BWW Special Feature: 99 and Under the Radar; Having the Nerve...
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: Having the "Nerve" to never "Settle"
The company The Nerve Tank has had many previous mentions on this column due to the ground breaking work that they do. There is rarely an opportunity to see something as thought provoking and experiential as one of The Nerve Tank's pieces. This column stated that they were ones to watch in 2010 and as the year winds down, they have certainly shown the public a lot. This week will cover their latest collaboration in which they take their talent for pushing the boundaries and apply it to the youth of tomorrow, with the help of the The Performance Project at the University Settlement. In this interview Artistic Director of Nerve Melanie Armer, Allison Fleminger and Samara Naeyemi discuss their collaboration.
99 : Can you tell us a little bit about the rehearsal you just came from?
Armer: I just got home from an amazing rehearsal. I was most particularly struck by how little is required to create the work together. Bringing the artists together and giving them a deadline and a place to perform is at the core of theater and these dual residencies give us exactly that with the added advantage of time in between the two events to gestate and re-consider the work and it's impact on an audience.
99: Can you talk a little bit about the origins of this collaboration. Who came to who? Is it a financial collaboration involving sharing costs? Is it more about space?
Fleminger: I originally encountered Nerve Tank in 2007 right at the time The Performance Project @ University Settlement was coming into being. They were performing at Dixon Place., I believe it was an apap showcase and I was invited by someone else on the bill. (Alethea Adsitt)
I was taken with Nerve Tank's work right away because it was so clearly derived out of play - truly collaborative play. Although the subject matter of the piece was dark and serious - the connection the performers had with the work was joyous. They were visibly empowered by their shared sense of connectedness, presence and their opportunity to create. I invited them to one of our salons and from there became a follower and fan of their work.
Nerve Tank is a collection of smart, skilled, curious, challenging and funny people who inspire others to see, hear,feel. think, dance, speak their minds, laugh and simply just pay attention.
Over the past couple of years - I have had the privilege of getting to know the Incubator Arts Project curators and I have great respect for their programming. I thought Nerve Tank would be a great match for them and encouraged them to go through the incubator's application process.
At the same time the Incubator and The Performance Project were brainstorming ways we could pool resources to serve artists in the creation their own work and support them in breaking of the box of making art just for other artists. I think both the incubator and the Performance Project want to encourage greater participation in creative acts for all. We want the people who grew up walking by our theaters every day to come inside and realize what is happening in there is relevant to the community as a whole.
99: Samara, anything to add?
Naeymi: The Incubator Arts Project grew out of the Incubator, a project of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater. In 2010, the Ontological-Hysteric Theater announced that it would leave its permanent home, St. Mark's Church, and that the Incubator would take over the space and operate year-round. The residency program is one of many established since 1992 by the Ontological-Hysteric Theater in an effort to support emerging artists. The Residency Program as we know it today began in 2005 when the Ontological reorganized its emerging artists programming under the name Incubator. The Incubator Arts Project holds an open call for applications where artists present their ideas for a co-production with the Incubator, NerveTank applied to the residency program and was chosen by the team of 5 curators (Brendan Regimbal, Travis Just, Shannon Sindelar, Peter Ksander and myself) to be a part of our winter/spring season. Not only are they provided the space for the full production but they are given full staff support for press, artistic and development discussions and they are introduced to a community of their peers who are also performing in their season. Nerve Tank was especially appealing to the Incubator because of the relationship with University Settlement, with whom we co-present a salon series that discusses many of the challenges faced by our theatrical community. (first one this year is November 8th at University Setttlement- it will also be the first one that we live stream)