BWW Special Feature: 99 and Under the Radar, A Look at Indie Theatre's Movers and Shakers
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by Michael Roderick
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: Getting to the "Source" of the Indie Theatre Community
One of the staples of that community is the Manhattan Theatre Source. The Source has held a special place in my heart since I started producing and I was thrilled to come and see the recent encore series of their great Estrogenius Festival. As usual, many new playwrights, directors and actors got the opportunity to showcase their work in a place that allowed them resources for that development.
One of my favorite aspects of the Source is just this: it's consistent tradition of being a launchpad for embryonic shows that go onto achieve widespread recognition. Many might be surprised to know that Broadway's [title of show] has its humble roots in the Source. After it's initial workshop in the intimate West Village space, the production played the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival, enjoyed an off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre in 2006, and played Broadway's Lyceum Theatre in 2008 for 13 previews and 102 regular performances.
For those who don't know anything about the Source, it is a not-for profit organization meant to provide an opportunity for the disparate Indie theatre community to gather. It also serves as resource center for artists. So, much like the local YMCA provides kids in the neighborhood with a court and a pool, the Source provides actors with a place that they can go and borrow plays, search the net, and play music. The lobby is also filled with paintings from a number of manhattan artists as well as plays that can be purchased. It is always filled with eager volunteers who take ticket reservations for shows, provide assistance in finding a play, and occasionally stop in for the newest audition. If you go there on even a semi-regular basis, everybody knows you and will give a warm welcome. It's kind of the Indie version of CHEERS. At the Source, everybody knows your name.
I could go on about the dozens of shows I have seen at that space and the thousands of artists I have met in the small refreshment nook under their spiral staircase. Not surprising, then, is my shared dismay over the fact that the space is in danger of closing.
While at the Estogenius Festival, an annual festival celebrating womens voices in theater that is, in fact, one of the largest of its kind in the city this weekend, the curtain speech included a surprising plea for help. The Source will not be able to keep their doors open unless they raise a significant chunk of money this month. I'd love to be able to say that this story is rare, but truth be told, the 99 and under spaces that the Indie Theatre crowd gathers around are closing left and right.
Spaces like the Source, which give the most to artists, are also the hardest hit. Many of my initial producing endeavors would not have been possible without the generousity of the Playground Development Series which asks for no money up front and just requires you to sell a certain number of seats.
There is no greater representative of the Indie spirit than the Source, and for me and the thousands like me who have found a home Source, its survival is vital. So if you've never heard of them or checked them out, now's the time. For those interested in learning more or would like to help, you can see how to support them HERE.
That's all for now. Check in next week when I profile another mover and shaker on the Indie Theatre scene. Till then, see you under the radar.