Given that Friday the blog was dark, I moved the guest blog post to today. Below is Allison Bressi's story of how she became a producer and the awesome collaborative project she is currently working on. Take it away Allison!
Producing (not just) 3 New Plays actually started out as a “water cooler” conversation for me. I work at Signature Theatre with Kevin Armento (one of the playwrights on the project), and while I was making tea in the kitchen he popped his head out of the refrigerator and asked if I knew any producers who might be interested in working on something with him. To be honest, I was only half listening to what he was saying and much more focused on drinking my tea, but I asked him to send me some information about whatever this was so I could send to some friends. About twenty minutes later I received a proposal for a project that felt so important and interesting to me that I told him I wanted to be his producer and to please sign me up.
(not just) 3 New Plays is a month-long theatrical pop-up event that was formed to combat the individualistic, competitive structure of self-production. We will present three world-premiere plays by early-career playwrights in a shared space, on a shared set, with a shared budget. In addition, we’ve invited a bevy of young artists and companies we admire – artists who would not normally have the space to create their work – to use our rented home for free rehearsals, workshops, and readings. We’re not just renting a venue, we’re not just producing three plays, rather our aim is to build an artistic ecosystem.
I believe in our event for many reasons, first and foremost being that it’s not just about presenting new and exciting work (which is important!), but more so finding a new and more realistic model for artists to self-produce in New York City. I think my peers and I are in a place where we need that. Due to finances, time, and limited space it’s becoming more and more difficult for artists to simply work on and develop their work. I see and work with seasoned artists at Signature on a daily basis, and find it so exciting to think about our emerging playwrights, directors, designers, and actors eventually having similar resources, opportunities, and support available to them. My hope is that this experiment in self-producing helps pave the way in getting them there and also inspires others to consider this model of coming together as a community to produce and put work out there. I know so many people who are working incredibly hard and creating work that is extraordinary with very little resources. It’s amazing to think about what individuals like that could accomplish if they worked together. I feel cliché saying it, but strength in numbers!
Working on a project of this scope in a city like New York brings its share of challenges: time and money being our largest obstacles. I work full-time as the company manager at Signature Theatre so most days I feel like I’m working with negative time, a challenge that I’m sure most arts professionals in New York can identify with daily. I definitely knew going in that this would be the case, but the framework of the project is the most original idea I’ve heard in a long time and there was no way I could pass it up. The playwrights, Kevin Armento, Jaclyn Backhaus, and Jerry Lieblich, who are also working with me as producers of the event, are so passionate, talented, and supportive of one another that it is impossible not to get swept up in their vision and give them every minute and dollar to support it. They have taken on raising all of the funds for the event and continue to amaze me with what they are able to achieve. I’ve never met artists who care as much about each other’s work as they do their own. This is not only demonstrated by their support for one another, but also because a huge part of producing their plays is presenting forty-five new works by other companies at no cost to the artists.
It’s because of this passion and support that we’ve been able to assemble such a great team to bring this idea to life. Our production staff for all of the plays includes Andy Yanni (scenic design) Meghan Gaber (costume design), Joe Cantalupo (lighting design), Sam Kusnetz (sound design), Brian R. Sekinger (stage manager), Amanda Phelan (stage manager), Dionna' Fletcher (stage manager), Barrett Law (stage manager), Julia Borowski (production coordinator), Eric Emch (graphic design), Karina Martins (line producer), Distilled Theatre Company (associate producer), and Fresh Ground Pepper (associate producer). In addition, Tom Noonan’s Paradise Factory has been incredibly supportive and their wonderful, newly renovated space really shaped our vision and made it possible for us to produce a project with so many different avenues.
Performances begin on September 8th. Please see information for the individual plays below. We’ll be announcing all of the additional programming soon. Come check it out!
By Jerry Lieblich
Directed by Marshall Pailet
Featuring Brennan Caldwell, Brandon Espinoza, Emma Meltzer, A.J. Shively
In a walkup somewhere in Brooklyn, Ned is hopelessly in love with Natalie, the cute girl downstairs. But when a tiny Demon emerges in Ned's apartment, the promise of a cooler, more attractive self threatens to dissolve his very personhood. Amidst strange doppelgangers, ominous portents, and an unending search for some meaningful transformation, these three twentysomethings watch their identities disintegrate before their very eyes. Part magical-realist romp, part meditation on the line between appearance and identity, Eudaemonia is a wild and imaginative ride through the insecurities and isolations of urban life.
Eudaemonia was developed in part at Bookshop Workshops, Filling the Well Writer's Retreat, and Cockpit Writer's Retreat.
By Kevin Armento
Directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz
Featuring John Gasper, Emma Ramos, Rania Salem Manganaro, Chris Thorn, Katy Wright-Mead
Miranda has had the urge to kill since she was a little girl, but when she befriends schoolmate Bobby Barrett, they start making booby traps and movies together, outlets that seem to quell her desire - at least for now. Decades later, a nameless woman in a cubicle tries to suppress her grim fantasies of dying, while negotiating an interoffice romance with a man we soon learn is Bobby Barrett all grown up. Though a generation apart, these two stories unfold in tandem, revealing an intricate link between two of our basest urges.
killers was developed at Judson Memorial Church, the Abingdon Theatre, and the Last Frontier Theater Conference.
SHOOT THE FREAK
By Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Andrew Neisler
Featuring Maxwell Eddy, Jamie Effros, Ben Otto, Claire Rothrock, Sarah Todes, Ryann Weir
When Franny and her Bushwick friends set out to Coney Island to relive the magic birthday exploits of 2006, they expect a few Nathan’s hot dogs, a few spins on the Cyclone, a few nostalgic look-backs on How Things Used to Be. Franny even crosses her fingers for a whimsical make-out session with Grant. But no one—not even the maniacal local weatherman—seems to forecast the Level Five Hurricane headed straight for Luna Park. As the boards on the walk start to creak and split in the wind, as hunks of amusement park metal are exposed to the elements, as the rain falls and the waves crest, the layers of old Coney (and Old Coney, and Ole Olde Coney) bubble to the surface. And it’s only a matter of time before the Freaks seek shelter from the storm.
Shoot The Freak was developed in part at Fresh Ground Pepper and Cockpit Writer's Retreat.