Founded in 1968 by Richard Foreman, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater was created with the aim of stripping the theater bare of everything but the singular and essential impulse to stage the static tension of interpersonal relations in space. Seeking to produce works that balanced a primitive and minimal style with extremely complex and theatrical themes, the core of the presentations came from Richard Foreman’s theater pieces which he has made over fifty of the last forty-two years.
Taking up its home at St. Mark’s Church in 1992, The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre nurtured an entirely new generation of artists who shared in Mr. Foreman’s passion for theater. Through the creation of summer residencies, the Obie Award-winning Blueprint Series, and other efforts, it has been the starting point for many artists beginning their careers in New York City including David Herskovitz, Artistic Director of Target Margin Theater; Damon Keily, Artistic Director of American Theater in Chicago; Radiohole; Elevator Repair Service; Pavol Liska, NTUSA; Richard Maxwell; Sophie Haviland; Bob Cucuzza; DJ Mendel; Ken Nintzle; and Young Jean Lee.
In 1993 the Ontological Hysteric Theatre’s Emerging Artists program also developed the Obie-winning Blueprint Series for emerging directors. In 2005, the Ontological Hysteric Theatre reorganized the programs under the name, Incubator, creating a series of linked programs providing young theater artists with resources and support to develop process-oriented, original theatrical productions. An outgrowth became the Residency program for premieres, as well as two annual music festivals, a regular concert series, a serial work-in-progress program called Short Form, plus roundtables and salons aimed at keeping Incubator artists involved year-round. In May, 2010, the Incubator received an OBIE grant.
Old Fashioned Prostitutes
In early 2010, the Ontological-Hysteric Theater announced that it would leave its permanent home, St. Mark’s Church, and that the Incubator would take over the space and operate year-round. The Incubator Arts Project grew out of the Incubator, and now operates in the former Ontological Theater.
Old Fashioned Prostitutes
Richard Foreman’s Hysteric-Anthological Theatre embraced what he describes as “Total Theater uniting elements of the performance auditory and visual arts, philosophy, psychoanalysis and literature for a unique result.” According to his mission: his style is “not meant to be ‘cerebral,’ but rather, his compositional theater is an attempt to ‘viscerally reflect and process everything that he has inherited from his explorations in twentieth century thought and art.’ He engages in what the poet, John Keats, famously described as ‘negative capability’ – namely, “…when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” His work seeks to unsettle and disorient received ideas and open the doors for alternative models of perception, organization, and understanding.”
King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe
In 2005, Mr. Foreman began a second chapter in his work with the introduction of the digital video and film media as dominating forces in his redefinition of the Ontologically Hysteric Theater.
Mr. Foreman wrote, directed and designed over fifty of his own plays in New York City and abroad. Five of his plays received OBIE awards as best play of the year, and he received five other OBIES for directing and ‘sustained achievement.’ He also collaborated as librettist and stage director with composer Stanley Silverman on eight music theater pieces produced by The Music Theater Group & The New York City Opera. He wrote and directed the feature film, “Strong Medicine,” and also directed and designed many productions with major theaters around the world including “Three Penny Opera,” “The Golem,” and plays by Havel, Botho Strauss, and Suzan-Lori Parks for The New York Shakespeare Festival, “Die Fledermaus” at the Paris Opera, “Don Giovanni” at the Opera de Lille, Philip Glass’ “Fall of the House of Usher” at the American Repertory Theater and “The Maggio Musicale” in Florence, “Woyzeck” at Hartford Stage Company, “Don Juan” at the Guthrie Theater and The New York Shakespeare Festival, Kathy Acker’s “Birth of the Poet” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the RO theater in Rotterdam, Gertrude Stein’s “Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights” at the Lights at the Autumn Festivals in Berlin and Paris Autumn Festivals in Berlin and Paris. Seven collections of his plays have been published. Five of his plays have received OBIE awards as best play of the year—and he has received five other OBIES for directing and ‘sustained achievement.’ He received the annual Literature award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a “Lifetime Achievement in the Theater” award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN Club Master American Dramatist Award, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and was elected officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France. His archives and work materials have been acquired by the Bobst Library at New York University. For info: www.ontological.com, contact: Mimi Johnson, Performing Artservices 260 W. Broadway, NYC 10013 (212) 941-8911.