Top Stories of 2011 

Shay Gines 

Each new year, our staff reviews stories from the previous season and assembles our list of the most important things that happened. Here is our list of the top 10 stories that affected OOB in 2011.

  1. Loss of OOB Pioneers
    In 2011, a number of prominent OOB pioneers passed on. With the passing of Ellen Stewart, Lanford Wilson and Doric Wilson, OOB lost some of the most renowned artists who helped build the vibrant and kinetic Off-Off-Broadway community.
    • Ellen Stewart, the infamously outspoken and opinionated Founder and Artistic Director of La MaMa, passed away on January 13, 2011. During her 49 years as Artistic Director, La MaMa grew from a tiny basement cabaret to a two-building arts complex on East 4th Street; from a modest company presenting the work of friends and relatives to an iconic, groundbreaking institution that is known around the world. Stewart was a cornerstone of the OOB community and became known as OOB’s “Mama.” Her passing was acutely felt.
      A Standing Ovation for Ellen Stewart
      by Shay Gines
    • In March of 2011, OOB lost Lanford Wilson, one of the most prolific playwrights to come from the OOB community. While he had many successes, including receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980, he remained an adamant supporter of independent artists, saying, “We all share a common experience, a common identity.”
      Safe Home Lanford Wilson by Shay Gines
    • Only two months later, in May 2011, gay rights activist and playwright Doric Wilson passed away. Wilson is believed to be the first resident playwright of the Caffé Cino. According to playwright Robert Patrick, Wilson’s work helped "establish the Cino as a venue for new plays, and materially contributed to the then-emerging concept of Off-Off-Broadway."
      A Tribute to Doric Wilson by Chris Weikel

  2. The Recession
    A top story in 2010 as well, the global recession continued to pressure the U.S. and European economies, with ripple effects throughout the world.  While Off-Off-Broadway is well accustomed to tightened belts, the weak economy continued to limit funding and increase pressure on resources.
    The Recession and OOB

  3. World Theatre Day Celebrated in New York City
    Since 1961 the International Theatre Institute (ITI) has celebrated World Theatre Day on March 27th. Each year various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion and an internationally renowned theatre artist is invited to share a message about theatre. The New York City World Theatre Day Coalition (NYCWTD) stepped up events in 2011 with even more performances, parties, SPLAT performances, panel discussions, blogs and events.
    2011 NYCWTD Events

  4. Under St. Marks
    In 2011 Off-Off-Broadway mainstay UNDER St. Marks found itself in peril of being uprooted. The community rushed to endorse Horse Trade Theatre Group's bid to purchase the small black box theatre. The demonstration of support “from the community helped us garner a great deal of press, and hardened our landlord’s resolve to not just sell at whatever price he could get,” said Managing Director Erez Ziv. While Horse Trade can not afford to purchase the entire building, the outpouring of support helped them to broker a deal with the owner. The owner extended Horse Trade’s lease until 2019 and agreed to consider turning the building into a condominium which would allow Horse Trade the opportunity to purchase the theatre space only. These discussions are still preliminary and anything can happen in the next 7 years, but this was a decisive step in acquiring a permanent space.
    Help Thy Neighbor: The Situation at UNDER St. Marks by Doug Strassler

  5. Big Milestones in 2011
    There are several companies that celebrated big milestones in 2011. 

    • Rising Sun Performance Company marked their 10 year anniversary. During their tenure, Rising Sun has presented 38 productions and events and have debuted twelve original works. Read more.
    • The New Stage Theatre Company also observed their 10 year anniversary this past season. For a decade Ildiko Nemeth and the New Stage Theatre Company have been bringing their unique brand of sophisticated, inspired and startling stage craft to NYC stages.
    • Dixon Place honored their 25th year anniversary with their new facility at 161A Chrystie Street. Even though the space had officially opened the year before, 2011 saw the performance venue and lounge in full swing with several performances and/or events nearly every night of the year. This state-of-the-art venue provides rehearsal and performance space for hundreds of diverse artists and a safe home for the development of new work.
    • The Field also commemorated their 25 year anniversary. Founded by artists for artists, The Field is dedicated to providing strategic services to thousands of performing artists and companies in New York City. They foster creative exploration, steward innovative management strategies, and endeavor to help artists reach their fullest potential.
    • LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club celebrated it’s 50 year anniversary in October 2011. This noteworthy milestone was commemorated with a block party, a gala, many performances, ringing of bells (in honor of Ellen Stewart who would regularly start performances by ringing a hand bell), and East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue being officially renamed “Ellen Stewart Way.”

    Congratulations to all of these inspiring companies. We raise a glass in your honor and look forward to celebrating you for many years to come.

  6. Voices Inside Playwriting Residency at Northpoint Training Center
    In 2011, Off-Off-Broadway playwright, Mac Rogers became the first playwright to participate in the Voices Inside Playwriting Residency at Northpoint Training Center. Northpoint is a male population medium security prison in Burgin, Kentucky. The two week program uses the creative process to help inmates build a positive self image, nurture empathy and compassion and develop communications skills.
    Profoundly Rewarding Experience for OOB Playwrights by Shay Gines

  7. Launch of Indie Theatre Now
    New York Theater Experience launched a new resource, Indie Theater Now, that is a website that acts as a digital library for the online era. Indie Theater Now is essentially “iTunes for Plays,” according to Martin Denton, the founder of The goal is to serve an ever-more diverse set of readers and audience members, from oral history to technical/process-oriented materials for students and emerging artists.
    Indie Theatre Now Offers Catalog of Plays by Doug Strassler

  8. Theatre Closures Continue
    Despite community wide efforts, 2011 saw the closure of several more performance spaces including Center Stage Theatre, the Spoon Theatre, Theatre Ten Ten, and the 45th Street Theatre. Ongoing initiatives hope to halt this chronic displacement of theatre organizations, but the road is long and slow-going. Will community organizations make headway on this issue? Let’s see what 2012 brings.

  9. Ohio reopens at former Wings Theatre site
    On August 31, 2010, the Ohio Theatre on Wooster Street ended its 29 year run and closed its doors forever. Home to many theatre companies and some of the most influential OOB artists of our time, it will be sadly missed. While this loss is hard to bear, Soho Think Tank, manager of the Ohio Theatre, persevered. For several months, it shared the 3LD space with 3-Legged Dog.Then in the fall of 2011 Soho Think Tank took over the old Wings Theatre space in the Archive Building, and the New Ohio Theatre was born. We look forward to many more mind-blowing and amazing performances.

  10. NEA releases study on the value of the arts
    The National Endowment for the Arts released a report titled "Time and Money: Using Federal Data to Measure the Value of Performing Arts Activities," which measured the value of the arts in three ways: time spent on arts activities; organizational revenue and expenses; and direct consumer spending. It is an informative and interesting look at the cultural capital of the arts. Check out the full report.



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