Kevin Lapin

Floating Brothel

London, 1789. A whirlpool of filth, thievery and political unrest. Jails overflow with petty criminals, many of them women forced out of work and onto the streets as jobs are reclaimed by soldiers returning from the American war. The penal code hasn’t been updated in more than a century, and crimes as trivial as pickpocketing are hanging offenses. Faced with a legal system in crisis, and a growing humanist movement opposed to executions, the courts hit upon an innovative solution: ship the woman convicts to Australia to revive the failing all-male penal colony in New South Wales.

Adapted from historical accounts, Transport Beyond the Seas follows three of these women—a down-on-her luck country girl, a thirteen-year old prostitute and a high-class con artist—on their harrowing year-long voyage from the underbelly of London to the underside of the world.

Performed by five actors on a 3 x 6 platform, the epic tale unfolds in a radically reduced space that functions as a camera lens, enabling cinematic shifts in time, scale and location. Through the course of an hour, using only their bodies and a handful of props, the ensemble creates myriad characters and locales, transforming the raw platform into the bustle of London, the din of the courtroom, the dank bilge of the ship, and the rolling expanse of the ocean.

Created by Megan Campisi, Loren Fenton, Kevin Lapin, Liz Vacco and Ben Vershbow