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Saturday
Aug132016

FringeNYC Opens 20th Anniversary Season!

It's FringeNYC 2016!

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC), the largest multi-arts festival in North America, will present the 20th Annual Festival from August 12 – 28, 2016. Each year the festival presents programming by nearly 200 of the world’s best emerging theatre troupes and dance companies.

FringeNYC also present Special Events, including FringeJR (shows for kids), FringeAL FRESCO (free outdoor performances), FringeHIGH (shows that will resonate with High School kids), FringeCLUB (celebrations), FringeART and more!

In 1997, New York City became the seventh US city to host a fringe festival, joining Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston, Orlando and San Francisco. FringeNYC has presented over 3000 performing groups representing every continent, prompting Switzerland’s national daily, The New Zurich Zeitung, to declare FringeNYC as “the premiere meeting ground for alternative artists.”

FringeNYC has also been the launching pad for numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Matt & Ben, Never Swim Alone, The Jammer, Debbie Does Dallas, Dog Sees God, Brandon Teena, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, 21 Dog Years, The Irish Curse, Jurassic Parq, The Fartiste, Silence! The Musical and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche; movies including WTC View and Armless; and even a TV show (‘da Kink in My Hair).

FringeNYC alumni include Bradley Cooper, Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory), Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, CNN’s Inside Man), Mindy Kaling, Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Pippin), Alex Timbers (Rocky), Leigh Silverman (Violet), W. Kamau Bell (Totally Biased), Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story) and Chris Lowell (Enlisted), among countless other success stories.

FringeNYC is a production of The Present Company, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy. Ms. Holy was selected as a “Person of the Decade” in nytheatre now’s Indie Theater Hall of Fame.

Please visit our LocalTheatreNY Section dedicated to all things FringeNYC HERE.

Friday
Jun242016

Here Come the Spring & Summer Festivals of 2016!

You don’t want to miss this year’s festival season...

If you love theatre – and you must if you are reading anything on this site – summer in New York is the season for everything new that theatre might offer in the near future. From brand new musicals hitting the boards at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) to condensed versions of new plays about New York City featured at the Short Play Festival produced by The Player’s Theater on MacDougal Street in the village, June is going to be busy.  Unlike previous years, this year’s festivals are even more abundant in variety, style, length and genre. At the Hudson Guild Theatre on 26th Street, the Thespis Theater Festival, now under the banner of "New York Theater Festival" alongside it's winter version, the Venus Adonis Theater Festival is offering more productions than ever, with a whopping 75+ shows that will run into the fall! And, of course, FringeNYC lands in more than 17 venues this summer with more than 200 individual productions. There is MITF (Midtown International Theatre Festival), Strawberry One Act Festival and a slew of other festivals like the Dream Up Festival at Theater For The New City sprinkled throughout the season. If you are into theatre, nothing else compares.

How important is the theatre festival season to New York City? In addition to stimulating the economy, some of these shows go on to some fame and fortune! Currently, The Imbible, now celebrating its 2nd anniversary at the Soho Playhouse, started as a festival offering and has become a NYC hit! So did Sistas, playing at the St. Luke’s Off Broadway Theater for - get ready for this - 5 years!

Below is a sample of some of the "must-see" Theatre Festival offerings starting this June. To visit the websites and for more information, simply click on the festival name.

*********************************************** 

The Players Theatre Short Play & Musical Festival
June 9 – 25, 2016
The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre
The Players Theatre 115 MacDougal Street 

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity 2016
June 13- July 10, 2016
Paradise Factory, 64 East 4th Street

Fresh Fruit Festival
July 11 - 24, 2016
The Wild Project
195 East 3rd Street 

New York Musical Festival
July 11 - August 7, 2016 
Various Venues – NYC
 
20th Annual NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival
August 12 – 28, 2016
Venue – Various
 
Thespis Theater Festival ~ Part of New York Theater Festival
July 11 thru October 2, 2016 
Hudson Guild Theatre
441 West 26th St
 
Midtown International Theatre Festival
July 16 - August 7, 2016
The WorkShop Theater's Main Stage and Jewel Box Theaters
312 W 36th Street

Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival
August 9 - 14, 2016
East 13th Street Theater

TNC’s Dream Up Festival 2016
August 28 – September 18, 2016
Theater For The New City
155 1st Avenue
 
New York New Works Theatre Festival
August 29 – September 26, 2016
Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 W 42nd St
 
28th Annual Festival of New Musicals
October 27 - 28, 2016
New World Stages 
340 W 50th Street, New York, NY
 
Are we missing any other festivals? Let us know! email LocalTheatreNY@gmail.com or message us on Facebook! 

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Tuesday
May312016

Broadway League Announces Line-up for Free Outdoor Broadway Concert this Friday, June 3rd.

STARS IN THE ALLEY®, presented by United Airlines, will take place on Friday, June 3rd from 12:30pm-2:30pm in Shubert Alley, between Broadway and 8thAvenue and 44th and 45th Streets.  

Stars in the Alley will be hosted by Sean Hayes and Mo Rocca. Sean Hayes is currently starring in Broadway’s An Act of God and was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Promises,Promises and Mo Rocca is a Correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and appeared on Broadway in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

School of Rock-The Musical’s Tony nominee Alex Brightman and co-star Sierra Boggess will be on hand to cover the concert LIVE on Twitter and Instagram! @ABrightMonster and @SierraBoggess on Twitter and @ABrightMonster and @OfficialSierraBoggess on Instagram will bring fans both exclusive backstage access and a unique perspective on all that’s happening on stage and in the audience at this year’s concert. 

To add to the festivities leading up to the Tony Awards, the free outdoor concert in the heart of the Theatre District will celebrate Broadway with star appearances and exciting performances from over 30 new shows and long-running favorites, accompanied by a 12-piece live orchestra, including many of this year’s 2016 Tony Award® - nominated plays and musicals!  

2016 Tony nominated actors/actresses scheduled to appear include: Carmen Cusack (Bright Star), Jennifer Simard (Disaster!), Danny Burstein (Fiddler on the Roof), Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans)Michael Shannon (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh (Eclipsed) as well as performances from 2016 Tony Award-nominated musicals including: The Color Purple, On Your Feet!, She Loves Me, Tuck Everlasting and Waitress.  

Stars in the Alley information can be found at Broadway.org.

#StarsInTheAlley

PRESENTED BY UNITED AIRLINES IN LEGENDARY SHUBERT ALLEY

Date/Time/Place: FRIDAY JUNE 3, 2016 (12:30pm-2:30pm)

RAIN OR SHINE!

Free Outdoor Broadway Concert

Featuring Musical Performances and Appearances

From Over 30 Broadway Shows!

Hosted By: SEAN HAYES

Currently Starring in Broadway’s “An Act of God”

and 

MO ROCCA (CBS Sunday Morning Correspondent)

PRODUCED BY THE BROADWAY LEAGUE

SPONSORED BY UNITED AIRLINES

PARTICIPATING MUSICALS* INCLUDE:

Aladdin, An American in Paris, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, Bright Star, Chicago, The Color Purple, Disaster!, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland, Fun Home, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Les Misérables, Matilda The Musical, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan, The Phantom of the Opera, She Loves Me, Something Rotten!, Tuck Everlasting, Waitress, Wicked

WITH ADDITIONAL APPEARANCES* FROM:

An Act of God, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Eclipsed, The Father, Fully Committed, Hamilton, The Humans, Long Day's Journey into Night, School of Rock-The Musical, Shuffle Along Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

INCLUDING PERFORMANCES OR APPEARANCES BY*:

Pascale Armand, Nicholas Barasch, Reed Birney, Richard H. Blake, Heidi Blickenstaff, Alfie Boe, Ava Briglia, Danny Burstein, Akosua Busia, Carmen Cusack, Jordan Donica, Kathryn Erbe, Ali Ewoldt, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Alyssa Fox, John Gallagher Jr., Heather Headley, Eduardo Hernandez, Jayne Houdyshell, James Monroe Iglehart, Zainab Jah, Chilina Kennedy, Tyler Lea, Sarah Charles Lewis, Michael Lomenda, Beth Malone, Willow McCarthy, Alan Mingo Jr., Rory O’Malley, John Owen-Jones, Mauricio Perez, Gabriella Pizzolo, Billy Porter, Garen Scribner, Saycon Sengbloh, Michael Shannon, Jennifer Simard, Emily Skeggs, Alexandria Suarez, Kevin Tellez, Brandon Uranowitz, Quinn VanAntwerp, Max von Essen, Aviva Winick and more

*(subject to change)

Monday
Apr252016

An "Improv Rock Star" Comes To Artistic New Directions

By Roger Gonzalez

Micheal Gellman is a rock star of improvisational theatre, even though he speaks in terms of jazz. 

“It is the Jazz of theatre,” he says.  “It is simply acting without a script.  It is the act of creating spontaneously whether it's in music dance or acting.  Writing is almost always improvised. The craft of improvisation is an important part of the actors tool kit.  Like a symphony, acting is to a great extent the space between the notes.  Improvisation encourages the actor to play between the notes - in the moment with truth and awareness.

Michael GellmanThe co-author of “Process: An Improviser’s Journey,” published by Northwestern University Press, Mr. Gellman is also a master instructor on the subject and someone you want to meet if you are a serious actor. 

As a former Senior Faculty Member at The Second City – Chicago. He is an Alum of the Second City Main Stage and was a resident director there for 25 years. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member at Columbia College teaching in Comedy Studies and has worked/taught/directed with the likes of Stephen Colbert, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Catherine O'Hara, Chris Farley, Steve Carrell, and Tina Fey. If you want to learn Improv, he is the man to see.

Much has been written lately about how American actors lack training. Not that Mr. Gellman and I discussed the matter, but when asked what actors should be looking to “take,” in terms of training, he went back to the basics. “In most cases "improv" people have only studied 'improv'.  Without sounding like an arse, the usual advice is… to take acting classes if they really want to pursue acting.  If they are there for human development then another improv class...or maybe a painting or writing class might be of interest.  If they have been studying acting and are exploring a more diverse set of tools I will often suggest either a movement workshop - for comedy definitely a workshop in clown or mask work.

Put simply, actors need to train. And as an actor myself, I can’t imagine an actor not wanting to take some sort of improvisational training. This is why Mr. Gellman’s upcoming workshops at Artistic New Directions is so important.

I try to combine old school 'Improvisation for the Theater' (Viola Spolin)… techniques I have developed over the years and  techniques used  in traditional acting from Stanislavski to Shurtleff.” he says.

Any student will take away what they are ready to learn.  What they are open to.  I know that might sound airy… but the whole philosophy of improvisational training is to provide an opportunity for the participants to make their own discoveries.  Set up an exercise with a goal and have 5 different students go through it and they are going to take away 5 very different things based on many aspects of where each individual is in their work and life.

In my workshops I hope I can provide each participant an opportunity to make discoveries about themselves, gain practical tools and techniques to add to their working methodology as actors. and a better understanding of how to create new work. I am teaching 3 different workshops with 3 different learning outcomes but in general we will be exploring methods of acting and creating with a stronger understanding of truth in our work - from Character to Reacting to Living in the Moment to Developing Text and Movement in order to develop a present our very unique stories."

If you're not an actor, you might still Mr. Gellman's workshops useful. 

"Improvisation has over the past 20 years formed 3 branches of training, he says. (1) Improvisation for business (communication, interaction and team work); (2) Improvisation for human development -  (Classes for "civilians" to have an opportunity for social interaction and methods to enhance their communication skills), and (3) Training for the actor.  (This includes an huge array of methods and techniques for a variety of different purposes:  All improvised shows (so called long and short forms),  tools and techniques for actors form the experienced working actor to raw beginners,  developing new shows and scripts, rehearsal techniques for character, text development and exploring the space between the notes."

"I  had a student in an acting class in Columbia College once announce in the middle of a class - 'Oh,  I get it. Scripts are just very, very, very, very tightly structured improvisations.'  I liked that a lot."

 

Michael J. Gellman is in town beginning Thursday, April 28th holding workshops for Artistic New Directions in Midtown West.
For details on all three workshops, visit their website here: 

 

Monday
Mar142016

Why Playwrights Need to Let Go

By Roger Gonzalez

When my oldest daughter left for college a few years back, I was heartbroken, a little scared, and, yes, proud. She was going away to that frigid upstate, Cortland, New York. The trip alone was at least 4 hours by car! It might as well have been 2000 hours! True, I was excited for her. She was gaining her independence and I would root for her success, but a part of me felt she wasn’t ready. Maybe she should stay and go to a nearby college where we could keep a close eye on her. When we finally said goodbye at her new dorm, we all cried.

Four years later, she’s a college graduate, now working as a teacher, and still growing and maturing. It’s more than okay. It’s the right thing. Parents need to let go!

And playwrights need to let go too....of their plays

For playwrights, letting go of their baby - their new play - often bears a strong resemblance to cutting ties with a child. I should know. As someone who works closely with playwrights, I see it happen too often. And there are consequences to keeping a play so close.

I know one musical, for instance, that played at a festival and was absolutely unique and fun and quite phenomenal. It was the best show in that festival and received acclaim and tons of positive feedback. Several years later, I am still thinking about it. The composer wrote the book, produced and directed it. As far as I know, the work is now sitting hidden away in some desk draw or binder (I guess I will reach out and ask her). But if it is, then it stopped growing. Or worse yet, it lost momentum. It might possibly be dead. There is no publisher to publish it, and no theatre producer to take to the next level.

Playwrights do other crazy things. A few playwrights I’ve met write the plays, produce them, direct them, and star in them. All at once! The end result is a play that may have some commercial potential but falls short on the writing, the directing, the producing, and the acting! When you spread yourself too thin and rush the process, you are bound to come up short somewhere.  I call it the “falling star” vehicle. You could say it crashed before it even took off.

I know we have many examples of self-made success stories, like Sylvester Stallone and the now famous tale of how he insisted on starring in “Rocky” and refused to sell the script without that condition. He held out, got his way, and the rest is history. People still talk about it decades later. There are dozens of talented actors who write, direct, produce, and star in their own productions. It absolutely happens. But the truth is that many playwrights stand to benefit from focusing their energy on letting their baby – and not their ego - go (and grow). Unfortunately, I see this too often in theatre, and particularly in the theatre festival circuit.

The saddest part about the “falling star” vehicle is that oftentimes these same playwrights don’t want to hear the advice of others, advice that is perceived as personal assaults. This is the most hurtful thing a playwright can do to their precious "baby." 

I encourage playwrights to focus on their strengths, or at least be economical with their creative time. Juggling things that someone else can do better (or with more focus) is going to be in the best interest of the production. It’s important that playwrights make this choice early and commit to it. Sure, the playwright may be talented on many levels, but the question is, will the playwright have enough time and creative juice to do rewrites, observe performances objectively, raise money, hire the right technical support, and pretty much get involved in every aspect of the production. Sleep is a valuable asset to the creative type.  Does the playwright want to surrender their sanity to get the play off the ground?

In my business I see plays go from concept to stage all the time. The biggest thing that can hurt this process is either holding on too tightly, or completely letting go and paying for everything out of pocket. Both can be detrimental in the early stages of development, so here are some tips:       

  1. Know when the play or musical is ready, and don’t rush into production.
  2. Plan ahead and have a clear idea of all the things your play will require to make it to the stage (venue, crew, logistics).
  3. Have a real sense of a budget. You will rarely, if ever, produce something without some money or investment coming out of your own pocket, even if you are backed by crowd-funding.
  4. Always be prepared to lose money. If you are using money you can’t afford to use (or just don't have), you will derail the project.
  5. Have a sense of outcome. Why are you producing the play and what do you envision will happen after the run?
  6. Don’t be too anxious to spend all your crowdfunded money. Treat it with respect and be thrifty.
  7. Be smart about how and where you produce your play. There can be many hidden expenses in renting a venue, for instance. Such things as casting equity actors come with very specific rules and expenses. Make sure you are familiar with these nuances before you jump in.
  8. If you can afford it, hire a General Manager, a director, actors and LET GO of aspects of your play that a professional might be able to do as good or better than you.

There is so much we can discuss in terms of tips and suggestions. Feel free to share your thoughts.

At the end of the day, you want to make progress with your material. You want it to have a life of its own.  Staged readings, self-produced limited engagements and festivals are a great way to see your work come to life. But a quality production on at least several levels is critical to the work continuing its growth and development. If you put up a terrible production, people will see it and judge it… maybe for the very last time. 

*********************************

Roger Gonzalez is President of Alliance Media & Communications, a marketing and PR firm dedicated to theatre and live entertainment. He is also the editor and publisher of the theatre website, LocalTheatreNY.com, and the blog, Theatre Marketing Insights. He works in NYC on major Off and Off/Off Broadway projects and with dozens of independent theatre companies. He also teaches marketing at various schools for The City University of New York. You can reach Roger at RogerGonzalezNYCMedia@gmail.com