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Foundry Theatre To Close With Final Production, The Book A MOMENT ON THE CLOCK OF THE WORLD

For a quarter century, The Foundry Theatre has raised provocative and timely questions with innovative theatrical productions, public dialogues, and community organizing that have inspired a generation of artists, activists, and organizations. In projects whose form and content have varied widely, with collaborators including Claudia Rankine, Grace Lee Boggs, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Naomi Klein, to name just a few, the Foundry's path-breaking work has invited as many people as possible to consider what it means to be citizens of a world that we ourselves create. The celebrated company closes its doors with the launch of a final "production," the book A Moment on the Clock of the World, which features artists, social justice practitioners, cultural critics, and public intellectuals-including Cornel West, Taylor Mac, Alisa Solomon, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Laura Flanders-whose own inquiries intersected with that of the Foundry across its storied history. Haymarket Books publishes the book on October 1.

The Foundry will celebrate the closing of the company and the launch of the book on the evening of Monday, November 4, at 6:30pm, in the historic Ballroom at the Ukrainian National Home (140-142 2nd Ave., New York, NY 10003) in the East Village. The Foundry's collaborators and audiences will gather for readings by Taylor Mac, David Greenspan, and surprise guests, and a dance party including a New Orleans funeral parade led by the Jazz Passengers' Curtis Fowlkes, who will bring his 2nd Line Brand Band.

The Foundry's radical, intersectional practice was at the vanguard of combining theatre and community organizing.

From 1994 through 2019, the company brought together artists, activists, and other stakeholders to unpack and reimagine issues of contemporary social and political resonance. It commissioned and premiered the first theatre productions of writers such as Claudia Rankine, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Ariana Reines. In 2007-in one of the company's many initiatives to bring artists into active participation in progressive discourse, and to establish new relevance for art and artists in efforts to imagine a better future-the Foundry helped to organize a national delegation of 25 artists to attend the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2011, the Foundry collaborated with members of FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality) to adapt the 1937 musical Pins & Needles, originally written and performed by the members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and commissioned new plays from other teams of artists and social justice communities to re-imagine New York City itself. 2011 also saw the establishment of the Foundry's Audience Ambassadors program, which built access to NYC theatre with low-income communities, many of whom had rarely if ever attended theatre before, in part by giving stipends to community organizers to gather groups from their respective networks.

As scholar Diane Ragsdale writes in the book, "Who else but the Foundry was producing an exquisite show like Telephone, taking a gang of artists to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, and hosting a community dialogue about food? Who else but the Foundry could have created The Provenance of Beauty, an intimate, bittersweet journey through the South Bronx, on a bus, narrated with the poetry of Claudia Rankine?"

The New York Times has described the Foundry as a "mainstay of the downtown theatre scene," and has said that it is "responsible for some of the most artistically ambitious work seen in New York." In twice honoring the Foundry with the Ross Wetzsteon Award, Off-Broadway's OBIE committee cited the company for "creating cutting-edge work" and "engaging artists in some of the thorniest issues of the world we inhabit." The Foundry's most recent work, the sold-out Master-commissioned from playwright W. David Hancock, whose Convention of Cartography was the Foundry's inaugural production in 1994-was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and made the New York Times Best Theater of 2017 list, in which critic Jess Green wrote, "More than anything else I saw this year, Master addressed and exemplified the question of cultural appropriation that everyone else only talked about."

Foundry founder Melanie Joseph says of the company's closure, "We're closing not because of money or any other trouble, but rather because we wanted to end on a high note, and to watch the Foundry's mission unfold anew in the hands of those who have been mentored and inspired by the Foundry."

Edited by Joseph and David Bruin, A Moment on the Clock of the World is an anthology of inquiry arising both within and between art and social justice practices. The book follows The Foundry's long-standing commitment to creating provocative relationships between form and content. Its layout divides each page into two discrete horizontal sections; the top two-thirds contain each contributor's chapter, while the bottom of the pages throughout the book hold a history of the Foundry's inquiry by Melanie Joseph. There is no prescribed way to read the book. Rather, it is designed to invite the reader to discover and gather shared themes and ideas in any number of ways.

The title of the book recalls social activist and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs's legendary call for a new kind of activism: "Now is the time on the clock of the world to grow our souls." This book gathers together hard-won insights of its "moment." It's a moment on the continuum of ever in the (r)evolutionary human project of making the world.


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