A Place To Start Something
By Perry Michael Simon on October 20, 2011
Nerdist readers know that, at heart, this site, and everything about the Nerdist empire, is a celebration of the creative process. Part of that has been the Nerdist Theater at Meltdown Comics’ activity in providing space in Los Angeles for rising artists to try new things. With that in mind, here’s a spotlight on another creative project on the other side of the country that’s providing artists with a place where they can grow.
Ars Nova is a theater in New York founded by Jenny Steingart and Jon Steingart, the producers of Nerdist favorite Black Dynamite. It’s a not-for-profit operation that’s designed to be a place where writers, directors, and performers can develop their careers and network with like-minded people. The alumni include Jesse Eisenberg (who wore an Ars Nova t-shirt in The Social Network — yes, that’s what he’s wearing on the DVD cover), Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer, Alex Timbers (who directed the Pee-Wee Herman Broadway show), Reggie Watts, Tony winners Lin Manuel Miranda and John Gallagher Jr., Beau Willimon (whose play Farragut North became the movie The Ides of March), New Girl creator Liz Meriwether, and the band Semi Precious Weapons. Michael Patrick King of Sex and the City and 2 Broke Girls fame has served as a mentor for artists at the theater.
What they do at Ars Nova is to offer programs that show off new talent and encourage experimentation and innovation. They run ANT Fest (that stands for All New Talent), a festival of works by new artists; the Out Loud play-reading series; the Showgasm variety show; a series of performances of new musical theater pieces called Uncharted; and the 54/10 Music Marathon summer concert event. They also work with artists in other ways, like the Play Group, a regular meeting of playwrights, an annual artist retreat, and by commissioning two productions a year from conception to stage.
Ars Nova’s been at it since 2002, and it’s something about which those of you who are just starting out in the creative fields should be aware. They have a page that explains the various programs and offerings and links to submission guidelines and instructions that you can see by clicking here, and they can use donations to keep things going, about which you can learn more by clicking here. The theater is at 511 West 54th Street in New York, and you can find out about upcoming shows by clicking here. And you can see several Ars Nova videos, including clips from ANT Fest productions, by clicking here. So much clicking, but it’s worth the trouble. If you’re interested in a career in theater and looking for a place that helps aspiring artists take risks and develop their voices, or just someone who wants to go see new, different productions by people who are just embarking on their entertainment careers, Ars Nova’s worth a visit.