Martin Denton Discusses
Indie Theater Now
By Doug Strassler
Earlier this fall, Martin Denton announced that online theatre resource
nytheatre.com would become an archive-only site. I spoke with him
about this decision and about his new mission that he and his mother
Rochelle, 2008 IT Award recipients of the Stewardship Award, have
embraced: the digital theatre library Indie theatre Now.
MD: Because it is time to
move on. Rochelle and I both believe that we can provide the greatest
service to the indie theater sector by growing Indie Theater Now. Our
nonprofit corporation, The New York Theatre Experience, Inc., is a very
small, very lean organization - just one paid full-time employee and
an annual budget of under $100K - and our resources and time need to be
devoted to the endeavors that will do the most good, have the biggest
bang for the buck. These days, Indie Theater Now is proving to be the
program that will have the biggest impact on our community.
DS: Was it a difficult one, and why or why not?
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designed to build Off-Off Broadway audiences by providing $9 advance
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- Obamacare for Artists
- EstroGenius Festival
The 14th Annual EstroGenius Festival is running now through Nov. 10th. Check out the full schedule of events.
- The Sh.I.T. List wins
inaugural LIT Fund grant recipient was announced on October 7th and
will support Shared Independent Theater (aka "The Sh.I.T. List") to
create a craigslist-like database where Indie companies can rent, sell,
buy, and borrow set pieces, costumes, props and more. Check out the details
- Speaking of Stuff
- Boomerang Celebrates 15 Years!
to Boomerang Theatre Company, which is celebrating 15 years of
producing new, forgotten & classic plays. They are holding an
Anniversary Bash on Saturday, November 16th. Get your tickets!
details about these and other important activities affecting OOB and to
see how you can help and get involved, check out the Community Corner.
THE IT AWARDS
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Providing Marketing and Public Relations
J. Stephen Brantley
by Christopher Borg
If you haven't already heard of actor, writer, artistic
director and all-around-hotty, J. Stephen Brantley, you will. He has
emerged as one of Off-Off-Broadway's leading talents, both on the stage
His play Eightythree Down received multiple
IT Award nominations in 2012 including a nomination for Outstanding
Premier Production and this past year he was nominated for Outstanding
Lead Performance in Kathleen Warnock's That's Her Way. He is
the artistic director of indie theatre company Hard Sparks. His work as
a playwright has been performed across the US, Canada and Ireland, and
in NY he has been commissioned by PS122, Lincoln Center Directors Lab,
and East Hampton's Guild Hall. Eightythree Down was published by Indie Theatre Now as
part of their Best Of 2011 Collection. He has performed at venues
across the city and in Provincetown and received the Micheál Mac
Liammóir Award for Best Actor at the 2013 Dublin International Gay
The world premiere of his new play Pirira
(in which he also appears) just opened at Theatre 167 in Long Island
City. It takes place simultaneously in NYC and Malawi. As the tiny
African nation erupts in riots, American aid workers Jack and Ericka
take shelter in the storage room of a struggling NGO in Lilongwe. At the
same time 7,000 miles away (but sharing the same stage) Malawian
student Gilbert and his gay co-worker Chad begin dealing with their own
struggles in the back of a Manhattan florist.
I asked this
lanky talent powerhouse to tell me about the story and its inspiration,
as well as his take on working in Indie Theatre:
takes place in Malawi and in NYC, tracking two simultaneous stories in
real time on a single set, illustrating the ways in which very
different lives can be closely linked despite cultural, geographic, and
linguistic barriers. The play was inspired party which, by my having
written for NGOs working in sub-Saharan Africa and is based on actual
events that took place in Malawi on July 20, 2011. It may be the only
American play that takes place in Malawi and features a Malawian
character. (It is surely the only one that includes a rap in Chichewa
and Pig Latin.) I'm passionate about the issues faced by countries like
JSB: I'm very fortunate that Theatre
167, which champions multi-cultural, social-issues plays, gave me a
true development process for Pirira. So often, 'development' means a
couple hours of rehearsal and a staged reading. Director Ari Laura
Kreith, along with several very generous actors, explored this script
over a period of six months. I doubt any commercial company would have
had the guts or patience or sensitivity to do that with this play. But
then, I can't think of anyone other than Theatre 167 I'd have trusted
as completely to do so.
PIRIRA plays through November 10th and also features Adrian Baidoo, Todd Flaherty and Flor De Liz Perez.
Post-Show theatre discussions
Post-Show theatre discussions are a great
way to build audiences and explore interesting aspects of your
productions...but they can be ineffective--posing the same questions or
interviewing the same candidates. I came across this article "Post-show
theatre discussions: presenting your 'DVD' extras menu"
(theguardian.com) by John Walton, artistic director of theatre company
Fol Espoir. He created a "DVD extras" menu that they projected on stage
after the performance. The audience then had the opportunity to choose
topics they wanted to learn more about from the selected items, such as
""The Greasy Spoon" - about the working relationship Freddie and
[Walton] developed, rooted in our local cafe" . The material was all
based in dramaturgy that they used to create the production (and most
theater companies have that on hand). Through this process they
discovered a new method of post-show talk back that "a can add immensely
to both the audience and performer's experience of a production."
the next time you are planning your post-show discussion, think about a
new avenue to delve deeper into your topic and encourage audience
participation. (John Walton gave permission to reprinting this article.)
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