Sunday, September 28, 2008

Plays and Playwrights 2009

I am very excited to announce the lineup for Plays and Playwrights 2009!

This is the 10th volume in our annual series of anthologies of new plays by never-before published playwrights. I think these eleven plays represent the vitality, diversity, and vibrancy of NYC's indie theater scene during the past year. Here they are, in the order I saw them:
  • Nowhere on the Border by Carlos Lacamara -- first produced at Repertorio Espanol in September 2007

  • Sister Cities by Colette Freedman -- NYC premiere at T. Schreiber Studio in October 2007

  • American Badass (or 12 Characters in Search of a National Identity) by Chris Harcum -- premiered at the FRIGID Festival in February 2008

  • Conversation Storm by Rick Burkhardt -- NYC premiere at the FRIGID Festival in February 2008

  • Hospital 2008 by Randy Sharp and Axis Company -- first produced at Axis Theater in June 2008

  • Death at Film Forum by Eric Bland -- premiered at The Film Festival: A Theatre Festival at the Brick Theatre in June 2008

  • TRACES/fades by Lenora Champagne -- premiered at the Ice Factory festival at the Ohio Theatre in July 2008

  • S/HE by Nanna "Nick" Mwaluko -- premiered at the Fresh Fruit Festival in July 2008

  • A Fire as Bright as Heaven by Tim Collins -- NYC premiere at the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2008

  • Krapp, 39 by Michael Laurence -- premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2008

  • Linus & Alora by Andrew Irons -- first produced by AndHow! Theater Company at the Flea in September 2008

A couple of striking things about this book: it features three solo pieces (the most I've ever had in any previous book is one), which may say something about the resurgence of that particular form; and four of the playwrights are not based in New York City, which I know reflects the ever-shrinking world we live in -- NYC theatre companies look outward more and more as they find intriguing work to mount, which is a great thing.

As you can see, seven of the plays this year come from theatre festivals, which is more than in any previous year (and not just FringeNYC). This, too, I think is indicative of a change in the theatrical landscape.

Plays and Playwrights 2009 is targeted for publication in February 2009. You will be hearing much more about it between now and then... and I will be telling you soon about a new and exciting series of events we're planning where you will be able to meet many of this year's new playwrights! Watch for details here and on nytesmallpress.com.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

Today we lost one of the giants. I got to see him on stage when he played the Stage Manager in the 2002 Broadway revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. Here's what I wrote about him:

Newman, at the play's literal heart as the Stage Manager, comes to life in a brief scene in which he pretends to be the owner of a drugstore; and by the time we've arrived in the cemetery in the final act, he has found his bearings. Taking us on a tour of the gravestones, he tells us about the Civil War veterans buried beneath them:

... had a notion that the Union ought to be kept together, though they'd never seen more than fifty miles of it themselves. All they knew was the name, friends--the United States of America. The United States of America. And they went and died about it.


Newman weighs each word as he speaks it, and a concept that we take so much for granted that it's beyond hackneyed suddenly acquires mass, and density, and meaning.


Very glad I had the chance to see him in his last stage role.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Suspending the Theatre Season

Yesterday, I updated my Facebook status with this possibly witty statement: "Martin is concerned about the economy, yet oddly NOT suspending his normal reviewing activities today."

Today, looking forward in a few hours to the 1st 2008 Presidential Debate (which I am staying home to watch, rather than reviewing a show as I normally would do on a Friday night), I ponder my glibness.

Shouldn't I suspend my reviewing activities? Shouldn't I spend the next five weeks doing whatever I possibly can to focus people on the most important election of modern times? Hit the road, as my colleague Anthony Nelson has done, to campaign for Obama? Organize parties or fundraisers? Use this blog to talk not about the New York theatre scene but instead about the pressing issues facing America?

On the other hand... the theatre remains vital and valuable, as much for helping us understand and weigh the serious issues we must grapple with this year as for providing a respite from them. So I am not going to suspend my reviewing. Not covering All My Sons and The Atheist and Aliens with Extraordinary Skills and the other stuff that's on my calendar would be very wrongheaded.

But I mean to engage the readers of this blog in a dialogue about the issues of this election in addition to talking about the theatre.

So here comes a serious invitation: Playwrights, directors, actors, designers, stage managers, theatre artists of every stripe: this blog is now officially at your disposal for a discussion of how the election of 2008 affects us in the NYC theatre community. What does the economic picture portend, in terms of your ability to get work up? What about the candidates' respective stances with regard to the War? To civil liberties? This stuff matters greatly, and what the brilliant people who make theatre think about this stuff matters greatly, too. So let's start talking.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New York Innovative Theatre Awards, Part Trois

As promised, we've just posted a really delightful feature on indietheater.org, in which recipients of this year's NYIT Awards let us know what went through their heads when they found out they'd won. I think you'll enjoy reading it.

And take a look here for Doric Wilson's impressions on the NYIT Awards ceremony.... and here for John Clancy's thoughts... and here for Julie Congress's comments (the awards inspired her to learn all about Joe Cino).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New York Innovative Theatre Awards, Part Deux

A few more notes that I want to add about last night's awards:

First, major kudos to Vinnie Penna, Joe Whelski, and Jen Larkin, who performed short scenes from three Boomerang Theatre Company past hits (Kelly McAllister's Burning the Old Man, Tom Stoppard's Artist Descending a Staircase, and William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream). I had heard about Vinnie's Bronx-accented Puck but not seen it; it's delightful.

Second, a nod to Qui Nguyen, who rightly pointed out in his acceptance speech that NYITA is the only awards group that recognizes the excellent work of fight choreographers. Other theatre award bodies should jump on that bandwagon!

And finally, a quick mention of something coming up on indietheater.org: we'll be posting a feature in the next day or so capturing the reactions of last night's winners. Some responses have already come in, so I can tell you that this is going to be a great read.

New York Innovative Theatre Awards

"There are two kinds of theatre in this country. Commercial theatre ... and theatre that matters. You make the theatre that matters."

That's what Edward Albee told the crowd at the New York Innovative Theatre Awards last night. I think everybody in the room felt as lifted up as I did by his inspirational remarks.

Mr. Albee presented the final award of the evening (Outstanding Production of a Play) to Jessica Burr and Matt Opatrny of blessed unrest for their play Burn, Crave, Hold: The James Wilde Project. I'm actually going to see Jessica and Matt this Sunday (they're recording a podcast with us about their upcoming show, Doruntine), and I mean to ask them what went through their minds as they were marching onto the stage to receive their award from a man who is, arguably, the most important living American playwright.

I know I was really excited when I had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Albee after the awards. It was just one more special moment in an evening that was really just one giant high point for me.

As you may know, NYTE and nytheatre.com received the Stewardship Award from NYIT last night, and Rochelle and I were absolutely bowled over by the tribute given to us by Kirk Wood Bromley, who presented us with the award. There was also a lovely video featuring comments by Michael Criscuolo, Trav S.D., John Clancy, Bryn Manion, and Saviana Stanescu. And we heard from folks in the indie theater community all night long about the ways NYTE has touched them, and we appreciate everything everybody had to say very much.

The three co-executive directors of NYITA -- Jason Bowcutt, Shay Gines, and Nick Micozzi -- should be very proud of the event they created for the off-off/indie theater community last night. It was a beautiful celebration; just what the people who create "theatre that matters" truly deserve.

In addition to Mr. Albee, a stellar array of presenters was on hand: Barrett Foa and Louis Zorich handed out the acting awards; Michael Berresse presented the award for Outstanding Production of a Musical; Olympia Dukakis gave Judith Malina the Artistic Achievement Award; Tina Howe made some lovely heartfelt remarks before she handed out the two playwriting awards; Anna Louizos (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Dan Moses Schreier (sound), and Anne Militello (lighting) presented the design awards; Rob Ashford gave the choregraphy/movement award; John Bucchino presented the music award; and David Cote presented the award for Outstanding Performance Art Production. And some of the superstars of the indie theater world were presenters as well: in addition to Kirk Bromley, we saw Daniel Talbott and Isaac Byrne give out the directing trophy and Desiree Burch hand out the solo performance award. NYIT reps Akia and Leonard Jacobs made the presentation of the Caffe Cino Fellowship to Boomerang Theatre's Tim Errickson and Frank Kuzler.

I think the award for most memorable presenters nonetheless has to go to Michael Dahlen (of Blue Man Group) and Bill Irwin, who collaborated to give out the Outstanding Ensemble Award. Before they called the winners up to the stage, they got the entire audience to behave as "an ensemble" by throwing the frisbees in our gift bags up to the stage. A moment you wouldn't have seen at the Emmys or the Tonys.

Rochelle and I thank NYITA and everyone in the indie theater community for the Stewardship Award and hope we can live up to it.

Here's the complete list of recipients of the 2008 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, in the order they were announced. Congratulations to all!

ROB SHERIDAN, The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley (Actor in a Featured Role)
MEGAN BYRNE, No End of Blame (Actress in a Featured Role)
JUDITH MALINA (Artistic Achievement Award)
DAN BIANCHI, The Island of Dr. Moreau (Original Music)
QUI NGUYEN, Fight Girl Battle World (Choreography/Movement)
ANDREA CABAN, You Got Questions? I Got Answers! (Solo Performance)
ALIZA SHANE, The Three Sillies (Original Short Script)
BEKAH BRUNSTETTER, You May Go Now (Original Full Length Script)
THE NEW YORK THEATRE EXPERIENCE, INC. (Stewardship Award)
KEVIN HARDY, The Night of Nosferatu (Lighting Design)
SEAN BREAULT, Art of Memory (Set Design)
DAN BIANCHI, The Island of Dr. Moreau (Sound Design)
JESSICA WEGENER, Fight Girl Battle World (Costume Design)
CAMERON J. ORO, The Accidental Patriot (Actor in a Leading Role)
STEPHANIE BARTON-FARCAS, Elizabeth Rex (Actress in a Leading Role)
EDWARD ELEFTERION, The Night of Nosferatu (Director)
BOOMERANG THEATRE COMPANY (Caffe Cino Fellowship Award)
ELENA CHANG, NOSHIR DALAL, JON HOCHE, KELLEY RAE O'DONNELL, MELISSA PALADINO, MAUREEN SEBASTIAN, ANDREA MARIE SMITH, PACO TOLSON, TEMAR UNDERWOOD, Fight Girl Battle World (Ensemble)
Removable Parts (Performance Art Production)
Yank! A New Musical (Production of a Musical)
Burn, Crave, Hold: The James Wilde Project (Production of a Play)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

nytheatre.com Reviewer Hits the Road for Election '08

Today, I'm turning the blog over to one of nytheatre.com's regular contributors, actor-director Anthony C.E. Nelson, who sent me this email (and has agreed to let me post it here):

Hello friends!

As some of you know, I’ve decided to spend the next five weeks on the road as a deputy field coordinator for the Obama campaign. This is a tremendously important election, and I feel glad to be in a position to give time to help. I know I had the feeling for a while that I wanted to do something, but wasn’t sure what. But I recently went through a training with the campaign, and I learned some cool stuff, and I thought I’d share some ways everyone can help.

Volunteer!
The Obama campaign is organizing groups of volunteers every weekend to hit battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, but you can still help even if you have only a few spare minutes! Check out the neighbor to neighbor tool at barackobama.com. You can make calls from your own house at any time. There’s a script and a list of names provided, super easy, and there are always people you can call to help the campaign!

Donate!
Today especially any new donations are matched, so sign up to donate today! Here is my personal donation page. http://my.barackobama.com/page/outreach/view/main/AnthonyMoney. Does it make any difference if you do it on my page? Heck, I don’t know, but they had me set it up so here you go. I just put in ten dollars. Even 5 dollars helps. Also, Barack has been doing well in fundraising but the Democratic National Committee is well behind the RNC in cash on hand, so you can donate to them here: http://www.democrats.org/.

VOTE!
Sweet jesus, vote. Registration deadline in NY is Oct 10, but in many states it is earlier. And usually that means it needs to be at the board of elections on the 10th, not in the mail! You can check to see if you are registered at http://www.voteforchange.com/. Two things: If you signed up to vote absentee in a battleground state, good for you! But your ballot needs to be at the board of elections before your state’s registration deadline! Otherwise your ballot won’t get counted on election night, but only for the final ballot certification in December! Do you still need to vote if you live in a “safe” state? YES! There have been a number of polling scenarios recently where Barack would win the electoral college, but not the popular vote! We need to win the popular vote to have the mandate for change we need to get stuff done! So get registered, and VOTE!

If you’re supporting the other guy, and you feel like talking about stuff, I am more than happy to! Otherwise, I recommend you get out there and volunteer yourself! We’ve got a lot of energy going for us! Thanks for reading!

Anthony C.E. Nelson

Taking Playwrights Seriously

It is true, in its way, that all theater is political: that the mere act of creating or producing or choosing to see Xanadu rather than All My Sons is a kind of political act.

But oftentimes a show is overtly political, by which I mean that its creator clearly intends it to be taken as a document of its time and a call to action or at least to reason. Why does it seem that playwrights have so much trouble getting this kind of work to be taken seriously?

Take two recent examples, Michael Weller's Beast and Brian Parks's The Invitation. The former is about two Iraqi War veterans who return home and ultimately journey to the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas; the latter is about a dinner party amongst the New York upper crust. But both plays contain clear criticisms of the state of America in 2008--criticisms so focused and resonant that they became, for me, the key thematic concepts contained in these two works. Weller wants to illuminate the tragic maltreatment of veterans of our current war and of their families, and he does so with eloquence and scary specificity. Parks wants to remind us of the ugliness of a culture of entitlement that has made the richest few much much richer and the rest of us invisible to them.

Read the New York Times reviews of these shows, however, and you'd never have an inkling that either Weller or Parks were offering serious commentary about the State of Our Union. Charles Isherwood's review of Beast touches on "Mr. Weller’s sympathy for the soldiers and his antipathy to the Bush administration" without once referencing the words the playwright has put into the mouths of his soldier characters or, most compellingly, the widow of one of them. And Neil Genzliger's piece on The Invitation never suggests even once that this play is more than an "annoying black comedy" in which "five overeducated, overly moneyed Ivy League types pummel one another and the audience with literary, historical and sociopolitical references while drinking rather a lot of wine."

Each of these gentlemen is certainly entitled to believe what they wish about these plays. But one would hope that they would actually listen to what the playwrights are saying in their work. It's a shame when the so-called "paper of record" fails to record what some of our society's deep thinkers are thinking about when they take on the colossally difficult task of writing a new play.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a Difference a Decade Makes

Ten years ago, I was still living in Maryland, working part-time on nytheatre.com and the rest of the time at my job at Marriott International. I was pretty much beside myself when I got the chance to meet Matt Maher (then a recent Obie winner for The Race of the Ark Tattoo). I was still just discovering the iconic locales of alternative NYC theatre like La MaMa and the Ontological Theater that I had read about but not yet personally experienced for myself.

Back then, I would never have imagined that anyone would write a sentence that had my name and Judith Malina's name in it (unless the sentence were something like, "Martin Denton has long admired the contributions of Judith Malina and the Living Theatre").

So I hope you can imagine how I felt reading this, in the last paragraph of Doug Strassler's piece about this year's three honorary recipients of the New York Innovative Theatre Awards:
Of course, come September 22, 2008, Denton, along with Errickson, Malina and their colleagues, will be recognized as one of the leading heroes of the Off-Off-Broadway community.
Humbled doesn't even begin to describe it. The whole piece, which is about Boomerang Theatre Company (winner of this year's Caffe Cino Award), Judith Malina (Artistic Achievement Award), and NYTE and nytheatre.com (Stewardship Award), is here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Forbidden Broadway Will Say Farewell

In a nice piece in today's Times, Forbidden Broadway creator Gerard Alessandrini explains why he's closing down his (very) long-running franchise, possibly for good. I have to applaud Alessandrini for his decision: I've been a fan of Forbidden Broadway pretty much from the beginning, and it's absolutely clear that these witty revues/reviews of the state of the American musical have peaked.


It's not that Alessandrini has somehow lost his ability to poke fun at an institution he plainly adores; it's that the institution itself has changed so much that the spark, the inspiration, seems to have gone out.


It got me to thinking: what's different about Broadway musicals in 2008, compared to what they were like in 1982, when the first Forbidden Broadway debuted?


The most obvious answer is the personnel. When Alessandrini wrote the first edition of FB, Ethel Merman and Mary Martin were still alive; Yul Brynner and Carol Channing each still had one more record-breaking tour in their futures; Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett were still directing and choreographing shows; and Julie Andrews could still hit all her high notes.


Most of the moments I cherish most from all the years of seeing FB are the ones that involve the stars: Ethel Merman teaching the Phantom of the Opera how to project, Mandy Patinkin being "Somewhat Overindulgent," Liliane Montevecchi babbling incomprehensibly in the Grand Hotel parody, Christine Pedi's immortal "Stritch." And Broadway just isn't cultivating new musical theatre stars to match the glorious ones who no longer regularly inhabit its stages (though I am looking forward to seeing what Alessandrini has to say about Patti LuPone as Mama Rose).


The most consistent target of FB has been the mega-musical: the parodies of Cats, Les Miserables, and The Lion King have become as eagerly anticipated and as long-lasting as the shows themselves. But jukebox musicals and musicals built around old movies--Broadway's current twin scourges--do not seem as able to inspire Alessandrini's rapier-like wit. And although Alessandrini did build a brilliant song skewering Spamalot, trying to parody a self-referential parody is mostly a self-defeating proposition--and that's why shows like Urinetown and The Producers did not yield classic FB sketches.


It's hard to imagine that Cats would feel like the good old days, but in terms of invention and imagination and the level of audience engagement, it seems very much to be so: this year's big-budget musicals--The Little Mermaid, Shrek, and Billy Elliot--are all about selling audiences a brand they already know instead of creating a new one. Alessandrini understands this, I think; and though I'm sorry to see Forbidden Broadway go, I'm glad to anticipate what new concept he will come up with next.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Plays and Playwrights Anthologies -- 10th Anniversary

I think I have already mentioned here in the nytheatre i that the Plays and Playwrights books will be reaching their first major milestone soon: the next volume, Plays and Playwrights 2009 (which will be published in February), will be the 10th in the series.

Not bad at all for a series that started as modestly as this one did.

We'll be ready to announce the 10 plays that will be in Plays and Playwrights 2009 within a couple of weeks -- watch the nytheatre i for that announcement. Today I am announcing another of the contributors to this volume: the foreword of the book is going to be written by playwright Garth Wingfield. There's nobody more appropriate for the job. Here's why.

In late April, 1999, I saw a play at Synchronicity Space (now the site of the theater at 55 Mercer) called Are We There Yet? It was written by a playwright I didn't know, a guy named Garth Wingfield. I loved the play and as I was leaving the theatre, I remarked to Rochelle something like -- "Somebody ought to publish this play -- because it's a really good script, and if it isn't published, it will probably disappear forever, like so many other plays we see."

Didn't think much about this until the end of that year when, for some reason, the idea of publishing Are We There Yet? popped back into my head. This time I said to Rochelle, "Remember last April when I said somebody should publish that play? We ought to do that. We should publish a book of plays."

Even though we'd never published a book before, we went forward with the idea. We contacted several playwrights we'd gotten to know over the past year whose work we admired -- Kirk Bromley, C.J. Hopkins, Lynn Marie Macy, Robert Simonson, David Summers & Gary Ruderman -- and thanks to press agents Kevin McAnerney and Sam Rudy, we made contact with Eddie DeSantis and -- you guessed it -- Garth. While we were doing all of this, I saw a play called When Words Fail... by Dave Dannenfelser, and I got in touch with him as well. All eight agreed to let us publish their work in a book we decided to call Plays and Playwrights for the New Millennium. The snappy title was apropos--the book was scheduled for release at the very beginning of 2000.

Believe me, publishing another book was the farthest thing from my mind (and Rochelle's) back then.

But Plays and Playwrights of the New Millennium was a success. I remember at our launch party for the book, at The Present Company Theatorium, John Clancy told our guests how important it was to have plays from the indie/downtown theatre scene captured forever between the covers of a real, tangible book.

Now, as we prepare to start production of our tenth annual volume, I appreciate the chance that our collaborators back in 99-00 took on us. And I have to say, we owe the whole idea to Garth, because for whatever reason, it was his play that planted the idea in my skull in the first place.

So thanks, Garth, for that ... and thanks for writing our foreword this year!

"Previewing" the "Season"

Michael Feingold published an article about the upcoming theatre season in this week's Village Voice (thanks to my friend Owa for alerting me to it) entitled "A Plea for Theater Producers to Become Less Predictable." What Feingold mostly talks about in the piece is the crush of revivals on Broadway this season. He also mentions a few off-/off-off-Broadway companies: the Pearl, the Mint, Peccadillo, and Keen.

But I'm afraid that Feingold is seeing here only what he looks for. If he would like to see work that isn't a revival and/or is something fresh and UNpredictable, I suggest he look beyond Broadway and beyond four NYC theatre companies that have made their fortunes by doing revivals. He might, for example, want to check out one of these theatres during the next few months: 59E59 (festivals of plays from Ireland and Poland), Playwrights Horizons (new pieces by Nicky Silver and Adam Rapp this month), the Lucille Lortel (new work from MCC Theater and Aquila Theatre Company), the Chocolate Factory (a new play by Mac Wellman), the Abingdon (Robert Brustein's new play), Womens' Project at the Julia Miles Theatre (Saviana Stanescu's new play), or La MaMa, or P.S. 122, or Theater for the New City (three or more brand new works every month at each of these esteemed venues).

Not to mention: Rattlestick, HERE, BAM, the three Horse Trade theatres, the Ohio, the Cherry Lane, Endtimes at the Gene Frankel Underground, the Flea, the Atlantic, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public, and, yes, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Roundabout, and Lincoln Center, all of which premiere new American plays this fall.

He might also consider checking out the New York Musical Theatre Festival or the upcoming A.N.T. Fest at Ars Nova, if he's interested in checking out the work of new artists.

I should add that Feingold is hardly alone in his narrow view of what constitutes "theatre" in New York when constructing a preview feature: neither Ben Brantley nor Charles Isherwood ventures beyond Broadway in his season preview piece in today's New York Times.

I do have to agree with Feingold on one point, though. He begins his article by saying:
They're previewing the new season again—just as if, in the world of global
warming and the 24/7 media barrage of the Internet, such things as seasons still
mattered. How long has it been since you could demarcate your year by the
weather?

And he's absolutely right. The New York International Fringe Festival, perhaps more than any other entity, has broken down the traditional summer-time barrier to new theatre; the indie theater season in NYC, at least, is year-round nowadays, which is why this year we instituted the Indie Theater Sneak Peeks feature on indietheater.org, predicated on the idea that there is no "season" but instead that every single week there are new shows that need to be talked about.

I don't know what to do to get some of my fellow theatre reviewers to realize how much the theatre landscape has changed in NYC -- i.e., that the most interesting stuff in town is almost NEVER on Broadway, but instead is just about everywhere else. But I hope that the readers and audiences and die-hard theatregoers will get the message.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

60 Days

Election Day is less than two months away. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say--or that many will disagree--that this feels like the most significant election of my lifetime.

So what can I do to encourage my fellow Americans to take their responsibility seriously: to think hard about the current state of the country, our economy, and our position in the world; to evaluate the words, deeds, and visions of the presidential candidates carefully; to not get sucked in by spin or hype but to choose for yourself?

I wish there were more theatre to recommend to you during the next two months that could help reinforce some of these important ideas. In the Broadway sector, there is, alas, virtually none: Fall 2008 (like Fall 2004) on Broadway is pretty much devoid of timely political/social content, offering instead a host of revivals of worthy plays alongside a quartet of new musicals, two of them from Dickens and Dreamworks sources and the other two about teenagers.

But elsewhere there is much to pique the politically curious mind, and I think the best I can do here at the nytheatre i is suggest that you partake of it liberally. I'm planning to see Michael Weller's Beast, which is about two Iraqi soldiers on their way back home, next week. Other shows that are dealing in some way or another with the current war include Douglas Wager's In Conflict, Mallory Catlett's Oh What War, and Counting Squares Theatre's Woyzeck. There's a new play opening this month called Quickening that deals with four women at an abortion clinic, and another called Adam of the Apes that looks at creationism and evolution--those both feel pretty timely. And there are several pieces coming up that will offer varying looks at the American spirit/psyche: Atomic City and Room to Panic at La MaMa, Radiohole's Anger/Nation, The U.S.-ification of America Conference, and stageFARM's Spin. Of course I haven't seen any of these shows yet, but my guess is that each of them will stimulate conversation about the issues at the heart of November's election, and consequently a visit to one or more should amount to an evening well spent.

I'm really looking forward to Nero Fiddled's Life After Bush, a musical that will deal very specifically with the choices we are being asked to make in this election. It begins performances at HERE on October 17 and culminates in a marathon presentation on Election Night. There will be more about Life After Bush in this blog; we're recording a podcast about the show in a couple of weeks.

Because the election is so on my mind, I think I will see echoes of it in most theatre I attend between now and November 4th. A lot of people think that everything in life is political, and so the mere act of choosing to see one kind of show over another plays into the vital ongoing debate that our country is in the midst of. I hope, in our small way, that nytheatre.com and the rest of NYTE's projects can help folks choose more wisely, by helping them to be as well-informed as possible.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New York Clown Theatre Festival

We've just posted a brand new feature on nytheatre.com/indietheater.org -- a preview of the New York Clown Theatre Festival, which opens on Friday, September 5th at the Brick Theatre in Williamsburg, and runs through the end of the month.

I am really delighted by this preview: it's here.

Artists from 16 of the participating productions in the festival answered questions that we posed to them about their shows. Some of the questions were serious, some were kind of silly. All of the answers are terrific, and revelatory--really giving readers a good idea of what each of these shows is going to be like.

It looks to be a fantastic, fun month of clown theatre from all over the world.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Latest News from NYTE

I mentioned yesterday that I've been busy prepping for the fall season...but that's not all that's been going on here at The New York Theatre Experience!

Last month, we learned that NYTE will be the recipient of the Stewardship Award from the New York Innovative Theatre Awards. The presentation will be at NYIT's annual awards ceremony, on Monday, September 22. This is a very significant honor and we are very proud to receive it. The full announcement is on Leonard Jacobs's blog (he's chair of the honorary awards committee).

Last month, we also began work on Plays and Playwrights 2009, which will be the 10th volume of our annual anthology series of new plays by emerging/heretofore unpublished playwrights from NYC indie theater. We are completing our initial discussions with the ten playwrights we hope to include in the book--expect an annoucement of the contents later this month. Meanwhile, just know that it's going to be a terrific book, if I may say so myself; one that will expand even more than usual the parameters of publishable drama. I'm very excited about it. The target publication date is February 1, 2009.

Finally--the nytheatre i has, at long last, its very own web address. Please update your bookmarks and blogrolls! Find us at http://www.nytheatre-i.com. (Note that the old blogspot address will continue to work.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Looking Forward to a New Season of Indie Theater

I've been busy these past few weeks getting ready for the 2008-09 theatre season--specifically, the fall season in New York's indie theaters. It looks like a promising few months ahead!

We're going to see new works from: Mac Wellman, The Talking Band, Radiohole, Saviana Stanescu, Pig Iron Theatre, John Clancy and Brian Parks, Rich Orloff, Oslo Elsewhere, Reid Farrington (of The Wooster Group), Thomas Bradshaw and Jose Zayas, International Theatre Lab, Mallory Catlett, Babel Theatre Project, Andrew Irons, Ralph Lee's Mettawee Theatre, Peter Mercurio, and a whole bunch of other artists.

We're going to see new takes on a variety of classic works, too: Woyzeck, A Midsummer Night's Dream, both parts of Henry IV in repertory, Caryl Churchill's A Number, Tennessee Williams's Small Craft Warnings, plus a unique pairing of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew with Fletcher's The Tamer Tamed.

Plus there's the New York Clown Theatre Festival at the Brick in Williamsburg. And Trav S.D.'s vaudeville revue No Applause, Just Throw Money at Theater for the New City.

And that's just in the next four weeks.

Our indietheater.org website has been revamped and expanded to help everybody navigate the embarassment of riches that is indie theater in New York. Check it out. In particular, look at:

And, hey, if you're producing an indie theater show this fall and you're not included in any of the above -- get with the indietheater.org program now. Email me now for info.