Living the Pig Iron Life

Pay Up, 2008

Pay Up, 2008

Hey world,

My name is Alice Thatcher and I’m a super-senior working at Pig Iron Theatre Company in Kensington, Philadelphia. As is the life of an intern, I’ll be working on several different projects this summer, including grant writing, social media and research for Pig Iron’s fall line-up.

I’ve been hired particularly to focus on Pig Iron’s restaging of Pay Up, a Pig Iron original which premiered in 2005. Pay Up is based on the work of economist and behavioral psychologist Dr. Keith Chen, current Associate Professor at Yale School of Management. Dr. Chen’s 2006 study on the behavior of capuchin monkeys trained to conduct basic economic transactions found that capuchins exhibit many of the same behaviors we do, implying that these behaviors are innate rather than taught or learned. Pay Up takes this laboratory set-up and invites audience members to choose and pay for the scenes of their choosing, using dollar bills handed out in the beginning of the show. There isn’t enough time, money, or space for audience members to see every scene, which places the audience in a competitive market environment where there are real consequences to their actions. Pay Up is currently be reworked to take into account current events and the input of the new acting ensemble (the show was last staged in 2008), but it’s shaping up to be an exciting, creative summer here. Working with John Frisbee, Managing Director of Pig Iron and HC ’03, I’m in the midst of assembling a grant to bring Dr. Chen down for a weekend matinee of Pay Up and a discussion section afterwards. Dr. Chen is highly regarded in his field and this is a great opportunity for Pig Iron audiences to engage with the issues Pay Up raises and hear Dr. Chen’s perspective on the show, which features scenes about his imagined personal life, as well as his academic pursuits. I’m really enjoying working on Pay Up; I think its blend of science and the humanities is a great example of what makes Pig Iron such an innovative theatre company. Pay Up has been widely acclaimed in the past, which makes me think it might be a good FAB event this fall…


p.s. – for all you nerds out there, here’s a copy of Dr. Chen’s study.