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….
Lisa Birkenmeier, The Bengons & Sarah Gancher; Heather Christian & Andrew Schneider; The Mad Ones; Kim Rosenstock; The Woodshed Collective, Jason Kim, Helen Park & Max Vernon.
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.
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.
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
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. They devise plays through the ongoing collaboration of performers/writers, designers, and director, with each artist playing an essential role in a piece’s creation from the inception. Their productions appropriate popular American genres, playfully re-imagine world history, and incorporate live music in service of a delicately woven, wholly articulated, character-driven universe. The Mad Ones are comprised of co-Artistic Directors Marc Bovino, Joe Curnutte, Lila Neugebauer and Stephanie Wright Thompson; Company Members Michael Dalto,Ásta Bennie Hostetter, Mike Inwood, Laura Jellinek, Sarah Lunnie and Stowe Nelson. themadones.org
The Mad Ones
Kim Rosenstock has written several plays including Tigers Be Still which played a sold-out run in its premiere at Roundabout Underground and was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award. She is currently working on commissions for Dallas Theater Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Ars Nova, where she was the 2011 Playwright-in-Residence. Awards include the Clauder Prize from Portland Stage Company and Aspen Theater Masters’ Visionary Playwright Award. She is a graduate of Amherst College where she first began writing plays under the mentorship of Constance Congdon, and holds an MFA in playwriting from Yale School of Drama. She is originally from Baldwin, Long Island and currently resides in Los Angeles where she writes for the television show, New Girl. (As of March 2013)
Woodshed Collective is an immersive, site-specific theater company that engages diverse audiences with 360-degree theatrical experiences. Woodshed has been creating large-scale immersive theater in NYC since 2008 and productions include: Paul Cohen’s The Confidence Man (on a decommissioned steamship in the Hudson River), The Tenant (in a five-story 19th Century Parish House on the Upper West Side). For each production, Woodshed’s 13-member collective collaborates with 100+ artists to create a unique world for their audiences. woodshedcollective.com
Jason Kim’s plays include New America (Naked Angels), Jason Kim Writes a Play (Ma-Yi), Stuck (serials@theflea), History of a Marriage (Gowanus Art + Production) and Radical Honesty (Naked Radio). Opera: An American Man (Kennedy Center), Legendary (Manhattan School of Music), A Year of Madness (American Opera Projects) and Seeking You (Spoleto Festival). Screen: Girls (HBO), Gracepoint (Fox).
HELEN PARK is a composer, music director and performer based in New York City. She wrote music for The Large Life of Alice Liddell with book and lyrics by Benjamin Halstead. The show received a professional reading at NYU in April 2013. Helen also wrote a one-act Latin musical comedy, Last Resort, with book and lyrics by Derek Hassler, which received readings at NYU Black box theater and at the Duplex theater. In 2014, Helen wrote the one-act musical Baked Goods with lyrics by Christyn Budzyna and book by Charlie Cohen. Most recently, Helen has worked as assistant to composer Tom Kitt on Broadway’sIf/Then. Currently, Helen is at work on the musical KPOP!, a commission for Ars Nova, Woodshed Collective and Ma-Yi, the musical Gerkasia with book and lyrics by Janine Robledo and a musical adaptation of the screenplay 50 First Dates with book and lyrics by Charlie O’Leary.
Helen’s music have been featured at The Duplex, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below and other NYC venues. Helen is an alumnus of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, and is a proud member of BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop (Advanced) and the Dramatists Guild.
Max Vernon is a composer/lyricist, playwright and performer. This past year he was a Dramatist Guild Theater Fellow, an artist in residence at Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat, a JFund award recipient, and also finished his first commission for Disney Creative Entertainment. He has performed over one hundred concerts in New York City, including sold out shows at Joe’s Pub (Frisk Me: The Songs of Max Vernon) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Civilians’ Let Me Ascertain You). His musicals include The View UpStairs (NYU, Pride Films and Plays) and WIRED (Ars Nova). Developing: Co-Op (Ars Nova, Naked Angels); Aesop’s Fables (Theatreworks USA); WAM! Entertainment (Ars Nova/Ma-Yi); Inside Mecca Flats (Civilians R&D Group); Show & Tell (Jerome Foundation).