed to the creation of unique live performances that are joyful and defy tradition in order to bring contemporary audiences beyond their experiences of the every-day.
Helmed by artistic director Adrienne Mackey, Swim Pony was founded in December of 2009 to give a name to the body of genre-defying work she creates with an ensemble of multidisciplinary artists in Philadelphia. In the spring of 2010 the company premiered its critically acclaimed first work, SURVIVE! – a 22,000 square foot choose-your-own adventure installation exploring how humanity understands the universe and man’s place within it. Swim Pony followed up with 2011’s Lady M – a feminist take on Macbeth. Blending Shakespeare’s language with Mackey’s original approach to voice improvisation and performed by a 12-women ensemble, the production was called “Shakespeare reduced, simmered, teased and troubled into a peppery, satisfyingly complex dream-theater stew” by City Paper. It premiered in the 2011 Live Arts Festival and performed for over 1,000 people in eight performances.
In 2012 Swim Pony received a prestigious Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia grant for “Outside the (Black) Box” to weave the arts into the community by presenting revamped versions of plays in non-traditional spaces, including Eastern State Penitentiary and the Land Conservancy of Elkins Park. The first piece in the series – The Giant Squid – performed to over 600 people in college science lecture halls across the Philadelphia area during the fall of 2012. Swim Pony also presented The Ballad of Joe Hill at Fringe Arts 2013 which swept critics and audiences across Philadelphia as one of the year’s top Fringe productions during its sold out run. Fans includes J. Cooper Robb from Philadelphia Weekly, who said the show was one of the 17-year-old Fringe’s select “masterpieces” and Jim Rutter from The Philadelphia Inquirer, who called the show a “compelling Ballad.” Joe Hill was also featured on WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane.
The following year brought Welcome to Campus, a residency with Drexel University which explored higher education with an interactive walking tour covering two miles and twelve performance spaces. The show was featured on NPR’s NewsWorks where it was called “as awkward and honest as a college freshman.” 2014 also saw Swim Pony receiving a second Knight Arts Challenge for “Cross Pollination,” a program which explores interdisciplinary arts collaboration and which brought Mackey into contact with thirty artists working in different genres to create new hybrid products. Mackey also founded the Awesome Lady Squad, an advocacy group working towards gender parity in the arts, developed the company blog further as an avenue for exploration and communication, and formed a partnership with the Entrepreneurial Game Studio at Drexel University for research and development of projects in game/theatre hybridization.