The Foundry Theatre aspires to assemble a community of artists with revolutionary ideas for the theatre and the world in which it is situated.
We commission, develop, premiere, and tour theatrical works that explore the (im)possibilities of theatre and we believe our body of work makes a passionate argument for its limitless potential. In addition, The Foundry hosts ongoing dialogue series and community collaborations that bring artists together with stakeholders from other communities to unpack issues and ideas of contemporary social and political resonance. Now in our twentieth year, The Foundry Theatre is an ongoing performance of ideas, created by rigorous theatrical works, public dialogues and community engagement that invites as many people as possible to consider what it means to be citizens of a world that we ourselves create.
The Foundry is an experiment in the ongoing creation of a theatre company that is expressed both by the art we make and the contexts we address to contain it. We approach our work multi-dimensionally and intersectionally. The dimensions which currently guide the company’s values are:
We regard all our events as invitations with which to gather and encourage the engagement of a participatory and authorized public, who in turn continue to impact the company’s evolution.
We consider our theatre company within an ecology of repairing, transforming, and collectively making the world. Our programs continue to pursue deeper meanings and practices of democracy, and our internal structure of shared leadership and a consulting council of artists and activists reflects these pursuits. We seek to participate in a paradigm shift in the ways that art and the artists who make it are considered and engaged in this democracy.
We seek to make theatre that is driven by inquiry, and that knits together provocative content with unusual forms. Our works are born primarily of commissions made to artists to whom we guarantee, from the start, that we will produce their commissioned work, and creatively and financially support its inimitable development through to premiere and often touring. We are committed to providing respectful compensation to all collaborators that is in relation to our permanent staff salaries and we maintain transparency of all budgets and invite our collaborators to take part in any and all elements of producing, believing artists should, at the very least, influence the ways their work is produced.
With few exceptions, Foundry productions are made from ‘scratch’, born of commissions made to generative artists (playwrights, poets, performance artists, composers, et al) and built within varying developmental processes and timelines. While many of our shows have played in various theatres across NYC, we’ve also premiered works in peoples’ homes, the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, at restaurants, and other uncommon venues that best suit a project’s form and content. The company has developed a strong reputation for the diversity of its theatrical works – from plays to bus tours, performance works to operas – which have been honored with 12 OBIE Awards and 7 Drama Desk nominations. Foundry productions have toured to leading national and international venues including: The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, The Sidney Opera House, The Barbican Center & The Drill Hall in London, The Spoleto Festival in Charleston, The Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, among others.
Foundry Dialogues – panels, roundtables, town meetings etc. – bring artists together with people in other professions and communities to explore the matrix of ideas and practices that shape our everyday lives and the world in which we live them. With forums like A Conversation On Hope (‘98), Patriot (f)ACT(s) (‘02) or This is How we Do it (‘12), Foundry Dialogues continue to unpack complex contemporary social and political issues, and the philosophical frameworks that hold them. While talkbacks or symposia are often held in tandem with a theatre’s productions, Foundry Dialogues are standalone public events which sometimes give rise to new theatre works or operate as research sites for those in progress.
Over the years we have sought manifold forms beyond our productions and dialogues through which to cultivate a space for artists to connect both with each other and others who share a longing to reinvent the world. These programs span the history of the company, including conversations with theatre elders in the Legacies Series (’95 – ’02), our Free Range Thanksgivings (’06-’09) that gather social and food justice organizers together with artists, to sending artist delegations to World and US Social Forums and the ongoing Audience Ambassadors Program that brings members of NYC communities organizing for social change to works of theatre and into conversation with generative artists.
As a company committed to discovering new intersections of artistic and civic practice, mentoring has become an increasingly important element of our work. In 2004 we implemented The Foundry Producers’ Chair, a residency that comes with a desk at the Foundry and a $5000 stipend for artists and creative producers who are developing and/or producing their own theatrical projects. And in 2012, we launched The Tom Proehl Artistic Producer Fellowship, an annual salaried position, established in honor of one of the Foundry’s most influential board members who passed away in 2011. This fellowship mentors artists and theatre practitioners interested in new approaches to theatre production, in particular how artistic practice intersects with the social context within which a work is being produced.
Artistic Producer & Founder
Melanie is a theatre maker and founding Artistic Producer of The Foundry Theatre. For her work with The Foundry, Joseph has twice been honored with the Ross Wetzsteon OBIE for “creating cutting edge work and engaging artists in some of the thorniest issues of the world we inhabit.” She is a recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Prize, the Skirball Kennis T.I.M.E. Artist prize, a Lucille Lortel Lortel Award for Artistic Producing, and has twice been awarded the Duk e/ Mellon Mentorship grant for mentoring “theatre leaders of tomorrow.” Joseph holds a BA in Literature from the University of Western Ontario and a post-baccalaureate degree in Pre-Medicine from the City University of New York.
melanie@thefoundrytheatre [dot] org
Amanda is a theatrical producer, manager and advocate. She has produced with various companies and artists often with her production company Neighborhood Productions including CollaborationTown, The Public, Amerinda, The New Ohio, The Play Company, The Playwrights Realm. From 2006 – 2011, she was the General Manager of The Lark Play Development Center. She co-found The NYC World Theatre Day Coalition, curating the annual Around-the-Globe Chain Play. She served on the board of The Community Dish and The League of Independent Producers. Currently she is Program Coordinator for History Matters/Back to the Future and a Women’s Project Lab Alum.
Dr. Cornel West*
Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas
Ken Rus Schmoll
A Blade of Grass
The Axe Houghton Foundation
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
The Jerome Foundation
The Jerome Robbins Foundation
The John Golden Fund
The Lambent Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Nathan Cummings Foundation
The Rockerfeller Brothers Fund
The Surdna Foundation
The Shubert Foundation
The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
National Endowment for the Arts
The New York State Council on the Arts