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BWW Interview: New York City Media and Entertainment Commissioner Shines a Spotlight on Local Theater with All New York's a Stage

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BWW Interview: New York City Media and Entertainment Commissioner Shines a Spotlight on Local Theater with All New York's a StageNYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Anne del Castillo's Office recently launched ALL NEW YORK'S A STAGE, the first-ever campaign dedicated to raising the visibility of our vibrant local theater industry, which is made up of small venues, companies and related organizations located within the five boroughs. Throughout this month, New Yorkers and visitors could explore the ALL NEW YORK'S A STAGE website,, created with partner, to discover an exciting array of more than 200 performances and events throughout the city.

To celebrate this exciting new initiative, BroadwayWorld has teamed up with the Mayor's Office to shine a spotlight on local productions from small theatre companies in the New York City area. Today, we are chatting with the Commissioner whose Office oversees, among other industries, Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting here in New York City.

Tell our readers about your ALL NEW YORK'S A STAGE campaign...

It was really an effort to let the world know what your readers have known all along: That New York City theatre is incredibly rich and diverse in terms of work, venues and audience. In addition to Broadway, theatre is happening at venues ranging from typical theaters to unexpected spaces in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.

The ALL NEW YORK'S A STAGE campaign is a citywide celebration of the broad array of experiences and offerings that defines New York City theatre with an eye toward increasing awareness of and connecting New Yorkers to local theatre offerings happening right in their neighborhoods. We launched the campaign throughout the City on bus shelters and in subway cars, as well as in print in neighborhood newspapers and in digital ads, and we partnered with to create the LOCALTHEATER.NYC website that lists over 200 amazing performances and events taking place in small theaters around town during the month of October. We want more New Yorkers to become familiar with local theatre so that they continue to look for other engagements year-round.

Why the local theater sector and why now?

Our office has really been focused on raising the visibility of New York City's creative sectors and promoting engagement among ALL New Yorkers with their city's rich entertainment offerings. We've done that quite successfully with our Broadway in the Boros series, bringing Broadway performances to communities throughout the city. We are building on that effort by turning our attention to local theater to connect New Yorkers to local productions right in their own neighborhoods. Autumn is a particularly good time because that's when a lot of new productions are launching, and with the cooler months, people are looking for activities closer to home.

Can you tell us what small theaters contribute to the New York scene?

Our city is home to nearly 1,000 small theatre companies, organizations and institutions producing and presenting a wide array of theatrical productions-from dramatic plays to jaunty musical performances to more experimental works. Some of the most innovative work is being done in these theatres, creating intimate spaces for artists to take risks, inspiring new talent and pushing the boundaries of the art form. And in some cases, these works go one to become major breakouts hits. Productions like Hamilton, Fun Home, Dear Evan Hansen, and more recently Hadestown and Fairview began in small theatres.

Attending a small, local theatre is hands down the best way to see the risk-taking creative process in action.

What are some examples of the kind of work out there?

The work is as diverse as the city itself: single character plays, immersive performances, musicals, dramas, multimedia shows, large scale productions, one act shows, ranging from subjects like climate change; immigration and deportation; and race and gender identity. Even the venues themselves are diverse-from a federal courthouse, an empty swimming pool, a public park, a bar on the LES, a carousel near a pier on the Hudson River. Theatre is happening everywhere in so many forms, genres and styles. There is literally something for everyone, from toddlers to seniors and anyone in between.

Your Office oversees Film and TV. Are you seeing any industry crossover?

Film and television production in New York City is at an all-time high right now. When I first started, we had just under 30 episodic television series filming in the city. We now have about 70 shows filming in the city. The increase in production is driven by the demand for streaming content, which is also driving demand for new ideas, new stories, and new creative talent.

We are seeing film and tv actors on Broadway and we are seeing theatre talent being recruited for television. I'll give you just one example. We've got a brilliant working playwright in New York City named Tracey Scott Wilson. Your readers will remember her from her award-winning productions at The Public Theater including The Story and The Good Negro, and later, Buzzer, which was first produced as part of the Goodman Theater's season. What your readers might not know is that Tracey wrote for, and helped produce, The Americans, which aired on FX Networks and was shot right here in the city.

Is there advice you would give residents and visitors making local theater their entertainment destination?

Go, check out your local theatre! Take advantage of the rich theatre scene in New York City. Take a chance and discover something new. There are gems to be found where you least expect it.

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