About the Rising Sun 15th Anniversary Play Collection

We’ve just added a new play anthology on Indie Theater Now: the Rising Sun Performance Company 15th Anniversary Collection. It’s a celebration of the work and legacy of one of NYC indie theater’s most long-lived and prolific presenters. Here’s a nice appreciation and explanation, from John Patrick Bray, Co-Literary Manager and Resident Writer for the company:

In many ways, I still think of myself as a bagel baker. An apron-clad bumpkin from upstate New York who had a crazy idea that he could be involved in theatre.  I attended a very expensive NYC college for my MFA while living with my parents upstate (and oh, those student loans…). I baked bagels on weekends (occasionally, on weekdays) and would take the train from Poughkeepsie. I timed it once. From the moment the train started moving to the moment I entered 66 West 12th Street it was exactly two hours. My mornings were very early. I think that’s one of the reasons I still keep such early hours.

I was in search of an artistic home. Someplace I could hang my hat, and share in the kind of community-building that I had heard about studying The Group Theatre and other formative American performance institutions. I met Akia in 2003 when Dennis Gleason brought her to see my thesis.  And we’ve been working with each other ever since.

In the “Manifesto” for Rising Sun Performance Company, where Akia has served as Founding Artistic Director since 2001, there is a passage that reads: “Rising Sun is a home for theatrical artists: Rarely does a theatre artist have a home outside of school where they can take risks, create their own performance opportunities and try their hand at new theatrical skills.” This is very true, as the works that RSPC produces are sometimes absurd, sometimes very “real,” but regardless of style or genre, there is a sense of community and camaraderie, a safety net in which each involved artist allows the other to take risks. And if someone stumbles, someone is there to catch you. Don’t worry, we got your back.

The three longer pieces and three short pieces in this collection reflect just a fraction of the voices involved with this wonderful theatre troupe.  There first longer piece is one I wrote, Donkey, which was produced at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in 2014. It tells the story of a small town coffee shop that slowly sinks under the weight of small-town politics when a corporate coffee shop moves into the center of town.   A script that took our breath away is Tim Errickson’s The Firebird, one of the leanest and meanest examples of New American Realism that I’ve encountered. In this homecoming play set in Brooklyn, Errickson effortlessly weaves pieces of the hopeful past with a brimming-with-danger present, and palatable consequences in the future. RSPC produced The Firebird as part of the 2015 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. The third full play is Kate Foster’s Mermaid off of Staten Island, a truly lyrical piece that blends poetic dialogue and imagery seamlessly. It was produced as a “Secret Show” as part of the 2011 Frigid Festival at The (no longer with us) Red Room.

The three short plays that close this adventure are Angela Hall’s NYIT-Award nominated “Greenlight” (Best Short Script, 2012), Mrinalini Kamath’s existential “Some of All Parts” (in which a man is born separated from…well, I can’t say without giving away the play!), and Mark Cornell’s “Tell Me You Love Me.” Cornell’s Sprucehaven B opened RSPC’s 15th Season at FRIGID New York this past year.

As we are entering our fifteenth season, RSPC is proud to be a home for thought-provoking, risk-taking artists. Though I now reside in Georgia, when I think of home, I can’t help but think of Akia and the rest of the company, who took a chance on a commuting bagel baker, a crazy kid with a dream and an apron.

We are thrilled to have RSPC’s collection on Indie Theater Now, and hope folks will check it out!