Producing on a Short Shoelace

Published by The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.
Written by Terry Schreiber
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It was my goal from T. Schreiber’s start in 1969 to afford actors studying with the Studio an opportunity to perform in fully mounted productions. With the exception of a hiatus from roughly 1977 to 1986, we have adhered to that goal.

My intent with Producing on a Short Shoelace is to not only detail my many years in producing off-off-Broadway but also to document those years as a producer-director and acting teacher. This book and my experiences may be of interest to young hopefuls starting out with their own theatres, actors, directors, and designers as well as audience members, who have spent a good many hours watching our productions, making contributions, and helping us stay alive for over four decades. The book allows me to celebrate the Studio’s contribution to a thriving off-off-Broadway scene, which, since its origin in the early ’60s has contributed to keeping an infinite variety of plays—new material, classical and contemporary plays, as well as wildly expeimental work—alive and well, finding homes from basements to storefronts and from firehouses to various other nooks and crannies where a producer or director was able to devise a way to use an intimate space imaginatively. And at a very reasonable price, I might add.

...My focus for the book expresses my gratitude, hopefully, for being involved in the most exciting movement in theatre in New York since the ground-breaking days of the Group Theatre. I was fortunate to be a part of the early off-off-Broadway movement. This movement was really getting started in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and many of us were learning on the job, converting random spaces into theatres, establishing companies, and in general paying our dues. Some of us had grad school backgrounds in theatre; others gained directorial skills and tech knowledge as we went along. In my case, I wore three hats: acting teacher, director, and producer.

What we started in the 1970s is still going strong today, even though producers no longer scour the scene in search of plays to move to off-Broadway or Broadway. As of this writing, there seem to be, in my opinion, very few creative producers left. Broadway has been turned over in the main to businessmen and -women, with the result that it looks more like Las Vegas than the "Great White Way" for drama and quality musicals it once was.

A decentralization of theatre from Broadway started in the early ’60s and continues to be evidenced in regional theatres throughout the country. Unfortunately for us in New York, there are a lot of good new plays being presented in these regional theatres we never get to see. Thank God that in New York there is still a venue for new plays off-off and at the club theatres. There is still indefatigable energy in lofts, basements, storefronts, warehouses, and walk-up spaces where black box theatres holding sixty or so people are going strong. Writers, directors, actors, and designers are still willing, in most cases, to work for free to showcase their talents. The hope of establishing new frontiers that we cherished back in the 1960s still, fortunately, drives many young and even older artists today.


terry schreiberTerry Schreiber has been teaching and directing for over 40 years. On Broadway he directed the Tony-nominated play K2, The Trip Back Down starring John Cullum, and Devour the Snow. Off-Broadway his directing credits include Desire Under the Elms at The Roundabout Theatre with Kathy Baker and Feedlot at Circle Repertory with Jeff Daniels.

He has directed at regional theatres around the country including The Guthrie Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Hartman Theatre Co., Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Buffalo Arena Stage (directing Celeste Holm and Betty Buckley), and George Street Playhouse. Internationally, Terry has directed numerous American plays in Japan and teaches a summer workshop at the French American Cinema Theatre in Paris.

Productions at the T. Schreiber Studio include: Hedda Gabler, Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, Orpheus Descending, The Iceman Cometh, Suddenly Last Summer, Summer and Smoke, Miss Julie, Joe Egg, Hamlet, Of Mice and Men, The Crucible, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, How I Learned to Drive, Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, The Real Thing, The Cherry Orchard, and The Changing Room. Terry's first book, "Acting: Advanced Technique for the Actor, Director, & Teacher" is in its third printing, and he just completed his second book, "Producing on a Short Shoelace" which deals with his many years of producing and directing Off Off Broadway.