“An ensemble must reinvent itself once every seven years or so, or it will wither and die” – Ariane Mnouchkine, Theatre de Soleil
“We are committing ourselves to projects
in the future that are artistically ambitious
enough to be a little scary.”
We know it’s not just do more or to just get bigger. We know we want to do work that fulfills a vision and challenges our staff, actors, producing team, board of trustees and audiences in ever more meaningful ways.
This year is about stepping into that first moment of wonderful and scary uncertainty.
The prospect of producing 1599 at the outset – the size, scale and content of the play – was a little scary. Frankly it was frightening. Looking back that fear was perhaps the greatest factor in driving us ahead. Therefore we are committing ourselves to projects in the future that are artistically ambitious enough to be a little scary.
It took Peter Brook eight years to create the Mahabharata. It took Lin-Manuel Miranda six years to create Hamilton and it took Irondale seven years to create 1599. Now we’re asking ourselves: What’s the next big project that is worth dedicating the next four or five years of our lives to creating? What is something that has the depth and scope, and merits the time invested, but also has the potential to speak to the moment in which it is being seen by an audience.
Right now we’re looking at several projects that offer the promise to fulfill this vision. Here’s a sampling of things we’re considering. But nothing is definite yet. We’d love to hear the suggestions of you our devoted audience and extended community as well. What plays, playwrights, genres or themes do you think would be important and perfect for Irondale?
The Oresteia of Aeschylus, The individual life versus the greater good. The inescapable consequences of foreign wars and of individual violence. The multiple accounts of one story. All this in one tremendous evening.
Looking into the Abyss a new Shakespeare marathon of three plays and composed of: Measure for Measure, Timon of Athens and King Lear
The Ibsen Cycle featuring the first four of the 12 realistic plays Pillars of Society, A Doll House, Ghosts, and An Enemy of the People and emphasizing the mutual connections and thematic development that moves through the four plays. All of these plays talk about fear, the fear of falling down, of being found out and not being a part of society anymore. Economic awareness is in the background of the plays and they are all about financial survival. It’s always about money.
Along the way to the “big project”, there will of course be other offerings from Irondale. In January we’re bringing back 1599 for a 3 week run. In the same way that individual productions of Henry V and Julius Caesar served as “pilot projects” for the development of 1599 we will be presenting individual plays from the 1599 cycle. We’re also looking at an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s early novel Player Piano. In January, we’ll be meeting with British director Jonathan Martin to discuss a possible collaboration: Dion Boucicault’s classic, The Poor of New York, updated to the days of the Great Depression but with strong allusions to the life of the contemporary city. The Poor of New York would also mark the first major attempt by Irondale to consciously bring together three of the company’s major constituencies in one undertaking: a cast made up of the professional ensemble, the Young Company teen ensemble, and members of the community. This reflects another priority we are striving to put into place in this year of rebooting: looking for ways to bring all of the programmatic pieces of Irondale, including the various educational programs, into a closer and more unified entity. Much of this can already be seen in our various projects. The school programs, after school classes, the young company, our program and the police/community project To Protect Serve and Understand are all led by Irondale actors and artists.