Now we were drunk… art drunk.
We presented new plays and classics; won awards for our Shakespeare and gain incredible notoriety as a legit opera company. What’s next?
On The Spot Improv – For over a year Genesis had a traveling improv company. Performances were at the main space and at other venues. It became an amazing training ground for our NORAC (naturally occurring resident acting company) and a terrific testing ground for new performers wanting to work in NYC and with us.
Stand-Up Comics – A symposium of illustrators discussing transferring art from the page to the stage. Now I’m not saying that we were a gestation ground for million dollar endeavors but on that panel was a comic book editor who at that point was gaining importance, maybe you heard of him… Joe Quesada, then an editor of Marvel Comics’ Marvel Knights line, before becoming editor-in-chief of the company shortly after appearing at our symposium. He was named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment in 2010.
GAiA – Girl Artists innovating Art – Mary brought together all performing arts for a journey into what it means to be a woman in plays and on stage – there’s a difference. GAiA produced Medea and Lysistrata, several symposia of its own; a magazine of articles and poetry; a series of classes ranging from stage make-up to spiritual empowerment;
Jason Kendall’s Theatre-SLAM – Director/Actor/Clowne Jason Kendall has a brilliant idea … open the doors to all kinds of performance: short plays, poetry, improv, etc… All are short spurts of creativity (5-minutes) and donations accepted. Great idea, one problem … no space. Our shows, classes, et al filled the nights and the days weren’t profitable due to work on the part of our audience and actors. So we discussed and changed the name…
Jason Kendall’s MIDNIGHT Theatre Slam
I used to get home about 4 a.m. It was great.
The Precipice Gallery – Genesis hosted an art gallery opening of new and cutting edge artists. Not allowed to damage the walls of the theatre space, the gallery people perfected a way of putting these – like – microscopic nails in the ceiling and hanging the paintings with airplane wire. Incredible. I recall standing in the middle of the room with fascinating art on all sides and holding a glass of wine. Some kids dream of hitting one out of the park. I used to dream of standing in an art gallery holding a glass of wine.
The Instant Shakespeare – A fixture for decades by Paul Sugarman and still going today. What many don’t know is that there was a time when his venerable reading series of the Bard faced extinction. Paul came to us and asked if he could present a season at Genesis but he had no money, doesn’t charge admission so none will be coming in.
The Instant Shakespeare’s 2001 Season was presented at the Jan Hus Playhouse under the auspices of Genesis Repertory.
Funny story: For a particular reading of some of the Henrys, we had only one person show up to the performance. Most companies would not have gone on that night and sent the lone soldier home. We insisted that Paul go on. That one person turned out to be Roger Armbrust, then an editor and writer for BACKSTAGE. He wrote a full page article in his periodical extolling our virtues. The show must go on.
Anne and Fay’s House – Our entire education program was started by two little old ladies. Anne Berman and Fay Tomick, two sisters who held on to each other due to tragedy. Anne, a childless widow and Fay, a widow who suffered the death of her child as well. They amassed a small fortune and now in their golden years had nothing to do with it. Their executor, Sheldon Handel, suggested they make a donation to Genesis. “Will you let children perform” was their only request. They saved us as we were facing our own extinction at that point. And their sizable donation put us back on the map. The ladies are gone now but I hope they’re looking down on our little box in Brooklyn and all the adventures that preceded it and smiled. The amount of children and young people that have bathed in the glow of the stage light grows every year.
It’s now time to put our work on film, not just sporadically but all of it. Every artist, every play, every showing. The ghost of John Barrymore in the play, I Hate Hamlet says the following:
And I stood in the light, before a crowd fully prepared to dismiss, to deride, and to depart. And I shook them, I wooed them, and I said, yes, you will stay, and yes, you will remember! And for one moment in my life, I used all that I knew, every shred of talent, every ounce of gall! I was John Barrymore! And for those sacred evenings, there was no shame. I played Hamlet!
Maybe we’re not [all] John Barrymore but we slew dragons for 15 years so far. We want to be remembered.
Help us do it.