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A Medieval Wayward Folly

Collaboratively devised by the ensemble



Gwen Grastorf, Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, Sarah Olmsted Thomas & Alex Vernon

Painted Puppets

Sabrina Mandell

Hell Mouth Shadow Puppets

Sarah Olmsted Thomas

Creature Puppet

Alex Vernon

Set & Prop Design/Construction/Painting

Sabrina Mandell, Mark Jaster, Alex Vernon, Nancy Rodrigues

Music Direction

Gwen Grastorf & Mark Jaster


Lighting Design

Tori Muñoz 

Costume Design and Construction

Sabrina Mandell

Production Stage Manager

Darielle Shandler

Magic Consultation

Annie Montone and Brian Kehoe - School of Magic Arts


Show is approximately 80 minutes with no intermission​

Note from the Directors

Happenstance has taken inspiration from visual art and artists over the years: Edward Gorey, Joseph Cornell, 17th Century Dutch Memento Mori Still Life, DadA, and Early Circus posters. With ADRIFT we’ve taken a dive into the late, Western European, medieval world of Hieronymus Bosch with a sidelong glance at Pieter Bruegel. We took as a point of departure Bosch's painting, The Ship of Fools, and harvested images from larger paintings like The Haywain and The Garden of Earthly Delights, to create a world as strange and wonderful, even if you’ve never seen the sources that inspired us. The world Bosch paints is often apocalyptic, and many of the images are vast and complex with hundreds of characters, surreal juxtapositions, and radical contrasts of scale. We explored a number of his recurring themes, like the owl as unseen witness, metamorphic combinations of animal, plant, and human forms, fantastical creatures, fruits, musical instruments of the period, and people with tolerant expressions of the delights and horrors happening to and around them. We were also fascinated by the medieval science of Alchemy, the Tarot, and ways in which magic and mystery were woven into everyday life, when people still felt they were not so separate from the natural world. In our current moment in history, humanity is facing a reckoning with nature. The dire global climate crisis has us seeking ways to adapt and manage. Perhaps if we listen closely to the mystery, we can discover how. We hope you’ll find the world we’ve created mysterious and engaging and that your imagination will set you free.


                                                                                                                                    - Mark Jaster & Sabrina Mandell                         

Visual Inspirations

The Holkham Bible Picture Book​

Paintings of Hieronymous Bosch

Paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder​

Das Narrenschiff by Sebastian Brant, published 1494

Tacunium Sanitatis -

Splendor Solis -

Rider-Waite Tarot 


The Arrival and the Reunion | by Dead Can Dance from album Aion

This is the Way the World Ends | by Artisan from album Breathing Space

Spiritus Sanctus Vivificans | by Hildegard Von Bingen from The Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum, 12th Century

Douce Dame Jolie | by Guillaume de Machaut, 14th Century

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance | Traditional

Soldiers Three | Traditional appearing first in Thomas Ravenscroft's Deuteromelia (1609)

Travelers Prayer | John Renbourn, 1998

Saltarello II | Anonymous, 14th Century Traditional 

Gaudete | thought to have been composed in the 16th century, arranged by Karen Hansen, lyrics re-written by Mark Jaster

Other Inspirations

Tarot -

Hildegaard von Bingen -

Jester -

Fool -

Crone -

​Medieval Women Mystics -

Magic: A History: From Alchemy To Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present by Chris Gosden

Performer Bios

Mark Jaster (co-Director/Ensemble) is Artistic Co-Director of Happenstance Theater with the abstract subtitle, “Structure & Ground.” He has co-directed and appeared in all Happenstance productions since its founding in 2006, winning Theatre Washington’s Helen Hayes/Robert Prosky Award for his performance in Impossible! A Happenstance Circus in 2016. He studied mime with French masters Etienne Decroux and Marcel Marceau, and served as Mr. Marceau’s teaching assistant in a 1980’s series of seminars in Michigan. Performance credits beyond Happenstance include over 35 years as a featured act at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, 20 years with the Big Apple Circus’ Clown Care Unit, many years as Drosselmeyer in the Maryland Youth Ballet’s Nutcracker, performances with the Washington and Cambridge Revels, and frequent collaborations with world-class musicians: the late great jazz bassist Keter Betts, Celtic Harper Sue Richards, and Piffaro, the Renaissance band. He teaches frequently in artist residencies, theatres, and academic programs and has served as mime and movement consultant for many DC area theatres, including The Shakespeare Theatre, Ford’s, Round House, Theatre J, Olney, Constellation, Adventure Theatre, Imagination Stage, and Baltimore’s Center Stage.


Sabrina Mandell (co-Director/Ensemble) is the founder, Artistic Co-Director, Executive Director, and “Visionary Tornado” of Happenstance Theater. Sabrina has written, produced and performed prolifically since the company's founding in 2006. She was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actress in 2017 and has won two Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Costume Design. Sabrina performed for 10 years with the Big Apple Circus’ Clown Care Program in DC and Baltimore and has taught Theatrical Clown and Physical Comedy at the Shakespeare Theatre DC, Everyman Theatre in Baltimore, Round House Theatre, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She is also a poet, visual artist, graphic designer and vintage clothing enthusiast.


Gwen Grastorf (Ensemble) is a performer and actor based in the DC metro area. She has been devising with Happenstance since 2009 and has been a company member since 2012. She is also the Social Media Maven for Happenstance. Gwen has worked elsewhere in DC with Constellation Theatre, Faction of Fools, Taffety Punk, Washington Revels, Rorschach Theatre, and the Tarot Reading. Gwen was raised in Frederick, Maryland, and got her degree at the University of MD, College Park. 


Sarah Olmsted Thomas (Ensemble) is a fifth generation performing artist. ​In 2012, she joined Happenstance Theater with whom she has devised 10 full length productions. Sarah is also half of the Jim Henson Foundation awarded puppet theater company Alex and Olmsted which has played Symphony Space in New York as well as festivals in Denmark, South Korea, and Canada. Sarah trained with the Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia and Le Samovar, École de Clowns, in Paris. B.A., Sarah Lawrence College.


Alex Vernon (Ensemble) has been a Happenstance company member since 2012. He is an actor and puppeteer whose previous work has been seen with Constellation Theatre, Pointless Theatre, Imagination Stage, Adventure Theatre, WSC Avant Bard, and Washington Revels. He is also the other half of Alex and Olmsted, with which he creates original puppet works that have toured internationally.


Happenstance Theater, winner of 5 Helen Hayes Awards has been called “DC’s leading peddler of whimsy” by the Washington Post.



The creation of this piece was generously sponsored

by John J. Shields, Dirk Keaton in honor of Sofya Leonova, Holly Hassett, and Dick Kovar

This production would also not have been possible without the help of our company angel, Nancy Rodrigues.

Also thanks to Chris Pfingsten and Baltimore Theatre Project staff, Joe's Movement Emporium, Dody DiSanto, Stephanie Baird, Washington Revels, Sharon Crissinger, Jessica Lefkow, Marianne Ross, Rachel Faeola, Margaret Loomis, Karen Hansen, Irene Glasse, April & Jerry Blum, Nancy Mendez, Chris Patton. Happenstance is ever grateful for the support of The Share Fund, Morgan Fund at Seattle Foundation, Nora Roberts Foundation, the Charles Hazlehurst Moura Family Foundation,  and all those who have donated to Happenstance Theater through Fractured Atlas.

Are you inspired?




Happenstance Theater is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Your donation helps us continue to make shows like ADRIFT.




OR send check/money order made payable to ‘FRACTURED ATLAS’ with

‘Happenstance Theater’ in the memo line to: Happenstance Theater

12718 Veirs Mill Rd. Rockville MD 20853

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