Growing in Jersey City has been working with No Dominion Theatre since the spring of 2017. Together we produced two Theatre in the Heights events bringing theater to Jersey City Heights and Jersey City as a whole.
No Dominion Theatre is a non-profit theatre whose mission "Is Dedicated To Eradicating The Notion Of Limits Within Theatre Artistry While Utilizing A Versatile Ensemble That Aims To Reflect The Immediate Truth. Whatever That Means." They produce wonderful pieces that have such powerful and meaningful messages.
We are so excited to share they are showing an original work by Chandy Bennett, a core member of No Dominion theatre, at the Frigid Festival in New York City with five shows throughout February and March. The piece is about relationships and the power in sharing the experience. They will also begin a residency with Jersey City Theatre Center in March 2018 with a performance in June 2018.
We sat down with No Dominion to talk learn more about their theatre company and of course the play.
Tell us a little bit about No Dominion Theatre.
Michael Joel: We are a non-profit theatre company loosely based out of Jersey City producing, developing, and performing only original or devised material while also striving to help new artists thrive and create.
Kaitlin Overton: To date, we have created and produced three main stage productions and are currently in production for our fourth mian stage, an original incubator series, and a staged reading series, through which we have produced two readings. We are all about original work and branching out into our community.
Tell us about yourselves - How did you meet and decide to form your theatre?
MJ: In January of 2015, we opened a play in New York City that I had written called Youth, Blood, and Roses. We gathered together a group of people we had went to college with and self funded and self produced the run of this play at the Robert Moss Theatre. After that we decided it would be much easier to organize and band together to form a company. So by March of 2015, Kaitlin and I had created No Dominion Theatre Co. and over the course of the past three years we have continued to work with our people from college, most notably Chandy who joined us in a more permanent position last year and have expanded our circle since.
Tell us your involvement in Jersey City and what you have been doing with the theatre here since it is home base?
KO: I moved to Jersey City almost two years ago and since then we’ve really worked on building a small network here. We’re so grateful that Growing in Jersey City was so responsive to our staged reading series idea. It has really enabled us to network and meet lots of new people who are just as enthusiastic about bringing new and original theatre to the Heights neighborhood, and Jersey City as a whole.
The whole vibe of Jersey City is most people are open to new things and want to at least support new things coming in in any way they can, which is a lot different than New York City. It’s also harder to fit in in NYC and we’ve found Jersey City to be the best of both worlds: a really artistic and vibrant community that is welcoming and has a very neighborly personality, but also a place that is constantly growing and adapting to the people in it; I think that’s one of the main reasons we’re excited to be here developing new work.
Rut is a play written by you, Chandy Bennett, tell us how you are inspired to write? And what inspired you specifically with this play?
Chandy Bennett: It actually started as a simple writing challenge for me - could I write a stage play without any gender pronouns that didn't rely on character names like A and B? How much intimacy could I write between two people without gender as a factor? The story that came forth was a familiar relationship, a toxic relationship I had been in, but also a dynamic I’ve seen in other relationships around me. I thought it was interesting when I had been through something like this and then saw it in other couples of all sexualities.
What drew you to produce this play?
MJ: It speaks to the moment we are going through right now with the #metoo movement and the role assault can play in a long term relationship between two people of any gender or sexuality. Sadly enough, assault is an issue that is universal among people and we hope to shed a light on this topic. In addition to that, like Chandy, I saw this piece as a challenge to produce and direct a play that was genderless.
This play is going to be performed in NYC at the 2018 FRIGID NY Festival.
What does this mean to you to have a play accepted into the festival?
CB: For me, it’s a dream. The first play I ever wrote will premiere in New York City; it sounds unreal. I owe a big thank you to Michael and Kaitlin for believing in my little experiment.There is no better place to take a risk than in a festival setting with other people trying out new things.
What can we look forward to with No Dominion in 2018?
MJ: We have a residency at Jersey City Theatre Center to develop a piece we have been working on for two years now (!!) called YARNS which is about the role women’s work plays in our society through the eyes of fiber artists (weavers, sewers, knitters, etc.) and sex workers. So we will develop that and then as long as everything goes according to plan, we’ll have three performances of YARNS at JCTC. We’ve also been asked to perform YARNS in Princeton, too. We are also planning on having another staged reading soon as part of our staged reading series Theatre in the Heights alongside GJC of course, so stay tuned for that! We are always on the lookout for new collabs, too!
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
We are always accepting submissions for Theatre in the Heights and H.A.T.C.H. (Helping Artists to Create Here), our incubator series, so head to nodominiontheatre.org and reach out to us if you have an idea for a project you’d like us to help you produce!
Photos provided by Arts on the Hudson and Christopher Welby
Video provided by Prryhic Productions