Who We Are
The Shelter was more than a theatre company. We were (and still are) a community. The core of our community began at our weekly Shelter Sunday workshop— a creative home to some of theatre’s most exciting writers, directors and actors. Shelter Sunday was a vibrant and galvanizing playground for our artists. It bred collaborations and creative collisions, and it was 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.
A HAVEN FOR THE COURAGEOUS
Michael Kingsbaker and Dave Lankford in 3:56 AM
A BRIEF HISTORY
It all started in a basement. Four friends—artists who just wanted to create—decided to form a workshop so that they could do just that. The very first meeting of “Shelter Sunday,” as the workshop is now affectionately (and officially) called, was held in the basement of the Gene Frankel Theatre on Sunday, January 4, 2009. The first participants included founding members Emily Robin Fink, Meghan E. Jones, Michael Kingsbaker and Dave Lankford.
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 stand-up the producing arm of the company with a singular focus: wholly original works. In 2011, the company formally incorporated in the state of New York as The Shelter NYC, Inc.
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
THE LETTER FROM MIKE THAT STARTED IT ALL
I’ve come to point in my life and my career where I’ve realized, the amount of success I’ve had and the growth I’ve experienced as an actor is pretty equal to the amount of work and time dedicated towards my craft. Yet, I still find myself at times waiting for the phone to ring, feeling that I deserve something, that there is nothing for me to work on until I get the call for my next audition. However there are things I can be doing, I can be sharpening monologues, doing scene work, writing, networking, doing a workshop, taking a class. If my career is my priority, (and I can only speak for myself) and I’m not in a show, I need to be in a class or a workshop regularly. I have not finished growing as an artist, I have many things still to learn, and I need to stay in shape by constantly creating.
I’m done with excuses and I’m ready to get to work. My hope is that you’ll join me.
I’ve secured theater space at the Gene Frankel Theatre at 24 Bond St between Lafayette and Bowery on Sunday nights from 6:30-10:30 for what I am simply calling The Shelter to begin in the new year.
The Shelter will be a safe creative community for actors, writers, and directors to explore, create, and sharpen their crafts.
This is a haven for the courageous. We have learned very little by playing it safe, it is through true exploration that artists grow. The Shelter will provide an environment that promotes and nourishes such growth.
There are no experts at the Shelter, we are all here in support of each other and to grow individually as well as collaboratively. There is no set form or method. We all come from different backgrounds. It is my hope that through the multitude of techniques and methods of acting, writing, and directing that we have thus far learned, we may find new forms, new techniques, and new exercises to further stretch and explore our crafts.
I see the Shelter as place for actors to continue Scene Study creating gritty, present, emotionally free work. It will be an avenue to bring in Audition material, getting it on its toes before walking into the audition room. As a gym to explore new ways of approaching and working on material.
For writers, to bring in and workshop new plays, screenplays, and one-acts. Where they can hear there words by gifted actors and see if it is working or not. To have the opportunity to put actors in the shoes of their characters in improvisational work to explore more possibilities. To get honest feedback from other talented writers, directors, and actors.
For directors to work with actors in a variety of ways, working with old and new ways of approaching text, beats, and scenes. Trying new things to see what works.
Ultimately this can be as big or small as we choose to make it. It could be a place where groundbreaking new scripts are workshopped and perhaps ultimately produced. Where screenplays are written and workshopped, ultimately being directed by our directors starring our actors. A place where actors can get down to doing some serious work taking huge risks, ultimately finding out what kind of actor they really are. Sky is the limit here, this is our opportunity to create something special. We all just need to want it and be willing to put in the work. For the actors to treat this workshop like a scene study with Strasberg himself, making it a priority to have something to work on each week. To challenge, motivate, and push each other. For the writers, like each sunday is a deadline for a Producer head, and new pages are mandatory each week. This is how we will grow.
I’ve written you because I think you are very talented. The talent level will be high, I promise you that. So feel free to bring someone along, but please only invite those whom have truly inspired you, be selective.
For those of you that are out of New York at the present, come find us when you get back.
Obviously there are some costs here, but I’ve managed to keep the cost as low as possible. Membership dues are only $40 per month. We will begin on Sunday Jan 4th. Sign up sheet will open up at 6:30 work will begin at 7 and we’ll go to 10:30. If we don’t get to you on the list you’ll be first up the following week.
Actors find a scene and a scene partner, or let me know if you want me to find one for you. Writers get writing, bring in up to 15 pages of your newest script. Directors – find a scene and some actors or I’ll find some for you.
I hope to hear from you, please call and let me know if you’re in or with any questions or concerns. I’m happy to explain in further detail the format of the workshop.
Enjoy the Holidays!! I’ll see you in the New Year.
This is a haven for the courageous. We have learned very little by playing it safe, it is through true exploration that artists grow. The Shelter will provide an environment that promotes and nourishes such growth.Michael Kingsbaker