"Growing Stages" by William Squier
TAKING A BITE OUT OF DEVELOPMENT
Theatre Now New York and Sound Bites
On Monday, December 9, Theatre Now New York (tnny.org) will present Sound Bites, an evening of new short works of musical theater, at The 47th Street Theater at 8:00 pm. The program will consist of ten-minute musicals and excerpts from longer works by ten creative teams, including such up-and-comers as Adam Gwon, Timothy Huang and Scott Murphy. We caught up with Theatre Now New York's Artistic Director, Thomas Morrissey, to find out a bit more about the one-night only event. [PHOTO: William Squier]
MusicalWriters.com: How long has Theatre Now New York been in existence?
Thomas Morrissey: "We are relatively new. We formed about a year ago. We're an outgrowth of the Genesius Theatre Guild, which I founded in 1995 and then relocated to New Jersey as ReVision Theatre (revisiontheatre.org) in 2008. About two years ago I came back to the city. And a number of the people who were at Genesius and ReVision are involved with me now." [Photo: Thomas Morrissey]
MusicalWriters.com: What inspired its creation?
Morrissey: "I wanted to take my experience and background and put them into one idea. So, we're taking what Genesius did in developmental work and the productions that ReVision did and combing the two into one company. Our goal is to create programs that allow writers to be involved with us on a number of different development levels --readings, workshops, writers' groups – and to have programs at entry level, some at mid-development range that involve readings and consultation work and some barebones workshops. We're also looking for a place outside of the city where we can do productions during the summer months, so that the writers can get off of that 'hamster wheel' of readings.
When you get into trying to produce a new work, it's very expensive in the city. We could mount a full production outside of New York for what it costs to do a showcase. It's so much more valuable for writer. They need that level of production. And an audience response – that isn't an industry audience – is really vital."
MusicalWriters.com: You mentioned providing opportunities for mid-career and established theatre professionals, in addition to emerging writers. Is that as something that's lacking in New York theater?
Morrissey: "We have access to people at many points in their careers – writers that we met early on. For example, Andrew Lippa was one of the founding members of Genesius, Adam Gwon was in one of our early writer's groups and Joe Iconis was an intern. At ReVision there were pieces that we found through the NAMT Fall Festival and produced, and those were by mid-career writers. So, we want to involve writers at all different levels and hope to continue to provide them with a place work."
MusicalWriters.com: Is the super-objective of Sound Bites to establish those kinds of relationships with new authors?
Morrissey: "It's twofold. We receive so many scripts and find more material we like than we can work on. One of the purposes of the festival is to expose ten new writing teams. It's affordable for us, easy for the writers a short time commitment and great exposure. We also want to meet new writers and see if they are writers that we'd like to continue to work with. So, it's an introduction for us as well as introducing them to others in the industry. Music Theatre International (MTI) came on with us, recently, as a financial sponsor of Sound Bites. We're inviting a lot of people to the event that will be of that caliber."
MusicalWriters.com: What we can expect to see at the 47th Street Theater on Monday, December 9?
Morrissey: "We have ten great pieces that are all very different. They will be performed off-book. They'll all have piano accompaniment, and some are adding guitar, drums and other instrumentation. The production is bare bones, with minimal costuming, lighting with a few cues and a bare stage with chairs, tables and the ubiquitous black cubes. No flying chandeliers or helicopters!"
MusicalWriters.com: What's the next step for the writers who participate Sound Bites?
Morrissey: "We don't know! This is the festival's first year and we're not sure how it will evolve. We're hoping that it becomes an annual event and that it will expand. There may be two or three groups of writers that we like a lot, can bring together into a writer's group and explore working with them on a regular basis. Or there might be one team with a piece that we like enough to go right into a developmental workshop. Or there could something that we haven't thought of yet. All options are open."
MusicalWriters.com: Aside from 10-minute submissions for Sound Bites, you've got a process for considering unsolicited and agent submissions of longer works, detailed on the website. Can you add anything to that about the sorts of work you prefer to see?
Morrissey: "I'm always looking for the next thing that's going to be unique, outstanding, that looks at things a little differently or speaks to a particular audience. I've always looked up to Joe Papp because of the diverse work he brought to the Public Theater. So much of it, like Hair, A Chorus Line, or For Colored Girls, was groundbreaking."
Theatre Now New York is planning to begin accepting submissions for a second edition of Sound Bites shortly after the first of next year. Visit soundbites.tnny.org for details. And Morrissey said that Theatre Now New York will begin rolling out other programming throughout 2014. Their general submission guidelines are as follows:
We do not accept unsolicited submissions of full scripts (except as noted below) but we are happy to review a one page synopsis along with a character breakdown, set requirements and any development or production history. Please also include your resume. If you submission is a musical you may also include up to three songs in MP3 format. If we are interested in seeing the full script we will contact you. Please be patient and understand that we may not be able to respond for some time. Full scripts are accepted from literary agencies, from entertainment attorneys and through qualified professional recommendations but please contact us first so that we are aware and can expect your submission. You may contact us by email (preferred) or by postal mail:
Theatre Now New York
520 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018-6507