Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More on the Convocation

The 2nd Indie Theater Convocation (Saturday, July 12 at Barrow Street Theater at 2:00PM) has been getting lots of response here and on Facebook; I'm quite excited about it. What I want to do today is let folks know in more detail just exactly what we're planning to do at this event.

Doors open at 1:30pm. Come early to chat with Rochelle and myself, and with folks from the League of Independent Theater (LIT) (we're expecting John Clancy, who was one of the founders of FringeNYC; Shay Gines of the New York Innovative Theatre Awards; Erez Ziv of Horse Trade Theatre Group; Paul Bargetto of East River Commedia; independent producer John Pinckard; and hopefully some other folks who have been involved in getting this new organization off the ground).

The presentation starts at 2:00pm. There are really two main focuses of the Convocation -- first, to talk about some initiatives and programs that I believe will be genuinely valuable to the NYC indie theater community; and second, to provide a forum for folks involved with indie theater to share their ideas and feedback with us and with each other.

Rochelle (NYTE's managing director) is going to kick off the event. Then I will take the floor for a few minutes with a view toward accomplishing a couple of important things -- to review some of what's been happening in our community since the 1st Ever Indie Theater Convocation two years ago; and to share some news about specific programs that we've either recently launched or are preparing to launch that are designed to educate mainstream audiences about indie theater and entice them to become active audience members in this sector of NYC theatre.

I may be yielding the floor to one or more surprise guests, as well; we'll see!

I will then be turning things over to John Clancy, who is the executive director of LIT; he is going to talk about this new advocacy organization. LIT sprang directly from the 1st Convocation and is primed to fulfill a number of needs that were identified there. John is going to make a pitch to have folks in the room sign up as charter members of LIT, but whether you're interested in joining now, later, or never, I think you're going to want to hear what he has to say about his vision for this group.

After these presentations, we'll have time for an open forum. I'm anticipating that there will be questions and responses to what's been said at the meeting, and also that new topics will be brought up. The great news is that NYTE and LIT can now provide structures to facilitate further discussion on whatever comes up, either right here on the nytheatre i where that's appropriate, or in upcoming meetings of LIT.

We'll break up the formal meeting at around 3:15 or so, and then John and the LIT folks will be available to talk one-on-one to people, as will Rochelle and myself.

Everyone who comes to the Convocation will be asked to confirm (or provide) their email address so that they can receive some immediate "follow-up/to-do" information as soon as they get back to their desks/offices.

And for all those who want to attend but can't make it, don't worry--we'll have minutes and other info available here and on indietheater.org. You won't miss out on any of the substance of the meeting. (But you will, unfortunately, miss out on the great opportunity for networking and sharing energy, enthusiasm, and ideas with your fellow indie artists--so do come if you can! Plus, Rochelle and I really do relish the opportunity to see you -- away from the footlights, as it were.)

We've got a lot of ideas and information to share at the Convocation, and I am looking forward to getting jolt after jolt of valuable feedback and energy from the assemblage. If the 2nd Indie Theater Convocation is anything like the 1st one, then we're in for an exciting and empowering afternoon.

See you there.


Wilson said...

posting the minutes is a great service. thank you. wish SBN was not in rehearsal, otherwise we would be there.


Angus said...

Dear Martin:
I will not be attending the Indie theatre convocation principally because I do not and will not ever consider myself an Indie theatre performer. I work Off-Off Broadway (and Sometimes Off-Broadway) at the base of that pyramid which is New York Theatre - where experimentation can be done, ideas tried, boundaries pushed. But always as part of the dynamic New York theatre scene - not the Indie anything. I deplore the concept because it denies the substance of what New York Theatre is all about. I regret that this movement has been allowed to get this far without being challenged for its Yuppie pretension and I am saddened that there are people in theatre in New York who wish to deny what that theatre is and, more importantly, why it exists where it does - to distance themselves from the city and the environment that nurtured them. I believe you are doing us all a disservice by endorsing this splinter movement. The goals may have merit, but denying where its roots lie is deplorable.
Sadly yours

Aurin Squire said...

This is great! We need more unity, planning, and communication between the indie theatres in NYC. Thanks for being a trailblazer and setting about this amazing task so that art can continue flourishing here.

Martin-nytheatre.com said...


I hope that you'll reconsider and attend the Convocation on Saturday, because I'd love to have a chance to show you what Indie Theater really is all about.

The 1st Convocation in 2006 was, as much as anything else, an affirmation of the spirit of the New York Theatre. I expect the same to be true of this 2nd Convocation. Indie theater's roots in off-off-Broadway are proudly acknowledged by its members, I believe.

The most important thing that I personally want to achieve in advocating and promoting the Indie Theater Idea is the elimination of the classist way that many, many people think about theater in New York. Yes, we can think of the off-off or indie sector as the base of a pyramid because it proudly supports the rest of the artform. But that puts other parts of our industry on the top, and I don't think that's the way to look at it at all. Indie theatre is every bit as viable and valuable as off-Broadway and Broadway and any other segment you can name; in an era when the Internet and other transformations have flattened out so many aspects of our culture, why should we view theater as something hierarchical?

So, Angus, please come on Saturday. I'd like to think you trust me enough to hear me out.


RLewis said...

Thanks for the update, Martin. Looks like a terrific rallying opportunity. While there are always problems to tackle, i look forward to celebrating the community's many successes as well.

Slampster said...

Martin - You're doing great work. Keep it up! I will try to attend, but prior obligations are calling.
Best, Dana Slamp Writer/Actor

Claudia Alick said...

I cannot attend because I producing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I wish I could be there though! This is a great event that helps theater producers connect, communicate, and create. I love "Indie" theater. As a hip-hop theater, spoken word, and performance art producer I have always considered the spaces I produced in and the communities I produced for to be great in and of themselves. Performances made for nightclubs, poetry venues, and other non-traditional theatre spaces need to beable to define themselves as independant and not less than Broadway.

drillingcompany said...


Wanted to leave both a note of support and and disappointment.
Disappointment only that I am in rehearsal for Henry the Fifth on the afternoon of the 12th and won't be able to attend, but will try to send someone from the Drilling Company - I think what's happening is extremely important, exciting and valuable.
I understand the earlier comment made by Angus, but I think if one looks at the bigger picture, the hierarchical system present in New York is not one that allows for innovation and experiemntation. It encourages organizations to become institutions with identified niche audiences who support their work through charitable donations and attendance.

I am involved in the tourism business as well and I see thousands and thousands of visitors to New York ushered into the latest performance of Phantom of the Opera because they think that's what New York Theatre experience should be.
Phantom of the Opera is a wonderful show, but threre is a threatre hungry audience (perhaps a spectacle hungry audience ) who yearns for the experiences which are being created on a regular basis in the independent theatre community.

Perhaps the strongest plank in the indie theatre movement is the lateral validation. Value in our culture is price tagged.
The more you pay the better it
is - from how much a movie makes at the box office to how much money a political candidate can raise .
The sum of money is literally the news - always.

But the sum of money cannot define the limitations for our craft and inventiveness. Time afeter time we see artists breakthrough becasue they ignore the concept of limitation and see only the challenge to create something which clearly and meaningfully communicates. There is nothing Yuppie about this - It is seminal to the existence of artists.

Whether independent theatre traces it's roots to the Off-Broadway movement or the Off-Off-Broadway movement makes no difference. IT can clearly trace it's roots to a playhouse in Greenwich Village where Eugene O'Neil and his compatriots believed putting on theatre with dramatic and emotional content could be stirring for an audience . It can clearly trace its roots to the Group Theatre of the 1930's and 1940's , it can clearly trace its roots to the WPA. Throughout the history of theatre in New York, artists have been soldiering to create work with a vitality . The reputation of the city, around the world, is renowned for attracting artists who were daring enough to start organizations like the Wooster Group or Ricahrd Foreman downtown. This is what makes this a city worth trvelling to if you are in search of modern culture both as an audience member or as an artist. The intitiation and success of this organization are vital to the future of New York Theatre if it is once again become a a city where culturally relevant work is originated. (rather than imported). If the independent theatre community commanded the press attention which the London Underground theatre commands, we would be churning plays to bigger audiences on a regular basis.

I wish you well at the convocation today. I have long thought this was what was necesaary to happen in the city- for an organization to form that truly shepherded the artistic movement. Such an organization can only begin with the the synergy of audience and artist. For us in the independent theatre community, you and Rochelle have become the ipso facto spokespeople for that audience whom we are all trying to reach - the audience of appreciators - the true audience who seeks not to log in a chit with a colleague, but simply yearns to be fed and fed well as the Bread and Puppet Theatre would say.
Hamilton Clancy

Cheryl said...

Dear Martin,
I too wish I could attend, but will be in rehearsal that time -- directing a show that will be presented in my indie theatre. And I agree with Hamilton. We indie theatres ARE a part of the NY theatre scene, and we provide a place where people can self-produce, which is just about the only way to get your work produced any more.
Cheryl King
Director, Stage Left Studio

David Herskovits said...

So sorry to have missed this. I look forward to the minutes and future events!
David Herskovits
Target Margin Theater