Contributed by Zack Calhoon
For my money, 2012 was the "Year of Evolution." Producing theatre during the Great Recession has caused theatre-makers in the New York Indie Theatre community to evolve both as an artists and producing organizations to survive. Artistic Boards having discovered that their donors could only be contacted so many times led them to seek out newer and more nimble avenues of project funding. Crowdsourcing sites like Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter.com, in less than a year, have become the new normal for budding theatre companies who want to finance their upcoming theatrical productions.
Indie Theatre-makers discovered they needed to also start thinking smarter, instead of larger. Consequently, co-productions and the exploration of alternative venues became a big trend this year. Rising Phoenix Rep produced a play, Elective Affinities by David Adjmi, that utilized a personal residence as a performance space rather than a traditional theatre. One of the most successful examples of a producers thriving in this new business model would be the BFG Collective. Boomerang Theatre, Gideon Productions and Flux Theatre Ensemble decide to combine their producing efforts, Voltron-style, to share the space rental costs and maximize the potential of the Secret Theatre in Long Island City.
In fact, it was Gideon Productions' of Mac Rogers' Honeycomb Trilogy, probably more than any other production that sticks out as one of the highlights of my theatre going experiences this year not only because of its extraordinary storytelling, but also because it couldn't have been possible without the built in infrastructural advantages that the BFG Collective theater companies afforded each other (i.e. a place to store their set between productions, aggressive cross-marketing opportunities, and the creation of a larger interweaving web of theatrical artists crossing each other's paths on a nightly basis at one venue). Because all three plays in the trilogy took place in the same house, they were able to keep modifying and distressing Saundra Yaklin's vividly realistic set from the first production Advance Man all the way to the end. This gave the production a wonderful continuity and expansive quality as the audiences got see how the set decoration evolved over the course of Rogers' epic saga.
I'm very excited to see what 2013 has in store for all of us both as a country and as theatre community. I also eagerly look forward to seeing what my fellow Indie Theatre-makers will be working on in the coming months.
Zack Calhoon graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with BFA in Acting. As an actor he has worked with Boomerang Theatre (where he recently played the title role in Hamlet), Flux Theatre Ensemble, Dreamscape Theatre, Milk Can Theatre, Actors Shakespeare Company, Judith Shakespeare, Resonance Ensemble and Nosedive productions. His plays have been performed and developed by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Boomerang Theatre Co., East 3rd Productions, Living Image Arts, Flux Theatre Ensemble, Oberon Theatre Ensemble, New Mummer Group, On the Square Productions, and Dreamscape Theatre. Playwriting credits: The Weird Sisters (East 3rd Productions, Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s PLAYFEST), Breaking Ranks (New Mummer Group), RINO (Core Creative Productions/Resonance Ensemble production at 2012 Brick Theater Democracy Festival, Resonance Ensemble Play commission) and Paint (Semi-Finalist for 2012 Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Winner of 2010 Georgia Theatre Conference New Play Award, 2010 Semi-Finalist for a Juilliard Playwriting Fellowship). He is currently working on a commission, Friday at Jimmy’s, for Rising Phoenix Rep. He wrote two episodes for the second season for the award-winning web series, Then we got HELP! (www.thenwegothelp.com). He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Dramatist Guild, Writers Guild of America, East.