Close this search box.

well established and here for you

independently owned and operated since 1977

Play It As It Lays : Cody Sullivan’s Theater of the Impulse

By Steve Desroches

So there was this baby that was born in midair during a flight and parachuted out of the plane using the placenta as a parachute. But is it the baby’s placenta or the mother’s? The uncertainty of the biology of ownership makes for a good plot line and dialogue, so it stays in the script, if there even will be one come curtain time.  Such are the decisions, when creating a new play in a day, and not 24 hours, but more like 9 or 10. It’s the delicious conceit and challenge artist and performer Cody Sullivan has created for himself this summer with Cody Plays (Well, With Others) a new theatrical experiment where every Monday Sullivan and a cast of guest artists gather in the morning to write a script, rehearse it in the afternoon, and perform it live that evening in The Wilde, a new performance space at the Gifford House. And since that past performance involved the idea of a baby jumping out of an airplane with only a placenta to save it, it’s clear that things get wild in The Wilde.

Cody Sullivan

When Sullivan arrived in Provincetown in 2019, he made a splash with his character Saltine and the live radio show Eggs Isle, the name of a fictitious island in Cape Cod Bay where everyone who is “too ugly and poor” goes to live in the gentrified “second home, Airbnb hellscape” that has become Provincetown in an eat-the-rich-with-ranch-dressing kind of vibe. Often performing and recording live on the harbor beach, Saltine, a figure Sullivan speaks of as if she’s someone he only vaguely knows, became the darling of Provincetown’s ferocious spirit of rebellion and imagination. Coming from a background in improvisational performance, much of Eggs Isle is performed from a loose, pre-conceived concept. Sullivan brightens whenever he talks about improv, relishing the possibilities and the risk. He loves it. And that’s why he describes Cody Plays as his “angel” and his “dream.” And each week he invites guests to participate, often visual artists who may not have much experience in performance.

“Part of what makes it so much fun and so electric is seeing how good people can be,” says Sullivan. “I fully believe everyone can improvise. I really do.”

Clearly Provincetown agrees as since Cody Plays premiered the first week of June, every performance has been packed. There are very few places around the country that would have audiences looking for what Sullivan is producing. Sullivan can’t imagine this being successful outside of Provincetown and adds it is testament to the town’s strong, creative vibrations. And audiences are coming to appreciate the seat-of-their-pants show. Some of the guests of the show so far have included Sam Spiegel, Tess Knowles, Pete Hocking, Jay Critchley, and Mark Adams. And he holds them to the rules of the idea that each work is to be created solely on Monday. While he understands that ideas might pop into their heads prior, he patiently tells his co-stars “We’ll talk about that on Monday” if they try to present a concept before the prescribed time. And then there is the management of anxiety.

“For the people who get nervous, I think it’s helpful for me to say that I’m the star,” laughs Sullivan. “Relax. I’m in charge and if we get lost I can get us out of it.”

Sitting in his cottage with the sounds of singing birds and children playing basketball at the Mildred Greensfelder Playground in the East End floating through the open windows, Sullivan laughs again and then turns comedically deadly serious and whispers, “I’m the star.” But in all seriousness, Sullivan says, at the risk of sounding “cheesey,” his goal is to make sure everyone, from those on stage to the audience, has fun. And this kind of work requires a generosity of spirit, an open mind, and no shackles on creativity of any sort. And the results are fabulous, ephemeral creations, meant to be enjoyed live and never to be performed again. They only exist in the minds of those who were there and how that memory reverberates in the ether thereafter, a purposeful thumbing of the nose at our digital culture that has us overstimulated and increasingly living via imagery or remotely rather than communally, with in-person experiences.

Cody Plays (Well, With Others) in action at the Gifford House.

Thinking through the pieces performed thus far, Sullivan interrupts himself to first say how having Cody Plays at the Gifford House is key to its energy and success. New owner Steven Azar has been a terrific supporter and says “yes” to most every suggestion Sullivan has, plus the new décor of the historic building is perfectly suited for the mood of this artistic pursuit. Going back to his original thought, Sullivan lets out a slight snort of a laugh about the performance of 1993 Entrapment…It’s Family Week in which three gay guys all fall in love with the same man and start a polyamorous relationship only to discover they all share a strange birthmark: one blue nipple. That fact leads them to learn they are actually brothers sharing the same mother, but different fathers, and that their mother doesn’t remember having any of them, as the births happened during medical procedures. So each baby is recalled as a colonoscopy, a coma, and a hysterectomy. Indeed on any given night at Cody Plays you’ll want to buckle up as the stories have more twists, turns, and thrills than a roller coaster.

“When you connect to the audience and you give them what they need they’ll go anywhere with you,” says Sullivan. “When you truly connect they’ll find blue nipples aren’t weird anymore, but rather, of course, those guys all have a blue nipple.”

Cody Plays (Well, With Others) is performed Mondays at 7:30 p.m. now through the end of October at the Gifford House, 9 Carver St. Admission is by donation with a suggested amount of $4.99. For more information on Cody Plays visit For more information on the Gifford House visit or call 508.487.0688.

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

Keep in touch

Fill in your details and I will get back to you in no time.

Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657