As we wrap up our 10 year anniversary, we asked a few of our friends about their fondest memories of the Innovative Theatre Foundation and the IT Awards.
Blake Lawrence: There has been a tremendous growth in the sense of pride, the variety of the work and a real coming together within the community. When I first moved to NYC and worked OOB everyone was involved in a show OOB but you only went to see other shows if you knew someone. Many more shows were “one-offs” instead of created by companies. The IT Awards helped to acknowledge the tremendous talent that existed OOB and the work of so many companies. It inspired and encouraged younger artists to start their own companies and created a true sense of community and support that was desperately needed.
Daniel Talbott: I think it's just the sheer number of fantastic companies that keep popping up and are out there, and the visibility of their work, which is wonderful.
Desmond Dutcher: The amazing connections and cross-pollination that have occurred (on the positive side). The sadly rising cost of rent for venues (on the down side).
Akia: I’m sure that I’m not the only one to give this answer, but reasonable spaces to perform work. Venues close their doors every year, and sadly there only seem to be a few “classic” OOBR venues left in NYC.
Jason Bowcutt: The community has become so strong and proud in self identifying. I remember when we started there was such a dismissive attitude towards Off-Off-Broadway by so many people in the New York Theatre community, that has truly changed. I think people value the freedom to create that OOB offers. I have always said, and I still believe, that OOB is the only place in New York where you can still put yourself completely out on a limb and risk failure without compromising yourself to a bottom line. It is in that place of risk where some extraordinary art can flourish.
Kathleen Warnock: It’s not that it’s getting too big…but that because there are so many more people doing so many different kinds of work, I feel as though sometimes you don’t hear about something until it’s over. That’s for 2 reasons: you can’t know everyone in the scene, and the workshop contract is obsolete (you don’t hear about a show until it’s started selling out and word of mouth has spread and then…poof their can’t extend).
Stephanie Cox-Williams: It seems a lot bigger with a lot more productions than I was ever aware of.
Mariah MacCarthy: One of the biggest changes I've noticed in the OOB Community over the 7 years I've been in New York has been the way we promote and support shows. Each show has its own hashtag now, and if you go to a friend's show and enjoy it, it's becoming more and more of a custom to write about it on Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes Tumblr - or to Instagram a picture of your program when you take your seat. I also see "world-building" becoming more and more of a common marketing tactic (Flux are the grandmaster mack daddies of this), with manufactured newspaper articles, videos, pages from storybooks, etc that continue to tell the story of the play offstage - which you could also call "transmedia."
Shay Gines: I’ve seen a greater sense of community and collaboration. It is not a bunch of companies working independently from one another, but a community of artists that work together and support one another. I think this change is due in some part to organizations like the Indie Theatre Now, LIT, TRU and the Innovative Theatre Foundation. Also Facebook and online sites like Theasy, NY Theatre Review, Off-Off-Online that are dedicated to the community and help to spread the word about the artists and work that is happening here.
Christopher Borg: The biggest change that I have noticed is that increasingly OOB and indie artists have realized the importance and impact that their art can make on the community as a whole. I get the feeling that people understand that they CAN take their art seriously, even in a small venue. I believe that audiences and critics have picked up on that and taken more notice of this vast and imaginative community.