Bright Invention is a long form improv ensemble that performs community-based shows which explore "immersive improv", which softens the boundary between audience and actor. Our shows feel more like dinner parties and less like plays. We create our shows from our personal interactions with our guests. Bright Invention is the White Pines ensemble, and works within the mission of White Pines Productions.
Bright Invention is a unique group of individuals rehearsing and creating in an atmosphere of trust, provocation and creativity. We are dedicated to the deliciousness our work together. We have fun rehearsing and performing, and we offer each other ongoing emotional and creative support through the ups and downs of our lives as citizen artists.
For our audiences, Bright Invention extends the gift of personalized improvised performance which, in the best moments, feels scripted and leaves audiences stunned, moved to tears and laughter, and unified in their humanity. We believe that (y)our stories, relationships, and personal truths are connective tissues that, when crafted and shared, bring seemingly disparate people together.
Our approach to improv is grounded in theatrical training and dramatic technique. We think of ourselves as actors. We approach each other onstage with the same intensity and preparation that any script-based actor brings to her work. And - while our work is not exclusively comic - we are champions for comedy, believing is that laughter is the first doorway to transformation.
Bright Invention does not wish to simply create more improvised theater, but rather, to expand the boundaries of the form through experimentation, incorporation of varied artistic mediums, and new ways of interacting with, and soliciting information from audience members. We are a long-form improv ensemble expanding the genre, and dedicated to deepening the connection between actors and audience in all we do.
Aaron Roberge is an actor living in Philadelphia with his beautiful fiance' Leah. He has most recently been seen as Mac Sam in The Miss Firecracker Contest, and Fountainhead in Water by the Spoonful at The South Camden Theatre Company; he is also a member of the Enchantment Theatre company and has just finished up a production of The Bremen Town Musicians. Aaron is thrilled to be working again in improv with Bright Invention and cannot wait to see what this next year holds in store.
Aimee Goldstein (Rising Leader, Executive Assistant) is a Philadelphia based singer, actor, and a big dreamer. She graduated from Temple University in 2014, where she earned her B.A. in Theatre with a concentration in acting. While at Temple, Aimee because the founder and President of Jewkebox, a Jewish a cappella group on campus. After graduation, she went on to become the founder of a post-collegiate group, The ChaiLights: Jewish A Cappella of Philadelphia. Aimee has been an assistant teaching artist for acting and musical theater at the Walnut Street Theatre, a summer intern at The Arden Theatre, and the Arts Management/Company Management intern at Bucks County Playhouse for their award winning 2015 season. Aimee is also extremely grateful to have been the Company Manager for the world premiere of A Taste of Things To Come, directed by Broadway’s Lorin Latarro at Bucks County Playhouse in 2016. Aimee brings her multifacetedskills from being both a performer and a company manager to White Pines and Bright Invention as a Rising Leader and a member of Bright Invention! When she isn’t in the theatre or the a cappella world, Aimee enjoys playing classical guitar. Aimee strongly believes in making all types of music, theater, art, and dance readily available for people of all ages and from all walks of life. She is excited to this by working with Bright Invention!
Benjamin Lloyd (Artistic Director) created White Pines Productions on 2009. He he co-founded Bright Invention: the White Pines Ensemble with Jennifer MacMillan in 2013. Ben has produced and directed several independent theater productions: in New York; Beckett3, Extras and Q1 Hamlet; in Philadelphia, Psycho Drama, Eccentrics and William di Canzio’s Johnny Has Gone for A Soldier, the first White Pines Production; in New York City, Life Without Parole, Please!; in Scotland, Psycho Drama; in The Czech Republic, The Dreamer Examines His Pillow. In 2013 he directed White Pines’ two world premieres: Jerry Perna’s The Music You Remember and Martha Kemper’s Luckiest Kid – the playwrights were both members of Bright Invention. And he facilitated White Pines’ two Original Practices Shakespeare co-productions: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2015) and Much Ado About Nothing (2016). He has a B.A. in Theater Studies from Yale College and an M.F.A. in Acting from the Yale School of Drama and he lives in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
Bob Stineman has been an actor/musician/producer /director/writer/performer for the better part of two decades now. An honors graduate from the University of the Arts with a focus in Acting, he has been seen performing throughout the Tri-State area with groups including Candlelight Dinner Theatre, The Bradywiners, Plays and Players, The Covered Bridge Theatre, Luna Theatre Company, as well as participating in workshops, readings, and full productions of new work through Philadelphia New Play Workshop, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and The Philly Fringe Festival. Some past credits include: Soldier Bear (Peytr; World Premier); This is Not About 9/11 (The Voice; Philadelphia Premier & New York run), Broken Wing (Adam), Traveling Light (Brian Epstein; Philadelphia Premiere), Mosque (Felix; World Premiere), LoneStar (Roy), Measure for Measure (Angelo), The Shape of Things (Adam), Travesties (James Joyce), Pippin (Pippin), The Crucible (Proctor), and Bachelorette (Jeff; Philadelphia Premiere). Bob is also one of the founding company members of Bright Invention, White Pines Production’s long-form improv troupe. From 2012 to 2014 he served as the Managing Director for Simpatico Theatre Project, working hand-in-hand with the Producing Artistic Director, Allen Radway, and helped them bring to the stage The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey, The Lysistrata Project by P. Seth Bauer, The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney, and In a Dark, Dark House by Neil Labute. Bob also serves as both an associate producer and casting director for Common-Factor Studios, an independent film company operating out of the Greater Philadelphia area. When not working in the theatre world, Bob can be found serving as an accountant and financial consultant. He has had over seven years of experience in accounting and finance within the for-profit and non-profit worlds, and looks forward to bringing insight, new understanding, and profitability to White Pines Productions as its Director of Finance.
A born, bred and fed Philadelphian, Eric Walker has been on a quest to entertain audiences with his poetry, music, and comedic stylings. Performing under the name MC eNDee(Eric never disappoints eager ears), he has hit the stage in University City, Manayunk, and Rittenhouse to share his love of lyricism with the city's open mic crowds. After reading Neil Strauss' The Game while on holiday in Amsterdam, Eric decided to take a bit of Neil's advice on breaking out of his shell by taking an improvisation class. Afterwards, he formed the improv group Wit Jongen Dronken with long time friends and performed multiple shows across Philadelphia. Now as a member of the Bright Inventions team, he hopes to bring his experience and talent to the stage, and make beautiful scenes with a wonderful, knowledgeable, and dedicated cast.
Gavin Whitt is a performer/writer who holds a BA in Theatre from Temple University and a Master in Acting from East 15 Acting School in Loughton, U.K. He has appeared inproductions with Everyman Theater, Fraction of Fools, JazzBridge and Ambassador Theater in D.C where he was afforded the opportunity to perform for the Embassy of India for writer and poet Rabindranath Tagore's 150th birthday celebration. He presented an original man showThe Orange Hair at the 5th Annual Solow Fest in 2014. When not performing Gavin enjoys running competitively in various cross country and road races
Kiersten M. Adams is a trained musical theater actress from Philadelphia PA. She has participated in a number of singing competitions and has been seen on stages in PA and NC. She has appeared as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show, and Stuart Little in Stuart Little. She has worked with people like Troy McLaughin and Heitzman and Reid honing her skills and is constantly exploring new crafts. Some of her passions outside of the theater include yoga, aerial arts, painting, clothing design, and being a mother.
Leah Holleran has felt so lucky these past two years to find an artistic home in the performance community of Philly! She graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2012 with a major in Theatre and minors in Music and Creative Writing. Since then, she spent the past 3 years performing in national tours with Enchantment Theatre Company (and last year, Company Managing the tour of Harold and the Purple Crayon in addition to playing Harold!). Now that she’s off the road and settling in to Philadelphia to stay, she is so grateful and excited to be able to make Bright Invention a part of her life. She is trained in acting, dance (ballet, tap, jazz), voice (she will always have a soft spot for musical theatre, her first doorway into the performance world), and since recently, circus aerials (trapeze, ropes, silks), and has worked and performed in Philadelphia with Enchantment, Tribe of Fools (Antihero, Two Street), Luke Allen Productions, Curio Theatre, The Stagecrafters (catch her now through Oct. 11 in Mauritius!), and Vulcan Lyric (regional premier of Heathers: the Musical). Her latest endeavor has been co-creating a satirical sort-of-but-not-quite-counter-protest/street performance in support of Planned Parenthood, which has really affirmed for her that art can make a difference; and she can’t wait to continue giving back as a part of Bright Invention!
Michelle Pauls is an actor, director, singer and Managing Artistic Director of B. Someday Productions. She currently oversees and helps facilitate Of Mythic Proportions, the Barrymore Award-winningstorytelling performance project with students from Kensington high schools, and The Family Theatre Series, an interactive, literature-based performance program for children (2-7) and their caregivers. This summer she travelled to New Mexico, where she started a summer acting camp on the Navajo reservation in Thoreau, NM. She has worked as an actor and director with many Philadelphia area companies including Iron Age Theatre, Curio Theatre, Luna Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theater. Recent acting credits include Fool for Love, Twilight’s Child, The Good Puppet of Szechwan, Adventures in the Skin Trade, The Rocky Horror Puppet Show, Electra, Moby Dick - Rehearsed, and more. Michelle attended LaMaMa Umbria Directors Symposium in Spoleto, Italy where she worked with world class directors and designers such as Anne Bogart, Joanne Akalaitis, and trains in para-theatrical work with Theatre Dzieci in New York. She teaches acting and playwriting in various schools and community centers in Philadelphia and works as an Acting and playwriting teaching artist. Coming up: a starring role in her first horror feature film, DEADLY GAMBLE, performing her Cabaret act at various venues in the city, developing new works with the Philadelphia Dramatist Center. Michelle lives and works with the writer/director Stan Heleva and their daughter, Astrid Heleva above their theatre, The Walking Fish in the New Kensington section of Philadelphia.
Shea Sonsky is a Philadelphia-based actor/singer/all-around creative-type. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Theater with a concentration in acting and a minor in English Literature from Skidmore College in 2015, where she discovered her love of improv and sketch comedy as a member of the Ad-Liberal Artists. With the Ad-Libs, she participated in the Chicago Improv Festival College Tournament, the Brown University Comedy Conference, and four National College Comedy Festivals. Outside of the Ad-Libs, Shea spent her time at Skidmore performing in theatrical productions, workshops and student films, while dabbling behind-the-scenes in directing and makeup design. She also spent a semester studying Shakespeare at the British American Drama Academy in London. Locally, Shea has completed internships at the Hedgerow and Arden Theatres, and taught theater at the Upper Main Line YMCA’s summer programs. During the Fall, you can find her among the ghosts and ghouls haunting Eastern State Penitentiary’s nationally acclaimed Terror Behind the Walls attraction. Outside of the theater world, Shea enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her rescue dog, Lulu, hanging out in nature, and picking apart TV shows on the internet. As someone who is passionate about improv and committed to making the arts accessible to all people regardless of gender, race, age, ability or socioeconomic situation, Shea is absolutely thrilled to be a part of Bright Invention.
One of the newest members of Bright Inventions, Suzanne B. Anderson has been improvising since the 8th grade when she took her first Improvisation class. Suzanne is currently completing her training at PHIT (Philly Improv Theater) and is very excited to be part of the Bright Inventions/White Pines Productions team. Suzanne has performed throughout her life: as an attorney litigating criminal cases, as a psychotherapist leading individual and group therapy and as a comedic improviser with local Improv Team, Time Bandits. Often funny, Suzanne brings a quick irreverence to her work while being able to connect with her scene partners on a deeply emotional level. Suzanne lives with her husband, daughters and dogs in West Philly/Best Philly and is very active in her local community organization.
Jennifer MacMillan, co-founder of Bright invention,
Artistic Director 2013 - 2015
Jenn is a full time working actor/director/theater educator. She holds a BFA in Acting with highest honors, from the University of the Arts, and is a founding and longtime member of premier Philadelphia based long form improvisation company Tongue & Groove. Jenn appeared as a special guest speaker and performance artist on WHYY’s Radio Times, and has performed improvised shows at Temple University, Ursinus University, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Wilmington Fringe Festival, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts as a part of thePhiladelphia International Festival of the Arts (2011and 2013), at Philadelphia Theater Company, and for countless improv festivals and venues across the country.
Jenn has studied with master improvisers Joe Bill of the Annoyance Theater and Bobbi Block of ComedySportz, Lunch Lady Doris, and Tongue & Groove. Jenn has been teaching improvisation at The University of the Arts in the Pre-College and Saturday Institutes since 2005 where she is also undergraduate acting faculty teaching acting for non-majors, audition technique, business of theater, solo performance, and co-teaching Freshman Acting Studio. This spring Jenn will co-teach a new course entitled The Meditative Act alongside a long-time practitioner of Zen meditation, Steve Antinoff. Additionally Jenn is a member of the acting faculty at The Actors Cross Roads Studio, has led improvisation master classes at CAPA and Cherry Hill East High Schools, and coaches private acting students.
The following performers acted and rehearsed with Bright Invention for a significant time, and their contributions to the ensemble are lasting.