The Civilians to Take Over Historic Chelsea Townhouse for Newest Show

Off-Broadway News   The Civilians to Take Over Historic Chelsea Townhouse for Newest Show
Claire Kiechel’s Paul Swan Is Dead and Gone, directed by Steve Cosson, will begin performances April 25.
Tony Torn as Paul Swan
Tony Torn as Paul Swan Michael Sharkey

New York-based theatre company The Civilians will move into Torn Page, a historic townhouse in Chelsea, for the world premiere of Claire Kiechel's Paul Swan is Dead and Gone. Presented salon-style for an audience of only 30, the immersive production is helmed by Artistic Director Steve Cosson and will star Tony Torn as the real-life Paul Swan.

Paul Swan is Dead and Gone will run April 25–May 19 with an opening night set for May 1. Dan Safer choreographs.

A dancer, painter, sculptor, and actor, Paul Swan (1883-1972) was known in New York City for his weekly salons, held in his studio atop Carnegie Hall, every Saturday from the 1930s through the ‘60s.

In Paul Swan is Dead and Gone, Kiechel (who is related to Swan) will resurrect the salons. Each night, for an intimate audience, the forces of life, death, and art will do battle.

A fascination of Andy Warhol's (who featured him in the 1965 films Camp and Paul Swan), Swan once looked into Warhol’s camera and declared, “I am the most famous unknown person in New York.” Bringing the Manhattan legend to life in Paul Swan is Dead and Gone will be Torn, whose parents, Geraldine Page and Rip Torn, were the original buyers of the Chelsea home where performances will take place.

Completing the cast are Robert Johanson, Helen Cespedes, and Alexis Scott.

The creative team for the world premiere is rounded out by Andromache Chalfant (sets), An-Lin Dauber (costumes), Lucrecia Briceño (lights), and Avi Amon (sound). The production also features original music by Amon and Johanson.

Paul Swan is Dead and Gone marks the first time The Civilians has premiered a new work that originated in its nine-year-old R&D Group, of which Kiechel was a 2015-2016 member. The production also marks The Civilians’ first original production since the passing of co-founder Michael Friedman. For tickets and more information visit

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