Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Vic Collaboratory 2012 - Starting Off Dutch

The end of one year and the start of the next is always a good time to think about the possibilities for the future. Last January I told you about the New Vic Collaboratory, an initiative which supports several aspects of the creation of performing arts for young audiences. The pilot season of the Collaboratory was a big success and, now that we’ve hit our stride, I wanted to take the time to share our plans for 2012.

Re-imagining Shakespeare Forum, 2010-2011 season
Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
The 2010-2011 season of the New Vic Collaboratory offered some fantastic professional development opportunities including: a forum on Re-imagining Shakespeare and Adaptations for Young Audiences, three master classes conducted by well-regarded professionals in the field and four moderated discussions with international theater practitioners covering topics specific to their work that was presented by The New Victory. It was quite a busy year!

Exhausted yet elated, we in the New Vic programming and education departments took a breath and used the summer as a research and development period. It was an opportunity to analyze the things that were successful and those that were less than successful, and to explore ideas for the future of the New Vic Collaboratory. So, what’s next? Glad you asked!

This past fall, we hit the ground running and began our Collaboratory season with a unique, behind-the-scenes special event featuring the brilliant theater artist Andy Manley, the creator of White. On November 9, a small invited audience was treated to a dress rehearsal performance of The Ballad of Pondlife McGurk. Andy had been rehearsing this remarkable one man show in preparation for an engagement at the Sydney Opera House immediately following the run of White here in New York, and while it’s a show he’s been performing for several years, he was eager to dust it off and get it in front of an audience before he arrived in Sydney.

Andy Manley, dusting off ideas with Collaboratory members
Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
For me and the staff of the New Vic, it was exciting to be able to provide Andy with the resources that he needed (i.e. space and an audience) to help him succeed with this play. I’m really excited about this aspect of the New Vic Collaboratory and the possibilities of helping more artists with their work in the future. As we develop the structure for this support program, I am very interested in talking with theater makers, choreographers, directors, playwrights, etc about their processes for creating new work and where they might need help in taking their project to the next level.

With that in mind, I’m really looking forward to The New Victory’s Forum on Professional Dutch Theater for Young Audiences on January 9, part of the New Vic’s ZOEM! New Dutch Theater festival. The Forum will examine the various methods and philosophies employed by Dutch artists to create extraordinary theater for kids and families (something they are very good at! Don’t believe me? Check out the Festival performances and see for yourself). Featuring a keynote address by Dennis Meyer, Artistic Director of Het Lab Utrecht, as well as panel discussions and small group break-out sessions, the Forum offers American professional theater practitioners an exciting opportunity for artistic exchange with their peers from the Netherlands. (Email me at if you would like information on how to register).

In addition to the Forum, on January 8 the New Vic Collaboratory is offering a special workshop geared toward professional playwrights, theater makers and directors. Led by Forum keynote speaker Dennis Meyer, the workshop will investigate why it can be important and interesting to give the audience an active role in a production, particularly in theater for young audiences, and what different performance models might be employed.

We have many more events in the works for the winter and spring of 2012. Just to name a few: in March the creators of Lucky Duck - Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls), Bill Russell (Side Show) and Jeffrey Hatcher (Tuesdays With Morrie) - will sit down with us and talk about the development of the show and in May we are planning an artist open house which will be a nice chance to get together with peers to share thoughts and ideas.

January 1 is fast approaching, so in the spirit of making New Year’s resolutions, in 2012 I resolve to work very hard to help hone and implement some of the long term goals for the New Vic Collaboratory: to grow Collaboratory membership, develop more programs to help artists make outstanding, new work for young audiences and to advocate for the importance of performing arts for young audiences and arts education in the lives of young people. That’s a tall order, I know. But fortunately there are a lot of other people at the New Victory who are working on these goals as well.

I also resolve to watch less TV. Happy New Year!

Carrie DuBois is the Assistant Director of Programming at The New Victory Theater. Since 2004, Carrie has helped evaluate and select the diverse international productions that make up the New Victory's seasons. She also curates the FYI Lobby Exhibits and makes costumes for Victor Bee. In the past, she has written two plays for kids and collaborated on unusual, environmentally-staged theater in various locations around the city including the Tall Ship Peking, Belvedere Castle, a store front window on 42nd Street and many NYC playgrounds.

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