Thursday, December 03, 2009

Give the gift of Community Supported Theatre (or take it yourself!)

Just a few weeks left to sign up for the CST's pilot season
...or to give a unique gift to the theatre lover in your life

Stolen Chair's Community Supported Theatre (CST), the first membership group of its kind in the country, will continue accepting new members until Dec 31, 2009.

You can join the CST today or purchase it as a unique, experiential holiday gift for friends and family.

For less than the price of two Broadway tickets, the theatre (or science) lover in your life will receive eight months of arts and entertainment, including:

  • Exclusive access to every stage of Quantum Poetics' development, from its creative retreat to its world premiere; they will see first-hand how a new play is born.
  • Members-only panels, lectures, and discussions with some of the country's hottest scientific writers and thinkers, who will reveal the secrets of how their universe(s) and brain work.
  • A chance to participate in our members-only science fair and to build that exploding volcano their parents forbade in 4th grade.
  • Their name on the guest list at New York's most scientastic Valentine's Day party: "Atoms and Eves"
  • An invitation to join the CST's online social network filled with exclusive Stolen Chair and Quantum Poetics content: a feedback forum, video, photos, podcasts, and more.
  • Field trips to NYC's most exciting science-themed cultural offerings.
  • A discounted year-long subscription to New Scientist magazine, a free copy of the play anthology, Playing with Canons, andcomplimentary wine & treats at all CST events.

Don't forget: there are SIX affordable (and tax-deductible) ways to give the gift of membership!

Individual, Group, Student/Artists, E-membership, Corporate Membership, Installment Payments

Sign up or give the gift of CST here!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cheating on Stolen Chair's blog

As part of the $20k award Stolen Chair received from The Field's Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists grant, I will be occassionally blogging over on their site, chronicling the rise (and hopefully not the fall!) of the country's first Community Supported Theatre (CST).


(And stay tuned there and here and on Twitter for up-to-the-minute developments on the CST and Quantum Poetics.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A letter from me. To you.

Dear friends of Stolen Chair,

You've been getting quite a few publicity blasts from us lately, but I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts with you sans flashy graphics and HTML code. (Before I begin, though, I do want to remind you that you only have a few days left to register for our Community Supported Theatre before the Nov 22 launch event.)

Along with the rest of the core company and six incredible collaborators, I've just returned from Stolen Chair's 13th creative retreat where we noodled around with ideas for our 13th original work, QUANTUM POETICS: A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT FOR THE STAGE. For three days we worked together, lived together, and cooked together as we explored a slew of exciting theories from neuroscience and quantum physics. It might sound like serious business, but if you saw our quantum-inspired "Three Little Pigs," you be as tickled as I was.

And, for the first time in Stolen Chair's history, we'd like to invite you to be a part of these experiments. Stolen Chair has just launched the country's first Community Supported Theatre (CST), an innovative new way of connecting theatregoers with theatremakers, and we're now accepting members. On Nov 22, charter members of our CST will kickoff their season with an exclusive live showing of some of the most exciting (and most ridiculous) highlights from our creative retreat. For the eight months after that, CST members will watch each step of the project's development up until its premiere next summer, seeing first-hand how an idea becomes a play. Our members will not only have the opportunity to discuss the work with us at open rehearsals and work-in-progress presentations, but to learn alongside Stolen Chair as we invite some of the country's hottest science writers to come speak to us. (Members will also build exploding volcanos with us at our members-only science fair and dance the night away at our "Atoms and Eves" themed Valentine's Day Party!)

As the director of QUANTUM POETICS, I could not possibly be more exhilarated by the possibility that this work will be developed through collaboration with a circle so much wider than the artists in our creative team. As co-artistic director of Stolen Chair, I am proud that our organization is the first in the country to offer this depth of engagement to our audience. As someone who has faith in theatre's power to bring people together, to challenge our perspectives, and to delight us, I feel so lucky that I'll have the chance to participate in this novel experiment in building a real community comprised of engaged art-makers and art-lovers.

Hope you'll join us! Remember, the party starts Nov 22nd.

To read more and sign up, please visit:

If you have any further questions, please email cst[at] for more info.


Jon Stancato

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flux considers Community Supported Theatre

Great post over on Gus' Flux Theatre Ensemble blog and a very interesting discussion ensues. Basically, Gus works to problematize some of Isaac Butler's recent statements over at Parabasis about why theatre shouldn't be "supported" in the context of our new social business model which boldly puts "support" right in the middle of its name. Turns out (as is so often the case), "everything is everything" and the debate is actually just dialogue, but it is an important one that all cultural organizations should probably be having both internally and with their "supporters."

Oh, and is now live, though the content will change a lot over the next week.

Oh, and we're compiling a FAQ to eventually live (how's that split feel, Mr. Infinitive?) on that page so if, as Radioshack says, "You've got questions; we've got answers." Free bottle of wine (you arrange NYC pickup) goes to the best suggestion for our FAQ!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Huge, massive, earth-shatteringly good Stolen Chair news

I apologize for the unfathomably long blog silence but we've been very very busy with this...

After 9 months of research and development funded by an innovation grant from The Field's Economic Revitalization for Performing Arts (ERPA), Stolen Chair has been awarded a $20,000 implementation grant from ERPA to adapt the business model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to the theatre.

So...IT'S ALL HAPPENING, FOLKS! We're gonna create the country's first Community Supported Theatre (CST), a development playground/research lab/community of audience-investors who will trace our newest project, Quantum Poetics (A science experiment for the stage), from its first creative retreat to its first public work-in-progress presentation.

You can read about the grant and our plans here and listen to my presentation (at the WNYC Green Space!).

Please tweet this, blog this, facebook this, talk about this at water coolers, and mention it loudly on subways: people interested in becoming charter members of our pilot Community Supported Theatre should visit to find out more and drop a line of interest to cst[at] We're especially looking for a small group of booster members who will receive highly discounted or free memberships in return for help recruiting other members.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Support indie theatre's fairy godparents!

I can't say enough about the incomparable Martin and Rochelle Denton, without whose support and encouragement, Stolen Chair (and scores of other indie companies) would not likely be here today.

The Dentons need your help, in much the same way Stolen Chair needed your help a month ago. It's another one of those popularity contest grants; given how many people Martin has published and reviewed, and given how many people depend upon as their go-to site for intelligent and thoughtful theatre criticsm, Martin and Rochelle should have no trouble sweeping the proceedings...that is, of course, if YOU vote!!!

Here's the details, straight from the man himself:

Today I write to ask for about 10 minutes of your time to help and The New York Theatre Experience, Inc., win a grant from Microsoft.

We have entered the "Show Your Impact" Contest, which is sponsored by TechSoup and Microsoft Corporation. The winners of this contest -- there will be three -- will each receive a $5,000 cash grant from Microsoft plus $25,000 in donated software. For a technology-based small nonprofit company like ours, this is a fantastic opportunity! And we believe we have a shot at winning.

To enter the contest, we had to write a "story" about the impact that Microsoft software, which we received via their donation program with TechSoup, has had on our organization and on the community of theatre-goers and theatre-makers we serve.

We now need to get our friends and supporters to go online to the "Show Your Impact" contest website and vote for our submission. So this is where you come in: please follow the link below, register, and vote for

The public voting process ends on Friday, June 5, and then the top vote getters in each category will move on to the finals, to be judged by Microsoft and TechSoup.

Anyone can vote. It will take you a few minutes: the contest rules require that you register (all they ask for is an email address) and also that you vote for a minimum of 3 projects (so you can't just vote for us--you have to pick a couple of other projects in order for your vote to be counted). It's kind of complicated and I'm sorry about that--but if you'll bear with the process and vote, we will be very appreciative!

Our submission is called Our submission date is 5/20/2009. Our category is "Optimize Mission Delivery." There can only be one winner per category, so you'll maximize our chance to win by not selecting any other entries in that category.

Please pass this information along to anyone you think would like to help us! Your support is enormously appreciated.

And please take a few moments to read our submission entry, which details some of the work we've done over the past several years to prepare and our other websites for Web 2.0 and beyond. Your comments and thoughts are welcome!

But the bottom line, once again: please vote for our submission to help us win this grant from Microsoft. Click here:

Read our story, register, and vote for us. Thank you!

Email me if you have questions. Learn more about TechSoup, the great nonprofit organization that has put together this contest, here.



Saturday, May 16, 2009

The speech that got booed

So I was one of the five artists on the "cultural entrepreneurs" on the panel at Wednesday's New Economy Smackdown, hosted by The Field & Galapagos. The unedited audio of the entire event is already online. You can read Claudia La Rocco's take on the event here and Morgan von Prelle Pecelli's own panel statement here. Below, however, is the speech I made, a speech which received the event's first boos. The offending statement is in bold and I stand by the remarks even more after hearing how many hackles it raised.
Jennifer asked all to create a soapbox manifesto reflecting on how the current arts economy is affecting us and our work. I struggled to get any thoughts out, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized none of us in this room should be here talking about the arts economy. There is no such thing as an arts economy since non-commercial arts by their very definition don't follow market logic and can't compete in the market place without dependence on non-profit support structures and the government . So we can embrace our role in the margins of the economy and struggle the way that performing artists have struggled since theatre and religion parted ways, or we can model ourselves on the only other two positions left to us in a market-driven economy: as charity (quite like an endangered species) or as community resource (like a neighborhood garden). Well, if we're a charity we should follow the model of other charities: humpback whales don't send out end-of-year asks or write grant applications, so we shouldn't either. We should depend entirely on the goodwill of people who don't want to imagine a world without theatre and therefore raise awareness, funds, and support to ensure we continue to exist. But, I don't want to be a charity, in large part because I don't think our social cause has enough merit to compete with other charities who actually change lives on a grand scale. So, the only round hole we can force our square peg of a "business model" into is as community resource. In this interconnected, digital age, if our art can serve as a meeting place for communities of like-minded individuals to connect, celebrate, and be challenged, then we might find a way of restoring theatre's primacy in people's lives and creating sustainable theatre-making organisms (not organizations).

But, since we are, however, here to debate the "arts economy," I'll add:

Why is there now, why has there been, and why will there always be prime, beautiful, ready to theatricalized real estate sitting vacant for extended periods in all 5 boroughs? If someone can work out insurance, tax deductions, box-office splits, zoning laws, etc so that businesses have a reason to open their doors to artists then we can do what we do best, drive in droves of foot traffic, people with expendable cash some of whom may be looking to rent a new office or storefront. 80% of Stolen Chair's operating budget goes towards space rental. Knock out that cost and we can pay our artists not only living wages, but competitive ones.

As producer of a company made up of people whose survival jobs are freelance and often paid hourly, I am sick of arranging (or trying to arrange) quid-pro-quo deals that will help Stolen Chair the organization save money at the expense of the individuals who are Stolen Chair. In most cases, we'd be better off adding an extra-hour to our work-weeks and donating that money to the company.

We need the next generation of gatekeepers or, in the very least, our current crop needs to start communicating with each other and rethink what it means to support "emerging" art. The supply of indie theatre in New York will always outstrip the demand, but by presenting, critiquing, and funding the same two dozen artists, our gatekeepers stifle innovation and creative movements the same way corporate monopolies do.
So. Yeah. Boos. (And then some cheers in response to the boos.).

I obviously wouldn't work eleventy-billion "survival" jobs and put trillions of hours into each Stolen Chair show if I didn't believe in the fundamental power of art to transform lives and feel strongly that the choice to wake up and dedicate ones' life to art is nothing short of radical and revolutionary. That said (and perhaps this is due to Stolen Chair's recent experience as a Jenzabar Foundation finalist alongside far more vital social missions), I think that if art tries to compete with "real" charities toe-to-toe, we will not only lose, but feel terrible for entering the fray. So let's pull ourselvs out of this terrain entirely, rediscover art's special place, and develop compelling and innovative ways for people to use the power of their pursestrings to ensure that we continue to exist.

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's out of our hands now

Thanks to all who helped edge Stolen Chair's social media proposal into the final round of the Jenzabar Foundation's Social Media Leadership competition. Here's their official announcement:

The Foundation would like to reiterate how impressed we were with all of the submissions from the 15 organizations that nominated their campaigns. The following FIVE organizations received the most votes, and thus, are the finalists for The Jenzabar Foundation Soical Media Leadership Award:

-The Stolen Chair Theatre Company

-Dream Activist

-Texas Friends and Allies Against the Death Penalty


-The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

The winner will be selected from this pool of campaigns and will be announced by the Foundation on Wednesday, May 13th.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A social media manifesto ( to help Stolen Chair win $3,000 with 5 seconds of your time)

One of the major auxillary components of Stolen Chair's Community Supported Theatre business plan is the comprehensive web of collaborative social networking tools we'll be using (and, in some cases, already use) to enrich communication between our company and our audience. When The Jenzabar Foundation announced a call for such proposals for their $3,000 Social Media Leadership Award, we quickly drafted and submitted a summary of our social media outreach programs.

Good news: Our proposal made it to the semi-finals.

Even gooder news: You can be the vote that brings us to the finals (and the $$$!). The winner is the organization which reels in the most comments on their proposal.

You know how tough times are for artists right now. Help Stolen Chair expand our programs (and our reach) by writing a few encouraging words at the bottom of our proposal (you don't even have to read it!). The race is tight right now and your one vote could be the deciding factor which shapes our entire season. Whether you have seen our work or not (heck: whether you have heard of us or not!), I hope you'll take the time to post a few words here:

(Comments take at least one business day to be moderated before Jenzabar posts them)

THANKS SO MUCH!!! (And please spread this around!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Physics & Failure: Lessons for a Laboratory Theatre

In our attempts to devote even more time to the laboratory process in 2009, we have already started research on Stolen Chair's newest original work, Quantum Poetics, even though we probably won't even be thinking about scheduling the first creative retreat until this fall (once we have started the CST). Since the piece will draw inspiration from recent advances in neuroscience and theoretical physics, research has been both challenging and thrilling. Fortunately, writers like Brian Greene and Jonah Lehrer have made these fields so accessible that I find I'm not only able to grasp this heady material, but actively salivate over the possibility of theatricalizing it. And unlike previous Stolen Chair projects for which the research was primarily limited to books and movies, I'm able to devour tons of information on Quantum Poetics via podcasts!

But I digress. I'll post about my research highs and multiple universes and phantom limbs and Occum's razor and biofeedback and eleventy billion other titillating tidbits in the future. Right now I want to talk a bit about failure. I've been listening to Brian Greene and Heidi Schellman speak about some pretty far out advances in both particle physics and cosmology and they both chatted with glee about failure in their fields. There is a certain school of thought which holds that all of science's major advances came not from decades of methodical research but from accidental discoveries that opened up entirely new vistas of possibility. While neither Greene nor Schellman were speaking to that specifically, they were crystal clear that they'd be absolutely thrilled if they (or someone else) discovered something which contradicted their lives' work and research.

I know that two of Stolen Chair's most adventurous (and I think successful) works, Kinderspiel and Theatre Is Dead and So Are You, shared very little in common except for the several month-long periods in each when we were absolutely clueless about where the project was going. We began each of these projects much like theoretical physicists, using the studio as our Large Hadron Supercollider. In Kinderspiel, we knew that there was something rich to be found in the collision between Weimar-era cabaret and child's play; in Theatre Is Dead, we wanted to smash vaudeville and death together into an unholy hybrid. Aside from the titles (which, oddly, usually come first), we spent several months developing both projects without knowing much more than that.

And: we failed. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. We brought new ideas into the studio each time we met and played with each until we found its dead-end. Lost in a sea of theatrical possibilities, we grew tense and frustrated (and even lost collaborators in both at the height of this confusion). I'd be lying if I didn't say it feels terrible. It feels terrible. Awful. Absolutely rotten to ask a group of game actors to try something out when it's more likely to be yet another idea to toss into the REJECT pile than to lead to any real progress. But it shouldn't be. And, in Stolen Chair's future, it won't be. Because we are damn lucky to have the opportunity to actually experiment before we go ahead and present something as "experimental theatre." We are a laboratory theatre and we should never forget to take that moniker as literally as our scientific brethren do. In the lab, sometimes things explode. Sometimes those explosions are actually the result you're looking for, but, more often than not, those explosions just leave you covered in sticky sulphurous radioactive goo (okay, that's probably not true, but it's such a nice vivid way to visualize failure).

So...I can't wait to begin Quantum Poetics and to savor each and every failure, surrounding Stolen Chair with an army of collaborators who are as excited about the possibility that everything they know about theatre and about themselves as artists might be redefined by what we discover.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Announcing Quantum Poetics, coming 2010 to a theatre near you (if you live near NYC)

Surprise surprise. It seems we only get our project pitches in anything resembling articulate shape when a grant deadline forces us to. This means, of course, that the project pitch is written in "grant-ese," a special language which requires four times as many words to communicate simple ideas. Like most grant apps for new Stolen Chair projects, the ideas are at the earlist, most zygotic stage; we won't have our heads firmly wrapped around this piece until 3 months after our first retreat and our first retreat won't be until October.

Science tells us what is true. Art tells us how those truths make us feel. Science is a building's structure. Art is the wallpaper. Science, we tend to think, will eventually know so much about the universe, perhaps art will no longer be necessary to describe human feeling. Recently, however, the fundamental truths of science have been discarded faster than last year's fashions, and new discoveries in neuroscience and theoretical physics have come to paint a chaotic, pluralistic vision of an unknowable world unrecognizable to our great-grandparents, but quite familiar to artists who have presented such fractured perspectives for decades. If art tells us the truth, then maybe science confirms the truth's truthiness? Or maybe: there is no objective, stable "truth," and scientists and artists are together joined in a journey to understand an ever-shifting reality. As science writer Jonah Lehrer writes, "Science needs art to frame the mystery, but art needs science so not everything is a mystery." In QUANTUM POETICS, Stolen Chair's 13th original work, we will fuse our experiments as a laboratory theatre with the experiments of chemistry, physics, genetics, and neuroscience laboratories around the world, guided by the question: how can theatre adapt recent scientific discoveries to the stage, creating a unique dramaturgy and performance style that speaks holistically to our contemporary human experience?

Since QUANTUM POETICS will be created over the course of our entire 2010 season--virtually doubling Stolen Chair's developmental time--we're still discovering the contours of the project. What we do know, however, is it will, like all Stolen Chair pieces, be developed by our resident company in a process likened to an "aesthetic supercollider" (Leonard Jacobs, NY PRESS), a collaboration further enriched through interviews with reknowned physicists, neuroscientists, geneticists, and chemists. We hope QUANTUM POETICS, our most far-reaching creation to date, may serve as a stepping stone for dialogue between the artistic and scientific communities, inviting each to draw inspiration from the other.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Puppet playlist recap and London street performers

On March 12, Stolen Chair joined a group of 12 other physical theatre artists and musicians at the Tank to present pieces inspired by the work of Tom Waits (as part of the first edition of Puppet Playlist).  When we first found out about the event, we were still in the thick of Theatre Is Dead but not yet in the thick of Quantum Poetics (pitch coming soon) or the possible Man Who Laughs remount (yes, you heard it here first!).  So, as devout Waits fans, we knew we wanted to participate but also knew the whole thing would sort of be a fun one-off for us.  As a company which spends 6 months developing new work, doing a little w.i.p. thrown together in a weekend is somewhat out of character, but we'll also take any opportunity to play.  

We started working with the music, splicing together a 6 minute piece out of Waits' "Temptation" and "I Don't Wanna Grow Up."  We found ourselves continually fighting the desire to craft some sort of literal narrative (being tempted to grow up) which the music could score.  It is so so so so easy (and, forgive the pun, tempting) to fall into literal storytelling when songs have lyrics.  Music videos always struggle with this.  Do you offer a video which tells the story of the song, tells a completely different story (which will either complement the song or, in the very least, not divert attention from the song), or present a series of images which create a resonance chamber in which the sonic images and figurative language can bounce around.  We decided to do the latter, structuring it so that there was still a clear frame for the audience to grab onto (Noah's "realistic" child-like character encountering a series of arresting and bizarrely erotic images staged as automaton machines by David and Liza).  

What emerged was definitely the most abstracted theatrical vignette we've created since Portrait of Dora As a Young Man in 2002.  And you know what?  We had a damn good time doing it!  I wish we could have rehearsed it more (and, um, at least once on stage) before running it for an audience, but people seemed to dig it (a few strangers coming up to compliment the actors after the show). This was the 4th Stolen Chair event in 2 years (the Kinderspiel staged reading, the Kill Me remount at the Brick, and Theatre Is Dead being the others) which was truly "unapologetic."  We had so fully let go of any fear that the audience was not going to "follow" us that we ended up creating a much more compelling event for the audience to "follow" than if we had let ourselves worry if we were going to be liked.  Moral of the story: there really is an audience for anything, and if one creates and present work with total conviction and faith in its worth (or simply its status as an experiment), one will please far more crowds than if one tries to craft a crowd pleaser.  May seem like a no-brainer, but it's one we routinely re-discover. :)

Speaking of pleasing crowds, Kiran and I had the good fortune to catch a remarkable street performance in Covent Garden, London last week.  They were just a pair of middle aged British clown jugglers, but as we sat there for 20 minutes on the cold pavement, I learned more about theatre than a semester worth of classes could have taught me.  Some lessons learnt:
  • Wear the structure on your sleeve...and then play!  The second thing these clowns did was introduce the unicycles (pictured at right) which would serve as the routine's finale.  Of course, they prolonged and toyed with us for over 20 minutes before delivering the promised finale.  This playful dramaturgy takes Chekhov's gun theory ("If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.") one step further, and, I think, is especially vital for companies like Stolen Chair who tend to devise unfamiliar theatrical structures.  Show the audience the unicycles so they know where you're taking them.  (And don't take too damn long to get there!)
  • Define failure on your own terms.  The clowns told us to "Boo" loudly whenever they dropped a club or ball.  They then mocked us when we didn't "Boo" loudly enough.  This transformed what should be a net energy loss (the failure of a routine) into an energy gain (audience shouting loudly at the stage in complicity with the performers)
  • It's okay to remind the audience that they are watching live theatre and not television (and that live theatre is always an interactive event).
That last bullet helped Kiran and me re-realize (for the umpteenth time) that there is one thing that brings together all the theatre we want to make: it is ruthlessly and brazenly theatrical.  We don't just want to parade another art form on stage (film, visual art, and literature being three of the most commonly "theatricalized" culprits).  And the only thing which really, at the end of the day, separates theatre from these arts is presence: of the actors and of the audience.  The former is hard to quantify (though many have tried) beyond the simple existential fact that, yes, the actor is a live human being standing anywhere between 5 inches and 500 feet in front of you (depending on the level of play and the theatre's architecture, of course).  

But the audience?  That's simple.  They are simply there. You don't need to train them to be extra-there.  But you do have to encourage/demand/invite/bribe/threaten/tempt them to be an actual theatrical audience (one which implicitly accepts and savors the presence of the actor and the interactive phenomenon that is live theatre) or you can let them keep their distance like your actors are projections on a 30' screen, pretty pictures in a frame, or talking books.  I'm all for works of art that blur the lines of their genre and all for stealing freely from visual art, film, and literature (just look at Stolen Chair's body of work), but we (by which I mean Stolen Chair) kinda always need to be working to discover new ways of making sure the audience is present with us, not just enjoying us (or...[gulp] actively loathing us).  

Monday, March 09, 2009

Playing catch-up after playing hookie

Long time no post. Sorry 'bout that. I'd love to say that we've been playing hard-to-get or that we were off in exotic locals recharging after Theatre Is Dead's successful run (okay: Emily was!), but we've been hard at work in the lab brewing up some exciting plans for the next two years.

While we were maintaining radio silence, Back Stage's national edition published an "Ask a Director" column with yours truly. The question: "How do you deal with a cast of actors that have different processes and techniques?" Here's the tease:
"I don't really care if they're processing past traumatic memories or doing their taxes, as long as they can execute the score with precision and presence."
Thanks to Sarah Kuhn to asking such an important and provocative question.

Not content to read myself with the pesky restrictions of word counts, I was given free rein to run my mouth further in an interview at's NYtheatre Voices, where I detail, for the first time, Stolen Chair's plans to adapt the business model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to laboratory theatre. This is the proposal that landed us the ERPA grant we keep talking about. If you want to read even more about this, you can head over to ERPA's blog and read about the adventures that Aviva and I had visiting New Paltz yesterday and interviewing farmers.

New newsletter will be out tomorrow and we have a wee little gig on Thursday eve (Puppet Playlist @ The Tank) if you can make it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sharing the spotlight with Shrek

After seven days atop the green ogre on's Picks of the Week, we now find ourselves beside the beast (and his Broadway show) on Back Stage's list of current critics' picks.  Though I am generally inclined to enjoy the writing of anyone praising me or my work, I am quite fond of Ronnie Reich's playful and thoughtful exegesis of the play.  Here's our "pull" quote:
This production from Stolen Chair Theatre Company is more than irreverent. It ruthlessly and riotously dispenses with notions of respect for the deceased...But while proclaiming theatre dead, the show's sharp, thoughtful writing, high-impact direction, and skillful performances justify its preservation.
There are only 3 performances left and two of them are just shy of sold-out!!!

(Oh, and I never linked to Aaron Riccio's lovely review over at That Sound's Cool.  Here it is!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Enfant Terrible weighs in

One of Stolen Chair's most favorite people (so much so that we asked him to interview us for a radio profile last year), Mssr Ian W. Hill of Gemini Collision Works just posted his review of Theatre Is Dead. Here's a tease: 
I want to state immediately, [it] was TERRIFIC and you SHOULD SEE IT. It's about death, and it's very very funny, though maybe you need to be able to find the various thoughts about death both very funny and very disturbing (often at the same time) to appreciate it -- I found myself laughing a lot, but also torn and slightly upset by remembrances of human deaths I have witnessed in person or been near to, memories of the funeral home run by my grandparents and the bodies I saw there (which generally gives me a cold, dispassionate eye to mortal remains and cremains), and the increased sense of mortality that has hit me the last few years. A good mix of emotions for a show to give you...
Though he has many other insightful (and valuably critical) things to say about the piece (he has a special perspective as the grandson of a mortician), I especially appreciated the way in which he grappled with a frustrating review we received:
One reviewer somewhat dismissed the show as having been done before, and better, by some famous names (a dicey reason for critically dismissing anything, really; at a certain point you can dismiss anything, including masterpieces, as treading ground covered by earlier masterpieces)
Well, while this production may fall short of Ionesco and Beckett's greatest works, it's a damn good time and there are only 4 performances left.  Tonight (1/24) is almost sold out but there are still some tix available for closing weekend.  Get 'em quickly!

Monday, January 19, 2009

PICK OF THE WEEK and oversold Saturday night

The run is half a performance away from being half over, but this is where the fun really starts. We played to a teeming mass of people on Saturday night, adding seats wherever fire hazards would allow. Good press is rolling in here and here and there is more press (which may be good or bad) coming in next week over here, here, and here. And...Stolen Chair is uber-psyched to be named as's PICK OF THE WEEK for the fourth time in four years. Here is the blurb:
Scene from Theatre Is Dead and So Are You

THEATRE IS DEAD AND SO ARE YOU: This macabre vaudeville about death is not for everybody, but it's a terrific adventurous work by Stolen Chair Theatre Company featuring impressive production values, broad dark comedy, and great performances. PICK OF THE WEEK!

What are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now (and use coupon code BLOG1 for a special discount, valid this weekend only)! I'm pretty darn sure we will be turning people away closing weekend so please be sure to buy your tix in advance...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

First rave for Theatre Is Dead...

This just in from one Mr. Martin Denton:
A macabre and weirdly off-kilter cabaret that revels in death: in looking this greatest of taboos in the face and then throwing a custard pie at, stylish, and virtuosic, deconstructing what bothers us about the Final Rest by throwing as many theatrical gimmicks as possible at it.  If the opportunity to see one of indie theater's smartest and most adventurous young companies tangle with the Unknowable tantalizes you, then a visit to the Connolly may well be in order.

And then...go buy tickets here.  Use coupon code BLOG1 for $14 tix.

Oh, and in case you missed it, we launched the new yesterday.  Still in beta but go check it out now and email your comments to aviva [at]  Need more incentive: the production photos from Theatre Is Dead await you there...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wow. Well, that was nice!

First preview of Theatre Is Dead and So Are You last night.  I don't think I've ever heard laughter like that in a theatre before (and I'm not sure I'll ever hear it again so I'm mighty glad I got this chance!).  It got to the point where the piece's big finale (no spoilers, don't worry!),  a 10-min chunk of classical text, was so drenched in audience guffaws that I heard scarcely a word.   

That's nice.  Real nice.  

And now...going into preview #2 we're likely to face an audience that is somewhat more reserved (and I've always found that Saturday audiences tend to be less fired up than Friday crowds.  Is it the day of rest which numbs their funny bones?).  We may have to find out what this show looks like when the energy only appears to be flowing one-way from stage to house (of course, it never is. whoever invented the phrase "smiling loudly" really hit something!).  It's always tempting to try to force an audience to be something it's not.  But as one of my acting teachers once said, "If you think your scene partner needs to make a change so that you can solve a problem, then you don't actually understand your problem."  In a show that is this shamelessly presentational (actors spend a good 1/8 of the show acting in the house), the audience is our scene partner, and we're going to have to find out what we need to change (perhaps ever so slightly) in ourselves to meet them where they are and travel with them to the deeply (and delightfully) wrong places this piece demands.

Supercheap discounts (w/coupon code FIRST2) are still in effect for tonight.  Visit to buy your tickets ASAP!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Theatre dies tonight!

tTheatre Is Dead and So Are You opens tonight.  Use coupon code FIRST2 for $12 tickets.  Free wine will be flowing.  

Buy tix and find out more at

See you there!