Untitled Theater Company #61 is a Theater of Ideas: scientific, political, philosophical, and above all theatrical.
Some of our tools: language, live music, puppetry, video, found text, adaptation, and outstanding performances.
Our first performance was in Summer 1992, at the Emmaus Soho West Gallery in Springfield, New Jersey. It was Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase, starring Peter Bean and directed by Edward Einhorn. The name of the company originated from that production, inspired by the titles (or lack of titles) of the art around the gallery. It also seemed an appropriate name for a small company in a theater scene with hundreds of other, similar small theaters.
Soon afterwards, we had our first New York productions: Slawomir Mrozek’s Striptease and Václav Havel’s Audience. Not long after that we became incorporated as a New York non-profit organization. Our work continued steadily over the next eight years, as we produced a number of stand-alone productions at a rate of one or two per year.
In 2001, our focus changed. We produced the first of many festivals, our Ionesco Festival, which included the full works of Eugène Ionesco. With 39 plays at 13 venues, this was no small task. The fact that we began on September 6, 2001, five days before the attack on the World Trade Center, made it even more complicated than we imagined. But despite that, every production ran as scheduled, and the Village Voice raved “Dizzying ambition is what animates every aspect of this sprawling [Ionesco] festival, which generously provides New Yorkers in the grip of a dark time an opportunity to encounter an unfailingly inventive playwright’s response to his own traumatic age.”
One of the pieces from the festival, Fairy Tales of the Absurd, which included two short plays by Ionesco and one by Artistic Director Edward Einhorn, moved Off-Broadway, in a production the New York Times called “almost unbearably funny.” The production also began our ongoing relationship with puppetry, a relationship that has been very strong ever since.
More festivals followed: the 24/7 Festival, a festival of spontaneously written and rehearsed plays finished within 24 hours, and our NEUROfest, the first ever festival of plays about neurological conditions. Working on the NEUROfest, we realized that we not only had an enduring interest in theater about science, but also something that has always been true about our work but we just then articulated: that the company was a Theater of Ideas.
Our next fest was the Václav Havel Festival, a festival of Havel's complete plays. Václav Havel himself was in town for the festival, and attended nine productions, including one on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. He gave perhaps the most important review we've ever had that evening, saying that there was no place he would rather be to celebrate the anniversary than at our theater. Our association with the Czech theater has continued ever since.
Our next major production, Cat’s Cradle, a calypso musical adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s book, solidified our growing trend to make music one of our primary tools. The score by Associate Artistic Director Henry Akona used complex muti-part harmonies for the chorus/musicians for a unique sound.
From that point on we have primarily focused on individual productions again, especially in collaboration with 3LD Art & Technology Center and the Bohemian National Hall. Along with live music, video design has become a hallmark aspect of many of our recent productions. Highlights include The Velvet Oratorio (a special composition presented at the Linclon Center's Bruno Walter Auditorium); adaptations of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven; and the English-language translation of Václav Havel's final work, The Pig, or Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig.