Where to go for good theater?


Chris emailed this week:

I moved here from NYC less than a year ago. I was deeply involved in off-off-broadway theater, but haven't seen/done any theater since the move. I know about Capital Rep and Proctors, but they're not what I'm looking for. Can you tell me where the fringe/experimental/black box performers and performances are here in Albany or nearby, like in Troy or Schenectady?

OK, here's what we know.

If you're interested in doing theater in the Capital Region, try putting yourself on the Capital District Audition List-Serve. Most theater and film companies will list their auditions there. It won't be all the experimental stuff you're looking for, but you can pick and choose.

There are a lot of theater companies in the Capital Region, and they do a pretty wide range of work. After the jump are a few that stand out for us.

We're sure there are others, so if you see something missing, add it to the list.

Confetti Stage
This local community theater group performs at the Masonic Lodge in Albany and seems to like to mix it up a bit. Past seasons have included A Thousand Clowns, Terrance McNally's Corpus Christi and Twilight of the Golds. They also do a new plays festival every year, where they perform new works by local playwrights.

Classic Theater Guild
Their mission statement says they were established "exclusively for the advancement of education in the theater arts through, among other things, the production of contemporary and classical plays." They're currently wrapping up their season with A Doll's House. Past shows have included Much Ado About Nothing, Camille and several original plays by local playwrights.

Mop & Bucket
If you like to watch actors do what they do with no sets and few props to get in the way, Mop & Bucket Company has a show every Friday night at Proctors. They're also always running improv jams, clinics and auditions.

If musicals are your thing, you might like Schenectady Light Opera Company. They do a mix of lesser-known musicals and classics. Last season included Side by Side by Sondheim, and a really fun new show for young people called Thirteen that was terrific.

Albany Civic
No, Our Town is probably not what you're looking for, but this season also included Five Women Wearing the Same Dress and The Merchant of Venice. Next season they're doing Proof and The Complete History of America (Abridged).

A little further away, but worth the trip:

Hubbard Hall
Founded by Broadway actor/director Kevin McGuire, this restored theater in Cambridge works with some incredible regional talent. We know more than a few actors who will drive from Albany to Cambridge (about 45 minutes) for rehearsals there. This past season included A Doll's House, All My Sons, The Sweet Storm and Another Antigone.

Stageworks Hudson
They're always doing something new and interesting and different. This season includes the regional premiere of Liz Duffy Adams' Or, Deborah Margolin's new play Imagining Madoff, and a festival of new one act plays.

Adirondack Theater Festival
Yes, they're in Glens Falls. But they're well worth the hour drive from Albany. This summer theater festival does contemporary plays. The plays and musicals you'll see there are never more than five years old and include recent NYC hits and new scripts from emerging writers.

Williamstown Theater Festival
Also about a 45 minute drive from Albany, Williamstown's summer festival is always a mix of new work and reinterpreted classics. The festival attracts some amazing talent, so you never know who you're going to see.

photo: Flickr user Phil W Shirley


Also more mainstream theater, but there is the Sand Lake Center for the Arts in Sand Lake.

Time & Space Limited in Hudson is a good bet. They do more than just theater, but the theater they do is right on with what this person is looking for.

You can check Gail Sez for a list of local theatre companies, and their current shows (with reviews):

(Full Disclosure: I work for EMPAC.) EMPAC! Not every event is theater, but we have had some doozies come through - the performance by the Elevator Repair Service of "Gatz" in November 2008 springs to mind (it was a 6.5 hour affair!): http://www.empac.rpi.edu/events/2008/gatz2.html

So it sounds like we've filled the "good theater" category, but fringe and black box/experimental are definitely their own things.

This is not my area of expertise, so I'm not much help.

I'd be curious if the original questioner got anything out of this, or has since found anything else?

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