The Alchemy Theatre Company of Manhattan, Inc., a nonprofit, Off-Broadway organization, exists to foster the development of transformative stories by new and emerging voices around the world that need to be heard.
The Alchemy Theatre Company of Manhattan, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, exists to foster the development of transformative stories by new and emerging voices around the world that need to be heard.
In its infancy, Alchemy focused on producing plays by revered playwrights such as David Mamet, Larry Kramer, and Christopher Durang. Over the years, however, Alchemy has focused primarily on productions and readings by new and emerging writers, playwrights without pedigree, with voices that equally need to be heard. Moving forward, Alchemy's mission is to focus solely on fostering the development of these new and emerging voices.
For its inaugural production, at the ArcLight Theater, David Mamet granted Alchemy the first official rights to the New York City revival of his savage satire about the decline of art and Hollywood, Speed-the-Plow. A risky and important play to kick off the company with, Speed-the-Plow was filled with the kind of humor and vividness that Alchemy productions wanted to be defined by. The production featured Michael Daly and Juilliard graduates Richard Kaplan and Gretchen Egolf. The crew for Speed-the-Plow included Broadway fight-choreographer Rick Sordelet, lighting designer James Vermeulen, and Broadway and movie actor Dallas Roberts, who graciously provided our sound design before ironically heading off to Hollywood himself to appear in such substantial films (as opposed to those derided in Speed-the-Plow) as Walk the Line; he also starred in Adam Rapp’s Nocturne at ART and NYTW.
Coming off the inaugural production of Plow, Alchemy's second production, at Center Stage in Chelsea, included Larry Kramer, who generously served as a consultant for the revival of his groundbreaking and vital play, The Normal Heart, which dramatized the terrifying and infuriating early days of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. Alchemy again worked with accomplished cast and crew, some of whom had worked with such respected companies as Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and the Alley Theatre. The Normal Heart was an incredibly moving experience, eliciting many rave reviews, including a front page Arts review in The New York Times.
For its third production, Alchemy was proud to produce its first New York premiere, Haymarket by Zayd Dohrn, IRNE Award Winner for Permanent Whole Life (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre) and a significant emerging playwright. This important play dramatized events surrounding the Haymarket Affair in 1886, which dealt a severe setback to the American labor movement. Questions of terrorism and sacrifice were were raised for audiences. The production of Haymarket also began Alchemy’s collaboration with Theatre Row, where Alchemy became a resident company and currently maintains its administrative office. Zayd Dohrn's most recent play, Outside People is scheduled for a December 2011 co-production by Naked Angels and Vineyard Theater.
Next, Alchemy produced a second New York premiere by Zayd Dohrn, Permanent Whole Life at The New York International Fringe Festival. This play, a savage comedy about sex, death, and the relationships that outlast us, was originally produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre before its acceptance at the Fringe.
In 2007, Alchemy became an Off-Broadway company. For our first Off-Broadway production, we chose another New York premiere, Christopher Durang’s The Vietnamization of New Jersey. The play, an absurdist satire that forces reconsideration of the nature of the American family and the efficacy of American politics, was staged years into the Iraq War. The production, starring Emmy-Award winner Blanche Baker, received from The New York Times both a glowing review and a Critic’s Pick. We were also thrilled when Mr. Durang, who was actively involved with the production, accepted our invitation to join Alchemy’s Advisory Board.
Alchemy next presented its fourth New York premiere, Harvest, by emerging playwright David Wright Crawford. This poignant story, spread over 45-years, about a west Texas cotton farmer hell-bent on saving his farm against all odds was a terrific artistic success and stirred audience members to contact us with appreciation for producing this story. We were also proud to be a Critic’s Pick in Backstage. During this time, Alchemy was also recognized by Cindy Pierre on PBS-TV’s Theater Talk as “one of the new groups to watch for.”
Our seventh production, and fifth New York premiere, was Umbrella by Larry Pontius. Continuing Alchemy’s commitment to new and emerging playwrights, this dark, painful love story dramatized the brutality and alienation infecting lives in our big cities. In 2011, Umbrella was made into an independent film, shot on a rooftop in Manhattan.
For our eighth production, Alchemy teamed up with LAByrinth Theater Company to produce the premiere of Scott Hudson's Sweet Storm, which was originally developed through the Public Lab. A moving love story, Sweet Storm raised questions about marriage, intimacy, fulfillment, and unconditional love. Funny, touching, and poignant, Sweet Storm extended twice and played to over 3,000 audience members over its 10-week run at Theatre Row. During this time, Scott Hudson received the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award and Sweet Storm was published by Dramatists Play Service. It has subsequently played at several regional theaters throughout the United States.
In 2010-11, Founding Artistic Director Robert Saxner briefly stepped away from Alchemy to serve as a producing member of the Broadway show, Lombardi. Also a new play, Lombardi ran for nine months at the Circle in the Square Theater and told the story of the famous Green Bay Packers head coach. The play raised important questions for all of us about how to raise ourselves up and at what cost to family and health. The experience of working on Lombardi was invaluable and will only help to influence future work with Alchemy.
Throughout, Alchemy has also continued its vital reading series. As previously noted, Alchemy believes strongly in the development of new and emerging voices, and always with an eye towards a potential production. In fact, Alchemy held a reading of Umbrella before producing it in 2008. More recently, Alchemy has held readings of works that touch on themes such as the dark side of fame, Alzheimers, the search for true love, prejudice, and terrorism. The readings have been well supported and the feedback has been extremely beneficial.
By fostering the development of new and emerging voices, by working with distinguished artists and agencies, and by building a strong relationship with the community, Alchemy Theatre optimistically looks towards the future.
And in that future, Alchemy will continue its history of generosity, which has included fundraisers for a homeless shelter on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, benefit performances for AIDS research and Dr. David Ho at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, a world-renowned biomedical research institute based in New York City, and contributions to Farm Aid.
We hope that you will join us for the exciting productions, readings, benefits and events to follow that reflect our commitment to fostering the development of transformative stories by new and emerging voices around the world that need to be heard.