Naked Angels is committed to strengthening a growing community of emerging artists through career development and debut productions of provocative new work.
The company was formed in 1986 by a group of restless and ambitious artists reacting to a void in the theater community for new and creative voices. We took our name from the John Tytell book, which referred to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and other Beats as “a generation that wanted to break out of convention and scream.” As a young group, we felt the same way; we needed a place where, through the medium of theater, we could show the world a different perspective of our times. Sometimes outraged, often irreverent, occasionally absurd, and always intelligent, enthusiastic and fun, Naked Angels’ work was a spark to which audiences were quickly drawn. The Space, as our theater on 17th Street was known, soon became a vital, thriving crossroads where talented theater artists met and collaborated: the destination of choice for those seeking a truly celebratory theatrical experience. Though it’s been quite a few years since we’ve had a home of our own, that spirit continues today wherever and whenever Naked Angels produces.
Dedication to the emerging artist has lead to the company’s reputation for developing and producing outstanding, innovative plays. Over the years, Naked Angels has presented hundreds of readings, workshops, and full-scale productions. From Warren Leight’s Tony Award winning Side Man to Jon Robin Baitz’s The Substance of Fire, Kenneth Lonergan’s The Starry Messenger to David Marshall Grant’s Snakebit, Naked Angels has always been a place where new work flourishes. Some of our more recent efforts, Stephen Belber’s Tape, Will Eno’s Thom Pain (based on nothing), Elizabeth Meriwether’s The Mistakes Madeline Made, and Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell, have gone on to receive critical acclaim both here and abroad. Our latest, the world premiere of Stephen Belber’s Fault Lines, played to packed houses and extended its run at The Cherry Lane, under the superb direction of David Schwimmer with performances by Noah Emmerich, Dominic Fumusa, Josh Lucas and Jennifer Mudge.
Our April 2007 production of Armed and Naked in America continued one of Naked Angels’ more noted traditions: The Issues Project. Embodying the company’s highest artistic aspiration, a community-based theater that is social, diverse, and dialectic, the Issues Project challenges the disparate talents of our membership, rallying writers, directors, actors, musicians, and filmmakers to speak out against a pressing social or political concern. The result is a raised awareness to a particular cause or organization by creating a piece of theater that is both provocative and significant. For over 20 years our company has taken on controversial issues from gun control to the environment, faith to human rights, in what very well might be the signature work of Naked Angels.