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Introducing “The Downtown Anthology”

The Downtown Anthology

Featuring six new plays from New York’s downtown theaters, The Downtown Anthology offers a rich selection of works from New York’s most daring and innovative contemporary playwrights. In this blog post, editors Erin Salvi and Morgan Gould share the inspiration behind the collection.

When we began conceiving of The Downtown Anthology, we felt there was a lot of significant work that wasn’t being circulated to anyone outside of a small segment of New Yorkers—those few people who have the opportunity and the means to frequent theaters below 14th Street in Manhattan. With this in mind, we set out to create an anthology of plays that would serve as a kind of sampler platter for readers wanting to learn more about the landscape of New York theater that sits apart from Broadway. Our hope is that this book will enable more people to discover writers and theaters that are redefining theatrical storytelling and championing new, exciting models for collaboration. We selected six plays that we feel exemplify a wide range of downtown work: A Map of Virtue by Erin Courtney, We Are Proud to Present… by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Trevor by Nick Jones, The Lily’s Revenge by Taylor Mac, Alice in Slasherland by Qui Nguyen, and Phoebe in Winter by Jen Silverman are all language-bending, rule-busting, form-shattering, truly wild plays that represent a wave of adventurous work that New Yorkers have come to actively seek out.

When curating this book, it was important to us not only to honor these writers, but also to recognize their collaborators. It often takes years between the moment a playwright sits down to write the first words of a play and the moment that play is actually presented before an audience. Many hands contribute to a play (as opposed to simply a script) being born. And in many cases, that road starts with a theater company that decides to make it happen. These artistic vanguards are really the theatrical party hosts of the downtown theater. The theater companies that produced the six plays in this collection (The Vampire Cowboys, Lesser America, Soho Rep., HERE Arts Center, and Clubbed Thumb) are tastemakers, gatekeepers, and trendsetters that are all part of a very vital artistic scene in America. These artistic leaders are part of a network that supports the creation of new work and the constant reinvigoration of the way we tell stories on stage.

We are so grateful to these visionary writers, collaborators, and artistic leaders for coming together to create this book. We’re excited to share a small piece of the picture that is downtown theater and to equip readers to imagine a theater that challenges the notions of what a play is and what a theatrical experience can do. All six of these pieces push current boundaries of theater and performance. These artists charged forward with something untested, untried, and unknown. We hope this book will inspire others to do the same.

—Morgan Gould & Erin Salvi

(Note: This is excerpted from The Downtown Anthology.)

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