Nothing’s Lost Forever

Today we launch the nytheater indie archive community project. I’ve built a prototype of the search resource that is the engine of our archive and I want everybody to see it now.


So, why is this searchable archive necessary and important?

Well, when we started in 1996, we didn’t take a long view toward what we were posting on the website: basically once a show closed, we took the review offline. Eventually, we came to understand that people within our community–and a host of others beyond it–wanted to be able to access the reviews and other content that we’d created. But getting all of that content into shape was never the top priority–we were busy making new content, and expanding into new forms (like producing podcasts and publishing plays).

Luckily we still have most of the content:

  • More than 10,000 reviews of shows (including reviews of every show in the New York International Fringe Festival from 2002 through 2014 – no other outlet reviewed everything in FringeNYC each of these years)
  • More than 500 podcasts featuring interviews with indie theater actors, directors, producers, designers, and playwrights; these include Michael Criscuolo’s “Indie Theater Life” series that documents how indie artists juggle “day jobs” with creating theater, Trav S.D.’s “Indie Theater Now’ series which features interviews and short scenes/excerpts from dozens of indie performances, and a lot more valuable materials offering insight into process and challenges of indie artists
  • Several hundred interviews with/profiles of indie artists that appeared on our websites from the early 2000s to the present

As things stand right now, all of the material from 1996-2004 is stored in files on our servers but is not available online, and the material from 2005 forward is only available if people have the correct link – it’s not accessible or searchable at all. This material is inconsistently formatted and needs to be reviewed for bad links and other possible issues. Making all of this great stuff available in a friendly, findable, beautiful format is the goal of the searchable archive. It’s going to occupy me for the next several months, and I am enormously excited to do it.

The prototype is very small, so far – it includes just 33 reviews from the first days of in 1997-98. Your comments and feedback will help guide me to the next iteration of the archive, and the iteration after that. This is a living, breathing organism containing 20 years of NYC indie theater history. It’s the story of a community– OUR community — and therefore it will be the product not just of NYTE’s labors, but of those of all of us. It’s our monument.

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about the specific ways you can help bring the archive to life. Today I will mention one: we do need some funding for this project — at least $2,000 will be needed each year to host the website and the search engine, and a few thousand more dollars will be needed to cover the software and web development work and the content prep. Make your tax-deductible contribution here (on our donation partner’s site, Network For Good). And thank you!