HISTORY & MISSION
Inverse Theater is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization formed in 1998 to create, produce, and distribute new American verse plays. By enacting this mission, Inverse Theater hopes to satisfy the hunger among actors, directors, designers, and audience members for plays that meld the musicality, scope and intelligence of verse with the vibrant, colorful, fierce spirit of the modern world, to reunite theater and literature, to merge street-talk with poetics, to nourish the English language with new words, to portray a huge mix of characters in large, multi-faceted casts, and to explore the American-Global experience through comedy, tragedy, history, and undiscovered genres. In order to achieve this mission, Inverse is structured so that actors, directors, designers, and playwright can come into contact in a workshop process, craft a play in verse, and help bring the play to a successful showcase production, with the ultimate goal of seeing that play manifest itself before an audience in a multitude of venues, such as other theaters, Internet, publication, film, and video. In short, Inverse Theater brings poetic plays to the people.
After doing plays together throughout the mid-1990’s as a part of the thriving theater scene on New York City’s Lower East Side, the original Inverse members (actors, designers, staff, and playwright) organized for the purposes of continuing their collaborations and expanding their audience. Since their first official play together (The Death of Griffin Hunter, Soho Rep, 1998), they have presented their work at a wide variety of venues, including theaters, parks, festivals, colleges, performance spaces, and parties.
The company is structured to bring actors, directors, designers, and playwright into contact in a workshop process in order to craft a new verse play and bring it to a successful production. Each production features original poetic texts, virtuoso verse acting, elegant sets and costumes, and live music. Inverse also looks beyond our staged productions in order to deliver each of its plays to audiences in a multitude of formats, including sound recordings, publication, photography, and video/film.
Inverse plays merge the intelligence, scope, and passion of verse with the vibrancy, dialects, and spirit of the modern world. They merge street talk with poetics and contemporary themes with classical structures to forge entirely new genres. The results are, in the words of one critic, “bona fide modern classics.”(LA Weekly)
PRODUCTIONS, COLLABORATIONS, & COMMISSIONS
Since 1998, Inverse has self-produced eight plays and two musicals authored by award-winning Resident Playwright and Artistic Director, Kirk Wood Bromley. Presently, this list includes The Death of Griffin Hunter, The American Revolution, Midnight Brainwash Revival, Icarus and Aria, Want’s Unwisht Work, The Death of Don Flagrante Delicto, The Burnt Woman of Harvard, On the Origin of Darwin, Lost-The Musical, and The Banger’s Flopera – An Amusical (coming in Summer 2005). These plays have been presented at some of NYC’s most important, seminal downtown theaters – The Cornelia Connelly Theater, Soho Rep, The Kraine, St. Marks Theater, The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, The Present Company Theatorium, and The Greenwich Street Theater.
In addition to our original productions, Inverse works with other theater companies to bring our plays to the stage. These collaborations have included Want’s Unwisht Work (Sacred Fools, LA), Midnight Brainwash Revival (FoolsFury, SF and Sacred Fools, LA), Icarus and Aria (SUNY-Purchase and Los Angeles Community College), The Death of Griffin Hunter (Theater of Note, LA), and The American Revolution (Bad Epitaph, Cleveland). Prior to Inverse’s incorporation, many now in the company assisted in various co-productions, including The Sickness and the Cure (Target Margin, NYC), Want’s Unwisht Work (Nada, NYC), Lost Labor’s Loved (Nada, NYC), and Icarus and Aria (House of Candles, NYC).
The members of Inverse and Resident Playwright, Kirk Wood Bromley, have joined forces numerous times to deliver commissioned works for both individuals and organizations based on specific themes or topics. These commissions have included a one-man play, Syndrome, about Tourette Syndrome (Legend Productions); The Story of Helen Kortright, a six-scene web play about a woman who lived through the American Revolution (New York Historical Society); Faust – The Musical, starring Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors (Gorilla Repertory Theater Company), and Dream Piece and Song of Narcissus, translations of two plays by Karl Kraus and Paul Valery (Bruce Wall, Producer).
AWARDS, REVIEWS, & ACCOMPLISHED COLLABORATORS
Inverse has won the praise of almost every major review outlet in New York City, Los Angeles, and London. Inverse was named “Best Downtown Theater Company 2001” by The New York Press. In 2003, Inverse’s Lost - The Musical won “Best Music and Lyrics” at the NY International Fringe Festival. The year prior, Inverse’s production of The American Revolution earned Bromley the Festival’s “Excellence in Playwriting” award. For his work between 1996 and 2000, Bromley was awarded the Berrilla Kerr Playwriting Award.
Among the many artists that Inverse has worked with other than its own company members are Tony Award winners Robert Lopez (Tony for Best Score, Avenue Q) and Mark Hollmann (Tony for Best Score, Urinetown) and Obie Award winners Emma Griffin (director), Steven Rattazzi (actor), Matt Maher (actor), Lisa Thompson (set designer) and James Urbaniak (actor).
In addition to our theatrical productions, Inverse has hosted and engages in a variety of activities to increase awareness of verse and the importance of theater in our community.
Educational Missions: Inverse lectures at schools and universities on verse, using Bromley’s plays as source material. We have worked at Trinity School, SUNY-Purchase, Pace University, The National Book Foundation’s Writing Camps, as well as other educational institutions.
Verse Circus: This monthly event, presented by Inverse Theater from 2001 to 2004 and curated by Meg Kearney of the National Book Foundation, offered a free evening of verse-based performances – poems, soliloquies, and songs.
The Playground: This monthly reading series featured new plays read by members of the Inverse Acting Company and other guest performers.
Inverse Acting Academy: Our members offer classes on theater and verse to groups and individuals.
Inverse Online: Our website, www.inversetheater.org, is an abundant source of information about our activities. In addition, we maintain several email newsletters that provide thousands of subscribers with free information on acting, producing, and loving verse theater.
In the coming years, Inverse will continue to produce stunning, intelligent, and immense plays and to grow our base of members and supporters. We would like to increase the fees we pay our artists and staff, broaden the types of venues at which we perform our plays, and increase our list of commissioned works and educational projects. Our ultimate goal is to open The Universe, a theatrical complex in Manhattan dedicated to the new American verse play.
WHY INVERSE THEATER?
Inverse believes that theater potentially offers the most thrilling, most transcendent, most transformative artistic experience there is. Combining poetic texts, skilled actors, myriad design elements (sets, lights, props, costumes), choreography, and music in a live performance, when done right, can affect the spirit in ways no other genre can touch.
Inverse cherishes and seeks to perfect upon the boundless opportunities offered by people sharing a live dramatic presentation.
In an age when electronically created forms dominate the entertainment market, theater remains the true venue for independent, experimental, challenging, innovative, intelligent and sophisticatedly inspirational work. Theater brings people out of their homes, into an artistic space, and mind-to-mind with active creative living humans. Theater carries the torch of genuine social gathering for the purposes of storytelling, commentary, and imitation. Inverse does theater because theater is the most vibrant and vital form of audience/artist interaction available.
Inverse presents plays in verse because we believe that great verse theater acted by great actors directed by great directors composed by great composers and designed by great designers is the highest form of entertainment. The intellectual, poetic, philosophic, emotional, and human experience that can be expressed through this live medium and the heightened language of verse is unparalleled in the arts. Our mission is to bring active poetry and poetic acting back to theater.
Inverse also presents the “inverse” of the modern play. Due to the financial constraints of producing theater and the influence of a mainstream media that caters to the lowest common denominator of consumers, plays in the 21st century tend to have few characters, realistic or minimalist dialogue and scenarios, and relatively mundane thematic and philosophic ambitions. Inverse plays, on the other hand, contain numerous characters, sumptuous dialogue and scenarios, and wild intellectual ambitions. Every Inverse play is a diverse and rich event full of poetry, actors, design elements and sensory stimulants. Inverse does theater that goes against the consumer grain by being intelligent, multifarious, and embodied.
Inverse is a laboratory for the creation of new American verse plays. Just as the Globe Theater was a “seed bed” for the theatrical talents of England’s great verse dramatists, Inverse is a cohesive company of actors, directors, designers, and playwright working together to create a unified vision for a play. Actors participate in the research and character development of their roles, designers help to shape the text's environment, and the director brings the development team together to form a unique synergy of talents and ideas. Working as a team of artists, Inverse is able to bring inventiveness to our work that is not achieved in individual efforts.