This year many of the companies nominated for New York Innovative Theatre Awards are first-time nominees! To get to know them a little better, we asked them a few questions. The ceremony will take place on September 30th at Baruch Performing Arts Center's Mason Hall. For tickets and more information visit nyitawards.com. Congrats to all who were nominated, and be sure to check back for a list of winners after the ceremony.
The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation was created to bring recognition to the great work being done in New York City's Off-Off-Broadway, to honor its artistic heritage, and to provide a meeting ground for this extensive community. The organization advocates for Off-Off-Broadway and recognizes the unique and essential role it plays in contributing to American and global culture. We believe that publicly recognizing excellence in Off-Off-Broadway will expand audience awareness and appreciation of the full New York theatre experience.
COMPANY NAME: LabRats Theatre Company
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? We met in the summer of 2008 through the LAByrinth Theatre Company at their very first Intensive Ensemble at Bard College, and we've met nearly every Tuesday night to develop new work since.
WHAT ARE YOU NOMIANTED FOR? We are nominated for our production of The Rise and Fall of a Teenage Cyberqueen. Our nominations include:
Outstanding Ensemble: Kathryn Wilson, Daniela Mastropietro, Perry Lewis, Casey Greig & Jinn S. Kim.
Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role: Kathryn Wilson
Outstanding Original Full-length Script: Lindsay Joy
Outstanding Director: Padraic Lillis
Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play: LabRats Theatre Company
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? The LabRats were founded not simply as a theatre company, but a creative family. This production was one of those rare experiences where not only was everyone in the cast and crew immensely talented and hard working. But every person involved seemed to be an incredible person. The cast and crew of The Rise and Fall of a Teenage Cyberqueen became a family that I hope to work with for years and years to come. This award would be a wonderful celebration for the LabRats and our continuously growing creative family.
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? We just closed Carroll Gardens Aborning at the NY International Fringe festival where we received an Fringe Overall Excellence Award, and NYTheatre.com said the play was 'a great argument for the survival of the art form'. Up next is our annual retreat, where we will decide next years season.
COMPANY NAME: Tablua Rasa NYC Theater and Performance Research Lab, Ramiro Antonio Sandoval, Executive Artistic Director
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? Over 11 years ago I co-founded a theater research studio in New York and directed the actor’s development workshop. We worked with trained actors as well as natural actors in our projects in order to understand the differences between the trained, skilled actor and the naïve impulse or play without such tools. We produced about 9 shows ranging from performance art pieces through collective-theater creations to adaptations of literature to pieces of well known playwrights such as Nilo Cruz. (Theater for the New City, Hostos Community College, Natives Theater, Iberoamerican Theater Festival, Colombia). I founded Tabula Rasa NYC Theater to continue in the tradition of experimenting and applying the lab findings into new theatrical pieces.
We are an international, Hispanic theater company with a strong desire to contribute to the development of the arts in New York.
WHAT ARE YOU NOMIANTED FOR? We are very thankful and humbled to be nominated in the category of Outstanding Performance Art Production.
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? We thank the foundation for this kind nomination, this nomination and the award celebrates the collective efforts of the artists, not just one of the artists but every single person involved in the production. Nothing could be closer to our philosophy. By receiving this award, it would also mean – in a humbling way – that we are in the right path, that the objective that we set for the company is valid and we should continue this journey. We are happy and humbled to be the only Hispanic company nominated this year, and our thoughts align with the idea of innovation in theater in general and in the Hispanic theater space in particular – it is long time needed.
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? We are beginning the development of the next production April's Winter, in which the company will explore drama as a genre (in the previous play we explored tragedy) in a detective story setting and dealing with white slave trade. Next April.
COMPANY NAME: Apothecary Theatre Company
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? We started in 2008 so this is our fifth year.
WHAT ARE YOU NOMINATED FOR? Original Full Length Script for How I Learned to Become a Superhero by Dennis Flanagan.
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? There were so many admirable moments about the creation of this play by our ensemble and guest artists, but the NYC community also helped us. Kids from Baruch High School drew and created our set which was a beautiful collaboration between the writer, the company, and these gifted art students. It made the show for us. We enjoyed the script and working on it for the year running up to Opening Night. We are always more interested in new American plays and this one was very unique to a theatrical experience. It felt a little magical, employing theater to solve high cost ideas with a low budget. And who doesn't root for the Superhero, right?
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? We are working on a new full length play for 2015 and will be producing two site-specific shows in 2014 after our very first Gala in the spring.
COMPANY NAME: No Accidents Productions
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? One year
WHAT ARE YOU NOMINATED FOR? Our musical Four Messages was nominated for "Best Production of a Musical" and Ned Massey received a nomination for "Best Original Music."
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? The songs in the show are great as were the arrangements for two guitars, one violin and three voices. The songs and arrangements were by Ned Massey. I didn't hear the other nominees work, so I can't say if ours was the best. But I bet it was. So we should win for Best Original Music, right?
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? We should win for Best Production of a Musical because this show exemplified how good theater can be with not a lot of money but a lot of creativity and inventiveness. The set design and lighting design were fantastic and done very cheaply. And just three actors providing all the characters and musical accompaniment! A compelling, very unique script. With the result: audiences that were deeply moved, many staying afterwards, many in tears, wanting to talk about the show. Total strangers. It was pretty overwhelming, to be quite honest. The show really succeeded. We may not have had fancy costumes, or a large cast. But we had something really special. And that's what off-off-Broadway is all about.
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? On Sunday, September 15th, we'll be doing a first reading of Ned Massey's next musical The Battles, which takes place in Renaissance Italy and deals with the incredibly intertwined lives of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Leonardo's boy-toy assistant, Salai. Really. And we are working to get Four Messages remounted. Fingers crossed!
COMPANY NAME: Bedbugs The Musical, LLC
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? My LLC was created Nov. 15, 2011
WHAT ARE YOU NOMINATED FOR? Outstanding Production Of A Musical
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? We have a great team behind an amazing show. Everyone who worked on Bedbugs believed in it heart and soul. We have a great story and songs that are plot driven and memorable. We all believe the show is destined to be a cult classic. Over 15% of the people who saw the show, saw it again on the last night. Audiences went crazy for the show most nights. We did have some glitches a few times. One night we had so many technical problems because the lights went out in the entire building. I sent an email to everyone who bought a ticket thru out ticketing agency, apologizing for the show running late and for the tech problems we had offering them another opportunity to see the show or a refund. The responses I got were incredible, and no one asked for a refund. Actors Equity has strict requirements about budgets for shows, and we worked within their parameters. This show was produced for $35,000. I think it rivals any show I've seen on or off-Broadway. It deserves to be acknowledged.
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? Bedbugs will be produced this coming spring. We will start out with periodic performances, and build our audience. After we are selling out three performances a week, we'll increase it to four performances a week. If we continue selling out, we'll run eight performances a week. We will cut a CD, hopefully before the show opens so we can sell them at the theater. While it's running, we're going to look at licensing the play worldwide.
COMPANY NAME: The Seeing Place Theater
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? We've produced 18 plays since 2009 when we started. We're going into our fifth season.
WHAT ARE YOU NOMINATED FOR? The Seeing Place Theater's Artistic Director, Brandon Walker, received a nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for our production of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? At this point, I've gotten the self-satisfaction of being in the running. As far as I'm concerned, all of those who were nominated already won a lot. With that said, awards mean something to the public. They are proof of validation. To receive this award would give both myself and The Seeing Place an endorsement that could go a long way towards giving our community a reason to give our work a chance. We are an organic theatre ensemble whose work changes from night to night. What we do is much more visceral than what is available in the more commercial NYC theatre scene. Especially with the dwindling support of reviews in our community, this award could really make a difference for us.
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? The Seeing Place Theatre's next production is Men in White -- in which Brandon Walker will be starring as George Ferguson...
Commonly referred to as the original “Grey’s Anatomy” and forefather of all medical dramas, Sidney Kingsley's racy and political Pulitzer Prize Winning Drama takes theatergoers into the operating room for the first time in NYC since The Group Theatre’s 1933 production. Men in
White centers around a surgical trainee named George Ferguson whose personal life gives way to medical demands at a busy urban hospital. While his fed-up fiancée and her wealthy father battle with George's mentor to rush his studies, a dalliance with a nursing student ends in a tragedy that could have been prevented. Eighty years later, Kingsley's important social questions still resonate: If you can't turn to your doctor for healthcare, where can you turn?
COMPANY NAME: Temerity Theatre Co.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? Since 1997
WHAT ARE YOU NOMINATED FOR? Outstanding Solo Performance for Nat Cassidy, in "Generic Magic Realism"
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? In the intimate space of the Red Room (R.I.P.) one man with a guitar told a story which was a spoof of Latin American magical realist literature, and he did it with approximately 20 voices in a very engaging way. The show was another collaboration between actor Nat Cassidy and director DeLisa White; their work on "This is Providence" won an award in this category in 2011.
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? We just got a spot in Frigid New York 2014 Festival, which is also where our nominated show was performed. The new show, Oscár Tango-Bravo will be about conspiracy theories and the people who like them. www.temeritytheatre.org.
COMPANY NAME: Strangemen & Co. (Fun Fact: "Co." is NOT short for "company", but rather the chemical abbreviation for "cobalt" on the periodic table.)
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? About two years, which is remarkable if you consider that they still haven't learned to not let me do these interview things. (Fun Fact: I'm just kidding, it totally stands for "Company." I have literally no idea what an ampersand does, though.)
WHAT ARE YOU NOMINATED FOR? Co-Artistic Director James Ortiz is nominated for his set design for our show, On the Head of a Pin at 59E59. (Fun Fact: "Strangemen" is Other Co-Artistic Director Jason Ralph's actual last name.)
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? Well, as I understand it, the "amount of wood used to build your set that was actually stolen from dumpsters in Bedstuy" is a major factor in determining these things, and if so, I've got to tell you, Other Set Designers…I think we've got this one in the bag. (Fun Fact: "Strangemen" is James Ortiz's actual first name.)
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? We're currently gearing up for our next production, but at the moment, we're being secretive about just what that is, because we're withholding that way. If you're interested, follow @strangemenco for updates or visit our website, www.strangemencompany.com. (Fun Fact: As part of the initiation process, every new company member has to legally change their name to "& Company.")
COMPANY NAME: One Old Crow Productions
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? A little over a year; our nominated production of Cowboy Mouth was our Inaugural Production as a company.
WHAT ARE YOU NOMINATED FOR? A site specific production of Sam Shepard and Patti Smith's Cowboy Mouth.
WHY SHOULD YOU RECEIVE THE AWARD? I'm not sure there's a reason we should win over any of the other amazing shows that were nominated, but I do know what we're proud of. We created an experience that began before even entering the space. Audience members met Lobsterman on the street and we gave them a fortune cookie with directions to the apartment we created. The audience then sat in the couple's living room to watch the show, and were invited to partake in a pseudo communion of boxed wine and saltine crackers. We took away all the external sound and light cues, and let the ennui of old New York seep in through the cracked windows. And we were left with a raw and true piece of theatre. In a moment in time when the last vestiges of a New York that was idealized by visionaries and artists as huge as Andy Warhol and Patti Smith are vanishing faster and faster still to accommodate the next shiny new Condo High Rise, this was the perfect moment to remount this ode to all the artists who continue to give New York its energy. One Old Crow was the company to do it because we are dedicated to crafting not just plays but experiences, and seeking out just the right kind of space and feel to let the pieces we choose naturally shine, in what we hope are fresh and exciting ways that a traditional show experience doesn't allow. Our hope is that the audience felt the intimacy of the show and that maybe at times they felt as if they were looking through a peephole into these two people's lives. At the end of the day theatre for us is about that feeling.
WHAT CAN WE SEE NEXT FROM YOU? We have a very exciting 2 (redhead) woman show from Sherry Kramer called David's RedHaired Death. It goes up Oct 23 - Nov 10, 2013 in a non-traditional space in WIlliamsburg called LA SALA at Cantina Royal. It is directed by Michael Rau, and will feature aerial, 3 screens of wall-to-wall projections, and a food and drink collaboration with Cantina Royal will be available during the show. We are so excited to be currently working on this rich woman-centric show where anything can happen, nothing is happening, and everything has already happened and bring our audience into the mythical, magical world of The Redheads. Any further press inquiries can be answered by Emily Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.