Cover art for podcast ATW - Downstage Center

ATW - Downstage Center

357 EpisodesProduced by American Theatre WingWebsite

The American Theatre Wing presents Downstage Center a weekly theatrical interview show, featuring the top artists working in theatre, both on and Off-Broadway and around the country.

1:01:09

Jim Simpson (#292) - November, 2010

Jim Simpson, artistic director of New York's Off-Off-Broadway The Flea Theater, charts the company's 15 year journey from a collective meant to last for only five years to an ongoing institution on the verge of moving to a home that they own. Along the way, he tells about his years as a child actor in Honolulu appearing in touring musicals with stars such as John Raitt; his teenage summer spent studying with landmark Polish director and theorist Jerzy Grotowski; the highly politicized spirit of the Boston University theatre program during his time there; bridging the Robert Brustein and Lloyd Richards eras while in graduate school at Yale, including Richards' quashing of Simpson's all-male "Hamlet"; his ongoing development of the play "Benten Kozo" across multiple productions; his years as a freelancer at theatres including Williamstown and Hartford Stage; his forays into commercial runs both successful ("Nixon's Nixon") and incomplete ("Citizen Tom Paine"); why The Flea's central tenets included clean dressing rooms for the actors and bathrooms for the patrons; the company's ongoing relationship with playwrights, notably A.R. Gurney; and how the 9/11 tragedy nearly closed the theatre and then, largely thanks to "The Guys", spurred it into a new era; whether the presence of stars at The Flea, including Simpson's wife Sigourney Weaver, as well as John Lithgow and Marisa Tomei, has given them a profile beyond that of the customary downtown house; and why The Flea's resident young company, The Bats, forces the theatre to keep moving on to new challenges. Original air date - November 3, 2010.

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