Our theater is born of two simple commitments: to hone our craft and to get to know our neighbors. We believe the two goals go hand in hand.
Our home, New York City, is legendarily full of contrasts. We are home to some of the wealthiest individuals and institutions in the country, and also to some of the poorest congressional districts. New York is the country’s theater mecca, home to some of the most inspiring theater work in the country, and yet a huge portion of NYC residents can’t afford tickets to witness it (the average price of a Broadway ticket, for instance, recently topped $100). Our concern about the growing wealth gap in our community and country, with its attendant gap in access to the arts, led us to look for a way to make high-quality theater that has the potential to reach all of our neighbors.
We found what we were looking for in Minnesota.
TEN THOUSAND THINGS
We take inspiration from Ten Thousand Things (TTT), a theater company in Minneapolis that for the past 25 years has developed a brilliant, joyful, efficient model of making extraordinary theater for non-traditional audiences. Their motto says it well: “Because theater is richer when EVERYONE is in the audience.” We are, in fact, part of a growing constellation of theaters across the country who have been inspired by the TTT model,
and by founding artistic director Michelle Hensley’s recent book, All The Lights On. Other theaters who have created, or are in the process of creating, TTT-inspired touring models include our fellow New Yorkers at The Public Theater’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit (which revived, with Hensley’s help, a similar model from the Joseph Papp era), the Old Globe in San Diego, California Shakespeare Festival, Baltimore Center Stage, and the Delaware Shakespeare Festival.
In her book, Hensley writes of her work as a pursuit of what she calls “radiance:” “Because radiance comes from such a deep place, with minds, hearts, and imaginations all engaged at once, it spills out into the world in all directions, in surprising and unexpected ways. Theater is uniquely suited to create radiance because of its collective aliveness, because we meet in one space and imagine new worlds together in the moment.”