NYCPlaywrights January 20, 2024

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Jan 20, 2024, 5:09:06 PMJan 20
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Digging for Stories in the Fresh Kills Landfill
a live reading of a new play, co-created by Jolie Tong and Carrie Ellman-Larsen

Cast: John Griffin, Jenny Kelly, Lee Tennenbaum, Philip Gagliano, Mimi McMann, Vincent Ingrisano

Buried Stories is a community specific, interview-based, multi-year theatre piece that explores the history of the Staten Island Fresh Kills Landfill and investigates its impact on the individuals and community who lived nearby. Theatre artists Carrie Ellman-Larsen and Jolie Tong created Buried Stories by conducting historical and statistical research on the Fresh Kills Landfill and interviewing community members who have a relationship with the site. When developing the script, they used aspects of Ping Chong + Company’s “Undesirable Elements” method of community specific interview-based theatre creation, and drew inspiration from the structure of Anna Deavere Smith’s ethnographic pieces Twilight: Los Angeles and Fires in the Mirror.

The reading will run 1 hour, followed by a brief talkback.

Content Notice: These are all true stories, as remembered by the people who told them. They contain discussions of 9/11, illness and death, and some strong language.

Saturday, January 27th, 12pm
St. George Library Center
5 Central Ave, Staten Island, NY 10301

Check out our website!
If you have any questions, please email us at:


The New Voices Theatre Festival is accepting submissions of unpublished and unproduced full-length plays to develop during a summer residency that will culminate in a staged reading. One new work from the festival will be chosen to be mounted as a fully-produced production during the upcoming show season at The University of Alabama.


The Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship Program awards four early-career playwrights with nine months of resources, workshops and feedback designed to help them reach their professional and artistic goals.
The Writing Fellowship is at the heart of what we do: helping writers write. Four early-career playwrights receive nine months of resources, readings and feedback designed to help them reach their professional and artistic goals. The culminating event of the program is our INK’D Festival, which features public readings of each Fellows’ play.


With the launch of URHERE (our new digital and outdoor platform), HERE has expanded our HARP cohort to include digital and outdoor artists. Selected artists will partake in a 1-2 year residency to create digital native and/or outdoor works that will premiere on URHERE. URHERE HARP residents will receive $50,000 ($25,000 in cash and $25,000 in equipment, space, and services) over 1-2 years. Through significant investment of time and resources, dynamic work within a strong community is created.

*** FOR MORE INFORMATION about these and other opportunities see the web site at ***


Before you accuse me of being a hypocrite, I will admit to enjoying Waiting for Guffman, an at times cringe-worthy satire of community theatre and a touchstone for many in the business now for a number of years. But like other Christopher Guest films, particularly Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, Guffman is an affectionate and at times absurdist view, which celebrates the passions of its offbeat thespians just as it lampoons them. There is no such affection in the tweet quoted above, or in the often-used critical riposte that labels sub-standard professional work as approximate to that seen in community theatre.

A couple of years ago, when I worked on the American Theatre Wing’s book The Play That Changed My Life, I was struck by the fact that this collection of independently written essays ended up including several paeans to community theatre, with both Beth Henley and Sarah Ruhl writing about how their parents’ community theatre experiences informed their own theatrical lives; Chris Durang wrote of play readings held in his living room which transformed his mother and the local newspaper editor into the elegant personages of a Noel Coward play one afternoon. Surely these are not unique stories. I even had my own experience with community theatre, when at age 16 I successfully landed the role of Motel in Fiddler on the Roof (playing opposite a 27-year-old school teacher); to be a high schooler cast amongst adults was my own moment of breaking into the big leagues at that stage in my life. Community theater can matter.



St. Bart’s Players, founded in 1927, is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to presenting high-caliber quality theater at affordable prices.

It's home base is St. Bartholomew's Church, 325 Park Avenue at 51st Street in Manhattan, where meetings, auditions, rehearsals, cabarets, parties and other fun events are held. Most of the members, including the governing Board of Directors, hold full-time day jobs in a wide variety of careers and pursue their love of theater in their off-hours. The group is a melting pot of creativity, talent and management skills that is infused with a hard-work ethic, which is why the Players has enjoyed the long tradition of “consistently achieving professional caliber [theater].” (New York Times)



Five Big Problems with Community Theater

Being a community theater organization in this day and age is tough. Budgets are tight, competition is fierce, and waning audiences make staying afloat a daunting task. We don’t want to be the “Debbie Downer,” but we’ve put together a list of what we consider to be the five biggest community theatre problems as it currently exists.Don’t worry though…it’s not all doom and gloom today. Be sure to read to the end of the article to find the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
#5 – The Word “Community”
For some reason, there can be negative connotations associated with the words ‘community’ and ‘theater’ when written side by side. This combination of words seems to drum up the ideas of amateur and unprofessional, where as this can actually be quite far from the truth. I have attended plenty of “community theater” productions that easily rival professional productions.



2021 - NEW BERN, N.C. — After months of waiting for community theater to return, the show can finally go on. Local theaters across the state are opening up and getting ready for their first productions in over a year. While the audience is excited for some entertainment, the actors are ready to get back to pursuing their passion.

“It just feels so good to be on stage around people with a script in my hand learning lines,” actress Jennifer Cook said.

It's been more than a year since Cook has been able to perform on stage with the Rivertowne Players in New Bern. Now, she's once again able to set foot in the theater.

“When I walked in, just the smell overwhelmed me,” she said. “It's not always a great smell, but it was the theater smell. It was the smell of the curtains and this old historic building and just being in here. It's very inspiring.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theaters early last year, many productions were already in the middle of rehearsals.

“We put in a lot of work,” Cook said. “And so there was some devastation there of not being able to show our community what we had done and the beauty of those shows that we had wanted to share.”



Theatre often takes a stab at answering the question: “Why are we here?” By focusing on what it means to be a living, breathing human, performances highlight the highs and lows of life. Such demonstrations are made possible because the theatre reminds us that body language is still of the utmost importance in communication.

Self-expression allows us to explore this language and the emotions that make it effective. Community theatre provides locals with a platform in which they can express themselves without judgment — something we need more of in today’s world. Like self-knowledge, these performances can remind us how we can work together to better our society.



As a theatre maker in Akron for the last six years, I regularly attend and participate in theatre of all levels and backgrounds. I truly enjoy experiencing the performances that local artists have worked hard to produce, and often wish that more people not involved in the field would come. I tend to support new works more as a patron, but do enjoy a musical or two when the opportunity arises. As I’ve navigated these spaces, supporting personal friends and making new connections with strangers, I have also been an advocate for my own work with Gum-Dip Theatre. I’ve come to relish in the challenge of sharing an elevator speech in a crowded room with people I’ve just met in the hopes of growing our network for future audience members, supporters, and artists.

However, there is one issue that consistently arises in these conversations when talking about our mission - the difference between community theatre and community-based theatre. It’s a matter of semantics yet an important one to emphasize because it determines the intention of the work. I firmly believe that the words we use are a reflection of how we relate to the issue and a revelation of the personal beliefs and subconscious biases we’ve grown to hold over time. Gum-Dip Theatre produces community-based and -generated theatrical projects that center and highlight community members as culture bearers, storytellers, and artists, as opposed to community theater which uses previously produced plays with community members acting.



The arts are on full display as community members take the stage to become theatrical storytellers. Volunteer thespians from the The Altoona Community Theatre and Sock and Buskin Theatre Company share stories of why this art form must be kept alive.


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