Quinn Franzen, Alex Matthews, Clare Strasser, Spike Friedman, Caitlin Sullivan, Greta Wilson, Lauren Hester, and Adam Standley on the rooftop of the Inscape Arts building. Kelly O

IS A THEATER COMPANY:

Obsessed with the collapse of civilization, capitalism, narrative, and everything else we think is secure.

INCORPORATES:

Bread, beer, foliage, dirt, flashlights, knives, swings, broken language, tarps, logs, suspenders, and the audience itself.

WANTS TO:

Push us and seduce us at the same time.

The Satori Group doesn't just make theater—it breaks theater. A pack of performers, writers, and theater artists who moved to Seattle after graduating from various colleges east of the Mississippi, they have not gone about making theater like most young companies. They do not make work you've already heard of, and they often remodel the stage and seating area for their productions. They staged their first Seattle show in 2009—Tragedy: a tragedy by playwright/provocateur Will Eno, easily Satori's most conservative production—and have grown stranger, bolder, and more rewarding since.

In 2010, they adapted the George Saunders short story "Winky" (about a sad sack who attends a self-help seminar and learns the mantra "Now is the time for me to win") and cracked open and rearranged the set several times. For reWilding, a new commission for the playwright Martyna Majok, they shattered narrative and turned their International District studio into a forest glen where refugees from civilization showed up to try to reinvent themselves (and serve you, the audience, vegan lentil soup and beer during the action). In their loopy and poetic Returning to Albert Joseph, a new play by Spike Friedman, they shoved us into a dystopian future where easy living keeps people from caring about anything and the state punishes those who care too much by taking away their words. And Satori Group's occasional Microdramas, intimate "experiences" for one audience member at a time, are experiments in comfort (one begins like a pleasure cruise) and discomfort (it ends in storminess and death)—and in taking attentiveness to the audience to the extreme.



Everything Satori Group does feels like a mapping of what it means to be human on either side—the before and after—of collapse and catastrophe. They have crazy Joyce-level ambitions to force us into engaging with their work and to create theatrical conditions that spark something more deeply resonant than simply watching another well-made play. They don't succeed 100 percent of the time—no true adventurers do—but we love them for it. Satori's actors are always a treat, with committed, nuanced, and lived-in performances. Though they're collectively working on mad-scientist experiments, their rigor has translated into individual successes on more conventional stages: Artistic director Caitlin Sullivan just won a major yearlong Drama League fellowship, and their male actors (Quinn Franzen, Adam Standley, Alex Matthews, and the rest) have been working all over town. (The fact that we see so few Satori women on other stages says more about the roles available to women than it does about their prodigious talents.) With very few resources, Satori pushes us and challenges us and seduces us at the same time. recommended