live performing arts, experimental site-specific
devised theatre, interactive performance, and public art


Spectrum, 2010. Photo by Chris Loomis. 

Spectrum. Photo by Chris Loomis. 

Transfix, Sedona 2007. Photo by Bruce Bowditch

Transfix in Central Park. Photo by Bill Durgin.

Aurora: Painted Desert, 2015. Photo by Scott London.

Photo by Scott London. Burning Man 2013. 

ves·sel ˈvesəl/

1. A craft for traveling on water, usually one larger than an ordinary rowboat; a ship or boat.
2. An airship.
3. A hollow or concave utensil, as a cup, bowl, pitcher, or vase, used for holding liquids or other contents.
4. Anatomy: an artery or vein, containing or conveying blood or some other body fluid.
5. A person regarded as a holder or receiver of something, especially something nonmaterial.

Mission Statement

Founded in 1996 by Rachel Bowditch and Lea Bender, Vessel is a theatre company dedicated to exploring innovative intersections between physical theatre, public art, installation, dance, visual arts, and multi-media technology. Our goal is to create exciting, visually dynamic, original work. Our combined international experience results in a style that crosses the boundaries of theatrical form. Currently based in Phoenix, Arizona, Vessel draws actors, dancers, circus artists, playwrights, poets, musicians, and designers into a single creative endeavor.

Creating a common physical vocabulary through vigorous physical preparation drawing on Lecoq pedagogy, Viewpoints, and Rasaboxes actor training techniques among others is the foundation of our work. From the street to the stage, our aim is to create a poetry of space that brings our stories to life in dynamic, poignant, and visceral forms while creating a sense of intimacy and connection to our audiences.

Vessel is a not-for-profit (501c3) theatre company under the fiscal umbrella of Fractured Atlas.

Artistic Director, Rachel Bowditch

Rachel Bowditch (MA/Ph.D. /Associate Professor) is a theatre director, performer, performance studies scholar, and Head of the MFA in Performance in the School of Film, Dance, and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. She has a unique international background growing up and living overseas for 18 years. A U.S. citizen but born in Rome, Italy she lived in Italy; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Singapore; Tel Aviv, Israel; London, U.K; Paris, France; Saratoga Springs, NY; New York City and Phoenix, Arizona since 2006.  Her studies at Skidmore College, the British American Drama Academy (BADA), Dell’ Arte School of Physical Theatre, Ecole de Jacques Lecoq International School of Physical Theatre, Suzuki and Viewpoints with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company, and becoming a certified instructor in the rasaboxes actor training technique have helped her move toward achieving her vision of theater. She received her Masters degree and Ph.D. in Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 2006.

In 2015 she received a $32,500 MAP Fund grant, a NET/TEN exchange grant and a Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts seed grant to develop a new devised work The Indigenous Cycles/Shooting Columbus, an immersive interactive performance that fuses multimedia, devised theatre, and installation art. The Shooting Columbus Collective, comprised mostly of indigenous artists from the Southwest region, lead by video/audio artist Adam Cooper-Terán (Chicano/Yaqui), interdisciplinary artist/writer Denise Uyehara, and director Rachel Bowditch. The work premiered in Tucson in April 2017. She is also developed a new devised, immersive adaptation of The Conference of the Birds by 12th century Sufi poet Farid Ud-Din Attar which premiered in February 2017.

Bowditch received critical acclaim for her work directing Childsplay’s 2011 production of The Sun Serpent. With a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant, she directed the world premiere of The Sun Serpent  with Childsplay written by José Cruz González and composed by Daniel Valdez at the Tempe Center for the Arts in October 2011 and remounted at Mixed Blood in Minneapolis in 2014 and Northwest Children's Theatre in 2015 in Portland, Oregon. The Sun Serpent was devised over a two-year period with Childsplay. The production was featured in American Theatre (January 2012) ,TYA Today (2012). Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis Daily Planet, Aisle Say Twin Cities (2014) and the Arizona Republic. It received 11 Arizoni Theatre Award nominations and won 6 for Best Direction, Best Costume/Masks (Connie Furr/Zarco Guerrero), Best Lighting (Tim Monson), Best Sound (Daniel Valdez), Best Set (Carey Wong), and Best Overall Professional Production in 2011.

Since 1996, as the Artistic Director of Vessel, her original, devised work has been presented at HERE Performing Arts Center (NYC), the American Living Room Festival, the Ontological-Hysteric Downstairs Series, the New York International Independent Film Festival at Madison Square Garden, the GenArt Summer Arts Festival (NYC), the HOWL Festival (NYC), the New York International Fringe Festival, The Kitchen (NYC), Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Phoenix Fringe Festival, the Mesa Contemporary Arts Center, Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, the ASU Art Museum, Phoenix Zoo Lights, the Commemorative Air Museum (Mesa), Taliesin West, Mixed Blood Theatre, MN and Tempe Center for the Arts among other venues.

Her ‘atmospheric’ site-specific works Transfix, Spectrum , Chrome , Equinox, Aurora and Abraxa have been presented with over 100 performers in over 30 venues and site-specific locations from Times Square, Grand Central, Central Park, Tompkins Square Park, Sedona, Arizona, the Painted Desert and Imperial Dunes, California among other sites. Vessel has been commissioned by Mesa Performing Arts Center’s Festival of Creativity (March 2012) and SPARK Festival (2013 and 2015), Scottsdale Public Art for The Art of Maintenance, Fish Herding on the Scottsdale Canal (January 2010), Spectrum: A Winter Solstice Sunset Ritual and Community Waterfall for the Soleri Bridge Dedication on December 10th and 11th, 2010, Spectrum for Canal Convergence (2012), INFLUX 3: Memory Room (2013)—a store-front multimedia performance installation about women, writing, and memory (Marshall Way, Scottsdale), and INFLUX 5/ASU Emerge 2015: Abraxa—a window performance installation about ideal utopian architectural blueprints at ASU Brickyard, Mill Avenue, Tempe,  Still Life at the PHX Art Museum (2014), the opening of the I.D.E.A. Children’s Museum in Mesa (2014), and the opening of the Andy Warhol: Portraits at the Phoenix Art Museum (2015).

In 2010, her retrospective at the Monorchid Gallery in Downtown Phoenix featured photographs by Chris Loomis, a live video remix of Transfix by Adam Cooper-Terán, live sound sculpture by Glenn Weyant, a live remix of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland by Logan Phillips, installation art by Saskia Jorda and Simon De Aguero, and the live performance of Transfix.

At ASU she has directed Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, Naomi Iizuka’s Anon(ymous), Deborah Stein's Bone Portraits and The House of the Spirits (Caridad Svich based on the novel by Isabel Allende) on the Galvin Mainstage. Bone Portraits was voted as one of the best shows in Phoenix for 2009 for “Innovative Design and Staging” in the Arizona Republic. Her innovative use of multi-media in Caridad Svich’s The House of the Spirits was featured in Live Design (November 2014) and Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal and her original work The Ophelia Project were featured in Live Design (October 2008) and American Theatre (January  2009). Bowditch was named one of the 100 most creative people in Phoenix by Phoenix New Times in 2012. In November 2013, she directed Asylum, an immersive site-specific performance at the historic Ice House, the first immersive performance of its kind in Phoenix. Asylum was mentioned in the Arizona Republic’s “Best of 2014” as the  “Best Arts Laboratory” in the Valley referring to the work produced at the School of Film, Dance, and Theatre at ASU.

Prior to ASU, as an artistic associate of Richard Schechner’s theatre company East Coast Artists, she had a lead role in Yokastas (2003) and Yokastas Redux (2005) directed by Richard Schechner at LaMaMa Annex (reviewed by the New York Times, the Village Voice, and Time Out New York). As one of the six nationally certified rasaboxes instructors, she has studied and assisted in rasaboxes presentations and workshops with Schechner, Cole, and Minnick since 2002. As an education associate of RoseLee Goldberg’s Performa since 2003 (author of Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present), she was the liaison between Performance Studies International at New York University and Performa Performance Art Biennial ‘07 in 2007 and worked with Performa for several years organizing Performa ’05 in New York City. She also has worked as an actor with award winning psychologist Paul Ekman (Author of Emotions Revealed) and was featured in his March 2005 National Geographic article on the Mind.

Her performance and directing work has been featured and reviewed in American Theatre, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Theatre Journal, The Drama Review (TDR), Live Design, TYA Today, Newsweek, The Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis Daily Planet, Aisle Say Twin Cities,Channel 8/PBS, ABC 15 News, Channel 12 news, Univision, the Arizona Republic  and the Phoenix New Times among other publications.  Vessel’s Spectrum was featured on the cover of the Visit Mesa Visitor’s Guide (2014). In April 2015 she was featured as one of the "Top 100 Creatives" by Origins magazine, NYC.

Her book On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man was published by Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press in 2010 as part of the Enactments Series. Her second book Performing Utopia (Seagull Books/University of Chicago Press) is coming out in 2016. Her third book, The Rasaboxes Sourcebook: Theory, Performer Training and Practice is under development with Richard Schechner, Paula Murray Cole and Michele Minnick. A complete profile of her artistic and scholarly work can be seen at