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Barefoot Theatre History

Barefoot Theatre Company was founded in 1999 and has since produced over sixty plays including readings, workshops and fully staged productions. In 2002, the Barefoot Theatre Company gained further exposure within the theatre community when they received the OOBR Award in excellence for Mary Gallagher’s political drama, ¿De Donde?

In 2007, Barefoot’s 4-year development of Israel Horovitz’s Sins of the Mother culminated in a reading at The Actor’s Studio featuring Ethan Hawke. The ensemble also participated in the reading of Horovitz’s original screenplay, The Little Shock, alongside Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Dinklage, Fisher Stevens, and the late Peter Boyle. Mr. Horovitz has since become a member of the Advisory Board and encouraged the ensemble to take artistic risks that would bring them to the next level.

Most notably, Barefoot Theatre Company’s collaboration with Israel Horovitz continued as they developed and produced Israel Horovitz’s New Short, nominated for three Innovative Theatre Awards in 2007. It featured the Barefoot ensemble alongside Lynn Cohen (Spielberg’s Munich, Sex and the City, Vanya on 42nd Street), and was co-directed by the playwright himself. From this production came the short play, Beirut Rocks, featured in the legendary Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon directed by Jo Bonney (subUrbia, A Soldier’s Play, Eric Bogosian’s Solo Works).

In 2008, Barefoot’s Producing Artistic Director, Francisco Solorzano developed and mounted the stage adaptation of Sidney Lumet's 1975 Academy Award winning film, Dog Day Afternoon, at NYC's Theatre Row Theatres. Dog Day Afternoon played to sold-out audiences and rave reviews. Barefoot Theatre Company’s work has been seen at such notable venues as Ensemble Studio Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, 59E59, The Actor’s Studio, Bouwerie Lane Theater, and at Theatre Row Theatres. In addition to having work published by Samuel French Play Publishers (Israel Horovitz’s A Mother’s Love and Security), French Publications (Horovitz’s Beirut Rocks), Smith & Krauss Publications (20 Short Plays by Israel Horovitz), Barefoot Theatre Company revived monumental ensemble pieces such as Lanford Wilson’s Balm In Gilead featuring company member Anna Chlumsky (30 Rock, My Girl), Does A Tiger Wear A Necktie? (first revival since its 1969 run that introduced Al Pacino), as well as the 35th anniversary production of The Indian Wants the Bronx later transferred to the Gloucester Stage Company.

To honor Israel Horovitz and his body of work, the Barefoot Theatre Company developed and initiated the 70/70 Horovitz Project (a year-long, worldwide festival, celebrating Israel Horovitz’s 70th Birthday with readings and full productions of 70 of his plays.) The opening of the 70/70 Horovitz Project was held at the Bleecker Street Theatre on March 31, 2009 with the reading of Sins of the Mother directed by Jo Bonney once again and featuring: Bobby Cannavale, John Doman, Michael Stuhlbarg and Barefoot Producing Artistic Director, Francisco Solorzano. The Barefoot Theatre Company was invited to the Boston Theatre Marathon for the 4th time, where the premiere of Horovitz’s What Strong Fences Make was featured in May, 2009.

While working closely with world-renowned playwrights such as Israel Horovitz, Joe Pintauro, and Mary Gallagher, Barefoot Theatre Company continues to foster new playwrights by providing them with readings, workshops, and fully realized productions involving artists of the highest quality. In 2009, the bareNaked Reading Series (no sets, no props, just words) was created to present works in progress in front of a live audience in a safe and festive environment. While keeping admission at the lowest cost possible, the bareNaked Reading Series also features live music by emerging musicians. The Bleecker Street Theatre has welcomed the reading series as its home. In the first year, the bareNaked Reading Series presented plays by Mary Gallagher, Israel Horovitz, Joe Pintauro, Carmen Rivera along with emerging playwrights Joseph Sousa, Stephen Gracia and students of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, NY.

In May of 2009, Advisory Board members, Yvonne Marceau and Pierre Dulaine of American Ballroom Theatre took part in presenting three short plays with Barefoot for the 70/70 Horovitz Project. Due to the success of the 70/70 Horovitz Project presentation, American Ballroom Theatre offered their space in midtown manhattan for Barefoot Theatre Company’s first ever workshop series, Saturday Night Special (a festive evening with a new play, live music and dancing!)

Brief History

In 1998, four Brooklyn College students got together to form a production company that would produce quality theatre while giving actors and directors the opportunity to work together in a professional environment. In setting out to discover an aesthetic and philosophy that would allow them to focus on the art of collaboration, the Barefoot Theatre Company was born. By 1999, Francisco Solorzano, Victoria Malvagno, Michael LoPorto and Nicole Haran had a clear vision of what the Barefoot Theatre Company would set out to accomplish and achieve.

Barefoot Theatre Company took a step further with their goals when they collaborated with award winning playwright Mary Gallagher. Gallagher's play ¿De Donde? explored the unending flow of illegal immigrants fleeing the economically and politically oppressed countries of Latin America. Barefoot Theatre Company's production, directed by Producing Artistic Director Francisco Solorzano, utilized a cast of thirteen versatile actors to portray over forty characters. With an unprecedented attendance of audiences and sold-out houses (the stage adaptation of Dog Day Afternoon at Theatre Row would later surpass this record in 2008!) ¿De Donde? went on to win the OOBR (Off-Off Broadway Review) Excellence Award in January of 2002.

Since the beginning, the Barefoot Theatre Company has been associated with Brooklyn College's Theatre Department along with the once Off-Off Broadway Theater, the 78th Street Theatre Lab. The 78th Street Theatre Lab was run by fellow Brooklyn College Alums: Eric Nightengale, Artistic Director, and Ruth Nightengale, Managing Director. While at Brooklyn College Producing Artistic Director Francisco Solorzano had the good fortune of stage-managing a production directed by then guest director Eric Nightengale. It was at the 78th Street Theatre Lab where all four founders of the Barefoot Theatre Company were able to put their technique and craft in all aspects of producing, acting, directing and playwrighting that had been nourished at Brooklyn College, to the test.

The support given to Barefoot Theatre Company by Brooklyn College's Theatre Department as well as the 78th Street Theatre Lab has been unending. They are the parents of Barefoot Theatre Company. Today, Theatre Row Theatres as well as The Bleecker Street Theater have joined in the support of Barefoot's artistic growth. Barefoot Theatre Company owes much of its success to both institutions, the professionals involved in guiding young and aspiring artists of all ages. The Ensemble also owes much of its continued success to the NYC audiences and beyond who continue to show their undying support.

Francisco Solorzano
Producing Artistic Director
Barefoot Theatre Company
(212) 802-8305