East Coast Artists
What is East Coast Artists?
Founded by Richard Schechner in 1991, ECA’s mission is fourfold:
1. To develop theatrical productions and performance events that radically reconfigure the classics, that generate original theatrical works, and that call attention to specific aspects of life as performance, and thus available to intervention and change.
2. To educate, mentor, and train theatre artists and others in ECA’s theories and practices of performance and ECA’s transcultural techniques of performer training.
3. To conduct and collaborate on interdisciplinary research on emotion and other performance-related topics.
4. To facilitate intercultural and international exchange in all aspects of ECA’s activities in productions, training, outreach, and research.
Schechner’s Artistic Career
Richard Schechner began directing theater professionally in the 1950s. He was one of the founders of the East End Players of Provincetown Massachusetts. He directed plays while he was in the US Army from 1968-60. After the army, Schechner enrolled at Tulane University to study for his PhD in Theatre. In 1963, he became one of the three producing directors of The Free Southern Theater – a group active in the deep south during the most intense years of the Freedom Movement. During the period of the Vietnam War, Schechner staged protest and guerrilla theatre in opposition to the war. In 1965, he was one of three founding directors of the New Orleans Group – with whom he staged not only Happenings but the first fully environmental theatre production. When he moved to New York in 1967 he formed the Performance Group. After he left TPG in 1980, his former colleagues renamed it The Wooster Group. With TPG, Schechner directed many plays including Dionysus in 69 (based on Euripides’ The Bacchae), Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime, Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, Seneca’s Oedipus, and Jean Genet’s The Balcony. In 1991, after a decade of directing and leading workshops in the United States, India, China, Latin America, and South Africa, Schechner founded East Coast Artists in 1991. With ECA, Schechner has directed Faust/gastronome, Chekhov’s Three Sisters, Hamlet, Yokastas Redux (co-authored by Schechner and Saviana Stanescu). Schechner’s ECA colleague Benjamin Mosse has directed Stanescu’s Waxing West and Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest. At the same time, Minnick and more especially Paula Murray Cole have continued to teach and further develop rasaboxes. Cole not only offers rasaboxes at various universities and other venues, she leads in the training and certifying of new rasaboxes instructors.
East Coast Artists’ Biographies
Richard Schechner, ECA Founding Artistic Director
Schechner is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Schechner has been at NYU since 1967. Previously, he taught at Tulane University from 1962 to 1967. Schechner holds a BA in English from Cornell 1956; MA in English from the University of Iowa, 1958; a PhD in Theatre from Tulane University 1962. He is editor of TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies. He is the founding artistic director of East Coast Artists.
His major interests are performance theory, intercultural performance, experimental performance, and theatre directing. In March 2005 the Richard Schechner Center for Performance Studies was inaugurated as part of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, where Schechner is an Honorary Professor.
Schechner is the author of a number of books, including Public Domain, Environmental Theater, The End of Humanism, Performance Theory, Between Theater and Anthropology, The Future of Ritual, Performance Studies—An Introduction, and Over, Under, and Around. His books have been translated into Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, French, Slovak, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, German, Italian, Hungarian, Dutch, Parsi, and Bulgarian.
Overseas, Schechner has directed The Cherry Orchard with the Repertory Theatre of the National School of Drama in New Delhi (in Hindi), August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa, Sun Huizhu’s Tomorrow He’ll Be Out of the Mountains at Shanghai’ Peoples’ Art Theatre, The Oresteia (in his own adaptation) with the Contemporary Legend Theatre of Taiwan, and Hamlet: That Is the Question – an experimental version of Shakespeare’s play (all in Chinese).
Schechner’s fellowships, awards, and visiting professorships include a Lifetime Achievement Award from Performance Studies International, a Career Achievement Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), a Guggenheim, two Fulbrights, an American Council of Learned Societies Senior Fellowship, an NEH Senior Research Fellow, the Mondello Prize, two Asian Cultural Council grants, and an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Research Fellowship, a Humanities and Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University, a Hoffman Eminent Scholar at Florida State University, an Emmens Visiting Professor at Ball State University, a Whitney Halstead Scholar at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, a Fellow of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, and an Andrew H. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. He is an honorary professor of the Institute for the Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba.