The Flea Theater
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The Flea Theater, founded in 1996, is a theater in the TriBeCa section of New York City. It presents primarily new American theater and provides a venue for film stars to act on a very small (74-seat) stage, as well as a smaller black box theater for experimental and new works. The theater was founded by Jim Simpson, Mac Wellman, and Kyle Chepulis. The Flea earned early acclaim for original productions of post-9-11 play The Guys and political works by A. R. Gurney. According to the New York Times, “Since its inception in 1996, The Flea has presented over 100 plays and numerous dance and live music performances. Under Artistic Director Jim Simpson and Producing Director Carol Ostrow, The Flea is one of New York’s leading off-off-Broadway companies."
Founded in 1996, the award-winning  Flea Theater was originally formed out of the purely artistic impulse to create “a joyful hell in a small space”. "Soon thereafter a more formal mission was born: to present distinctive work that raises the standards of Off-Off-Broadway for artists & audiences alike…Non-institutional and resolutely noncommercial, The Flea embodies the spirit of adventure and experimentation that has defined Off-Off-Broadway since its inception. The Flea receives over 17,000 visitors each year.And while its primary service area is Lower Manhattan, in recent years their burgeoning reputation has brought audiences and patrons from throughout the tri-state area.” In March 2015, The Flea announced that Niegel Smith would be taking over for Jim Simpson as its new artistic director.
Production highlights include Oh the Humanity and Other Exclamations, by Pulitzer finalist Will Eno, starring Marisa Tomei and Brian Hutchison. This transcendent collection of five short plays extended through winter 2008. Another recent Flea hit was Mrs. Farnsworth, a timely political comedy written especially for The Flea by renowned playwright A. R. Gurney. Performed by the incomparable duo of Sigourney Weaver and John Lithgow, Mrs. Farnsworth won rave reviews and returned to The Flea for a special encore in the fall. For two years in a row, The New York Times named a Flea production as one of the best Off-Broadway shows of the season—O Jerusalem in 2003 and Mrs. Farnsworth in 2004. Recent productions include The Great Recession: six plays commissioned by The Flea exploring the impact of the current economic crisis on the younger generation written by Thomas Bradshaw, Sheila Callaghan, Erin Courtney, Will Eno, Itamar Moses and Adam Rapp; Jonathan Reynolds's Girls in Trouble; and Bathsheba Doran's Parents’ Evening.
The Flea produces several original major productions each year. Flea artists have been honored with two OBIE Awards, an Otto Award and, in May 2004, The Flea was given a Drama Desk Award for Distinguished Achievement commending its dedication to adventurous theater.
Awards and Recognition
- Speculations: An Essay on the Theater
- Mac Wellman
- Performance art
- Performing Garage
- Elizabeth LeCompte
- The Wooster Group
- Ontological-Hysteric Theater
- Richard Foreman
- Richard Schechner
- Allan Kaprow
- Dick Higgins
- Marina Abramović
- Experimental theatre
- Flea Theater Gets A Place To Call Home, New York Times 12/8/2013 The New York Times, Retrieved April 25, 2014
- "History - The Flea Theater". The Flea Theater. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
- "The Flea Theater – About – Overview". theflea.org. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- Paulson, Michael (29 March 2015). "Flea Theater Names Niegel Smith as Next Artistic Director".
- Desk, BWW News. "American Theatre Wing Announces 2010 National Theatre Company Grants". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
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