nytheatre.com’s 2011 People of the Year
December 8, 2011
Today I’m very pleased to announce the names of nytheatre.com’s 2011 People of the Year. Here they are, in this photo collage:
Top row: Crystal Skillman, Chris Harcum, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Joan Kane, Gemini CollisionWorks (scene from ObJect)
Middle row: Temar Underwood, Dominic D’Andrea, Calla Videt, Kelley Nicole Girod, Jon Hoche
Bottom row: Lesser America (Nate Miller, Jonathan Blitstein, Daniel Abeles, Laura Ramadei), Nat Cassidy, The Nerve Tank (Chance Muehleck and Melanie Armer), Bobby Moreno, Ashlin Halfnight
This marks the eighth year that nytheatre.com has recognized a group of theater artists in this manner. Our list of People of the Year celebrates individuals and companies who have made a significant contribution to the landscape of indie theater in NYC and the world. The list is based on nominations made by nytheatre.com’s staff of contributors, and then selected by the board of our parent organization, The New York Theatre Experience, Inc. Information about prior winners is online: 2004-2009 and 2010.
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Let me now introduce you to our People of the Year for 2011, and share with you some of their plans for 2012.
NAT CASSIDY is an actor, director, and playwright of surprising range and depth.
One Memorable Thing He Did in 2011: Wrote and starred in I Am Providence or, All I Really Needed to Know about the Stygian Nightmare into Which Mankind Will Inevitably Be Devoured, Its Fruitless Screams of Agony Resounding in the Unending Chasm of Indifferent Space as It Is Digested by Squamous and Eldritch Horrors beyond Comprehension for All of Eternity, I Learned from Howard Phillips Lovecraft, for which he received the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Solo Performance.
Plans for 2012: “I’ve got a boatload of new scripts that I’m dying to write and/or produce as soon as possible, including two spec sitcoms that I’m just starting to draft out. I’m working towards putting up my evening of short plays and original music (the first in a series), entitled Songs of Love: A Theatrical Mixtape, sometime in the first half of 2012, and then perhaps I can finally scrounge up the capital to produce my antebellum presidential ghost story, Pierce, sometime in the fall. And, of course, I’ll take whatever acting work comes my way – I ain’t proud.”
Learn more at: Nat’s website and Indie Theater Now
STEPHANIE COX-WILLIAMS is the go-to person in NYC’s indie theater community for creating gore and special effects; also an actor and Company Manager for Nosedive Productions.
One Memorable Thing She Did in 2011: Made a whole passel of zombies spurt large quantities of blood in Anti-Matter Collective’s zombie western, Death Valley.
Plans for 2012: “I will continue working with Nosedive Productions to help produce their upcoming 12th season/year. Working with Pete Boisvert on a prop/puppet for one of the pieces he is directing in the “Dark Night” reading series. I will be working with Gideon Productions on props and other fun creations for their upcoming The Honeycomb Trilogy. And, I will keep working on perfecting good looking, yet affordable gore effects for the stage.”
Learn more at: Nosedive’s website and Stephanie’s blog
DOMINIC D’ANDREA master-minded and produces the One-Minute Play Festival; to date, OMPF has commissioned, developed, and produced over 1,000 brand new one-minute plays by 300+ famous and emerging playwrights across the country.
One Memorable Thing He Did in 2011: Single Servings: A One-Minute Play Festival On The Topic Of Hunger in L.A., presented in collaboration with Cornerstone Theatre Company.
Plans for 2012: “Dominic D’Andrea’s One-Minute Play Festival is working in partnership with theatres who either have playwright or community-specific missions all over the country in 2012 including: Primary Stages (NYC), Cornerstone Theatre Company (LA), Playwrights Foundation (SF), Victory Gardens (Chi), Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (Bos), The New Brunswick Theatre Festival at Rutgers (NJ), Actor’s Express (Atl), South Florida Theatre League (Mia), and others.”
Learn more at: OMPF’s blog and the Indie Theater Companion
GEMINI COLLISIONWORKS is Ian W. Hill and Berit Johnson, who operate a vital and vibrant theater production company that has been a seminal part of NYC’s indie scene for more than a decade.
One Memorable Thing They Did in 2011: In August, they produced three new plays in repertory at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg: ObJects and a double bill called Antrobus/Gone.
Plans for 2012: Ian says: “Our definite projects for 2012 — as usual, in our regular August “CollisionWorks” season — are 3 pieces. A new play I’m writing called Removal, which, like my other 2-act originals Spell (2008) and ObJects (2011), will begin rehearsals as soon as I can get a cast and some dialogue and vague notions together, and I will write it around the cast and what strikes me as we go. Also, I’ll be making INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #3 with a group of actor/dancers — my third dance-theatre piece in this series after That’s What We’re Here For in 2006 and Everything Must Go in 2008 (which, as they go, are getting more “dance” and less “theatre”). And finally, I will be doing a long-planned solo performance of Mac Wellman’s Terminal Hip, which was originally planned for this past year, but had to be canceled due to lack of time. As usual, that’s our main focus for the year, as well as our regular duties as Technical Directors for The Brick, so we’re always in and out making sure the place runs fairly smoothly. I also have been the curator/line producer of the yearly Tiny Theater Festival, which has been passed on to us fully by Shannon Sindelar at the Incubator/Ontological, so I expect to be running that again this coming year.”
Learn more at: GCW’s Facebook page and GCW’s blog
KELLEY NICOLE GIROD is the founder of The Fire This Time Festival, an annual festival of original short plays by African American writers.
One Memorable Thing She Did in 2011: Co-produced this year’s festival at The Red Room (read about it on nytheatre.com)
Plans for 2012: “Through the continued staging of new works in our Fire This Time Festival (Jan 16-25, 2012) and now full productions of the playwrights who have come through the festival (Pia Wilson’s The Flower Thief will be fully produced in August 2012), I hope to continue to impress upon people that there is no one way to tell a story and to show the diversity, beauty, and complexity of the African and African American community.”
Learn more at: Fire This Time’s website and Horse Trade Theater Group’s website
ASHLIN HALFNIGHT is an accomplished playwright whose works cover a broad range of subjects yet share a deep and rich humanism.
One Memorable Thing He Did in 2011: Co-produced a month-long repertory featuring three of his plays: a revival of the award-winning God’s Waiting Room along with two premieres, Lathem Prince and Laws of Motion.
Plans for 2012: “I will begin the year in early January casting the film version of my play Survival Box, which will be directed by William Scoular, and shooting in Toronto in March. I will be finishing three plays that I’ve been working on, finally! Elias, A Postscript, School of Touch, and New Hampshire, New York. And… that’s it…”
Learn more at: Ashlin’s website and Indie Theater Now
CHRIS HARCUM is an actor, playwright, teacher, and accomplished solo performer; he’s also a founder of the new company Elephant Run District and a member of the Board of the League of Independent Theater.
One Memorable Thing He Did in 2011: Wrote and starred in Green, a one-man, 21-character sci-fi action thriller with strong environmental and political themes.
Plans for 2012: “I’ll be playing the title role in The Return of Ragged Dick by Dan Evans for Metropolitan Playhouse’s Horatio Alger Festival at PS 122 in January. Then Elephant Run District is doing my comedy Rabbit Island in the Frigid Festival in February and March. I will be completing my first feature-length screenplay with Jason Cusato of Park Slope Films. I’m seeking opportunities to take on challenging roles and to get some of my full-length plays produced. I’ll be continuing to work with the League of Independent Theater to help improve things in our territory.”
Learn more at: Chris’s website and Indie Theater Now
JON HOCHE is an actor known for his versatility and talents in comedic and physical theater; he wrote his first play, Galactic Girl in: Attack of the Starbarians, for the 2011 Comic Book Festival at the Brick Theater.
One Memorable Thing He Did in 2011: Stole the show right out from under 2009 Person of the Year Paco Tolson (and others) in a tour-de-force turn in Qui Nguyen’s The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G.
Plans for 2012: “2012 kicks off with the remounting of The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G off-Broadway by Ma-Yi Theater & Vampire Cowboys Theater Company. I also hope to mount a full run of Galactic Girl in: Attack of the Starbarians. And I just found out that I’ve been cast in the 1st National Tour of War Horse as one of the Horse puppeteers.”
Learn more at: Jon’s website and Galactic Girl’s website
JOAN KANE, in partnership with Bruce A. Kraemer, is artistic director of Ego Actus, an indie theatre company creating art for art’s sake. She directs and produces plays, and works with authors to create new plays.
One Memorable Thing She Did in 2011: Directed a revival of Saviana Stanescu’s Aliens With Extraordinary Skills that realized the play’s insights and ideas in genuinely unexpected ways.
Plans for 2012: “I’m directing an updated version of Pizza Man (Darlene Craviotto) at The Bridge Theatre, January 18; Altered Texts (Penny Jackson) at Turtle Shell Theatre in March; Belinda, a devised, mixed media with puppets production based on the last year of Kafka’s life when he helped a young girl cope with the loss of her doll by creating an imaginary world which enabled the pains of the real world to disappear, in September. We hope to take Aliens With Extraordinary Skills to the Sibiu International Theatre Festival in Romania in June. I am a firm believer in play development and in the next 12 months I am working with playwrights Penny Jackson, Carol Berman, George Dickerson, and Maria Micheles to develop their plays in a series of staged readings.”
Learn more at: Ego Actus website
LESSER AMERICA is a new indie theater company co-founded by Jonathan Blistein, Laura Ramadei, Daniel Abeles, and Nathan Miller. They formed the company right after collaborating on Jonathan’s play Keep Your Baggage With You At All Times, which won the 2011 New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Full-Length Script.
One Memorable Thing They Did in 2011: Produced Squealer, a new play written by Blitstein and starring Abeles, Miller, and Ramadei.
Plans for 2012: “Lesser America will be continuing its inaugural season residency at Theater for the New City in the spring of 2012 with an original full length premiere yet to be announced. We also plan on continuing the tradition of Too Little Too Late and Too Much Too Soon, with another evening of short play commissions by daring new writers, and we’re in the midst of collaboration with Rising Phoenix Rep and Neighborhood Productions on a major NY premiere.”
Learn more at: Lesser America’s website and Indie Theater Now
BOBBY MORENO is one of the most sought-after young actors in New York, regularly appearing at indie/off-Broadway venues with a variety of leading companies.
One Memorable Thing He Did in 2011: Hopped from one hit play to another in two months this fall (Invasion! at the Flea in September; Hand to God at EST in October).
Plans for 2012: “First off, we’re pushing for a commercial run for Hand to God (any producers who want to be involved in the next big thing in 2012, come down to EST before Dec. 18th). Also, I’ve been developing a new show with Josh Koenigsberg titled The Mnemonist of Dutchess County, starring myself and Will Rogers. I plan on telling more stories, and keeping politically active – one of my favorite theatrical experiences of 2011 has been the Occupy Wall St movement, and I’m very much looking forward to the second act next year.”
Learn more at: EST’s website
THE NERVE TANK was founded about five years ago by Chance D. Muehleck (a writer) and Melanie S. Armer (a director) They present nontraditional theatrical work that crosses genres and breaks down barriers and challenges its audience to move beyond conventional mores.
One Memorable Thing They Did in 2011: Took over large areas of the World Financial Center in May to present an interactive performance exhibit called The Attendants.
Plans for 2012: “Arts World Financial Center, which programmed The Attendants, has invited us to submit a proposal for one of their outdoor spaces. That project is called Glory Road, and it’s inspired by the myth of Sisyphus. There may also be a gallery component that runs concurrently, which is a collection of visual art and interactive exhibits. Our next mainstage show is 10% Nation, an assembly about celebrity culture that features multimedia in ways we haven’t used before. We are currently seeking a home for it.”
Learn more at: The Nerve Tank’s website and on Facebook
CRYSTAL SKILLMAN is an astonishingly versatile and prolific playwright whose work is being seen at companies all around NYC and the world.
One Memorable Thing She Did in 2011: Played herself in a hilarious comedy by Gus Schulenburg that ran for one night as a fundraiser for Nosedive Productions (her participation attests to the depth of her commitment to the indie theater community and the vastness of her personal and professional networks).
Plans for 2012: “Crystal is currently a finalist with two plays for Louisville’s Heideman Award. Her play Cut, produced by The Management earlier this year, will be coming out from Samuel French this winter and debut in Boston next year. Her short play commission for Drama of Works, a piece based on Dian Fossey, is a part of the theatrical event Leaky’s Ladies (which features the work of playwrights Erin Courtney and Rachel Hoeffel) opening January 13th at Dixon Place, running through February 4th 2012. Other upcoming plays include: Sex and Death in London (Rising Phoenix Rep’s Cino Night Series, February 12th 2012 at Jimmy’s No. 43); Another Kind of Love (Overturn Theatre Ensemble Residency at IRT March 26 and 27th); 4 Edges (TerraNOVA Collective’s Groundbreakers Presentation Spring 2012); Wild (Debuting in Chicago with Kid Brooklyn Productions June 14th – July 1st 2012 under the direction of Evan Caccippoli); and The Sleeping World (Upcoming Member’s Workshop at Ensemble Studio Theater directed by Daniel Talbott).”
Learn more at: Crystal’s website
TEMAR UNDERWOOD is an actor and playwright who continues to stretch and challenge himself with each new artistic endeavor.
One Memorable Thing He Did in 2011: Gave a gorgeous, glowing performance as the transsexual lesbian Resean in a revival of Stephen Svoboda’s Odysseus DOA at both Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts and Theatre Row in NYC.
Plans for 2012: “Temar is currently finishing up a run in one of his dream roles as Lion in The Wiz at The Red House Art Center in Syracuse. You can expect his new play Breaking Kayfabe to be mounted this summer. The specific venue and dates will be announced at a later date. And he just learned that he will be in the upcoming production of The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G.”
Learn more at: Temar’s website and Indie Theater Now
CALLA VIDET is a visionary director and creator of nontraditional, movement- and music-based work for theater.
One Memorable Thing She Did in 2011: Co-wrote (with B. Walker Sampson) and directed Hold Music, a highlight of The Culture Project’s Women Center Stage Festival.
Plans for 2012: “As Creative Director of Sightline, Calla brings together artists and thinkers across disciplines to generate original performance works exploring science, language, and memory. This year, in collaboration with Theater C, Sightline is creating a new dance theater piece exploring the choreographic history of Rite of Spring in addition to developing and touring existing works. Calla is also working to bring her undergraduate physics and performance thesis–a quantum and relativistic retelling of the Orpheus myth and the story of the Manhattan Project–to the New York stage.”
Learn more at: Calla’s website and Sightline’s website