The Light Fantastic offers imaginative, dynamic productions to audiences who traditionally lack access to live theater. We perform in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, low-income senior centers, and other nontraditional venues throughout New York City and beyond. We believe that theater belongs to all of us, not just those who can afford expensive tickets, and we recognize the enormous wealth of insight, life experience, and joy that traditionally marginalized audiences bring to the theatrical encounter. We perform in cafeterias, meeting rooms, and gymnasiums with live acoustic music and with all the lights on. Using no formal stage, and a minimal set, we perform on the same level as our audiences, who sit in the round. Through the shared act of imagination, we aim to illuminate what unites us.
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 in 2017, for instance, was $109). 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.
We take inspiration from Ten Thousand Things (TTT), a theater company in Minneapolis that for the past 28 years has developed a brilliant, joyful, efficient model of making extraordinary theater for non-traditional audiences. TTT's 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 book, All The Lights On. Other theaters who have created TTT-inspired touring models include our friends at The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit, the Old Globe in San Diego, California Shakespeare Festival, Baltimore Center Stage, the Delaware Shakespeare Festival, and Cripple Creek Theatre in New Orleans.