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Mission and Values

Since 1994, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater has been steadfast in producing diverse, challenging, and provocative plays while fostering the future voices of the American theater. Now in our 27th year, the company is focused on energetic theater that responds to the complexities of our culture in conversation with community partners. Our mission is to produce ambitious plays to inspire empathy and provoke conversation that will lead to positive social change.

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​From our historic West Village theater, Rattlestick has produced the first plays and early works of some of today’s leading voices, including Martyna Majok (Ironbound), Diana Oh (mylingerieplay), and Heidi Schreck (There Are No More Big Secrets). We are proud to make Rattlestick a place where some of our nation’s most celebrated playwrights feel safe to test their boldest ideas, including Dael Orlandersmith (Until the Flood), José Rivera (Massacre, Sing to Your Children), and Sam Hunter (Lewiston/Clarkston, nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play). Recently, Rattlestick received several prestigious grants allowing us to commission new work from writers such as Stacey Rose, Liba Vaynberg, and Cusi Cram, as well as a 3-year playwright residency for Basil Kreimendahl from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Climate Justice

Rattlestick is dedicated to promoting green initiatives and working to reduce our company’s environmental impact. Recent activities in support of climate justice include:

  • A Virtual Salon on “The Impact of Covid-19 on the Environment” held in June 2020. This panel was facilitated by Pino Fortunado of the EcoArt Project and GreenBuildingMap, Elena Krieger of PSE Energy, actress Kyra Sedgwick, Peggy Shepard of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Whitney Tome of The Raben Group, and Daniel Zarrilli, Chief Climate Policy Advisor and OneNYC Director, NYC Office of the Mayor.

  • Rattlestick’s monthly Community Conversations on race focus on equity across living conditions, criminal justice, and the environment.

  • In January, 2020, Rattlestick hosted a reading of Miranda Rose Hall’s A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction, an evening of interactive, interspecies storytelling that explores how to be human in an era of man-made extinction.

  • ​We recently appointed a Green Captain to monitor our productions and advise on waste-reducing practices. Rattlestick is committed to becoming a greener theater, and exploring pathways for reducing our carbon footprint, using recycled materials, and reducing energy and paper consumption.

Racial Equity

Rattlestick believes in the power of theater for social change and we have established a number of initiatives in response to urgent and long-overdue calls for racial justice. These programs are designed to facilitate complex conversations around race while examining how we can strengthen anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices throughout our company.

  • Our Community Conversations on race are hosted by Sam Morreale and open to the public. Recent topics have included “Collective Knowledge and Organizing” and “Inequities in the Covid vaccine.

  • Six artists were selected as a part of a mini -grant, “Me and Black Lives Matter”, for writers under 21 years old. Mid-career artist Troy Anthony worked with selected writers to develop their work, and directed a presentation of the pieces in mid-February. Now, we are raising additional funds to offer each a $500 commission to develop a new theatrical piece.

  • Rattlestick’s board has formed a Social Justice/Anti-Racism Committee to assess what measures we might take to improve anti-racist measures throughout our company. Our board and staff meet regularly to review company practices and meet with facilitators to implement changes.

  • We recently updated our Statement of Accountability and Code of Conduct to better clarify how we address harmful behaviors going forward. Our goal is to further integrate anti-racist practices in all aspects of the company’s operations and activities from our approach to rehearsal and performance practices to audience development and board engagement.

  • Prior to Covid, we produced two Mainstage productions a year. Over this past year, we have developed a robust online theater program that includes audio dramas, workshops, community conversations, masterclasses, and streaming past productions. We plan to shift our 2021-22 season into a hybrid one, with two mainstage offerings alongside live streams of these stage performances, as well as additional programming specifically designed for virtual mediums. Planned productions include Jiréh Breon Holder’s In the Southern Breeze, Martin Boross’ Addressless, and Arturo Luís Soria’s Ni Mi Madre.

  • ​Rattlestick’s New Voices/New Works Program is a pipeline for finding new writers and new works for future production. Continuing to strengthen this pipeline is a key priority to ensure that Rattlestick is finding and producing the most unique artists and projects. New Voices/New Works projects include New Songs Now In Your Living Room for songwriters to test new work, Theater Jam, an open-access festival for excerpts of new plays, Global Forms Theater Festival celebrating immigrant artists working in the U.S., and Open Play, in which any artist is given five minutes to share new work. Rattlestick respectfully requests a grant of $10,000 in support of our artists and programs. These funds will be used towards supporting the development and production of these projects and the artists who are creating

Core Values

Community

We believe in the power of theater to communicate in surprising ways. We are committed to creating a culture of belonging. By creating a safe space that invites individuals and organizations to come as they are, our community is expansive and inclusive. Together we are moving towards an intimate collective.

Equity

We believe in providing an equitable space where theater can be used as a force for social justice. We are committed to embracing diverse communities and individuals through creating social justice-related theatrical work.

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Empowerment

​We believe in empowering artists to create, engage, grow, and belong through theater. We create space for flexibility, safety, igniting the spark, and fanning the flames. By upholding the values of Community, Equity, and Empowerment, we can actively pursue.

Artistic Freedom

​We believe in being a creative environment where artists are respected and empowered to do their best work. When a new play is programmed for a mainstage production, the playwright and director have 80% of the artistic vote. Creating work isn’t about “pleasing producers”, rather empowering the artists to be the visionaries of their work.