As PHIT continues to transform and grow in the coming months we must give a loving goodbye to the extremely talented team that is Trash Island. Over the past year Trash Island has evolved into an amazing ensemble of supportive, witty, unique players that have brought remarkable shows to the PHIT stage.
As it so happens in the lifespan of every team – from auditions, to casting, to practicing, to performing – Trash Island will be retiring at the end of this month.
As we reach their final performance (December 12th 9:00 P.M.) we’ve asked the cast to share their thoughts about this great team.
Performing every week with these weirdo goofballs was an experience I’ll never forget. Being on Trash Island helped me grow tremendously, as an improvisor and as a human being. Big thanks to PHIT and Jess Snow for letting us be as strange as we wanted to be for so long. – Mallory Rhodes
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with Trash Island on the PHIT stage. It’s really wonderful to reflect on the journey the team has taken as well as the tremendous growth I’ve been able to witness in each performer individually. I recall very vividly on the first day of rehearsal, Jess asked us who knew of or had performed a Harold. Less than half of our nine members raised their hands, but over time I think we found something really wonderful about how we took that form and gave it our own unique point of view. Its hard for me to put into words what Trash Island is or how we played, but I can’t help but think of us like a bunch of young kids on the playground. Timid, shy, and scared, but fiercely loyal, tremendously supportive of each other, and always with a sense of wonder, innocence, and excitement. So often, Jess would caution us to start our scene work small and grounded, but so often, we’d find a way of cramming 4, 5, or 6 people into our first scene. We just loved each other and we loved being on stage with each other.
As a teammate, scene partner, and side-line audience member, I’ve gotten the ability to watch a group of really talented people grow into some really special actors to the Philly comedy community and beyond.
Stephanie – A Trash Island original member who brought such a wonderful point of view to all of her scene work. She was the queen of dead pan and straight manning and playing with her provided a opportunities to discover layers, deep worlds, and grounded commentary.
Stuart – Stuart brought very unique, absurd, and richly detailed characters into all of his scene work. He created characters and drama out of nothing more than simply sitting and eating a clementine. He challenged his scene partners to live and enjoy the tension and was a mental work out any time I had the opportunity to straight man for him.
Kevin Murphy – Kevin brought such joy and excitement to all of his improv. He was fearless and unapologetic, often starting scenes with nothing more than a physical twitch, a bounce in his step, or an odd vocal choice and within seconds found a way to weave it into a fully formed person. He does an amazing John Travolta impression and playing against him in a scene was always a pure joy because there wasn’t anything I could offer him that he wouldn’t gladly take and turn into comedy and instant laughs.
Mallory – In many ways Mallory was the Harry Potter of our group She came onto our team as a meek, young, but excited raw talent and I am so lucky to have had a front row seat to watching her grow into an incredible risk taker, polished technical improviser, and a strong and dedicated leader for our team. I never had any fear or uncertainly playing with Mallory. Playing with her was pure excitement and wonder, knowing that whatever turn we took or curve ball she threw would be an adventure but I was safe by her side. I’m touched to have been her Sirius Black.
Ned – Ned evolved tremendously as an improviser and actor during our time. Ned is so, so smart and so passionate about life and learning it was always wonderful to see the amazing details he managed to seamlessly weave into his characters and scenes. I’ll always be impressed with his intelligence and his dedication to the craft of improv. He worked hard and played hard and made every scene and character beautifully real and he made me a better performer for it.
Ricky – I had an acting teacher once tell me that we should approach acting and improv like a child. Children are fearless and unapologetic. They create worlds and play with reckless abandon and innocence. Ricky personifies everything that is good about “playing like a child.” Watching Ricky improv is like watching a puppy on Christmas morning. Everything is new and shiny. He has so much fun in the worlds that he creates and I always loved watching the moments when he got so wrapped up in his scenes that his excitement would bubble over into laughter. Plus he was able to offer so many brilliant button lines for our shows.
Kim – Kim was a grounding force for our team. In a world of absurd characters and bizarre choices, she brought emotional intelligence and weight to every scene she was in. Kim did not only care about us as scene partners, she cared about us as people. Her warmth and kindness radiated out of every scene she did and playing with her was always a reminder that relationships are key to any solid scene
Jamie – Jamie impresses me so much as an improviser and I am so lucky to performed with him. He has the rare ability to take the shape of whatever a particular scene or show needs. He thinks on multiple levels and is so smart about the choices he makes. Jamie is a selfless gifter who has left me speechless at his brilliance and a smart justifier, who can hit anything you throw at him for a home run. He makes bold character choices, yet surprises you with a grounded, emotional, real character that is wonderfully funny yet tragically heartbreaking. He’s a tremendous actor and I cant wait to continue to watch him perform at PHIT.
Kevin Ruth – Kevin makes such strong, detailed choices and his skills as a writer have helped to shape and craft many a scene. Countless times, we found ourselves starting a group game and out of the corner of my eye, I’d find Kevin driving with a brilliant physical choice or solid object work. His scene work is nuanced and the worlds he creates are always perfectly painted. He responds without hesitation as if his dialogue is a memorized script and is always finding ways to heighten and explore. Hoffman is lucky to have him join their ranks. – Dave Sucharski
I moved to New York a month into rehearsing. I didn’t even perform in front of an audience with them. Then I moved back, saw a couple of their shows, enjoyed them, and moved away again.
However, I can say that I met some great people. Also, Trash Island. I was so proud of that name. It wasn’t even my idea. I was just very proud to be a part of something named Trash Island. I didn’t even get to be proud out loud! The revealing was after I moved.
Anyways, things come to an end and better thing come about.
Enjoy your new projects, Trash Islanders! – Stephanie Drejerwski
I am incredibly thankful to Jess and the theater for the opportunity to be a part of Trash Island. While I had taken improv classes in St. Louis and Philly, Trash Island was my first official team and it played a huge role in making Philly feel like home to me. I had only been in the city for a few months when I joined the team and my teammates made me feel like family from day one. We grew to love playing together so much that we often ended up with a million people in our scenes, even during first beats. At some point, we decided to embrace our undying love for group scenes and we haven’t looked back since.
I’ve really enjoyed seeing our growth over time, both as individuals and as a team. Each person brought something special to the team – Dave’s initiations and amazing sideline support, Kevin Ruth’s beautiful attention to detail, Jamie’s ability to up the stakes in every scene, Stuart’s unique characters, Kevin Murphy’s enthusiasm, Ricky’s creative worlds with endless possibilities, Ned’s character voices and brilliant pulls, and Mallory’s fearlessness and ability to “yes, and” anything… and so much more. I was also lucky enough to work with Stephanie in class and on an indie team – her expressions and clever choices will always make me smile. My improv journey has been richer because of every person on this team and every adventure we had, whether it was during practices, on our home stage at PHIT, or at festivals in Bethlehem, North Carolina, and New York.
Many of my favorite Trash Island memories involve warmups… singing at the top of our lungs about how a certain teammate needs a good man each time we conquer a mind meld, turning over every chair in sight, and creating all sorts of chaos. I wish every day could start with a warmup and so much joy. It’s a beautiful thing.
Finding time to play make-believe with people you love is worth it. Thank you to everyone who came out to see us play together onstage. I hope you had fun and enjoyed seeing your suggestions turn into Trash Island originals. And thank you to Greg, Jess, Kristin, Ralph, the theater’s many volunteers, and each of my teammates for making this an amazing journey. – Kim Dahl
Survivors journal, day 479:
If you had told me 479 days ago that I would be shipwrecked only to be saved by the floating garbage mass located somewhere in the pacific know as the Trash Island and that the other survivors I would meet there would become a loyal, goofy, comfortable, and endlessly ambitious ragtag family I would’ve said “Like and environmentally conscious update on Gilligan’s Island?” But more importantly, if you had told me back then that these people and the experiences we would share would go on to become more important that coming up with a zany (if derivative) sitcom premise I would have been shocked. To use a simile, living on this island has been like if, I don’t know, maybe you’d been learning improv and thought you knew what you were doing only to find out that the only way you learn improv is by doing it for audiences with a group of people you’ve fallen a little bit in love with. But of course that’s just a for-instance, we’re on a floating island of trash, for god sakes! And I’ve become better at surviving on an island because I’ve had the distinct honor to truly learn how to survive from survival geniuses: Dave, Ruthie, Kim, Ricky, Mal, Ned, Murph, Stuart, and Jess. Thanks a milli– A BOAT! OH GOD, WE’RE SAVED! – Jamie Glasheen
The thing I will take with me from watching Trash Island was how playful they were as a team. They masterfully constructed chaos and always seemed to be a little more off the leash than some other teams. I will miss them. – Kristen Schier
I remember sitting in on Trash Island rehearsals and seeing them warm up for shows and thinking how in love they all are with each other. And that feeling translated to the stage. There shows were always so much fun to watch. I’ll miss you all! – Ralph Andracchio
You can purchase tickets for the Dec. 12th show here!