(MORRISTOWN, NJ) — As part of their commitment to increasing equity, inclusion, justice, and access in the theatre field, New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the statewide service organization for professional theatre, has expanded their membership criteria and added 11 new members to their roster.
“We are delighted to welcome these new members into the Alliance,” said John McEwen, Executive Director. “These companies represent an excellent and diverse group of professional theatres, each of which is deeply committed to their local community and to using theatre to build a more empathetic, imaginative, and equitable world. We are eager to be of service to these organizations, and equally, look forward to learning from them as they bring their expertise and experience to our collaborative efforts.”
Motivated by conversations with theatre professionals in the New Jersey Arts and Culture Administrators of Color Network, the Alliance created a new Affiliate membership category this fall, specifically designed to serve theatres operating in alternative business models, at an early stage in their development, or without an existing relationship with the actors’ union.
The first slate of Affiliate member theatres was approved by the board of trustees in November, 2020. They are: Atlantic City Theatre Company (Atlantic City), Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (Elizabeth), Epic Actors’ Workshop (Old Bridge), The Meta Theatre Company (Lebanon), The Paterson Performing Arts Development Council (Paterson), Progressive Theater (Maplewood), The New Jersey Play Lab, Vanguard Theater Company (Montclair), and Yendor Theatre Company (Newark).
“Vanguard Theater Company is so excited to be a new Affiliate member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance,” said Janeece Freeman-Clark, VTC’s Artistic Director. “We look forward to collaborating with the NJTA to help grow innovative and socially impactful theater in NJ. Vanguard Theater Company produces works that reflect the various complexions of the 21st century artist and audience and is committed to changing the narrative through theater dedicated to DREAM: Diversity, Reciprocity, Education, Activism & Mentorship. We know that our affiliation with the Alliance is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Vanguard, as we move into the first space of our own in Montclair, New Jersey.”
Theodore Perkins, Executive and Artistic Director of Elizabeth Youth Theatre Ensemble added, “Our organization is honored to join the NJTA, to stand in solidarity as arts organizations across the state rise to the challenge to keep artistic expression available and accessible in our communities.”
New Jersey Theatre Alliance has also expanded membership criteria to include theatres that are located outside of the state but serve significant numbers of audiences or students based in New Jersey. The first new member located outside of New Jersey is Bucks County Playhouse, located in New Hope, PA. Bucks County Playhouse opened in 1939 and quickly became one of the country’s most famous regional theaters, remaining in continuous operation until 2010. In 2012, the Playhouse re-opened thanks to the efforts of the Bridge Street Foundation. They join the Alliance in the Equity Producing Theatre membership category.
“Bucks County Playhouse is thrilled to join our colleagues across the river in working together to ensure we all endure and get to the other side of this pandemic,” said Alex Fraser, Producing Director of Bucks County Playhouse. “The services offered have already made a difference in our operations, and we look forward to more!”
The Alliance also welcomes Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) as an Associate Equity Theatre. JCTC joined the Alliance in early 2020, and has been an active participant in ongoing programs of the Alliance. JCTC presents theater and other programming at White Eagle Hall, a newly restored, historic theater with capacity 400 seated/800 standing and the adjacent Merseles Studios, which features artist studios, an Art Gallery, Black Box Theater, and a custom-made Marionette Puppet Theatre.
“In theatre we tell stories that have the power to change perspectives on culture, to reach beyond borders, and unite,” said Olga Levina, Artistic Director of JCTC. “As artistic visionaries we often work in isolation. It is incredibly important for us to exchange experiences, ideas, and resources not only to survive but to grow professionally and as a community. New Jersey Theatre Alliance gives us that sense of community.”
To learn more about all 40 professional theatres of the Alliance, including upcoming virtual and in-person performances, visit www.njtheatrealliance.org. Stay up to date by subscribing to the Alliance E-News, and by following @njtheatre on Instagram and Facebook.
About the new members:
Atlantic City Theatre Company’s mission is to produce high quality theatre and performing arts that revitalizes their community by encouraging creative professionals to live and work there.
Bucks County Playhouse inspires, entertains, and engages audiences with theatrical productions of new and classic plays and musicals featuring Broadway and Hollywood artists. They provide innovative arts education and community programs that celebrate the performing arts.
Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble’s mission is centered upon strengthening the voices of young artists. Utilizing theater-arts based curricula, EYTE provides creative learning opportunities for youth of city and global majorities where they gain experiences that empower self and community.
Epic Actors Theatre Ensemble aspires to bring together the gems of South Asian Theater that are interspersed all over the United States through a theater festival showcasing productions of US-based theater groups presenting plays from the different regions of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. Through the display of theatrical artistic excellence, they connect the diverse cultural entities breaking through geographical and cultural boundaries and at the same time celebrating the differences.
Jersey City Theater Center is committed to inspiring conversations about the important topics of our times through innovative and progressive performing and visual arts that embrace the diversity of Jersey City, bringing its community closer together and enhancing its quality of life.
The Meta Theatre Company seeks to abolish systemic oppression through live, interactive performance. Their vision is to build a liberating world that does not yet exist by supporting and amplifying the leadership and radical imagination of historically marginalized groups and teaching those who’ve historically had access to power how to develop their radical imagination to abolish systems of oppression.
The New Jersey Play Lab is dedicated to developing production-ready plays through comprehensive hands-on dramaturgy.
The Paterson Performing Arts Development Council’s mission is to bring together multicultural communities through performing arts and cultural events, to establish pathways for new and accomplished independent artists, and to promote Paterson as a “Destination City” for avid patrons of the arts.
Progressive Theater aims to tell culturally enriched stories that empower the misrepresented; people of color and women, and captivate all audiences with the focus on being the change they want to see in the theater community.
Vanguard Theater Company was founded in 2015 by two Black artists to address the dearth of opportunity and access to theater among artists and audiences of color and to change the narrative around traditional theater. Through their mission of theater dedicated to DREAM – Diversity, Reciprocity, Education, Activism, and Mentorship – Vanguard Theatre Company creates a safe space for individuals of different racial and socio-economic backgrounds and life circumstances to work together to address issues of social injustice through theater.
Yendor Theatre Company develops and produces works by playwrights from historically resilient populations including Black and Brown writers, women writers and writers from the LGBTQ community.
Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that unite, promote, strengthen, and cultivate professional theatre in New Jersey. Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, and contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations including Amazon, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Grunin Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Bank of America, City National Bank, The Shubert Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Investors Bank, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, Kessler Foundation, The F.M. Kirby Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, and The Union Foundation.