Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fall Forward

Returning from your first vacation in awhile can be jarring sometimes. I returned a few days ago from a week in Vermont – my first trip up there – and have needed a few days to readjust. There is always a re-citification of sorts; the air, the train, the pace, the search for the same sort of relaxed state you were able to achieve not a week ago. At some point you give in and hopefully find solace and redemption in the reason you were drawn here in the first place, beginning the new search for that delicate balance…until your next vacation. After all, "if life were only moments, then you'd never know you had one…"

It made me look forward to fall...keeping my fingers crossed that we missed the last of the summer's stifling humidity and can settle in the crisp breath of autumn (Although I somehow doubt it). Either way, there's an exciting season of work to look forward to…My first season as a full time Artistic producer, going away again on my first work trip to The San Francisco Fringe Festival in a short week; I'll be seeing shows, house managing, and getting tips on festival running, then coming back to be involved in my first big Innovative Theatre Awards Ceremony (and Julie Halston's hosting! amazing....)

Just as in continuing to find that balance between the relaxation and that city pace, there is always more we strive for. Even as I look forward to a busy and rewarding season, I still have a wish list:

I wish for the artists I admire to enjoy a season full of successes, even if that be learning from the not-so-successes.

I hope the number of Productions registered for New York Innovative Theatre Awards continues to climb.

I hope that the community sees more of each other's work to see where our common grounds lie, our differences, to be inspired by each other, and ultimately to continue to support itself by supporting each other.

I hope that the community continues to spread the word and support each other in reforming the Equity Showcase Code. There is no better time to do it than a time when we're all out there showing our innovation the New York Theatre community.

I truly, truly look forward to seeing more innovative theatre.

What are you hoping for?

Morgan Lindsey Tachco

Community Relations Manager

New York Innovative Theatre Awards

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sinning in NYC for 10 years

I had a very interesting experience recently that brought my beginnings in New York and 10 years later my current New York life smack together.

If you bare with my little story I promise there is a point…eventually.

Ten years ago I was an actor living in the DC area. I had spent two seasons with the Shakespeare Theatre and then started working around the tri state area. I was lucky to start working with the wonderful Signature Theatre in Virginia and after some time was approached by the Artistic Director Eric Shcaefer about acting in a production called Never the Sinner which was about Leopold and Loeb and the 1920's crime of the century. I ended up playing Leopold and a great actor Michael Solomon played Loeb and we were directed by a friend of ours from Shakespeare Theatre days Ethan McSweeny who is incredibly talented and is now successfully directing across the country. The mix of us and the rest of the wonderful cast created one of those rare and remarkable situations where everything goes right. We worked our asses off getting into the head of the boys and were then rewarded with extraordinary reviews, attention and eventually numerous Helen Hayes Award nominations.

The show and the work everyone had done on it caught the attention of New York and we started getting angels surrounding us, like the wonderful Stuart Howard, that wanted this show produced in the city. We kept true to our work and what we were doing and went for an amazing ride that took us to the now defunct Off-Off-Broadway American Jewish Theatre where we received glowing reviews from every New York paper. We started getting nominated for all kinds of Theatre Awards (eventually receiving the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play) and more producers started getting interested. Finally a group of producers came in and decided to produce a commercial run of this play and production. We then were transferred to the Off-Broadway John Houseman Theatre, which has since been demolished (too sad), and had a wonderful run. Needless to say this experience dramatically changed my life.

After this show I continued acting professionally in New York and regionally and then eventually started directing, thanks entirely to opportunities that arose from the Off-Off-Broadway world. Eventually of course I became one of the Executive Directors of the IT Awards (your favorite Executive Director as we've discussed before).

OK I am finally getting around to the real point.

So 10 years later I see that Never the Sinner is being produced in New York again and it is with the great Off-Off-Broadway company Woodshed Collective. By the way I found out the show was being done, when they registered the production with the IT Awards. Out of the blue I am called by one of the major producers of the production I did years ago, who has since gone on to be a huge Tony Award winning producer by the way, saying that we should go and see it. I thought it was a great idea. We went and saw the show which was fantastic and also rather odd for me as I sat there remembering all that we went through in getting into those damaged boys minds. I was lucky to say "hi" to the director and cast afterward and gave them my thanks for their great work before leaving.

So this producer and I go and have dinner afterwards to catch up and to remember the ride we took with the show. This producer was talking about how great the show was and how well the script worked and then let me know that if the production that I was a part of ten years ago had gone through exactly what it went through then, but now, he would never have become on as a producer. This really surprised me and so I asked him why. His first and honest response was that Off-Broadway was dead and that a cast of 8 was impossible. He said that no producer now could ever financially survive in the Off-Broadway world. Basically the only way he would have been on board for the production is if it had gone to Broadway and that if that had happened there would have been major cast changes in securing a star.

This really hit me and made me see the New York producing world through new eyes. I began thinking of the inspiring and challenging theatre I have seen in New York over the last number of years and see clearly that it has been in the Off-Off-Broadway world. It makes me truly proud to be a part of this community and also incredibly frustrated to know that these great shows I have seen can only live for such short time frames due to union restrictions. I ultimately worked on Never the Sinner for over a year and it launched a great trajectory for me that has led to producing and the IT Awards. I would like to see a New York where great Off-Off-Broadway theatre can keep playing and riding success when it comes and not have to live under the false idea that a jump to an Off-Broadway contract is feasible. When I hear that major independent New York producers avoid Off-Broadway because it is a financial pitfall I wonder how it is that financially strapped Off-Off-Broadway companies are expected to take a step up contractually if they have success. It simply does not make sense any more. Producers see the change in New York, we see the change in New York why is it that others turn a blind eye to these changes?

Jason Bowcutt

Executive Director

New York IT Awards