November 3, 2020   by NYTW

Associate Artistic Director Linda Chapman is retiring this December after over 30 years at New York Theatre Workshop. As Linda prepares for retirement, we caught up with her to talk about her start at NYTW and some memorable experiences from her time here.

How did you first get involved with NYTW?
I joined NYTW in 1989, as a “Curator”. Curators were emerging directors, chosen to help curate the first Mondays@3 readings, to see outside work together and share opinions and reflections about that work. The Curators became the first NYTW Usual Suspects (NYTW’s extended artist community).

Jim Nicola asked me to become Associate Artistic Director in 1995, and from that time to this, I have been involved in all the iterations of what we call Artists Workshop activities; including the readings and developmental work we do on East 4th Street, creating opportunities for the Usual Suspects, the summer residencies we engage in with Dartmouth College and Adelphi University, supporting NYTW’s companies in residence, and most recently in curating the NEXT DOOR@NYTW work in the Fourth Street Theatre. I have also collaborated with Jim and our initiating artists on identifying directors, stage managers and designers for our fully realized productions. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel internationally on behalf of NYTW, creating Suspects Abroad trips, attending festivals, and to further NYTW’s ongoing conversation about art making and society with artists and producers in many parts of the world.

Most memorable shows and experiences at NYTW?
Working with Companies in Residence at NYTW has been particularly meaningful for me. I include here the work of Anne Bogart and the SITI Company, The Five Lesbian Brothers, Rubén Polendo and Theater Mitu, John Collins and Elevator Repair Service, and Noor Theatre. I’ve loved our music theatre work over the years as well; Mark Campbell’s SONGS FROM AN UNMADE BED and Rinde Eckert’s HORIZON being a couple of exquisite works that are not so well known.

What is your first memory of going to the theatre?
I took part in a creative arts summer camp during my summer between middle school and high school, where I witnessed my first adult show, WAITING FOR GODOT, performed by professionals who also taught the theatre class I was enrolled in. I was deeply moved by the play but also by the community the adult artists created with the students. I felt seen as an individual and knew I had found my true home and the way I wanted to live in the world.

Who inspires you?
I am inspired by great artistry and particularly moved by the work of great directors, as well as experiencing young directors become great. We’ve known many in my time with the Workshop, including Rachel Chavkin, Michael Grief, John Collins, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Leigh Silverman, Anne Kauffman, Sam Gold, and the up-and-coming Whitney White.

Without live theatre, what have you been consuming?
The pandemic has made some international classic theatre available on-line and during the shutdown I have had the pleasure of seeing Jerzy Grotowski’s eviscerating AKROPOLIS, a gorgeous production of Lorraine Hansberry’s LES BLANCS directed by the amazing Yael Farber for the National Theatre, and most recently The Berliner Ensemble’s 1957 production of Brecht’s MOTHER COURAGE featuring the iconic Helene Weigel in the title role.

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Categories: NYTW Spotlight. Tags: NYTW Staff.