Monday, May 25, 2009

Mainspring Collective Collects Good Karma and Gives Back

Today's Good News Item is from Jenna Weinberg of Mainspring Collective:

Dear Martin,

I've been reading your blog (the nytheatre i) for quite some time now and since you began the 'Good News Initiative' theme, I've been wanting to write to you about my own good fortune in working in thetheater in New York City.

About 2 years ago, I started a company with a fellow schoolmate from Indiana University and after 3 full length productions (built with a lot of hard work, generous gifts, and tireless fundraising), we are about to move our latest original play to an off-Broadway house for 2 weekends. In looking back, there have been a lot of wonderful things that have happened to us that have allowed us to arrive at this point. I'll try to keep our story brief...but there is no shortage of goodnews to be shared.

A mentor and dear friend of mine once asked me: "Jenna, do you want a career in theatre or a life in theatre?" This sounded like a trick question to me. Of course I want to work, but I want to work in such a way that will allow me both to grow as an artist and to make way for more professional opportunities. We founded Mainspring Collective with this in mind: the need for an artistic "home" to nurture artists in addition to giving them professional opportunities. But with no money or connections in the theatre world, how and where were we to do it?

We met the owners of the Producers' Club (Ernest and Freddy Tollja) in August of 2007 and they were so inspired by our enthusiasm and work ethic that they agreed to produce our inaugural performance, a 1950s adaptation of Euripides' Medea. Following this, we began working at the Producers' Club, running their office, house managing at night in exchange for free rehearsal/performance space at the theatre. We threw huge fundraising parties and managed to raise almost $8,000 in our first fiscal year thanks to the support of our friends and people we met along the way.

Medea was followed in 2008 by a devised theatre workshop with Bridget Fallen (a Chicago-based playwright) and the World Premiere of Legends, Myths, and Hieroglyphs by Demetrius in the Sonnet Theatre at the Producers' Club.

In January of 2009, when scouting for another space to produce a new play, we came across the cell, a brand new performance space/arts salon in Chelsea. We met with the women who ran the space and they welcomed us with open arms as artists-in-residence for the year. They gave us rehearsal space to develop our original play, Dream of Me (based on Charles Mee's Fetes de la Nuit) as well as our most exciting gift yet: a 3 week run of our new show in the space. The run was successful beyond our wildest dreams, with most performances sold out, and a slew of great reviews from Show Business Weekly, the Greenwich Village Gazette, and, of course, nytheatre.com.

Which brings us to the latest chapter of good news for Mainspring Collective. One of the theatre managers at the Players Theatre saw and enjoyed Dream of Me so much that he approached me with an idea: In exchange for a portion of our box office, the Players Theatre would bewilling to co-produce an extended run of Dream of Me for a two weekend run. It was an unexpected opportunity, and we knew we had to take it.

So here we are. Dream of Me opens off-Broadway in one week. We have no idea what's going to happen, and whether or not our new publicity tactics (a relentless guerilla campaign of shock and awe going on in the West Village as we speak) are going to work. We can only hope for the best and try to make the best of each new opportunity as it presents itself.

That is our story. It's the kind of story of good fortune and hard work that makes me believe that one can be successful in this crazy world of theatre, even while the economy and national morale are suffering. In fact, I think those things make theatre more important and necessary than ever.

Thank you for all of your help in promoting our shows over the past two years. And thank you for taking the time to let me share this with you.

Sincerely,

Jenna Weinberg
Executive Director
Mainspring Collective
http://www.mainspringcollective.com/

Send in your Good News Theatre stories -- I think these are very inspirational and valuable for our community to know about!

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