News: NY Theater Company The Shelter Launches "Shelter in Place" Programming


Rochelle Newman-Carrasco performs in April's Monday Monologue Jam. Photo courtesy Spin Cycle.
Since 2009, The Shelter's free Shelter Sundays workshop has served as an artistic home to writers, directors, and actors who present new work to their community and find support, critique, and collaboration. Over the last decade, Shelter Artists, led by an all-volunteer staff, have created and staged over 100 world premieres. The company’s productions have been New York Times Critics Picks (Night of the Living and Lily & Kosmo Live), New Yorker Critics Picks (The Red Room), Backstage Editor’s Picks (Fairy Tale), and named Best of Fringe (This Is A Play About Artists). On March 15th, the company was set to begin its 11th year when a pandemic intervened. Lockdown orders in New York made it no longer possible to bring thirty or more theater artists together in one room.

An organization that long defined itself as not just a theater company but a community could not indefinitely postpone Shelter Sundays; it had to live up to its name and provide an artistic refuge for artists amidst an industry in free-fall. In less than two weeks, the leadership team forged Shelter in Place, three new programs to strengthen the artistic community in a time of great need:

THE LEAR PROJECT - Launched March 18th
A free online writing group to help writers create new plays over eight weeks, with group writing sessions, mutual feedback, and dramaturgical support. Named for the play Shakespeare reputedly wrote during a plague, the program was originally designed for only six writers. However, the demand was so great that the leadership team stepped up and quadrupled the program, creating four groups to serve a total of 24 writers. The Shelter also invited the larger community to join in with prompts and resources provided weekly via social media.

THE MONDAY MONOLOGUE JAM - Launched March 24th
Turning the limitations of social distancing into inspiration for new art, the Monday Monologue Jam pairs writers and actors to create video monologues. The Shelter presents these monologue anthologies in a show on Instagram TV (@TheShelterNYC) every other week. The newest Monologue Jam will be available to view beginning 7:30pm EDT on Monday, May 25. Previous episodes are available to watch on Shelter's Instagram and Facebook pages.

THE ZOOM WHERE IT HAPPENS - Launched March 29th
Shelter Sunday has gone virtual. Where once writers met in a room with actors to read and develop scripts, the workshop has relaunched as a Zoom conference to ensure that the Shelter can continue to develop exciting and important new work. Attendance has only increased from the in-person Sundays as artists from across the country (and even across the Atlantic) have joined to share their talent and gather in celebration of the healing power of theater.

You can visit The Shelter online for more information on all of these programs.

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