Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz

Some claim Ithaca is not a ‘real’ city. To these skeptics, legitimate opportunity is only found in ‘real’ cities, like The Big Apple. Others assume our intimate rural town exists only to support the colleges.

 Add to the litany of facts that prove these skeptics wrong the Drama League Directors Project, a summer-long residency for mid-career theater directors that is industry-recognized as the premiere program for directors on track to launch their artistic practice to a critical new height. Boasting several high-powered alumni, notable past fellows include: Sam Gold (2015 Tony Award winner), Michael Mayer (2007 Tony Award winner), and Anne Kauffmann (Obie Award winner), among many others.

This year, three directors—Paul Bedard, Aneesha Kudtarkar, and Austin Regan—come from New York City, and the fourth, Dan Rogers, is based in Providence, Rhode Island, where he recently graduated from Brown/Trinity’s Directing MFA program. They come from varied artistic backgrounds; one fellow focuses on devised work, another on the classics, and a third is presently an artistic director. 

While projects wait for them upon their return to their respective cities come the fall, the four hold a fair share of responsibilities while in Ithaca. They each direct one of the main stage kids’ shows at the Hangar Theatre, and individually work closely alongside the Hangar’s creative team to produce a 4-part experimental late-night theater series: The Wedge.  

Drawing its name from its original “stage”/performances took place in narrow triangular space in the lobby. The Wedge places a premium on intimacy and accessibility. All shows are free, but it’s remained one of Ithaca’s best-kept secrets since shows started in 1983. Nonetheless, The Wedge persists with a sizeable fan base. The loyal cult following returns annually to witness the raw humility of high-intensity hour-long theater, perhaps because The Wedge is such a cozy space: an open-air tent attached to the outside wall of a building that invites the buzzes and chirps of the surrounding woods to insert a mystical depth to the already enchanting performances.

Moreover, the four directors have been awarded the freedom to stage their shows without restriction. In his direction of The Trojan Women, Austin Regan chose to create a traverse stage, where one half of the audience faces the other.While The Infernal Machine, directed by Paul Bedard, had the audience with their backs toward The Hangar, Aneesha Kudtarkar chose the opposite in her direction of Mud.

In speaking with the fellows, each expressed a gratitude for the mobility and artistic experimentation granted by the fellowship, which (according to the fellows) promotes the ingenuity and flexibility necessary to succeed as a theater artist today. 

The educational component of the program should not be overlooked. The fellows each teach a summer class to a group of actors who are part of The Hangar Lab Company, a summer-long training intensive for young theater artists. In keeping with the rounded teaching environment, The Wedge series and the kids’ shows are both cast from this pool of young actors, helping directors grow not only as artists, but also as teachers. The Hangar’s summer programming retains the educational integrity and intergenerational mentorship necessary to make theater a thriving aspect of today’s arts and culture.

Come see The Hangar’s Hound of the Baskervilles, then stay after the show to witness The Crazy Locomotive by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, which opens at 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 23. This final installment of The Wedge series promises to entertain. A train hijack, multiple super villains, and Einstein’s theory of relativity: what more could you ask of in a late-night show? 

If you’ve never been to The Wedge, spend an evening in the intimate space to observe eager performers take the stage in this melodramatic adventure, comfortable under the warmth of a blanket or two. In true Ithaca summer-time style, pack the tent, bring a blanket, and see off these four directors with a night guaranteed to leave you feeling invigorated. •




polished and who are unafraid to play with shapes, lines, and simple forms that can sometimes appear reminiscent of childhood. This does not mean Roberts’ work contains the same deeply political semiology as Haring or the often startling, frequently overwhelming psychosis of Twombly’s scribblings, but she shares with them an awareness of her break from realism and “adult”-accepted levels of seriousness in her representations, a break that could potentially leave close-minded viewers to question her art. 

But seeing In Flight is an experience both enjoyable and invigoratingly inspiring for those who choose to view it. The child-like quirkiness of the art is intoxicating in the best of ways. I look forward to seeing where Mary Roberts’ mind wanders next, what other concepts, colors, and experiments will emerge. •

In Flight will be on display at CAP Artspace, 171 The Commons, until July 31. Don’t miss out. 

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