In July, the NTC Trustees met in Santa Barbara for our yearly retreat. Yes, we DID go wine tasting, clearly pointing out one of the many benefits of serving on the board!
The primary goal of the board retreat is to ratify new members and plan the conference. We have a dynamic weekend in store for you. Before sharing the details with you, I’d like to officially welcome our distinguished new members into NTC: Vivienne Benesch, Tom Bryant, Mindi Dickstein, Justin Ellington, Elynmarie Kazle, Christina Toy Johnson, Lorca Peress, Richard Rand, KJ Sanchez, and Shelia Tousey. Congratulations and welcome to all!
Our 2016 conference is December 2-4, and here are some of the highlights: On Friday, December 2nd, we’ll convene at the Players Club, meet our new members and then travel together to Brooklyn for the rest of the day. We’ll tour theatres, visit with theatre-makers, and have the option of seeing theatre in that community in the evening. Donna Walker-Kuhne is chairing the “Brooklyn" committee.
On Saturday, December 3rd, we’ll kick off by talking with the leaders of our Theatre of the Year the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. Immediately following, we’ll see a reading of portions of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Award winner Mia Chung’s play You for Me for You. A cocktail reception and our Awards Luncheon for members and our guests follows, and we close Saturday with an intimate discussion featuring our Person of the Year, playwright Danai Gurira.
Our Sunday morning events will include our Meeting of the Membership and Idea Café. It’s going to be a wonderfully rich conference. Stay tuned for more info about registration.
Also in this issue of our newsletter, we have updates on our Women Playwrights Initiative as well as the NTC Pipeline for New Work Initiative.
Risa Brainin, President
In this issue:
Meet A Member: Ted Herstand
Get ready for the 2016 Conference!
Take the NTC Pipeline Survey!
Meet NYTW's 2050 Fellows
Make NTC's new Facebook Page and re-designed website work for you!
NTC's new Facebook Page allows us to share news more broadly! Here are some tips to help you post more effectively:
When you posts to the new FB Page, your post will not appear on the Timeline. Don't worry! An admin person will be alerted to your post and move it to the Timeline.
In order to receive posts, you must go to new Page and hit the "Like" button.
While anyone can "Like" the NTC Facebook Page, only members will have their material posted on the Timeline.
Wondering what happened to NTC's old Facebook Group? Nothing! It's still there. You can continue to post to it. Material posted in the "Group" can only be seen by NTC members who have "joined" the Facebook Group, and cannot be shared with others.
LIVING LEGACIES: TED HERSTAND
The genesis of the Living Legacies series began during a conversation I had on the Uptown No. 2 Train (7th Ave. Express) at the last NTC meeting, when I shared the trip to Harlem with our long-time member Ted Herstand. We talked about one thing and another, but got around to personal history and Ted told me some interesting tales of his time as a child actor at the Cleveland Playhouse in the 40's, as well as working in radio and early TV. With the passing this spring of my father, who was a half generation older than Ted, I got to thinking about lives lived and how often stories remain untold. Fortunately for my family my Dad wrote some of his stories down.
But what of our NTC family? Are we preserving the past for the future? Our members all have lived and are living wonderful, full lives, specifically in the theatre and in show business generally. Certainly, many have written books, but some books don't get written simply because the potential writer is too busy living! Living Legacies is an attempt to bridge that gap. I thought it would be fitting to begin with the protean and erstwhile peripatetic Ted Herstand, who started the ball rolling while the subway rolled uptown.
Since 2010, over 300 plays by American women playwrights have been produced by NTC member theatres. Phase one included 150 plays over 3 years (2011-2013), phase 2 included 150 plays over 2 years (2013-2015), and our current phase 3 has a goal of 200 plays over 2 years (2015-2017).
Participants are asked to insert the following statement in their playbill for each play produced as part of this initiative. “This production is part of the NTC National Initiative to Celebrate American Women Playwrights. The National Theatre Conference (NTC) founded in 1925, encourages and supports the American Theatre through its initiatives, awards, and colloquy. For more information, see www.nationaltheatreconference.org."
Please let us know about the plays you are producing in your 2015-2017 seasons as part of this initiative. We will gather titles, playwrights, and directors to share with the membership. We encourage all members to support theatres that produce plays by women as well as to initiate conversations about gender parity within your circle of influence. At our 2016 meeting of the membership we will discuss “next steps” towards the goal of 50/50 gender parity by 2020.
On Sunday, December 6, 2015 at the Meeting of the Membership, the idea of a “Pipeline for the Creation of New Work” was presented to the membership for discussion. The original concept is this:
Is it possible for NTC to develop new work from inception to professional production within its own ranks? For example, could a play begin at one of our NTC members’ development organizations (Lark, Seven Devils, etc.), move to one of our universities for a workshop production or “preview production” (UCSB Launch Pad, Emerson, etc.) and then premiere at one of our professional venues (Perseverance, NYTW, etc.)?
To find out what potential collaborations already exist, Lisa Rothe led a lively conversation identifying the resources as well as the needs we have as individual artists and representatives of development and/or producing organizations. We were all astounded and excited by the many resources we have within NTC to create all kinds of pipelines. CLICK THIS LINK for the highlights.
After reviewing the highlights, please take a quick survey to help us gather information about your own Pipeline Developments/Opportunities/Needs. We plan to share these findings with the membership in December.
Calvin MacLean has been reappointed to a third term as Producing Artistic Director of the Clarence Brown Theatre and Theatre Department Head at the University of Tennessee! Cal begins this five-year term in August. As part of this appointment he has been awarded a development leave in the spring semester 2017 to direct in Chicago and at Ball State University as a Guest Artist. He also hopes to get away to Europe with his spouse, Rebecca MacLean for a much needed vacation!
David Fuller will be adapting and directing a performance of Macbeth at Theatre 2020 this Spring. The show will be featured as a part of Theatre 2020’s 2016/17 Mainstage season.
In May, David Fuller produced a reading of George S. Kaufman & Moss Hart’s comedy, You Can’t Take It With You, at Theatre 2020. The event featured a post-show talk by Anna Kaufman Schneider, George Kaufman’s Daughter! Learn more about the fun event HERE.
The 16th Seven Devils Playwrights Conference took place in June in McCall, Idaho under the Artistic Direction of NTC member Jeni Mahoney featuring new works by Lee Blessing, Sarah B. Mantell, Dominic Finocchiaro, K. Frithjof Peterson, Jenny Sternling, Megan Fevurly and Noah Diaz. Photos and more information about the plays and playwrights: HERE.
Jeni Mahoney and Lisa Wolpe will both be speakers at the 2nd annual Statera National Conference in Denver, Colorado from October 14-16. The Statera conference is all about gender balance and its goal is to take action to bring women into full and equal participation in the American theatre. Register for the conference HERE.
Jim O’Connor and Erica Toboloski will be off this August to conduct research and teach at the National Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! They will direct a production in Malay, the official language of Malaysia, of Mimpi (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). While there thru to February, they will also be teaching a Master Class for the faculty of the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA) and another Master Class for professional directors in and around Kuala Lumpur. Bon voyage!
In April, Cindy Melby Phaneuf co-directed KWAIDAN: JAPANESE GHOSTS AND DEMONS, an immersive theatre production based on folk tales at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Theatre. Find out more about the event and view some production photos HERE.
Robert Schenkkan’s play, All The Way, had its D.C. premiere at the Arena Stage from April 1-May 8, 2016. Find out more about the play and how Schenkkan believes the show can reflect on modern politics in an interview HERE.
Lisa Wolpe’s solo show Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender was recently presented from July 16-August 14 at HERE. She also be performed her three-person adaption of Macbeth, Macbeth3, at HERE from July 22 to August 14. Learn more about the two wonderful performances HERE.
Jack Wright will be Guest Directing for the University of Kansas this coming September. He will be directing Willliam Inge’s PICNIC, Sept 30-Oct. 6. On Oct 25, Jack will be appearing as William Allen White in the play, The Sage of Emporia, in Baldwin City, Kansas.
MEMBERS IN PRINT
James Fisher saw publication of his 13th book, The Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Beginnings(Rowman & Littlefield). The book is a great resource that covers the history of theater as well as the literature of America from 1538 to 1880!
Randy Reinholz and 2012 Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award winner, Dominique Morisseau both contributed to an article considering the impact and legacy of August Wilson’s seminal “The Ground on Which I Stand” speech. The article can be found HERE.
NTC member David Fuller reported about a resource called indietheaterenow.com. Indie Theater Now a website that is a part of the New York Theatre Experience’s Digital Network of theatre service and support resources. Created by Martin Denton, ITN allows readers to find and download over 1200 plays with work written by playwrights such as Lanford Wilson, Maria Irene Fornes, and Sam Shepard. The website could be invaluable to students as a way of accessing contemporary theatre for very little money.
NTC member Martha Coigney passed away in her sleep on April 5, 2016. Below is a tribute to Martha by NTC member Linda Burson.
MARTHA WADSWORTH COIGNEY (6/21/1933-4/5/2916) was an amazing person! Her unique theatrical works and memory will continue to reverberate throughout the future. If you didn't know her personally just read one of the myriad tributes to her, review her remarkable accomplishments promulgating Theatres and Artists across the globe, or talk to any of her many friends around the world.
NTC honored Martha with our Person of the Year award in 1986. Her worldwide contribution to Theatre through the International Theatre Institute was unparallelled, changing and opening up international travel and theatre exchanges as never before, forging major theatre relationships across borders. But she was just starting! The following year (1987) she became President of ITI and served an unprecedented three terms. Ten years later (1998) she received the TONY award for Outstanding Achievement. Her unique work never stopped... She continually built boldly with unbridled devotion, dedication and friendship to the art and growth of all Theatre.
Those of us fortunate enough to know her personally were also especially privy to her concerned compassion, strong passion, pragmatic and visionary intelligence, good humor, down to earth qualities, generous caring, gracious and warm hospitality, plus cooking extraordinaire.
Few of her many memorial tributes mentioned this latter ability, but all commented on her extremely gracious and warm hospitality. Over the years a number of NTC members were privileged to savor both Martha's hospitality and her exceptional cooking! Never will I forget our Thursday night pre-conference board meetings--nor will any others who attended, I'm sure. There Martha stood wearing her apron, usually a cooking utensil in hand, warmly welcoming us to her home. She was always a bit behind in the cooking and needed to return to the kitchen! Drinks and hors d'oeuvres were ready. She insisted the meeting start as necessary and not wait for her. Throughout the evening she managed to pop in and out between kitchen and dining sites with pertinent comments and strongly held ideas on the topic at hand, while ladling delectable food or holding dirty dishes in hand. The food was superb; the ideas even more so!
In a 2002 AMERICAN THEATRE article, Martha is quoted as saying, "As a global gathering of theatre people ITI has promoted, protected and defended theatre artists, their work, their opinions and, in some cases, their lives. We are catalysts. Our continuity is the memory of the future." At this moment, relace "ITI" with "MARTHA." She was/is the catalyst. Her continuity is the memory of the future.
May her good work and fond memory live on in our hearts as well.La Mama's tribute to Martha can be found on Howlround HERE.
Jim Houghton, a friend and colleague to many, passed away on August 2nd. Below is a tribute from former NTC Board President Jim O’Connor.
The passing of Jim Houghton is a loss to the entire theatre community but we in the NTC have also lost a friend and supporter. Jim spoke to our group on a number of occasions. Once, on very short notice, he was asked to fill in for a delayed presenter even though at the time he was a bit busy as both the Artistic Director of the Signature and the Richard Rogers Director of the Drama Division at Julliard. That occasion turned out to be a special treat when he invited us to come uptown and see a model of the Frank Gehry designed Pershing Square Signature Center.
My recollection is that about 20 or so of us traipsed up to a parking garage on 42nd street just about across from where the Center was to be built. There, in an unheated room, sat the model. Jim took great pride in presenting to us. He talked through the designed. He shared his hope that the relationship of the three theatres would allow the audience from one production to interact with those seeing a different production. He was as interested in the public spaces as he was in each of the theatres because he believed a theatre should be a living force, impacting people beyond an individual production. Several years after the opening of the center, Jim generously invited the NTC membership into the space for a presentation. He believed a theatre should open its arms to all artists, and this was a beautiful example of his philosophy. As he gave us an in depth tour of the entire facility, he spoke eloquently about his philosophy that drove the design of the Center: to create an inviting space for artists and audiences to experience the best writers while interacting with each another. I had the good fortune to interview him for a book several years ago, and it was the most inspirational hour of my life. His ideas soared, his optimism radiated, his kindness permeated the room and, above all, his faith in art and artists was boundless.
The world lost a man who dreamt large and accomplished great things, but we in the NTC have also lost a friend. Thanks Jim, for your art, life and support.For more, check out this interview in New York Timesfrom July 1; Jim Houghton talks to Ben Brantley on his last day as Artistic Director at the Signature or this New York Time tributeby Charles Isherwood.
UPDATES ON PAST NTC AWARD RECIPIENTS
2012 Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwright Award winner, Dominique Morisseau, recently saw a production of her play, Blood At The Root, presented by the National Black Theatre. Read a wonderful article and interview about her play HERE.
NEW YORK THEATER WORKSHOP ANNOUNCES
2016/17 2050 FELLOWS
In our last newsletter we introduced you to 10 playwrights you "need to know" from Jeni Mahoney's 16 years as Artistic Director of Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. In this issue, Linda Chapman introduces us to New York Theatre Workshop's 2016/17 2050 Fellows: playwrights Beto O’Byrne, Ming Peiffer,and Francis Weiss Rabkin and directors Danny Sharron, Stevie Walker-Webb, and Mo Zhou.
The 2050 Fellows are emerging artists who, with their unique voices, give us perspective on the world in which we live; and who challenge us all to contend with this changing world. With the 2050 Fellowship, NYTW is re-affirming its responsibility to nurture artists who reflect this multiplicity of perspectives, challenge the dominant paradigm and give voice to those whose experiences are not often heard.
BETO O’BYRNE is a multi-ethnic artist from the pine forests of East Texas and is the co-founder of Radical Evolution, a multi-ethnic, multi-disciplinary producing collective based in Brooklyn, NY. He has written 14 full length plays and has been produced in San Antonio, Austin, Los Angeles and New York City. His most recent production, The Golden Drum Year, was based on 365 poems he wrote in 2011, and was produced by Radical Evolution in association with the University Settlement in Fall 2015 in New York City. He was a runner up for the National Latino Playwriting Award and a participant in the Texas Black and Latino Playwriting Festival, INTAR’s Maria Irene Fornes Hispanic Playwrights in Residence Laboratory, Lincoln Center Theater’s Director’s Lab, and Tofte Lake Arts Center Emerging Artists Residency. His commissions include works for 52nd St. Project, The Foundry Theatre, The Movement Theatre Company, and Watts Village Theater Company. He is currently the playwright-in-residence at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.
MING PEIFFER is the Co-Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of Spookfish Theatre Company and a proud member of EST's Youngblood. Recent work includes: USUAL GIRLS (WORKSHOP: Signature Theater), am i? am i? am i? (The Flea), i wrote on ur wall and now i regret it (Wild Project), Pornography For The People (HERE Arts Center), aokigahara/ don'tlookforme (Staged Reading w/ Yangtze Rep), DESTINATION:OASIS (Columbia University), #cerulean (The Sargent), The ABC's Guide To Getting Famous (FringeNYC), ADVANCE GUARD (Kraine Theater), RELAX! ALICE (June Havoc Theater), WABI SABI! Not Wasabi (Theater for the New City, described by the New York Times as "Aware."), among others. Ming was a Guest Artist at The Lincoln Center Director's Lab and a 2012-13 Member of NPTC's Women's Work Project. She has training from both the Stella Adler School of Acting, and the Shanghai Theatre Academy where she lived abroad studying Traditional Peking Opera. She studied poetry at The New School and holds a BA with Honors in both Theater Arts and Mandarin Chinese from Colgate University. Awards include: The Kennedy Center's Paul Stephen Lim Playwriting Award (i wrote on ur wall and now i regret it). MFA Playwriting: Columbia University ('16). Ming also writes poetry.www.spookfishtheatre.org
FRANCIS WEISS RABKIN’s plays and collaborations have been presented in Philly, Chicago and in New York at HERE Arts, Dixon Place, the Bushwick Starr, the Prelude Festival, and The Brick. They are honored to have received residencies at the Wassaic Project, the Millay Colony, the Drama League of New York and Dixon Place. With Leslie Allison, they are co-founder of Tight Braid Group, an interdisciplinary performance collective which recently premiered Won't Be a Ghost (The Brick), a play about Chelsea Manning, transparency and queer bodies in resistance to State violence.
DANNY SHARRON is a NYC-based director and producer with a focus on developing new work. He is founding Artistic Director of UglyRhino Productions, a Brooklyn-based company aiming to make theater a social event by integrating live music, dance parties, and curated cocktails into the theatrical experience. He is also deeply invested in creating work about the LGBTQ experience, and providing a platform from which the voices of that community can be heard. Recent directing credits: Ana Gasteyer: Swing With A Handsome Woman, jason&juliaby Jenny Rachel Weiner (Williamstown Theatre Festival); The Forest of Without by Bradley Cherna (Drama League); The School Play by Frank Winters (NYU/Strasberg); What It Means To Disappear Here by Jeremy J. Kamps, #nyc by Kyle Warren, and Ionesco's Rhinoceros (UglyRhino). He has developed work with The Public Theater, Ars Nova, Ma-Yi and The Lark; is an alumnus of the Ars Nova Director's Troupe; and was a 2013 Drama League Directing Fellow. Upcoming: Taylor Mac’s OKAY at Bushwick’s new Central Arts (with UglyRhino), and a piece about the lives of LGBTQ immigrants in the US that he will develop alongside playwright Jason Kim as part of the Bill Foeller Directing Fellowship at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. www.dannysharron.com
STEVIE WALKER-WEBB is a performing artist, director, playwright, and cultural worker. He currently serves as the Program Manager for the Fulani Fellowship at the All Stars Project in New York City. He is a Co-founder of the non-profit CAST where he served as Executive Director. CAST creates theatre for social change. He has served as the Artistic Director of the Jubilee Theatre and as a Teaching Artist with Mission Waco-Mission World where he devised work with urban youth and the homeless community. He has worked as the Outreach Coordinator for Theatre of the Oppressed-NYC and is currently a resident Joker with the Ali Forney Center Troupe. He holds a B.S. in Sociology from the University of North Texas, and is an Emerge-NYC alumnus (NYU Campus). He is honored to be completing his MFA in Directing at New School for Drama. Stevie has developed work with La Mama Experimental Theatre, Lincoln Center Education, TONYC, Theatre Row, Baby Crow Productions, Wide Eyed Productions, Petit Jean Performance Festival, Jubilee Theatre and Texas Playhouse, New York Fringe Festival, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Stevie was born in Waco, Texas and is the creative love child of James Baldwin and Audre Lorde.
MO ZHOU is a stage director originally from China and based in New York City. She is currently the James Marcus Opera Directing Fellow at the Juilliard School, where she works alongside Stephen Wadsworth. Prior to that, she has worked at the Merola Opera Program with San Francisco Opera Center, Glimmerglass Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Williamstown Festival, among others. As an assistant director, she has assisted Mary Zimmerman, Robert Longbottom, Peter Kazaras, Nic Muni, to name a few. Mo is the winner of the 2013 Opera America bi-annual Director-Designers Showcase. She graduated from Bowdoin College and received her MFA degree in stage directing from Columbia University, under the tutelage of Anne Bogart. She will join the Wolf Trap Opera as their Directing Fellow in the summer of 2016.
Thanks to the NTC Members who contributed material to this newsletter: Risa Brainin, Linda Burson, Linda Chapman, David Fuller, Ted Herstand, Jim O'Connor, Cindy Melby Phaneuf