Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We’re Joiners! Will You Be a Joiner Too!?

Contributed by Connie Hall

In February 2012, eleven independent theater artists and companies joined together in a new cooperative structure to share their resources, networks, and combined talents. The founding members of the undergroundzero cooperative are: Paul Bargetto / East River Commedia, Anna Brenner, Jeff Clarke / Performance Lab 115, Alec Duffy / Hoi Polloi, Connie Hall / Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant, Daniel Irizarry & Laura Butler Rivera, Doris Mirescu / Dangerous Ground, Shige Moriya & Ximena Garnica / Leimay, Judith Malina & Brad Burgess / The Living Theatre, Jill A. Samuels, and Shannon Sindelar.

Brad Burgess, executive producer of the Living Theatre explains why the 65-year old company decided to join the cooperative, “Strength in numbers. I think the cooperative will bring stability that individual arts groups can't find on their own, and continued artistic excellence.”

Since 2007, undergroundzero has been operating as a summer festival (Collective Unconscious, PS 122) featuring the cutting edge work of New York City and international theater-makers. Artistic Director Paul Bargetto and Executive Director Connie Hall program the festival by investing in theatre artists, not selecting productions. The artists alone decide what to make and present. This year, participants from past festivals and other veteran experimental theater artists formed the permanent resident cooperative in order to share resources and improve the conditions for making new work. The cooperative’s aim is to secure for its member companies the core means of production including rehearsal space, performance venues, touring opportunities, promotion, management, advocacy, and funding.

This year the undergroundzero festival will be presented at The Living Theatre and Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in New York City's historic Lower East Side June 26 - July 28, 2012. In addition, resident artist Shannon Sindelar will present an original piece in East River Park and the actors of Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant will present Little West 12th Night, a tour of the Chelsea Meatpacking District based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

The opening of the festival will provide context for the time and place in which “hardcore downtown” NYC theatre makers are working by hosting a discussion with Arnold Aronson, author of American Avant Garde Theatre: A History and a panel discussion with members of the “NEA four.” Playwright Saviana Stanescu will present playgroundzero, a series of staged readings and works in progress about revolution and immigration. Artistic Director Paul Bargetto will bring together international theater artists and videographers to present Debt! a series of performative lectures about the concept, history, and meaning of debt. Visit this link for a sneak-peak:

There will be an exciting series of free events, meetings, “talk shows” and dance parties happening throughout the festival. Come join the conversation, get carried away and inspired, and get your boogie on out on the dance floor!

We have until April 17 to raise funds on Kickstarter. Will you help launch this exciting new possibility? Give $11 to support 11 theaters!

Connie Hall is the Producing Director of Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant and Executive Director of undergroundzero.

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