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:10 to watch in 2010
As Christmas draws near many Indie companies finish out their shows and prepare for the next year. Since there aren't many things to see right before Christmas, here's a list of 10 Companies to watch out for in the New Year who will no doubt be producing some solid and provocative work:
1. Hip Obscurity- This is a company that always presents work that challenges stereotypes and leaves the audience with something to think about. Their mission states: "Hip Obscurity is a theater company exploring issues of gender, sexuality and self-identity as lived in the everyday. We seek to confound The Commonly-held belief that these issues are obscure or outside the average experience. By exploring new works as well as established texts, we hope to create a collaborative environment for our audience and fellow artists in which we can explore, subvert, and confront these issues." This January, they will explore a very famous "established text" by doing their own unique interpretation of A Doll's House. Tickets can be purchased here.
2. Rebellious Subjects- A company that truly embraces the concept of environmental theatre, this group of talented young actors and directors have performed Shakespeare in a bar, Chekhov in a historic house, and a reading series in a cafeteria. One never knows where they'll be going for the next Rebellious show, but one thing is certain, it will be an experience that will be memorable. Be on the lookout for even more creative endeavors from this group in the new year. In addition, rather than having a company mission, this group has a manifesto which can be read here.
3. The Nerve Tank- Currrently in residence at The Brooklyn Lyceum, The Nerve Tank provides the type of experimental theatre that reminds one of Beckett's most thought provoking pieces. Often using digital projection, wild costumes, and even wilder text, this company provides so much food for thought, audiences will be intellectually satiated. Whether it means performing inside of a huge see through box, filling a space with florescent lights, or making bold statements about consumer culture as it relates to Coca-Cola, the audience is always in for something they have not seen before. Check out their next project here.
4. Impetuous Theater Group- Founded in 2004, this group of dynamic actors, directors, and technicians have developed theatre that consistently gets major attention. They have produced a zombie version of Twelfth Night, Their own Haunted House, a one act festival in an around a swimming pool, and one of the most thought provoking productions of Timberlake Wertenbaker's After Darwin seen on stage. This is a company with staying power that produces the kind of work that is always polished and exciting. They also are well known for developing some of the most inventive fundraisers in the business. Look for them to produce more great theatre in the new year.
5. GidEon Productions- One of the standouts in the Fringe this year having produced the disturbing production Viral by Mac Rogers, GidEon Productions is a company that always goes to The Edge and then pushes even further. Their work features some of the most committed actors on an Indie stage and supports Rogers who is arguably one of the most prolific playwrights in the Indie scene. Do not be surprised if Mac's work hits Off Broadway or Broadway at some point soon. With an aesthetic similar to that of Neil LaBute, Mac is heading towards bigger things and Gideon has been a major part of that support system. It will be exciting to see what they turn out in the new year.
6. 9 Thirty Theatre Company- A company that focuses on the environment. 9 Thirty is one of the first Green companies ever to come on to the Indie scene and with an extremely talented group of playwrights as well as playwrights like Craig Lucas on the advisory board, they are turning out some great work. The mission reads: "9Thirty Theatre Company's mission is to cultivate creativity and artists as we work towards viable solutions for a sustainable future" and cultivate they have, with some of the most creative ways of exploring texts and helping the environment as they do it, this is a company that is well on their way. Look for a new interpretation of a Midsummer Night's Dream that will challenge concepts of fairies and more. See info on that here.
7. The Vagabond Ensemble- Having just come off of the successful Peter~Wendy directed by the talented Jeremy Bloom, the Vagabonds are riding high. This is a group that has produced award winning festival shows and has really brought a lot of great theatre to the Indie scene. The mission of the company discusses building community and they have certainly done that this past year. Their productions in both the Planet Connections Festivity and MITF have gotten a lot of attention and it will only grow as time goes on. In the new year they will be presenting a new show called the Hangman School for Girls. Check out more information on that here.
8. Boomerang Theatre Company- With one of the richest histories in the Indie Theatre scene, Boomerang shows always look professional and always provide a solid theatrical experience. They are also one of the most prolific. Boomerang annually produces a season composed of three programs: free outdoor Shakespeare productions in parks throughout NYC; an indoor repertory series of new, classic and neglected plays; and FIRST FLIGHT, a new play development series of workshops and readings. As a result, there is always a myriad of choices within the Boomerang season and all of it is great. To see what they are up to currently click here.
9. Stolen Chair Theatre Company- This is a company that is note worthy for two reasons; One: because they produce work that makes the audience a part of the experience, and two because they have developed an entirely new model for community supported theatre. This is a model that could indeed reinvent the way one looks at financial support for theatrical endeavors and congrats to this company to be brave enough to try and break the mold. The current models are not working and it's great to see that some companies are trying new models. The shows of Stolen Chair also provide a theatrical experience that breaks the mold and more can be discovered by looking here at their latest project.
10. Flux Theatre Ensemble- Having just finished the epic Lesser Seductions of History, Flux is finishing out the year on a very high note. The great thing about this company is the fact that they have a core group of performers, directors, and playwrights and they have established a family. When an audience member goes to a Flux event, they also feel like they are part of that family. The company hosts readings as community pot lucks and engages in all sorts of activities that focus on building community and lasting relationships and this is one of the keys to their success. The company will be tackling the play J.B. in the new year and if this year's offerings are any indication, audiences will be seeing an incredible version of this retelling of the story of Job. Find out more here.
There are plenty more companies to mention of course, but the ones above are a great way to start the new year off right. Get those season tickets today and Happy Holidays!
Read more of Michael's insights at www.oneproducerinthecity.typepad.com.