Theatre Project announces a very special residency presentation of 'Expedition 6', a new play in workshop by well-known Hollywood actor Bill Pullman. The piece has been created in association with the 2006 graduating class of the National Theatre Conservatory, based at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

'Expedition 6' an "epic story of space with trapeze and toy tanks," was written and directed by Pullman and co-directed by Jennifer McCray Rincon. Employing aerial trapeze techniques with compelling visual and musical elements, "Expedition 6" tells of the emergency rescue of two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut from the International Space Station shortly after the Columbia Shuttle disaster of February 1, 2003, and event largely overshadowed by the impending invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The uniquely precarious predicament of the space travelers creates a charged atmosphere for emotional, spiritual, and technical debates that shaped the rescue and its times. The play's narrative is taken entirely from documented transcripts, and places the events in a larger context of global politics and diplomacy. The work is physically demanding and incorporates aerial choreography by Robert Davidson, Head of Movement at NTC since 1997.

As a special community event, the cast and crew have graciously agreed to present an excerpt of 'Expedition 6' for Artscape audiences at 8 pm, Friday, July 21, followed by a Q&A session moderated by Vincent Lancisi, Artistic Director of Everyman Theater. The free tickets for this event will become available at Theater Project beginning at 6 pm that day. An aerial workshop with cast members will be held Saturday morning, July 22, with pre-registration required and available through the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

On Friday and Saturday, July 28 & 29 at 8 pm, 'Expedition 6' will be presented in its entirety in two open rehearsals. With a suggested donatioin of $25 at the door, the two evenings will help support Theatre Project, which has sponsored the project through the generous donation of the West Preston Street facility.

For more information on 'Expedition 6' at Theatre Project, visit the website or call 410-752-8558. For more information on Artscape activities, please visit

Expedition 6 mission patch
Bill Pullman - Artistic Statement

July 2006 Theatre Project- Baltimore

I was essentially speechless for most of 2003. I was shocked occasionally, numb on other occasions, at times had body aches, and then developed a ceaseless appetite for sucking up data from every perspective. Outwardly, I functioned. I "talked", but I was always speaking fragments of things I heard and was trying to digest. I needed the theater.

We've used "found texts" taken from the news (i.e. AP Space News, NY Times), Internet (i.e. Osama Bin Laden's Speech to the American People, NASA Space Logs), books (i.e. The Koran, Bernard Lewis' "What Went Wrong") and video (i.e. NASA products like "The Space Shuttle Story", etc.)

Expedition 6 was born in Denver. My friend, Jennifer McCray Rincon, is the Co-Chair of Acting for the National Theater Conservatory, a three-year MFA actor training program that is a branch of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. They happen to have trapeze as part of their physical training.

The actors are now professionals living in New York City. We all came together a few weeks ago at the Kennedy Center to be in residence for a playwrights' intensive workshop sponsored by the ACTF. Then we came to the Baltimore Theatre Project to do more work and plan for the future with some key supporters. Thanks to all the folks who made this happen. Thanks to you for coming tonight. Hope you stay for the talk back.

--Bill Pullman

Bill Pullman directs a rehearal for his play "Expedition 6"
Program Biography - Bill Pullman
Bill Pullman was a professional theater director in an earlier life, before beginning to act in the theater in New York City and in Los Angeles. He has acted in over forty movies, directed a film for television and an episode of a series.
Review "Expedition 6" July 2006 Theatre Project Baltimore
by Mary Cochrane McIvor

With a bare stage, eight actors, no costumes, and minimal, but very imaginative props, "Expedition 6" tells an epic story. It has stark grandeur, edginess, and a soul. Using 'found' texts from the news, internet, books, and video, the story of Expedition 6 of the International Space Station, the loss of the Colombia space shuttle in January 2003, and the rescue of two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut from the ISS in 2003 is played out. In this open rehearsal, we see only Acts 1 and 2.

In the background, the audience encounters an unrelenting look at the realities, challenges, and beauty of scientific exploration; the NASA culture of maintaining a positive outlook no matter what and staying 'on task'; the media barrage of information, facts, and ideas that we are assaulted with daily; and the horrific historic events of the Colombia space shuttle crash and the Iraq war.

Eight phenomenal actors: John Behlmann, Karl Hanover, Jillian LaVinka, Eileen Little, Robert Karma Robinson, Brent Rose, Amber Violes and Justin Walvoord relay their way deftly through various roles. They are in turn: astronauts, news reporters, NASA officials, wives of astronauts, the man in the street, NASA ground crew, and religious leaders.

The huge open space of the theater is constantly reshaped by the actors--and Bill Pullman's sharply focused direction--to create moments that illuminate, marvel in wonder, and question. The use of low-flying trapezes broadens the use of space and suggests the freedom of weightlessness. In one sequence, the trapezes are used to depict a reporter's exclusive interview with the ISS crew soon after the loss of Colombia. The swinging trapezes reinforce the urgency and thrill of getting the exclusive in very unusual circumstances.

The actors all move among their roles through the space on stage with a focus and presicion of intent that are incredible and compelling.

"Expedition 6" is densely packed with ideas, questions, and insights about philosophy, psychology, ethics, science, and history--all put before us in the context of a person's encounter with these issues. There are no easy answers given, but a whole world of ideas, thoughtful consideration, and possibilities opens up for the audience through the magic of this sharp and stunning production.

Conceived, devised & directed by Bill Pullman

Producer-Co-Director: Jennifer McCray Rincon

Aerial Choreography & Sound Design: Robert Davidson

Sound Design & Original Music: Gary Grundel

Lighting Design: Kel Millionie

Cast members Justin Imwalvoord, Rob Robinson, and Brent Rose rehearse for "Expedition 6" at Theatre Project.
Jillian La Vinka -"Expedition 6" Open Rehearsal in Baltimore
Expedition 6 Press Kit
Denver Center for the Performing Arts - October 2004
Adapted and Directed by Bill Pullman

Eight highly physical actors, within a performance space, transformed at various times by up to five low-flying trapeze sets, perform Expedition 6 -- the true story of the rescue of two American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut from the International Space Station following the Colombia shuttle catastrophe of February 1, 2003.

The predicaments faced by the crew of Expedition 6 were completely overshadowed at the time by the imminent invasion of Iraq on March 22, 2003. Within a climate of global anxiety stemming from the Islamic/Western face-off, NASA and its International Space Station partners needed to face the challenge of successfully executing the multi-national space rescue of Astronauts Ken Bowersox and Don Petit and Cosmonaut Nickolai Budarin and returning them to their waiting families.

Expedition 6 tells the story of that mission within its global context by employing a visually compelling and kinetic performance style. Using a narrative taken from the documented words of the wide assembly of people connected directly and indirectly to the epic incident, the actors reveal the charged emotional, spiritual and technical debates that shaped the rescue and its times.

If the mission had failed, the loss of the three crew members of Expedition 6 -- added to the loss of the seven crew members of the Colombia just three months before-- most certainly would have meant the end of manned U.S. space missions for years to come. The fact that it succeeded through many harrowing and haunting twists and turns is the basis for our production.

Director's Note
June 2004

by Bill Pullman

Working on this piece, I've had to remember things I'd forgotten or could only half envision. And some discoveries we have made on this project seem to have a parallel with what we are discovering about our country. We've been dealing with individual efforts, collaboration and listening to all the perspectives as we commit to action.

With this project, I'd forgotten how interesting actors are when they have a huge job in front of them. Pushing through a dense stream of paradoxes, contradictions, and facts, they are forced to simiplify their focus. I remembered how much stronger is an effort if it is made by a team of collaborators. Jennifer who extended the invitation to come to Denver, and Bob who showed us the mysteries of the gravity-reducing trapeze and Gary who wanted to weave a very specific cloth of sound unique to "Six." I was reminded that institutions can be useful sponsors of purposeful action, and not a cover for conspiring and controlling individuals. My thanks to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and New York Stage and Film.

I only had half heard the voices coming out of the incidents of space exploration and geo-political conflict. This project allows us to remember the purification that comes from swimming through the passion of words that pour out of all parites involved. The words that are spoken are real--drawn from astronauts such as Rick Husband, John Glenn, Judy Resnik; journalists such as William Langewiesche, Thomas Friedman; websites such as The Council on Foreign Relations, Wikipedia, AP Space News; religiously driven individuals such as Osama Bin Laden, the Reverend Doctor Cky J. Carrigan; and the translation of the Koran and Cicero.