The Civilians | The Orchard Project

The Civilians

Years: 2016

The Civilians began in 2001 with a company of artists, led by Founding Artistic Director Steve Cosson, who were interested in making new work at the intersection of the theatrical and the real. We took our name from old vaudeville slang—a “civilian” being anyone outside of show business—and we coined the term “investigative theater” to describe our combination of a creative process with field research and in-depth residencies with specific communities. This approach would yield numerous revelatory, exuberant and critically-acclaimed new plays and musicals. Shows include Gone Missing, with several US and UK tours culminating in a one-year Off-Broadway commercial run; This Beautiful City, about the politicized Evangelical movement; The Great Immensity, the first major American play about climate change; Another Word for Beauty, created from a residency inside Bogotá’s national women’s prison during their annual beauty pageant; and Pretty Filthy created from months of immersion in L.A.’s adult film industry. The company also has a rich history of nurturing new work by some of America’s leading playwrights and composers, such as Anne Washburn’s wildly inventive Mr Burns, a post-electric play, which has gone on to hundreds of subsequent productions around the world and was recently named the fourth best play of the past twenty-five years by The New York Times.