Press Release

MCC Theater Names New Home In Honor of Philanthropist Robert W. Wilson And Sets Opening for November 2018

New York, NY
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The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space Advances MCC’s Three-Pronged Mission of Expanding Premiere Programming, Supporting New Play Development, and Providing Impactful Education Initiatives

MCC Theater (Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, William Cantler, Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director) announced today the naming of its new home, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, in recognition of the cultural, environmental, and preservation philanthropist, and the public opening of the space in November 2018.  Following a special ribbon cutting ceremony and a series of community events, MCC will welcome its playwriting and education programs onsite; its two stages will be inaugurated in early 2019 with the New York premiere of The Light in The Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater (January 9 – February 17, 2019) and the world premiere of Alice By Heart in The Newman Mills Theater (January 30 – March 10, 2019). Designed by Andrew Berman Architect, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space enables MCC to advance its three-pronged mission—supporting the production of premiere plays and musicals, a robust playwright development initiative, and one of the nation’s leading arts-education programs—and expand its engagement with the public, artists, and students alike.  

The campaign for MCC’s new home has raised over $37 million to date towards its expanded $45 million goal that encompasses increased support for the company’s programming and outreach initiatives. The campaign has been supported by the City of New York, which contributed $28.3 million, and by a $2.5 million challenge grant from The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust—which MCC Theater met this spring—as well as additional individual and foundation support.

“Thanks to the tremendous generosity of The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust and the City of New York, we are on the brink of realizing our dream of unifying all of MCC’s work and bringing together artists, students, and audiences under one roof. Convening in a physical space that is our own after operating in multiple locations over the last 30 years will bring collaborations to a new level and allow the MCC community to grow and engage with one another in conversations, debate and discovery and, ultimately, expand the American theater canon together in really exciting ways,” said Bernard Telsey, Co-Artistic Director of MCC Theater, speaking on behalf of the company’s artistic leadership.

“We are thrilled that our challenge grant will enabled MCC Theater to cut the ribbon on its first permanent home,” said Richard G. Schneidman, a trustee of the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust. “Bob would be elated to have such a dynamic, cutting-edge organization bear his name. We admire the ongoing impact MCC has had on American theater, and its commitment to supporting emerging artists and the next generation of theater professionals and audiences.” 

“MCC is a leader in New York’s world-renowned theater community—challenging and entertaining audiences with socially engaged work, supporting the growth of many theater artists, and providing creative opportunities for NYC’s young people,” said Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. “We congratulate MCC on its new home, and are proud of the City’s significant investment in making it happen. It will allow MCC to continue doing the important work of incubating emerging talent, attracting new audiences, and forging the next generation of theater artists and audiences.”

MCC Theater is recognized internationally for premiering plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary issues and for helping to launch new productions that go on to Broadway, additional stagings throughout the country and internationally, and film adaptations—amplifying the impact of the company’s work with some of today’s most influential and provocative voices. The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space will act as a hub for all of MCC’s productions and programming, allowing the institution to better serve its growing audiences and broaden its offerings—increasing its productions from four to six per season, supporting a greater roster of young and established playwrights, developing new plays and musicals exploring a range of contemporary topics, and expanding its groundbreaking arts education programs for New York City students. 

“The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space will serve as a generator for creative exchange, provide connections between spaces dedicated to performance, behind-the-scenes development, and front-of-house,” said Blake West, Executive Director of MCC Theater. “Our new home will provide greater freedom for the company’s artists, more opportunity for young people to express themselves, and provide audiences greater access and insight into the full range of MCC’s work.”

“MCC Theater’s journey to our first permanent home continues to be a thrilling experience for everyone at MCC,” said Susan Raanan, Chair of the Theater’s Board of Directors. “I want to acknowledge the generosity and enthusiasm of the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust and the City of New York for their continued extraordinary support and a special thanks goes to MCC’s Board of Directors for their leadership and passionate support of MCC’s journey.”

The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space will feature two state-of-the-art theaters, The Newman Mills Theater (245 seats) and The Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater (100 seats), designed to accommodate both traditional and non-traditional stagings. Spaces for rehearsals, workshops, meetings, public conversations, and other events are integrated into the heart of the new home and connected to one another—and to the performance spaces—by a central staircase. A public lobby invites connection between the outside courtyard space on 52nd Street and the facility’s interior. Raw materials are employed throughout, including concrete and warm woods, reflecting the process-based nature of theater-making to which the facility is dedicated.

Artist Francesco Simeti was commissioned to create two new visual art installations for the Theater’s new home as part of New York City’s Percent for Art program. For the Theater’s 53rd Street façade, Simeti is creating a collage of historic images of New York City that speaks to the cultural and ecological history of the neighborhood. In the interior of the theater, the artist will install a tapestry composed of historic imagery relating to theater, sets, masks, and props from cultures all around the world.

Located on West 52nd Street at 10th Avenue, the facility occupies the ground floor of the Avalon Clinton complex, which also includes residential units as well as office and performance spaces for A.R.T./New York and the 52nd Street Project.

Highlights of the 2018/19 Season at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space include: the world premiere of Alice By Heart, a new musical with a book by Steven Sater with Jessie Nelson, music by Duncan Sheik, lyrics by Steven Sater (Spring Awakening), and choreographed by Sonya Tayeh; Halley Feiffer’s Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, directed by Trip Cullman; BLKS by Aziza Barnes, directed by Robert O’Hara; The Light by Loy A. Webb and directed by Logan Vaughn.  For a list of the full season, please visit www.mcctheater.org.

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Rendering of The Newman Mills Theater at the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, designed by Andrew Berman Architect. Rendering courtesy of Andrew Berman Architect and MCC Theater

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