From the New York Times this weekend:
In the summer of 2009 three recent graduates of the Brown/Trinity Rep M.F.A. program in acting decided to put on a show. “We were all pretty much unemployed,” said Jessie Austrian, who plays the heroine, Imogen. “And we thought doing something together would be more satisfying and fun than waiting for someone else to put us into a play.”
Mr. Steinfeld, Ms. Austrian and her fiancé, Noah Brody, had recently completed a workshop production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” a play they thought “was maybe not Shakespeare’s greatest,” Mr. Brody said, “but we fell in love with it.” So they sought another underrated Shakespeare play and rounded up three more Brown M.F.A. graduates to complete a cast of six.
They chose Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. And they put it up.
After a whirlwind three weeks of rehearsal — held at night and on weekends when the cast members could leave their work teaching, temping and laboring at a pickle factory — the first “Cymbeline” opened in September 2009 at Access Theater. “The first preview was the second time we’d run it all the way through,” Mr. Coffey recalled. Audiences hovered near the single digits until a strong review in The New York Times drew ticket buyers and industry scouts, selling out the run. Fiasco then took a five-week break and brought the show back in November.
How they, a brand new theater company, got the New York Times to review them, I would love to know. In fact, I think I’ll ask them.
So anyway, then this happened:
Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director of Theater for a New Audience, saw an early performance and invited the company to a meeting. Mr. Steinfeld recalled: “He said: ‘Let’s cut to the chase. I want to produce you next year as part of our season.’ Then it’s all a blur. The next thing I remember is an hour later, being out in the hallway with Paul, jumping up and down for joy.”
Theater for a New Audience, whose mission it is to develop and make vital the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama, has sometimes taken on productions that already exist, but only from artists with whom it has a history, like Peter Brook or Robert Woodruff. But Mr. Horowitz said that in watching Fiasco’s “Cymbeline”: “I was very taken with the way they worked as collaborators onstage. I really felt there was a company there.”
These people got some serious lucky breaks, but there is no question that they put themselves in the line of fire of that good luck through their own plucky determination. Congratulations. And thanks for blazing a trail for the rest of us.