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The (Re)Birth of Off-Broadway

Sullivan, Katharine Beckett

Commercial Off-Broadway is dead…or so we!ve been told again and again.
Since the turn of the last century, there have been countless articles bemoaning
the state of commercial Off-Broadway, and the word among today!s industry
insiders is not a whole lot better. This bleak picture wasn!t always the case,
though. There was a time in the not so distant past when Off-Broadway not only
existed, but thrived – and not solely as a dumping ground for Broadway-branded
shows or event-based spectacles. Off-Broadway served as a home for
productions that were considered inappropriate for Broadway and showcased
provocative work and emerging talent. It provided a rigorous training ground for
young producers, artists and writers, hoping to break into the professional world.
Off-Broadway also offered a way to present these exciting works with less money
at risk than a Broadway production – and many of these productions even made
a profit. At some point in the very recent past, however, things for Off-Broadway
changed. The possibility of profit or even recoupment became a much larger
struggle and as a result commercial productions started to dwindle. This paper
will explore the history of Off-Broadway and what the terrain is like today. It will
look at the reasons commercial Off-Broadway lost its footing and what it can do
to regain its relevance to the New York City theatre scene. It will also consider if
commercial Off-Broadway is worth revitalizing and if not, what could replace it.

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Academic Units
Theatre
Degree
M.F.A., Columbia University
Published Here
October 3, 2014