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Behind the Curtain: New Ohio Theatre Artistic Director Robert Lyons Talks Ice Factory Festival and More

New Ohio Theatre's Ice Factory Festival Will Run Through August 15, 2020

Behind the Curtain: New Ohio Theatre Artistic Director Robert Lyons Talks Ice Factory Festival and More

Due to the global health emergency, Broadway theaters have found their bright lights dimmed and their houses dark for the first time in history. As the world works together to stop the spread of COVID-19, the theater industry has been put on hold indefinitely - theaters around the world have closed their doors in compliance with social distancing rules, and Broadway has been shut down in full since March 13. The shutdown has impacted the lives of all who work in theater industry, who are now facing uncertain and unprecedented circumstances.

In our Behind the Curtain interview series, we are speaking with theater musicians, stage managers, ushers, choreographers and more, talking about how they are handling the current circumstances, and discussing the impact that the shutdown has had on the theater community.

Today, our Behind the Curtain interview is with New Ohio Theatre Artistic Director Robert Lyons.

What is your job title? Tell me about what you do within the theater industry.

Artistic Director of New Ohio Theatre in Manhattan's West Village. I spearhead curatorial decisions about our programming.

What were you working on when the shutdown was put in place, and what are you working on now?

We had an adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov in mid-run in the theatre when we shut down. Right now we are producing the 27th year of Ice Factory, our summer festival of new work, as an online, live-streaming event. As we were planning it, we had no idea if people would come and if they would pay for it. Our first show, by Society Theatre, was fantastic, and we sold 630 tickets over three performances; more than double the capacity of our physical theatre! But even with that said, we all still wished we were in the physical theatre.

What has communication been like since the shutdown with the people you work with?

We have regular staff meeting phone calls and lots of Zoom meetings. But I've noticed less Zoom and more phone calls these days. The Zoom bloom is off the rose!

How do you feel that people in the theater community have come together during this time?

I can really only speak for the indie/downtown theatre scene, but we are a hardworking, resourceful, generous group that is good at sharing resources and solving problems. But this is the most difficult problem we've had to solve in my 30 years in NYC.

What ways have you found to best deal with the current circumstances?

For the first time in my life, I actually understand the profound meaning of "one day at a time".

How do you think this will change the world of theater going forward?

I think the ritual of real-time, shared-space storytelling fulfills a core human need and will never disappear. Beyond that, I'll have to get back to you!

Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Everything will seem better when Trump is out of office!

For more information on New Ohio Theatre's Ice Factory Festival, visit:

Buy tickets HERE.

Photo Credit: Andrea Reese

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