BWW Special Feature: 99 and Under the Radar, A Look at Indie Theatre's Movers and Shakers
Welcome to 99 AND UNDER THE RADAR: A LOOK AT INDIE THEATER'S MOVERS AND SHAKERS, BroadwayWorld's new weekly series that showcases standout productions and production companies from the independent theater scene in New York City. Each week, independent producer Michael Roderick will be discussing the latest goings on in the theatrical wings, highlighting those with potentially bright futures.
This Week's Topic: Small companies doing Big things
In a time when arts are seeing significant cuts, it's very easy to scale back. Plenty of companies are doing fewer shows, picking smaller casts, and having shorter runs. Then there are those that refuse to accept this and decide to do something big. This week is all about them.
One of the most impressive theatrical accomplishments this week would have to be the series Great SCoT: New Plays by the Shelby Company. The company's mission reads: "Shelby Company has a dedication to making quality original theatre and to helping emerging playwrights and a strong ensemble of actors work together to produce original, vibrant, and exciting new plays" The company took this concept and ran with it by making the bold choice to produce three brand new shows in rep at The Access theatre, as well as their own free play reading series. Even more impressive is the fact that this group began producing in 2009 and they already have multiple shows under their belt. The company has also done a great job of picking some incredible plays. Jonathan Goldberg's The Luck of the Ibis is filled with such stunning theatricality one would imagine the show had a special FX expert employed, Raphael Bob-Waksberg's The Mike and Morgan show is comedic and touching as well as a beautifully crafted memory play, Lastly, Dan Moyer's You May Be Splendid Now is a fascinating study in what happens when nobody's watching and you're on television. All of the shows are incredibly well produced and show a level of quality that many companies who have twenty years or more under their belt strive to achieve. The future stars of the theatrical world are at The Access Theatre this weekend, see them before time runs out. Tickets for all shows can be found here.
Horse Trade Theater Group has been a staple of the Indie Theatre community for many years. Many Indie artists will recall one of their first shows being in The Red Room, The Kraine, or Under St. Marks. So what could this group possibly do that's bigger than having shows in three spaces on the Lower East Side? Produce a Festival. Starting in February, Horse Trade and it's producing partner EXIT Theatre will be producing the 2010 FRIGID Festival with a model that is completely different from the other festivals out there. The Festival history reads: "The FRIGID New York Festival was founded by Horse Trade and EXIT Theatre in 2007. Since founding The San Francisco Fringe Festival - the 2nd oldest fringe in the United States - nearly 17 years ago, EXIT has learned a thing or two about festival running. They introduced Horse Trade to the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) in mid-2006. Besides feedback from dozens of thrilled CAFF participants and artists, Horse Trade was drawn to its main principle: "...to provide all artists, emerging and established, with the opportunity to produce their play no matter the content, form or style and to make the event as affordable and accessible as possible for the members of the community," Horse Trade is proud to sign on to the tradition and chill out the New York independent theater scene's ideas of what a theatre festival can be. In true support of theatre on the fringe of the mainstream, the artists take home 100% of their box office, and the festival producers do not receive royalties from future performances. The festival's producers are proud to support self-producing artists' growth and future success. New York City is an indisputable hotbed of groundbreaking talent and we're proud to once again invite artists to take advantage of this opportunity to let their ingenuity thrive in a venue that values freedom of expression and artistic determination." FRIGID adopts the model that participation is based on a first-come-first-served basis, so artists are given the opportunity to produce their work no matter the content, form or style and 100% of box office proceeds go directly back to the artists themselves. So in a time when artists are struggling, this festival is actually giving back to the artists, which at this stage of the game, does not happen often enough. This is a brave new model and Horse Trade should be applauded for rethinking the traditional festival model and giving every artist a chance. It's also a great way to build community. The festival features works from all over the world and tickets for some shows are as low as $7! To find out more, check them out here.
There are companies in this industry who let the economy bog them down and there are companies that go their own way. Congrats to those that are choosing to go against the tide. The industry needs more of them. Swim upstream and check them both out.