Monday, September 23, 2013

(Not Just) 3 New Plays: Why Sharing is Caring (and so much more)

Kevin Armento, Jaclyn Backhaus and Jerry Lieblich
"...what if we shared not just the space, but everything. Designers, fundraising, marketing, everything..."
- (notjust)3NewPlays
Tell me about (not just) 3 New Plays:

We believe firmly that for emerging New York theater artists, everybody wins when anybody wins. It's upsetting to see people approach their art with the mindset of competitive careerism - “there are only so many slots in so many theater seasons, and I need to elbow everyone else out of the way to get it.”

So we've decided to fly directly in the face of that individualistic, competitive model of production by creating (not just) 3 New Plays.

For the month of September, we're producing our three plays in repertory. EUDAEMONIA by Jerry Lieblich, KILLERS by Kevin Armento, and SHOOT THE FREAK by Jaclyn Backhaus are all running in the same space, on a shared set, and with a shared budget.

In addition to this, we've invited over 100 artists to use our space for rehearsals, workshops, and performances of over 50 new pieces - totally for free. Everything from dance, to theater, to stand-up, to improv, to film, to visual art – the whole space has become a buzzing little arts ecosystem.

Where did the idea come from?

We are playwrights who have been garnering attention, but little else. So even though we’ve written plays we felt were ready for production, we knew that sitting around and waiting for institutional support would get us nowhere.

This past spring, Jerry was AD’ing a new play and he noticed a glaring disconnect in a very standard production model. The company raised a ton of money so they could rent a great theater space, but then (with only 4 performances a week) left it dark 90% of the time.

So he came to Kevin and Jaclyn with an idea—what if we produced our plays together, split the rental cost, and shared the space? From there it ballooned out – what if we shared not just the space, but everything. Designers, fundraising, marketing, everything. We realized that if we teamed up, our work would receive a bigger budget, higher production value, and greater visibility—it would be something far bigger than we could ever make alone.

Then, we decided to take this collectivism even further, and offer up our space to all other artists who need it. We could make the most of that rented space, and fill it to the brim with as much new work as possible.

What have been some highlights so far, or what's surprised you?

The space feels like a collective space – when you walk in, you get the sense that a lot is going on here. It's great seeing audiences pick up on that, and come back to see more work they might not otherwise have been exposed to.

The biggest surprise though, was how many different opportunities we’ve been able to provide. We've given space to over 100 artists, established AND emerging. Everyone from our friend Asher who is doing his first public stand-up routine, to Lisa D'Amour, who is holding workshops for her upcoming piece, Milton. Companies like The Amoralists and Naked Angels are showing new work on September 23rd! Everybody needs space, and we are more than happy to provide.

To be honest, it's exciting to have created a model that's a true win-win-win – artists are happy because they get free space, we're happy for the increased exposure and audience traffic, and the venue’s happy to meet all these artists who might one day rent their space.

What are your hopes for the project?

We hope people copy us! Please! We hope we've made something that's repeatable not just by us. And frankly, we'd love to be given free space too!

But seriously, how amazing would it be if this became the new model for production? If artists were always sharing space like this? We'd sure like to live in that world.

Any advice for artists interested in producing their own work?

Do it! Nothing is more important than seeing your work up on its feet. Readings and workshops are one thing, but nothing compares to actually hunkering down in the rehearsal room, to actually performing the play for an extended run in front of different audiences every night.

There's also a lot to be said for the intellectual independence of making your own work. It's incredibly liberating to not have to ask permission to make your art, and realize that you can just do it yourself.

And lastly, copy our model! Bring in as many people as possible! Make shit free! If you want to hear more about how we did it, e-mail us. We'd love to chat. (,,

Anything else?

Come see our plays! We're running until September 29th at Tom Noonan’s Paradise Factory (64 East 4th Street). More info at

(For a haiku synopsis of the plays, see below....)

By Jerry Lieblich
directed by Marshall Pailet
Featuring: A.J. Shively (Broadway: La Cage Aux Folles; February House, The Public Theater), Emma Meltzer, Brandon Espinoza (Broadway: Les Miserables, Big, Gypsy) and Brennan Caldwell (Zelda, NYMF)
Wednesdays @ 7PM
Fridays @ 9PM
Saturdays @ 8PM
Sundays @ 2PM

By Kevin Armento
directed by Stefanie Abel Horowitz
Featuring: Katy Wright-Mead (Boardwalk Empire), Rania Salem Manganaro (Hit the Wall, Barrow Street Theatre), John Gasper, Emma Ramos (One Night in the Valley, INTAR), and Chris Thorn (Of Mice and Men, The Acting Company) 
Thursdays @ 7PM
Fridays @ 7PM
Saturdays @ 2PM
Sundays @ 5PM

By Jaclyn Backhaus
directed by Andrew Neisler
Featuring: Ryann Weir (The Collected Rules of Gifted Camp, The Brick), Jamie Effros (Back of Throat, The Flea Theater), Claire Rothrock (Clown Bar, Pipeline Theatre Company), Ben Otto (Debutante, Ars Nova ANT Fest), Maxwell Eddy, and Sarah Todes
Tuesdays @ 7PM
Thursdays @ 9PM
Saturdays @ 5PM
Sundays @ 8PM


EUDAEMONIA (by Jerry Lieblich):

Demon in my walls.

I want to be someone else.

Faust, but for hipsters.

KILLERS (by Kevin Armento):

pretty little bug

sitting pretty on my hand

i'm gonna smash you

SHOOT THE FREAK (by Jaclyn Backhaus):

Wait. You guys? Where's Earl?

1 comment:

  1. This is a GREAT model to follow! Wish I was in NY to take part - we at Towne Street Theatre in LA are trying a cross promotion with some other artists in February 2014 - and we are very lucky to have a great place to work out of at Stella Adler Theatre/LA- but this idea is really where we ALL need to come to - -CONGRATS!