July 20, 2023   by Phoebe Moore, NYTW Development Fellow

The NYTW community was so excited to welcome Jeremy Reff to our stellar Board of Trustees just a few months ago. As part of our July Trustee Takeover, we are so pumped to welcome him in this way and spotlight this thoughtful introduction as one of the newest faces on the Board!

What inspires you?

Humans are notoriously bad at things. (This is one of the core problems with any totalizing ideology – fix all the frustrating things about human frailty and you squeeze everything human out of the frame.) I am very interested by the stories we tell about and ways that we respond to failure, error, mistakes, evil, accidents, &c., and tend to get inspired by art that is inhabited by that tension.


If you have one, what is your most memorable NYTW production or experience?

Probably 2014’s Scenes from a Marriage (directed by Ivo van Hove) or 2018’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (directed by Rachel Chavkin).


What is your first memory of going to the theatre or how did you fall in love with theatre?

From 2007, Particularly in the Heartland, which was a production of the TEAM (another artistic debt I owe to Rachel Chavkin). That wasn’t my first show by any means, but it was one of the first ones that fully took me apart and put back the pieces in a new order, particularly as a young adult in full love/hate with our heartland. What a prescient show, what a great expression of grace.


What do you want our community to know about joining a board/this board?

A board is more than the individuals it comprises – it’s a community whose composition reflects the values of its organization (revealed preferences are always fascinating). Our board has strong artist representation, and its non-artist members are all deeply interested in theater, and personally connected to the workshop. I knew some of that from the outside, but seeing that lived has been impressive, particular as the board has investigated how to grow and flourish through a time that’s been challenging to many of our non-profit arts organization peers.


What are your visions for the future of NYTW and how do you see yourself guiding those visions forward?

One of my favorite poems is “Archaic Torso of Apollo” by Rilke; through the metaphor of being overpowered by the act of viewing a headless classical statue, he inscribes the reflective, and ultimately transformative power of art. What alone is static and ancient and damaged is dynamic and new and procreative when an audience is present. I would like the workshop to be able to produce theater that is uncontainable like Rilke’s Apollo (“bursting out from all its borders like a star”) and that reflects so much of the audience back to itself that it necessitates their growth (“for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.”).

All around us in New York City, in the wake of the pandemic, it is not only audiences, but also theaters that have to evolve in order to thrive. NYTW is at an amazing inflection point in its history, with the artistic leadership torch being passed from Jim Nicola to Patricia McGregor, and new models of making and producing art a necessity. I’d like to help the workshop find and achieve those models, to keep changing and causing audiences to change.

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Categories: NYTW Spotlight.