…a place of bliss
In the Purlieues of Heav'n, and therein placed
A race of Upstart Creatures

Paradise Lost, Book 2, Lines 832-4


The Upstart Creatures, a diverse company of extraordinary artists, welcome our audiences to (meta)physical feasts. Free for all, our events nurture and nourish a sense of community, feeding body and soul.


To be a unique New York cultural institution that:

  • Pairs theatre with food to reimagine what a theatrical experience could be

  • Presents our events as the foundation for ongoing, necessary and inclusive community engagement

  • Partners with other civic-minded institutions to create programs that heal and empower


On May 4, 2013, a group of twenty theatre artists presented an original 13-hour, 2-meal adaptation of Paradise Lost, and the Upstart Creatures were born.

The Upstarts didn’t mean to start a theatre company.  But after rehearsing Paradise Lost for six months, collaborating on the epic task of adapting Milton's canonical work and planning the menu for the multi-course, mouth-watering meals that were incorporated into the day-long event, we realized we missed each other.  And that we had something special going.


So we started making more events, in the spirit (if not length) of that first one: The company remains committed to staging readings of new and/or rarely produced works, and is composed of a diverse group of emerging and established artists--many of whom have appeared in film, television and numerous theatrical productions regionally, internationally, and on and off-Broadway.  We toil in the kitchen, break bread with our audiences, and produce the events. All for free.


Additionally, the Upstart Creatures welcomes guest artists who have made invaluable contributions throughout our production history. Our extraordinary group of volunteers, who work in the kitchen, assist at the door, and promote our work, and our passionate Board Members, who govern and fundraise for the company, are equally vital parts of our inclusive company.


The Upstarts joined the Sanctuary Arts program at the Metro-Baptist Church at 410 West 40th St in April 2015, where we are still happily in residence.


We were founded by Michael Barakiva. Suzanne Agins joined Michael as Artistic Director in 2017.  Shortly thereafter, Adam Grosswirth was appointed Managing Director.