The Object Lesson


By Geoff Sobelle
Directed by David Neumann
Scenic Installation Design by Steven Dufala

2016/17 Season

January 31, 2017—March 5, 2017

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Actor-illusionist-inventor and NYTW Usual Suspect Geoff Sobelle’s “virtuosic” New York Times Critics Pick The Object Lesson comes to NYTW for a strictly limited engagement. This immersive theatrical installation turns the theatre into a storage facility of gargantuan proportion where audiences are free to roam and poke through the clutter. Sobelle transforms this makeshift attic into a space of reflection and wonder as he unpacks our relationship to everyday objects: breaking, buying, finding, fixing, giving, losing, winning, trading, selling, stealing, storing, collecting, cluttering, clearing, packing up, passing on, buried under… a world of things. The Object Lesson is a meditation on the stuff we cling to and the crap we leave behind.



Listen to creator and performer Geoff Sobelle chat with NPR’s “All Things Considered” about the creation of THE OBJECT LESSON and the relationship people have to “the stuff” in their lives.


Last summer, the New Museum hosted a four-floor exhibit called "The Keeper" that housed over 4,000 collected objects. Get a look behind the expansive exhibit that investigated the items we keep and why.

  • Creator/Performer

    GEOFF SOBELLE is a theatre artist dedicated to the “sublime ridiculous.” He is the co-artistic director of rainpan 43, a renegade absurdist outfit devoted to creating original actor-driven performance works. Using illusion, film and out-dated mechanics, R43 creates surreal, poetic pieces that look for humanity where you least expect it and find grace where no one is looking. R43’s shows include: all wear bowlers (Innovative Theatre Award, Drama Desk nomination), Amnesia Curiosa, machines machines machines machines machines machines machines (OBIE award – design), and Elephant Room (commissioned by Center Theatre Group). His independent work includes Flesh and Blood & Fish and Fowl (Edinburgh Fringe First Award) and The Object Lesson (Commissioned by Lincoln Center3, Bessie Award, Edinburgh Fringe First Award, Carol Tambor Award, Total Theatre Award, NYTimes Critics Pick). He has been a company member of Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre Company since 2001. His projects have been supported by the MAP Fund, the Independence Foundation, the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, the Wyncote Foundation, US Arts International, the Princeton Atelier and the New England Foundation for the Arts. He is a 2006 Pew Fellow and is a 2009 Creative Capital grantee. Geoff graduated with honors from Stanford University and trained in physical theatre at École Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

David Neumann / Director

NYTW: Beckett Shorts (actor), Soho Rep/Ars Nova: Futurity, Soho Rep: An Octoroon, Molly’s Dream. BAM: Hagoromo, The Object Lesson  (director). Public Theater: Richard III, Henry IV, The Bacchae, The Total Bent. Artistic Director, Advanced Beginner Group, Abrons Arts Center/The Chocolate Factory: I Understand Everything Better (2 Bessie Awards)

Steven Dufala / Scenic Installation Design

Steven Dufala is a multidisciplinary artist based in Philadelphia. While he works primarily in collaboration with his brother Billy, he also works on as many other projects in as many other fields as possible, being drawn in particular to works that explore overlapping concerns of various disciplines. He makes drawings, clothes, furniture, prints, music, sculpture, photos, books, and thinks an awful lot about what all these things have in common and what on earth people do with them. Steven has been working intermittently with dance and theatre as a designer for about 15 years, and over this time has worked with Pig Iron Theatre Company, Ballet X, Anonymous Bodies, Geoff Sobelle and others. With his brother Billy, he received an OBIE award for design with Rainpan 43’s machines machines machines machines machines machines machines. Steven and Billy co-teach sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and are represented by the Fleisher/Ollman gallery in Philadelphia. Their work is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the West Collection, and many private collections.