Who We Are
The Shelter is more than a theatre company. We are a community. The core of our community is our weekly Shelter Sunday workshop— the creative home to some of theatre’s most exciting writers, directors and actors. Shelter Sunday is a vibrant and galvanizing playground for our artists. It breeds collaborations and creative collisions, and it’s also the epicenter for our play development and production process. Since 2009, Shelter Artists, along with our all-volunteer staff, have created and staged over 100 world premieres.
The Shelter is a family of artists creating original theatre for the New York stage.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Before there was The Shelter, there was Fallout. Fallout was a short-lived theatre company, focussed on producing published plays for the stage, started by Emily Robin Fink, Matt Garibaldi, Meghan E. Jones, Michael Kingsbaker and Dave Lankford. The name of the company was derived from a rigorous acting exercise the founders had practiced as students at T. Schreiber Studio. Fallout ultimately closed its doors before staging a single production; however, during the short existence of Fallout, Kingsbaker proposed that the company sponsor a workshop—intended to both build an artistic community and to serve as a breeding ground for new works. It’s name: Fallout Shelter.
While Fallout was dissolving, the workshop began taking shape. Without the umbrella of a theater company, the workshop dropped “Fallout” and became known as The Shelter. The very first meeting of “Shelter Sunday,” as the Sunday meet-up is now affectionately called, was held in the basement of the Gene Frankel Theatre on Sunday, January 4, 2009. This weekly workshop continues today. The first participants included Fallout members Fink, Jones, Kingsbaker and Lankford. They were joined by Meghan’s husband, Jonathan Ashley, and soon by many others, including Morgan McGuire. We now recognize these six Shelter Artists—each of whom dedicated themselves to developing The Shelter over several seasons—our founders.
In 2009, the owner of the Gene Frankel Theatre offered members of The Shelter an opportunity to use the theater’s main stage for a weekend. As an experiment, the members decided to produce a two-night performance. The production, 3:56 AM, explored the lives of several Lower East Side residents between the hours of 3 and 4 AM. The show included nine original shorts, each written, directed and acted by members of The Shelter. Due to the success of 3:56 AM, the members decided to rekindle the producing arm of the company—but with a major change of focus: wholly original works. In 2011, the company formally incorporated in the state of New York as The Shelter NYC, Inc. The first board of directors was composed of Ashley, Fink, Jones, Kingsbaker, Lankford and Kitty Lindsay.
That might be the most amazing thing to witness. To watch someone do something they have never done in front of other artists. We are all there to support each other and help each other take those leaps. And then there’s the feeling I have when I see a group of artists find the life, the vibrancy, the sound of nature in a scene, a monologue, a play that we can’t do on our own.Paco Lozano, Shelter Artist
An intelligent, fearless, creative group of multi-talented, multi-faceted, caring, humble individuals who enhance the NYC theatre community.Danielle Beckmann, Shelter Artist
I really love the idea of being part of a group like this. I remember once researching the origins of the Pre-Raphaelites, the Victorian art and literary movement. I was expecting some very serious, academic story, but it turned out that they had dubbed themselves 'the Pre-Raphaelites' on their own, and that they signed their letters with the secret code 'B.P.R.'——for Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites. I remember thinking, 'Wait——you mean this art movement was just a bunch of friends making up a name for themselves and writing to each other in secret code?' But I’ve realized that a lot of important art starts with a bunch of friends making up a name for themselves and writing to each other in secret code. The Shelter is like that, except that they open up the club for anyone to join. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they become an important force in New York theater.Rachel Carey, Shelter Artist