COMMISSIONING AND DEVELOPMENT:
Ars Nova commissions and develops new work with an eye for artists that work with nontraditional creative processes and projects that often combine generative artists across multiple disciplines to collaboratively create a piece of theater. Our adventurous, process-driven environment allows commissioned projects to develop organically and in an artist-focused way by committing to these groundbreaking, form-defying projects for the long haul over several years. Ars Nova’s mission-driven affinity for hybrid works that combine music, comedy and theater makes us a natural home for devised theater pieces with complicated creative structures. And, because these pieces often cannot be made in traditional ways, we have embraced a flexible development process to help nurture these unique pieces from the beginning stages on to a full production.
Our current commissions are….
Kevin Armento & Sammy Miller; The Bengons & Sarah Gancher; Lisa Birkenmeier; Heather Christian & Andrew Schneider; Antoinette Nwandu; The Mad Ones
KEVIN ARMENTO’s plays include Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (Drama Desk Nomination, Stage Edinburgh Award), Good Men Wanted (New York Stage and Film), Companion Piece (Pleasance Theatre), and killers (Tom Noonan’s Paradise Factory), and upcoming plays include Balls (co-written with Bryony Lavery, 59E59 Theaters / One Year Lease), Playing Hot (Pipeline Theatre) and Devil with the Blue Dress (Bunker Theatre, London). Work has been produced and developed with Arena Stage, Ars Nova, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Dixon Place, The Flea, Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, The New Ohio and Stages Repertory Theatre, and he is an alum of The Working Farm at SPACE on Ryder Farm, Artist-in-Residence at The Drama League and Play Group and Makers Lab at Ars Nova.
SAMMY MILLER A native of Los Angeles, Grammy nominated drummer Sammy Miller has become known for his unique maturity and relentless focus on making music that “feels good” as a drummer, singer and bandleader. Upon completing his Master’s at The Juilliard School, Sammy formed his ensemble, The Congregation. As a band they are focused on sharing the power of community through their music—joyful jazz.
THE BENGSONS is a married musical duo that blends soaring vocals, frenetic rhythms and rousing all join hands choruses to create new hybrid indie rock/art/theater performances. This bi-coastal NYC/San Francisco-based team employs a combination of drums, guitars, synthesizers, accordions and their powerful voices to create an Americana and electronic-influenced brand of indie rock that has received accolades from fans and critics alike. The Bengsons’ indie folk opera, Hundred Days, debuted at San Francisco’s Z Space in March 2014 and was praised by the SF Chronicle as “gripping, chilling, exhilaratingly wild and heartrending… a must-see.” They have had two singles, Ashes and You Need, featured on national television on So You Think You Can Dance (FOX). They have appeared across the country and around the world at such venues as Joe’s Pub, NYU’s Skirball Center, MASS MoCA (MA), On The Boards (Seattle) and the Market Theater (South Africa). bengsons.com
SARAH GANCHER’s writing has been seen on stages across the US and internationally, including London’s National Theatre, Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, Budapest’s Quarter6Quarter7 Festival, Steppenwolf, PS122, Ars Nova, P73, and NYC SummerStage. Honors include the New York Stage and Film Founders’ Award. Co-writer of The TEAM’s Mission Drift (Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize, Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel; London’s National Theatre, int’l tour). She frequently partners with devising ensembles including Colorado’s Telluride Theatre, Portland’s Hand2Mouth, and Blue Man Group. Recently: Time Warner Fellow at Women’s Project Lab, Playwrights’ Realm Writing Fellow, I73 and Ars Nova Play Group. MFA: NYU.
LIZA BIRKENMEIER is mostly a writer but occasionally a performer. She is currently collaborating on an interactive piece that will premiere at 3LD in 2017. Her plays have been seen or heard at Ars Nova, New Georges, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Dixon Place, CATCH, Prelude NYC, University Settlement, Rattlestick, The San Francisco Playhouse, City Theater, The Classic Coin Laundry and elsewhere. She is a member of the Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater, a Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow and a New Georges Affiliated Artist. She was in the 2014-2015 Play Group at Ars Nova and was a recent MacDowell Colony Fellow. She received her MFA at Carnegie Mellon under Rob Handel.
HEATHER CHRISTIAN is a composer/performer last seen making scores for and performing in Mission Drift (winner of 2011 Fringe First and Herald Angel) at the National Theatre in London (Drama League, Outstanding Performance Nomination). Composing credits include Gertrude Stein’s The World Is Round (BAM, 2014 OBIE citation); Of Mice and Men (The West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds); The Burnin’ (Progress Theatre); her own multi-media concert North (LaMama); Daily Life Everlasting (Norwegian Theatre Academy); Mud (IAmA Theatre Company); Learning in Lower Animals (DTW); and numerous compositions for short films and dance pieces including Gregory Go Boom, which took the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. She has worked with many theater makers including the TEAM, Jane Comfort Company, Mac Wellman, Big Dance Theater, Taylor Mac and Witness Relocation Company, of whom she is a core member. She was recently named one of Time Out New York’s “Downtown Innovators To Watch.” Primarily a songstress with her band Heather Christian & the Arbornauts, she can be seen all over the world avant-torching. Her album Cabinet was released in 2012 to much critical acclaim and she and the Arbornauts just released their sophomore record, House/Hymn.
ANDREW SCHNEIDER is an OBIE award-winning performer and interactive-electronics artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Schneider creates and performs original performance works, builds interactive electronic art works and installations and was a Wooster Group company member (video/performer) from 2007-2014.
In 2015, Andrew premiered YOUARENOWHERE (2015 OBIE award, special citation) to sold out audiences in New York, Slovenia, Melbourne and four cities in France – as part of PS122’s global initiative. He is also the recipient of the Tom Murrin Performance Award, and will be continuing to make a new experiential light and space performance piece originally developed while Artist-In-Residence at Dixon Place Theater (2014-15).
Andrew’s original performance work in NYC includes DANCE/FIELD (2014), TIDAL (2013) curated by Laurie Anderson as part of the River to River festival; WOW+FLUTTER (2010) at The Chocolate Factory Theater; five AVANT-GARDE-ARAMA! works (2005-2013) at PS122; PLEASURE (2009) at Issue Project Room; and resident artist (2006) at LEMURplex. His work in Chicago includes TRUE+FALSE (2007) and STRATEGIES AGAINST ARCHITECTURE (2008) among others, both at The University of Chicago as a resident artist.
Andrew creates wearable, interactive electronic art works such as the Solar Bikini, (a bikini that charges your iPod), and wireless programmable sound effect gloves. His interactive work has been featured in such publications as Art Forum and Wired, among others and at the Center Pompidou in Paris.
Andrew is a recurring collaborator with The TEAM, Lars Jan / Early Morning Opera, Hotel Savant, Fischerspooner (projections/performer), Kelela (projections/lighting) and AVAN LAVA (lighting/percussion/vocals). Schneider has served as an Adjunct Professor at NYU and has taught courses on Technology and Performance at the Interactive Telecommunications Program and at Bowdoin, and Carleton Colleges. Andrew holds a BFA in Theater Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Masters Degree in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU. More at andrewjs.com
ANTOINETTE NWANDU is a New York-based playwright. Her Jeff-award winning play, Pass Over, will have its New York debut at LCT3 in June. A filmed version of the Steppenwolf production—directed by Spike Lee—will have its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her play Breach: a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate will have its World Premiere at Victory Gardens in February. Antoinette’s work has been supported by the Sundance Theater Lab, Space on Ryder Farm, Ignition Fest, the Cherry Lane Mentor Project, the Kennedy Center, Page73, PlayPenn, Southern Rep, The Flea, Naked Angels, Fire This Time and The Movement Theater Company. Honors include the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Negro Ensemble Company’s Douglas Turner Ward Prize, a Literary Fellowship at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference and spots on the 2016 and 2017 Kilroys lists. Antoinette is a MacDowell Fellow, a Dramatists Guild Fellow and an Ars Nova Play Group alum. She is currently under commission from Echo Theater Company, Colt Coeur and Audible.Antoinette Nwandu’s commission is supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
THE MAD ONES are a New York City-based company dedicated to creating visceral, ensemble-driven, highly detailed theatrical experiences that examine and illuminate American nostalgia. Since 2009, we’ve created four full-length plays (and a host of short plays), which have received significant accolades and critical praise, including multiple New York Times Critics’ Picks, Five Star Time Out New York reviews, a Drama Desk nomination and multiple New York Innovative Theatre Awards. The Mad Ones are Co-Artistic Directors Marc Bovino (performer/writer), Joe Curnutte (performer/writer), Lila Neugebauer (director/writer), Stephanie Wright Thompson (performer/writer); Associate Director Michael Dalto (performer/writer/music director); Company Members Ásta Bennie Hostetter (costume designer), Mike Inwood (lighting designer), Laura Jellinek (set designer), Sarah Lunnie (dramaturg) and Stowe Nelson (sound designer). themadones.org
The Mad Ones
Co-Artistic Directors Marc Bovino (performer/writer), Joe Curnutte (performer/writer), Lila Neugebauer (director/writer),
Stephanie Wright Thompson (performer/writer); Associate Director Michael Dalto (performer/writer/music director);
Company Members Ásta Bennie Hostetter (costume designer), Mike Inwood (lighting designer), Laura Jellinek (set designer),
Sarah Lunnie (dramaturg) and Stowe Nelson (sound designer).