Fri. & Sat. July 5-6 at 8pm, Sunday July 7 at 4pm

Lead Writer/Performer/Deviser: HILARY CHAPLAIN
Director/Deviser NANCY SMITHNER
Puppeteeers/Makers/Devisers: ARIEL LAURYN & MINDY ESCOBAR-LEANSE
Composer/Musician: SERGEI DREZNIN
Scenic Design: JUDY GAILEN

Our 2019 season opens with THE LAST RAT OF THERESIENSTADT, a show about Sofia Brünn, a Weimar cabaret star from 1930’s Berlin who finds herself transplanted to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. In this completely foreign habitat, she forges an unlikely friendship with Pavel, a rat (played by a puppet), who despite the lack of food that has driven away the rest of his kind, remains out of love for her and her art.

THE LAST RAT is show about resistance and hope, and the need to fill the soul as well as the body. A black comedy, it’s a low tech, multi-media play with music, rod/bunraku style puppetry (our titular Rat), shadow puppetry,  overhead projections (artwork from the camp used to set the scene and illustrate a landscape for our story) — and three performers.

Developed at Ko during a 2017 rehearsal residencythe piece was performed in New York at The Tank and to sold-out houses at two theater/puppet festivals in Poland.  It won the Jury Grand Prize, Student Jury Prize, Audience Prize, A Moment of Beauty in Puppetry  awards at the  Lalka Tez Cztowiek Puppet Fest, Warsaw, Poland. It will be touring to Israel in the fall.

For adults, but appropriate for mature 10-11 year olds and up. Running time: Approx 75 mins.

SKU: RAT-19 Category:



HILARY CHAPLAIN (Head Writer/Actor/Deviser) tours internationally with A Life in Her Day directed by Avner Eisenberg, and in variety shows worldwide with her short comic numbers. Awards include Arlekin Solo Puppet Festival (Grand Prize), the XXI International Festival “Valise” (Acting Award) both in Poland, and in Havana, Cuba at Aquelarre 2006 (three Awards including the Grand Prize). Hilary was an original cast member in Bill Irwin’s Largely/New York and appeared on Broadway in the Public Theatre production of The Tempest  directed by George C. Wolfe. She played a featured role in Forrest Gump, and a lawyer on Law and Order Criminal Intent. Hilary entertained children in NYC hospitals as “Nurse Nice” of the renowned Big Apple Circus Hospital Clown Program® (since 1987) and is a founding member of the New York Goofs, a clown ensemble. For more visit

NANCY SMITHNER (Director/Deviser) is a performer, teacher and director. She has been teaching Physical Theatre, Acting, Mime, and Directing for the Program in Educational Theatre since 1986. She has also taught at many other venues such as Tisch School of the Arts; Playwrights Horizons, Circle in the Square Theatre School, School for Movement Research, the New York Dance Intensive, the Berkshire Theatre Festival and Soongsil University in Seoul, Korea. As a director, she specializes in devised theatre.

ARIEL LAUREN (Puppeteer/Maker/Deviser) has performed with The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show  (Acorn Theater), The Talking Band, Columbia Stages, Stegosaurus Theater, LES Shakespeare and Co., The Ume Group, and Lady Fest at The Tank. She creates original works, ranging from slapstick shorts (Dixon Place, Bindlestiff Variety Show) to a webseries, Illuminutty, to a physical comedy one-act, Whether We Like It or Not. Puppet-wise, she builds, performs, and teaches with The Puppet Kitchen, has created pieces and performed for Puppet Playlist (Sinkingship Productions, Triskelion Arts), puppeteered for the short film The Neverbell, and hand-acted in web commercials with VaynerMedia.

MINDY ESCOBAR-LEANSE (Puppeteer/Maker/Deviser) is an actor/puppeteer who collaborates with many companies around NYC. Some of these include: The Puppet Kitchen, Puppet Shakespeare Players, Exquisite Corpse Company and One Blue Cat Productions. She is also a resident company member of the Wildlife Theatre bringing environmental education to kids all around the 5 boroughs.

SERGEI DREZNIN (Composer/Musician) is a Moscow-born New York-based Austro-Russian award-winning concert pianist and composer. He has performed in venues such as the Vienna Konzerthaus, Moscow’s House of Music and the Teatro Olympico in Vicenza. He is a welcomed guest at international music gatherings – Bard Festival, Julian Rachlin and Friends, Annecy classic… He has had 17 shows produced on stages in Paris, Vienna, Moscow, Madrid and New York. They include Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo, 9.11 – the Witness and YAMA – the whorehouse musical. His musical epic Catherine the Great has been running in Russia over 10 years to sold-out houses and has won the Golden Mask – Russia’s Tonys. At present, 24 Hours in the Life of a Woman is touring Spain. In 1992, Segrei Dreznin was invited by a Viennese writer, actor and director to revive the legendary cabaret from the Ghetto Terezin, Songs and Satire from Theresienstadt which has toured German-speaking countries, and was produced in the US and in France.

SABRINA HAMILTON (Lighting Design) co-founded and is the Artistic Director of the Ko Festival of Performance in Amherst, MA. For many years she worked with the New York theatre company Mabou Mines as Lighting Designer, Production Manager, Stage Manager, Performer, and Assistant Director. Other credits include work at the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Goodman Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and 6 years as Route Lighting Designer for New York’s Village Halloween Parade under the direction of Ralph Lee. International lighting credits include work in Berlin, Bologna, Florence, Milan, London, Grenada, Geneva, Nuremburg, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Brussels, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, at the Bristol Old Vic, the Theatre Academy in Tampere, Finland, and at the International Theatre Festival in Havana, Cuba. She has spent much of the past several years touring with Sandglass Theater. as the lighting designer for their production of D-GENERATION: An Exaltation of Larks, the show that closed Ko’s season on “Age & Aging.”

Sabrina’s directing work, primarily original pieces, has been seen in New York, Berlin and throughout New England. She directed CRAVINGS: Songs of Hunger and Satisfaction, that premiered at the 2008 Ko Festival and then went on on to a three-week, sold-out run at the Central Square Theatre in Cambridge, MA, where it garnered a  nomination for an IRNE Award.  Other directing  credits include, INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS, the show that will close Ko’s 2018 season.

JUDY GAILEN (Scenic Designer) has designed sets (and sometimes costumes) for theater and opera throughout the US, including La Jolla Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, Asolo Rep, Portland Stage, Beau Jest Moving Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse, Trinity Rep, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Merrimack Rep, Opera Maine, Music Academy of the West, and Anchorage Opera, as well as off and off-off Broadway. She also designed and directed The Stooge: A Troubled Clown for Troubled Times and other works written and performed by her husband, Michael Trautman. A graduate of The Yale Drama School, and currently Adjunct Lecturer in Design in the Theater & Dance Dept. at Bowdoin College, Judy was awarded a 2003 Maine Arts Commission Fellowship for artistic excellence.

STEPHEN RINGOLD (Dramaturg)  Stephen is an N.E.A./Rockefeller Foundation grant recipient for his exploration of collaboration between the fine arts and performing arts. His original works for theatre and circus have been produced in festivals, theaters, and arenas in the Far East, the Middle East, across Eastern and Western Europe, and throughout the United States. He assistant directed for the 1997 Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Dario Fo, in Mr. Fo’s production of Il Barbarie De Savilia, at the Dutch National Opera House. As an actor he has appeared in the title role of Elizabeth Swados’ award-winning musical Job, as Krogstad in the Other Theatre’s A Doll’s House, as Creon in Jean Anouillh’s Antigone at Primary Stages, and in numerous other Off-Broadway and regional performances.

JASON HICKS (Additional Maker/Deviser) is a self-taught puppeteer, trombone player, and print maker. Hicks co-founded the RPM Puppet conspiracy (2001-present), The Flying Donkey Theater (2009-present) the Semi-Upright Puppet Collective (2005-Present), the Boxcutter Cabaret and has worked for the Bread & Puppet Theater as a puppeteer and the band leader for the past decade, writing, building & touring puppet shows around the US and overseas.  He began working with Papel Machete in 2012 in NYC and Puerto Rico and with the Flying Donkey Theater co-founder, Federica Colina. Jason has worked in numerous schools, universities and institutions around the Eastcoast, building puppet shows of all sizes with various communities.

Additional information


Adult $24 (includes $2.00 processing fee), Senior-65+ $20 (includes $2.00 processing fee), Student $20 (includes $2.00 processing fee), People with SNAP or EBT cards $11 (includes $1 processing fee)


Friday 8pm, Saturday 8pm, Sunday 4pm

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