In 2011, when Soho Rep.’s Artistic Director Sarah Benson asked me to direct debbie tucker green’s born bad, I thought, “Is she crazy? She wants to produce a play that has 20 naughty words on its first page?” I was overjoyed. Two Obie Awards later, born bad remains an indelible, life-altering memory in the minds and hearts of many theatergoers.
Fast forward to this year when Sarah approached me to direct debbie tucker green’s generations, a 35-minute play with repeated words which appear and disappear from the stage as quickly as characters do. I said, “Fantastic! You are at it again, making crazy important theater. And, by the way, how on earth are you going to afford this?” The play requires a family of seven and a 13-member choir. That’s 20 actors on Equity contracts in a 73-seat house! And she simply said, “I don’t know, but we will make it happen.”
When I told Sarah I would love it if they could employ a South African composer of Zulu descent, and I would need all 13 singers to be able to sing in Zulu or Sotho, she took a deep breath and said, “Ok. We will make it happen.” Then I said I hoped to physically transport the audience into a South African settlement which would require pouring thousands of pounds of dirt on the floor and redesigning everything at Soho Rep. including the box office. “Oh, and I want to stimulate all five sense too.” She simply said, “Ok. We will make that happen.” And it did, All of it!
While working at Soho Rep., your days begin with: “What can we get you? Do you need anything? Amazing work!” and your days end with: “What can we get you? Do you need anything? Amazing work!” You feel compelled to do good work because they foster good work.
So here’s the pitch. (You knew it was coming, right?) If you give just a little or a lot to Soho Rep., you will be supporting one of the most important, extraordinary organizations in New York City. I know you probably have ten appeal letters sitting there on your kitchen table, but if you believe art transforms lives, creates connections between communities, and offers solace in a world with increasing challenges and global complications, then you should give to Soho Rep. Soho Rep. is one of the rare theater institutions which believes in these very profound ideals, trusts their mission and follows through on their convictions.
Please, if you are so inclined, give a gift to a very big, small theater that goes beyond the limits and stretches your very being. Doesn’t that idea feel good?
Leah C. Gardiner