We spoke with Antonio Miniño the Co-Artistic Director of MT Works as the company presents “Dark Water” at the Theater at the 14th Street Y March 13-29th. MT Works is a part of the new Theater Series at the Y. The series presents cutting edge downtown theater. Antonio told us about the production and the company.
Q: When was the company founded and what type of work do you do in your season?
A: The company started in 2006 when David Stallings, Cristina Alicea (now producing director Vermont Stage), and I worked on a show together: “Folie a Deux”. Our artistic aesthetic and work ethic just gelled together and we decided to start Maieutic Theatre Works (what we now know as Manhattan Theatre Works). We knew we wanted to showcase new plays and we knew we wanted to make a social change through our work and not just create theater for entertainment.
We have different programs aside from our mainstages that we’ve been developing throughout the years. Such as our Newborn Festival, Fireworks, Reworks and MTWorkologues.
Q: How do you choose the work that is being performed?
A: Plays are chosen through open submissions to our Newborn Festival which is a free annual reading series. Once a finalist the plays are part of the Living Room Series and we incorporate the astute feedback of our MTWorkers (company members) and our board to help us pick the plays that will be presented to the public.
A: Social issues are everything to us. It our society and beyond we cater to. The core of our mission is to challenge our perception of diversity, be it race, geography, sexuality or creed. “Dark Water” is our first environmental piece and through it we’ve learned and implemented ways to save on both material and energy.
Q: How does your company deal with social and environmental issues?
A: We tackle them head on. We are not shy or apologetic when it comes to presenting our work and we try and expand beyond the plays, with talk-backs, panel discussions and audience awareness.
Q: Welcome back to the Y, how does it feel?
A: We are thrilled to be back at the Y! We have been gypsies for a while renting at different locations but until the Y we had no sense of belonging or real support. Through the Theater Series we have been able to expand the reach of our message while feeling in very good company. The staff at the Y also goes above and beyond to make sure we have everything we need and to help us spread the word.
Q: Tell us about Dark Water and the company’s work with the writer, David Stallings, and director Heather Cohn.
A: David is our co-artistic director and one of the founders of our aesthetic. He shared with us a couple of play ideas he was toying with and one of them was “Dark Water.” We immediately got goosebumps, “that must be the one you develop first and MTWorks has to produce it”, was the feeling in the room.
Heather Cohn has been with the play since January 2013 when she directed the reading of an earlier draft and they are the perfect match. The three of us collaborated outside of MTWorks in another Stallings play, “The Stranger to Kindness” (along with Susan G. Bob who is also in “Dark Water”) and they have that wonderful “finish-each-other’s thoughts” artistic connection.
A: Come see it! It will change you, enrage you and hopefully invoke change.