BWW Special Feature: 99 and Under the Radar, 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: Don't cut yourself on the sharp edges
One of the most refreshing things about the Indie Theatre experience is the fact that the artists in this community are not afraid to go to The Edges and address topics that most people find uncomfortable. This always makes for an intense theatrical experience, the likes of which you really can't find anywhere else. This week we'll look at some of the companies and artists who have decided to go to The Edge.
First up is Working Man's Clothes Productions who recently mounted a show entitled "She like girls" at the Ohio Theatre. The piece was so powerful that it won a GLAAD award. From the press release: " Working Man's Clothes is thrilled to celebrate the world premiere production of Chisa Hutchinson's She Like Girls, directed by Jared Culverhouse, which was named Outstanding New York Theatre, Off-Off Broadway by the GLAAD media awards. The 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards-New York, honoring entertainment and news media for their representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, was held at the Marriott Marquis on Saturday, March 13. Tony Award winner Alan Cumming hosted the event.
"We are so proud of Chisa, of the production, of the entire team," said Darcie Champagne, Artistic Producer. "She Like Girls was a very important project for us and we are thrilled to have it so well received. We look forward to creating more work that ignites conversation." Indeed igniting conversation is one of the most powerful gifts that the Indie Theatre community has and it's great to see an Indie company recognized in such a way. To find out more about Working Man's Clothes, check them out here.
Next up is 9-Thirty Theatre Company who recently presented a reading series of potential choices for their upcoming season called "The How it could be plays". The evening ranged from startling dramas about racism to Tom Cruise initiating the apocalypse. All of the works addressed the idea of what our future could be and some hit incredibly close to home revealing truths about our society that most would try and keep buried. 9-Thirty is to be commended for tackling a series of plays that address these issues no matter how serious or comical. The evening introduced a host of new playwrights whose work was culled from a large submission pool and featured some incredibly talented performers and directors. They will next be presenting Earth Movements which is described as "Earth Movements 2.0. 9 Pieces to Save the Planet in Celebration of Earth Week. No dialogue, no text, but a message coded in movement with music. One song, one story: Earth Movements." As can be seen, 9-Thirty is pushing to The Edges with our perception of the earth and even blending performance styles. More can be discovered by checking them out here.
Lastly, Aaron Louis, New Georges, and The Essentials have come together at the multimedia shrine 3LD to present the immensely powerful and raw "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: The Play". Originally a graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckener, Playwright Marielle Heller takes the material of the graphic novel and turns it into a stage experience not to be forgotten. The story revolves around Minnie, a 15 year old girl who starts to have an affair with her mother's 35 year-old boyfriend. This is all revealed in a very intense opening piece of staging that has very little dialogue and one simple movement that sent a shudder through the audience. This was the first of many shudders and exclamations of disbelief, grunts of disgust, and incredulous laughter. In fact the show elicits so many audible reactions that one cannot help but be swept up into this world and feel like part of the show. Thanks to some incredibly clever staging by directors Rachel Eckerling and Sarah Cameron Sunde and a scenic design entirely built for the show by the equally brilliant Lauren Helpern, the audience is in the show whether they want to be or not. The visual aspects are also incredible with projections from the graphic novel spliced with video of some of the shows most shocking moments, there is a secondary show being projected throughout the space whilst watching the action on the stage. The performances are also top notch. Heller plays Minnie with such gut wrenching honesty that there were many moments in which the audience was entirely silent and transfixed. She moves through this young girl's journey with such a respect for the struggles of a teenager that it's hard to believe she is not one. Equally impressive is Michael Laurence as the 35 year old Monroe. Not since Uncle Peck in How I learned to Drive has a character been brought to the stage that is this complex and disturbing and Laurence's portrayal is so convincing and honest that the audience seemed both sickened and fascinated. The cast of five moves about the stage as Heller narrates on her tape recorder and move in and out of her world like illusions from an acid trip. The piece starts cutting from the opening moment and doesn't stop until it hits bone. This is certainly a show not to be missed and tickets can be purchased here while they last.
There is no experience one will find that is as raw and as visceral as the Indie Theatre experience and artists like these continue to delight, shock, and cut. Get close to The Edge. It's an incredible ride.
Read more of Michael's insights at www.oneproducerinthecity.typepad.com.