Saturday, October 29, 2011

Madness Will Keep You Writing (and Acting and Directing and Watching).

"Anything can happen in a Madness..."
- Founder, Artistic Director Cecilia Copeland
What was the inspiration for Madness?

Madness started as part of the program at Ohio University. It was then carried to the Playwright's Center by OU Alumni Reginald Edmund when he went there for a McKnight Fellowship. When I came back to New York, I wanted to bring it here because it's a great way to keep writing even when there isn't a lot of time or money.
Why the name?

Anything can happen in a Madness. Five minutes before curtain, a playwright can get seized by a necessary script change and give a player new pages. Sometimes while on stage, doing a wild physical bit, some pages can go flying and then the players have to scramble and share a script or get the pages back from the audience. A breakout script and performance can suddenly bring everyone to tears. One time a kid's retainer popped out of his mouth and launched into the front row! This kind of stuff always happens... it's Madness!
What's the format? How does it work?

The writers get the theme one week before the actual show. This theme is proposed by the Featured Guest and is something they are inspired by and want to see explored in an evening of theatre. All the playwrights then have seven days to write a seven minute piece, cast it, rehearse it, and bring it in on its feet, script in hand.

The final draft of the play is due the day before the show and the Featured Guest works with me and my consulting producer, Lanie Zipoy and managing director, Judith Leora to curate the night. It's important to the overall mission of Madness that the work is cohesive and the audience goes on a journey. An hour and a half before the show, we run a quick cue to cue for lights and sound, and then like magic, the show explodes! It's high energy and lots of fun.What's your background?

I'm a Midwestern Mutt. My family hates it when I say that, but it's true in every aspect. I'm a half-Catholic, half-Jewish, Welsh, Mediterranean, Latin Mix, who is a permanent resident of Australia and calls NYC my home. I lived in Israel as a kid under very strange circumstances, which landed my family in the public eye for a number of years. It's a long story and one I'm hesitant to go into without at least one martini.

For my artistic background, I was trained as a classical ballerina and then went on to dance for VH1 back when they did that sort of thing... circa the 90's. Having practiced Ukidokan Martial Arts, I'm a huge fan of fight scenes and smartly written action movies. I started writing short stories and non-fiction pieces when I was in grade school. None of those are published, so don't look for them. I've been writing poetry off and on since I was about 15.

As an actress, I studied at the Stella Adler Studio and that's what led me to writing plays. Everything in my life ultimately led me to becoming a dramatist. I studied the craft at the Playwright's Workshop at the University of Iowa as an undergrad and then Ohio University for the MFA.

What's your favorite curse word?


What's coming up for Madness?

November 7th we will be at IATI Theater on the 4th Arts Block, which was recently renamed Ellen Stewart Way for the founder of La MaMa Ellen Stewart. And YOU Micheline, yes, Madness is thrilled to have you writing with us! Jason Holtham (pictured) is our Featured Guest and will set the theme. I'm sitting out this time. All the Founding Member Playwrights take turns giving up their seat to make sure we are in it for all of us and not just to get our own name out there. We're a community first and foremost.

ow can people help or get involved?

Post something on our FB wall. Contact our Managing Director, Judith Leora (pictured below, left) or Consulting Producer Lanie Zipoy. Or just shoot me an email.What do you see happening in the theater scene right now that inspires or frustrates you?

I'm inspired by the work of certain companies, because it's a team that makes good theatre. LAByrinth has great writers, actors, directors and designers. Lot's of Madness people were scouted at LAB events. New York Stage and Film is an organization that consistently takes risks and is jam packed with brains and talent.

ESPA at Primary Stages is a hotbed for all things theatre right now. Atlantic Theatre Company is opening the door to new work in exciting ways. Ensemble Studio Theatre continually generates top notch work. IATI Theater is about to undergo a huge renovation which took years of commitment to fund. The Public Theater remains a stalwart of support for all kinds of good work. INTAR is getting some well deserved great reviews.As for the frustrating things... sure I would like to see more gender equity across the board. It comes in little ways too, things like violence onstage or how one's sex is represented in a play seem to be different discussions when the writer is a woman. This is a reality, but I would like to discuss that reality instead of pretending it's not the case.

What shows coming up are you excited about seeing?

Atmosphere of Memory at LAB! I'm also very jazzed to see the new Almodovar film. I saw him speak at the NYFF which was great, but I couldn't get a ticket to his movie so I have to wait for the general release.Anything you'd like to add?Thank you for joining the Madness family and congratulations on the One-Minute Play Fest and the Write-In!

Madness is Monday, November 7, 2011 at 7:30pm at IATI: 64 East 4th Street, NYC. Pay-What-You-Can at the door. Refreshments will also be available.

Madness Writers for this e
vent include:
J. Holtham, (Guest Artistic Producing Playwright),*Ryan Dowler, *Judith Leora, (Managing Director), *Lisa Ramirez, *Molly Hagan, Charlotte Miller, Mel Nieves, Jeffrey Pfeiffer, Micheline Auger. Also participating: *Lanie Zipoy (Consulting Producer), *Cecilia Copeland, (Founder and Artistic Director) (*) Founding Member Writers

1. Warren G. Stiles & Molly Hagan
2. Jeffrey James Keyes and Micheline Auger
3. Dev Bondarin & Cheryl L. Davis (Guest Artistic Producing Playwright for Oct '11)
4. Cecilia Copeland
5. J. Holtham
6. Judith Leora & Kimberly Ver Steeg
7. Haydn Diaz, Cecilia Copeland & Winston Estevez

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Keith Josef Adkins on theThe New Black Fest Which Celebrates Diversity, Inclusion and Community and Conversation

"Storytelling is primal. It's how humanity gives testament to its existence. It's always universal."

What is the New Black Fest?

The New Black Fest is a theater festival that celebrates, interrogates and advocates for the diversity within the African Diaspora. The New Black Fest is committed to challenging black audiences (as well as all audiences) with stories from the global black experience that are often neglected, unmined or considered too insurgent.

The New Black Fest is a year-long event that provides panel discussions, curated readings as well as a new series titled the American Slavery Project which showcases plays about the period of American slavery written by black writers.

Each ASP reading is accompanied by a panel discussion from noted history scholars. Our aim with the American Slavery Project is to shy away from the standard romanticized slavery stories often found on the stages of mainstream theaters and provide the theater community with varied and diverse stories from the multiple perspectives that make up the black historical experience. However, in the fall of every year, The New Black Fest celebrates itself with a festival of plays, discussions and music in various locations in NYC.

How did the idea come about?

The idea for The New Black Fest emerged out of working in a community of black theater artists who were spending a great deal of their time waiting for their larger institutions to qualify, jump-start or anoint their careers. Not to mention the lack of diversity in story and talent on the American stage. So, in 2010, while attending Arena Stage's New Play Institute's Black Playwright Convening, I mentioned to the conveners that I wanted to start a festival.

During that convening many of us were citing instances of marginalization, institutional racism and/or lack of opportunities, and most of us gave testament to instances where theaters ignored our plays because the plays didn't fit into a particular (and comfortable or commercially-viable: a la August Wilson) black aesthetic.

So, again, in 2010, I mentioned to the conveners that I wanted to start a theater festival that celebrated our diversity and it has grown like wild fire. J. Holtham (pictured left) and Jocelyn Prince jumped on board as co-artistic directors with similar interests. Lynn Nottage and Suzan-Lori Parks signed up as advisory members. Our community of like-minded artists is still growing.

What's your background?

I'm a playwright who also acts. I earned my MFA in playwriting from the University of Iowa. In the last few years I've been a professional and full-time blogger for, an online newspaper supported by the Washington Post and Newsweek. I've also worked as a television writer and screenwriter.

What are your goals (and dreams) for the festival?

Our immediate goal is to continue to celebrate diverse theater artists within the Diaspora and also continue to build community and audiences. Our long-term goal is become a development and producing collective. We want to workshop and possibly mount plays.

How can people help/get involved?

People can get involved by volunteering, but even more importantly, by attending our events and spreading the word. Storytelling is primal. It's how humanity gives testament to its existence. It's always universal. We should all be engaged in each other's stories, equally. People can help by donating. At this point, most our funding comes from fellow theater artists (and friends of fellow theater artists). Any amount will help.

Whats your vision for the theater landscape in the near future?

It's weird. Although I'm one of the many casualties of the global economic downfall, I do like what it's forcing people (and institutions) to do. It's making us reconsider our priorities. It's making us go back to the basics. It's making us become more honest and courageous in our storytelling. In truth, all theaters need is a play, actors and a director with minimal tech support. If we get back to the primal need of storytelling, then we can relinquish the bells and whistles and get to the story.

We can make theater affordable for all. If we can get back to the bare bones basics and make theater affordable, well, then we can produce anything, anywhere. There will no longer be a need to depend on the whims and interests (and anxieties) of white, middle-class, middle-age subscribers and audiences. The future of theater should be for everyone.
Who and what is inspiring you right now?

The world and all of its many changes, transitions and undeniable truths.

You can join the New Black Fest team and artists for drinks and fellowship this Friday, October 14th at Nectar Wine Bar in Harlem (with Special New Black Fest Happy Hour 7pm - 8pm!)

Then Saturday, join the New Black Conversation: "The Future of Progressive Culture in a Capitalist Society," hosted by The Festival of the New Black Imagination with playwright Dominqiue Morisseau, music journalist Marcus Dowling.

New Black Plays and Playwrights begins Sunday Oct 16th with black Picasso by Zakiyyah Alexander at 2pm and Just Me, You and The Silence by Judith Adong at 7pm.

The conversation continues on Monday with The Struggle for Gay Rights in Africa, with Ugandan playwright Judith Adong, Dr. Cheikh Traore, UN Senior Advisor on Sexuality Diversity and more, moderated by actress/activist Bridgit Antoinette Evans at 6pm.

Sunday October 23rd, New Black Plays and Playwrights continues with Annie Bosh is Missing by Janine Nabers at 2pm, Carnaval by Nikkole Salter at 5pm and Homage 2: The Great Adventures of Slick Rick by Shaun Neblett at 7:30.

For more information on locations and times, or to make a reservation or donation, please put it

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Inspiration and the Pulse behind the One-Minute Play Festival

"The collective voice is the thing we’re really trying to get to the core of

So how did you come
to create the One-Minute Play Festival?

I worked with a theater company in Brooklyn, which I’m a still a member of, and we were asked to be part of a national short form theater festival at a big institutional theater in New York, which I respect very much. The idea was that everybody was going to come in from different places to collaborate, and it was sort of about this idea of radical inclusion, the idea that people were going to collaborate and be in this uncomfortable environment and force conversation and see each other work from boldly, wildly different perspectives, and I felt like it was a great idea.

And I felt like the reality of it for me, as I spent a lot of time working on this short form theater festival and getting to work at an institution that I’ve always loved, was that I didn’t learn anything. I didn’t meet anybody. I didn’t have any mind-blowing conversations. I didn’t see anybody’s work that inspired me. It was kind of disappointing. It was more of a PR stunt than an actual community event. Maybe that was my experience and other people didn’t feel that way, clearly other people didn’t, but I felt cheated out of what I had invested in. And I thought, ‘man, I think I can do a better job of creating a sense of community and I’m just this nobody kid’.

That was five years ago. Around that time, there was a class being offered called, ‘How to Make a Well Made Ten-Minute Play’, and a bunch of us were kind of married to this conversation that the culture of ten-minute play festivals kind of sucked. Most of the time, you’re either asked to write something, or as a director, someone will ask you to direct this random festival, and email you somebody’s random play, and you go off and find people and rehearse it, and bring it in, and the room is a culture of people that don’t know each other necessarily. Or, above and beyond that, they don’t have a clear goal for why they’re in that space together, and the culture of it ends up feeling like whose play is the better ten-minute play.

It also feels like a redundant process for young artists to be caught in again and again, and somebody was saying you’re watching ten ten-minute plays, or basically a hundred minutes of work, and there’s only a minute of those plays that are the thing that you’re waiting to see, and I kind of had a light-bulb (moment) based on that earlier experience being part of that festival and this conversation, and I was like, ‘oh, I get it. Why don’t we try to make a festival about those minutes of a ten-minute play?’

Cut to a month later, we were asking every playwright who we thought was good to experiment, and to look at the ten-minute play form, and distill it down to a single moment. I had no idea what was going to happen. It was a total experiment. We had no idea if anyone was going to show up, or what the deal was, and it ended up being so successful that year.

This was at the Brick?

Yeah, 2007 – we came in and there were so many actors that we literally had to keep the actors for the second part of the evening in the bar across the street and in intermission do a switch-over. Most of the playwrights showed up because they were curious. Some people thought it was a great idea. Some people thought it was a terrible idea, but everyone wanted to see what it was about, and we had seven or eight really good directors.

It really was a community event, and there was nothing at stake other than the possibility of seeing what this was. And that year not every play was admitted. We were new to the form so we didn’t have any examples of it, but it really was an inspiring event that brought people together. Everybody hung out and drank, and it really felt like a strong sense of community, and that day we decided we were going to do it again, so immediately it became an annual tradition.

Cut to a few years later, it started to get really popular. After the third incarnation, we kept moving to bigger theaters and after the third year at Here Arts Center, Kristin Marting (pictured left) from Here gave us a grant so we could be a part of their programming, which was really lovely, and was sort of like a step up from being an independent thing to part of a more legitimate structure, and it was really great for the festival.

Then I started getting interest from regional theater companies, and this one theater in particular was like, ‘pick fifty of your best plays and come up here and do like a month-long run under a LORT contract’, and I was like, ‘that’s really exciting’. It sort of became legitimate and I started planning it but it didn’t feel right, and so again, all the stuff I learned from the Lark and from other things I’ve been a part of - and I went back and thought, ‘ok, what’s the goal? Why do I do this and what’s exciting?’

I sort of went back to the basic idea of why we started this event which was to create a really inclusive community event, and if we’re not creating a community event, then what are we doing? We’re not in it to make productions, so it dawned on me that if I was to go around and tour these works, I would have to sort of bottle the lightening of what made it exciting and make this work with the artists and the playwrights in that particular town so that they have an opportunity to have a creative center.

So I started working on a unique partnership model where I started partnering with theaters, and right away people at the Playwrights Foundation were like, ‘you gotta come here!’ and a theater in L.A. that I was affiliated with was like, ‘you gotta come here and do this’. So I started partnering with theaters that either had a community-specific mission or a playwrights-based mission, or institutional theaters that have programming that specifically supported playwrights.

I started switching to this model where these theaters would hire me as a conceptual artist to come in and create a festival with their community to benefit these specific programs that immediately gave back to their communities.

So we’re saying to the playwright, ‘hey you’re writing a play for us, and you’re gifting your time, and the money and the energy and the scope of the festival is about the efficacy of what this group does and the proceeds are going – minus what it costs to produce the festival – back to their programs, so it feeds their community’.

I started in Los Angeles last year, with a company called East L.A. Rep, and I’ll tack on to that another company that I worked with which was Cornerstone and Michael Garces – they are the largest, quote unquote, community-based theater in the country, and they are an amazing organization that has an entire methodology devoted to what it means to work with people in communities.

That festival was about working in Boyle Heights in East LA, a very sort of under-served but vibrant community, that doesn’t have a lot of arts organizations and this one company was granted a space from the city and it was taken away from them, and they had to go to court to fight to get this space back, and I thought wouldn’t it be a great idea to do the festival as a kick-off for their community space, so we did.

The result of that was about ninety plays by sixty playwrights in LA; at least half of those plays were by Latino playwrights; a good quarter of those plays were in Spanish; and we had 65 actors; more than half of them were over the age of forty; more than half of them weren’t white, and it was a completely different experience than what we did in New York. It had a local identity and it sold out.

It was exactly like what happened in the first year of the festival. It was kinda sloppy, like the first year in New York, but you have to remember that these theaters haven’t done it before, so every time you ask someone to make a one-minute play for the first time, or write it for the first time, it’s like starting from square one back in 2007, but that’s ok because you have to let every theater that wants to invest in this project sort of discover what it is, and give them a chance to grow it in their way, so it’s a lot of patience in that regard.

Immediately the next weekend, we went to San Francisco and partnered with the Playwrights Foundation which is a really similar organization to the Lark. It’s a playwrights’ service organization, and we did the festival to benefit their member programming so it supported their core playwrights and their community playwrights that are a part of their theater initiative, and that was about forty playwrights, and that festival was really, really unique. They’ve already committed to having the festival back for years to come, as is L.A., so those festivals are going to be continuing.

The third festival, I did was in New Jersey with the New Brunswick Theater Festival, which is a small organization that works with youth communities and prison communities and does Shakespeare and educational programming with populations of people that may not have access to that kind of education or opportunity in that region of New Jersey.

The festival was also very different than the one in New York. I was concerned that it would be too similar to New York because its close proximity, but New Jersey has its own culture, and a lot of this work is about discovering the culture of what every city is.

After that, we did Victory Gardens in Chicago which was our biggest festival. We did a hundred and one plays by close to seventy playwrights on the main stage of the Biograph and to me, Chicago, as a jaded New Yorker, is the best theater city in the United States. They were so enthusiastic. The festival was awesome. They just got it. And this year we’re going back to all of those places and a bunch of new places too. So the festival has almost doubled in size a year – including this year which is benefiting the Einhorn School of Performing Arts.

How did the collaboration between Espa/Primary Stages and the One-Minute Play Festival come about?

Tessa and I just talked. I know the staff pretty well and she wanted to do it. I think ESPA is the most unique theater school in New York. Tessa LaNeve has taken a bunch of random classes and turned it into an institution within an institution, and I get the sense that people that are buying in there really feel like they have a home, and they serve their community in the way that other organizations I’ve partnered with have, and they’re growing, and they have really clear goals, and it just seemed like the natural place to partner.

The culture of that theater is very friendly, and I will say that top to bottom, including their artistic director Andrew Leynse, who is directing for it, and Elliot Fox, who is really exciting about it, and the whole staff, has really taken ownership of the project as much as I have. They’ve supported this project as part of their programming and it’s exactly what I had hoped to do with the festival, which is not to impose but to absorb.


I want to absorb the culture of the institution and the community that I’m working in. So just being careful in the way you program, and the way you word things, and who you think about including and why you’re including people. And to listen, a lot of listening to their concerns about what the institution and the artists want to say about the festival.

It’s also important to know that I don’t give the writers any thematic guidelines whatsoever. I think about the festival as kind of like an artistic core sample, like I ask everyone to write from this place of structure so the idea is that the plays will allow themselves to build, so the esthetic of the evening is ninety - or however many plays there are - little pulses of story-telling, but the collective voice is the thing we’re really trying to get to the core of, and every single time, many, many themes emerge.

So what I try to do is look at the landscape of the plays and group them, or clump them based on what’s being said or not. I’m trying to honor or respect what the collective voice is, if at all - and sometimes it’s very hard - and sometimes it’s very apparent, but what I’ve noticed is that the themes that have emerged in every city and in every theater culture around the country have never repeated themselves, so every incarnation of the festival is about something else, and that to me says a lot about the nature of local theater making and what is happening city to city.

My theory is that instead of theater sort of thinking about reaching far, I think theater needs to act and think locally. Someone said to me the other day, ‘you’re kind of like a theatrical localvore’ and I do think that theater has to serve your immediate community. I think if you want to be very broad, you should go to film and television. I think that people are starting to get it, that theater is about what is happening in that place and in that moment and the festival is certainly a snapshot of ideas that are about that place and that moment and that’s just what it is.

The One-Minute Play Festival is Sunday October 16th at 2 and 7pm at 59E59. For information and tickets, come hither. In honor of the 5th Annual New York One-Minute Play Festival, the OMPF asked some of its favorite alumni playwrights to "live-write" several short plays over the course of the evening, which will be performed by actors in real time at the Brick, Friday Oct 14th.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dominic D'Andrea: the Fatherdude of the One-Minute Play Festival

"There’s a whole culture of our generation that’s doing work from the heart, and a place of impulse, and from the gut..."

Since you ask playwrights to write one minute plays, I th
ought I’d ask you to describe yourself in one word. Just off the cuff…


There? There not here?

(laughing) There and here! Wherever. Call me and I’m there.

How did you come to directing?

I came to directing in an interesting way. In college, I was part of this thing called the American College Theatre Festival and I was really trying to get this acting nomination to be part of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship and I worked really, really hard on casting this production and when push came to shove, I didn’t get the nomination. Around that same time, the student association at our college was putting on a production of the Rocky Horror Musical and they needed a director, so I was like, what the hell, I’ll do this, and they contacted me and I did and it was awesome.

We caused a lot of trouble - we got into trouble with security on campus, something crazy like 2000 people showed up to see it one night, and because of that, I ended up being eligible for this thing KCATF was launching that year for student directors, and since I technically had done one college production, I submitted myself.

I was a sophomore in college, and never directed anything in my life, and somehow I got picked to be part of this directing thing. They sent me to a regional competition at Carnegie Mellon, and I walked into the room, and here I was nineteen years old, and everybody in the room was like thirty years old, MFA students from top schools, and I was so intimidated.

They gave us all the same play to direct and somehow I won, quote unquote, and they gave me this opportunity to go to the Kennedy Center and be there as a director. This was in 1999, and I was like, ‘wow!’ I went down there, and met all these amazing people.

That’s where I met Marion McClinton. He was doing Hedly at the time, and I met Mead Hunter and Megan Monaghan, and ended up working here for a bit (the Lark Play Development Center) and I met a man named Eric Schaeffer - who just directed Follies that opened on Broadway a few days ago, and also runs the Signature Theatre in DC. We were talking and turns out we come from similar backgrounds, so from that point, I started working in DC Theater which was cool since it was my hometown.

So I started working for Eric Schaeffer and quickly started working for other theater companies in town and whatever that opportunity was from KCATF just segued into sort of a career for me in theater at a very young age.

So, when you were directing that first production as an undergrad, you weren’t thinking, ‘oh, I haven’t taking that directing 101 class…”

(Laughing) I did all that stuff later.

So what was your approach?

Common sense, which is sort of the way I direct now, which is something Marion and I were just talking about upstairs. He was just saying to me that what he’s really impressed with, in this generation of artists coming up, is that though most of us have some sort of training, or a lot of training, there’s a whole culture of our generation that’s doing work from the heart, and a place of impulse, and from the gut, and I thought, ‘yeah, I agree with that’. I think that’s very much true with me and every decision I’ve made. It’s been from the gut.

Of course, I did all my training and stuff, but it’s also been very impulsive - whatever I felt like I needed to work on, or felt like I needed to say. And most of that has been in conjunction with working with playwrights and ACTF in 1999, so those kinds of collaborations - which are difficult for some people - are very natural to me, and it’s almost weird when I don’t have a playwright in a process.

How do you work with your playwrights? Or is it unique to every situation?

Yeah, I think so. It’s mostly about starting from a place of goals. I think one of the reasons I’ve spent so much time here at the Lark is that there are so many way to learn about how to begin working with a playwright and, for me, my big education working in the theater has been with this company and with these people so I’ve been very fortunate to have that opportunity.

But yeah, it’s unique to every situation but it’s starting from this place of what do you want to know? What are your goals? If the playwright is able to articulate a set of things they want to work on, able to articulate why they wrote this work, what they’re saying and what they want to do with it, I kind of look at that, and figure if I can help, or be a part of that, or push it, or bring it to a reality in some way, or if it seems like a project that would fit for me.

Do you find that most playwrights are able to articulate those things?

Yeah, I find that it’s different for a lot of people. I think the playwrights that I tend to work with are playwrights that are able to articulate those types of things, sure. But I can certainly think of many playwrights who I respect who can’t articulate their work so well - maybe they’re types of playwrights who are writing from a different place, or have a different style, or have a different thing to say, and their work is awesome, too. There’s a whole laundry list of people that I’d love to work with, and it’s because I have no idea how they work, and I respect it, and love it, but it’s so opposite from where I am.

For example?

Sibyl Kempson. I’ve worked with her before but not in a deep way. There’s nothing recognizable about her process or the work that she does. It’s bizarre, and it’s wonderful, and it’s really, really challenging dramaturgically and idealistically.

She’ll make a play where her and her friend do a hundred roles - two people, and they’ll either be in a scene by themselves or another person, it doesn’t matter, and it’ll just sort of sprawl. Or she’ll write a play about these people who are aging, and act one will be about them coming to terms with where they were in their life, and act two, these alien potatoes descend upon the world, and capture them, and take them underground, tie them up, and have a debate about the meaning of life.

So, it’s like I have no idea what the impulse was for that, but it’s amazing, and something that I just can’t pinpoint the genesis of, but definitely when experiencing it, understand what it means viscerally, and I really value those experiences that challenge what I know and think.

What you were saying about this generation of artists coming up being more instinctually inclined in their approach… do you have any ideas on why that may be?

I think it has to do with the fact that this generation has been subjected to so much institutional programming and so much institutional thinking. I think if you look at the generations before us, not everybody has had an MFA or undergraduate program, not every theater had a structure that allows or accommodates emerging artists for better or for worse in a very specific way, not every theater had a playwriting program, or a blind-submission process, or a reading series, or some kind of school or class opportunity.

I mean, back in the day, I think people who wanted to work in theaters did the assistant thing and then sort of came up through the ranks, and I think now, our generation is so subjected to, ‘Oh if you want to work for that theater, you have to apply to the thing.’ We’re always applying to things, so in response to that, people are getting away from that system and going back to the theater that people want to make, perhaps. I’m assuming.

I mean, I notice that it’s true for me and some of the people that I work with. And there’s always a balance between your institutional involvement and the stuff you want to do outside of that realm. And it’s a healthy balance. I think it’s good to be part of institutions, and it’s also good to have opportunities to explore your own voice on your terms. But I think the impulse being what it is, is to work on your own terms perhaps.

I know that you can’t name everyone, but just off the top of your head, what are some of the artists and theater companies that are doing that right now?

Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, the work that the Amoralists are doing; I think they’re really smart. They’re sort of becoming their own institution by doing things on their own terms. Rude Mechanicals, certainly – they’re kind of an institution but they’re doing it on their own terms and toured their own work. And any number of international companies that come through.

Part Two will continue with the genesis and inspiration behind the One-Minute Play Festival which is being co-produced by Primary Stages at 59E59 on October 16. For more information, take a minute right here.