By Leah S. Abrams
Welcome to our Undiscovered Works blog! What’s it all about? We want to create a new communication medium by which we can support and grow our community – an extension of our mission to share stories, to promote work that we think should have the chance to grow, to develop, to find a voice and an audience.
As we launch this newest program, I’d like to offer up a bit of an origin story…
Where it All Began
According to friends from elementary school, I have been producing theatre since the second grade, when my mother and I moved in with my grandparents. There were earlier theatrical projects – always singing for folks and a poem recitation about a turtle who lived in a box (he swam in the puddle and climbed on the rocks) at kindergarten graduation, but the bug really hit when we moved and I began spending every day with my grandfather who had been an entertainer himself, who gave me my first public speaking lessons because the new school required weekly show-and-tell presentations.
An old classmate pointed out to me that I’d started pitching a production of “Annie” for us that same year I arrived in town. Eight-year old me even approached the manager of an old local movie theatre (it had a stage!) to pitch a variety show featuring local talent, representing people of all backgrounds and ages.
In the fifth grade, I penned a terrible play for my friends to perform called “Broadway Dreamers,” full of song and dance numbers reflective of my bizarrely eclectic tastes at the time – ranging from Fred Astaire to George Benson. Call me an early adopter of the jukebox musical.
Alas, none of my crazy childhood production ventures came to fruition. Still, the desire to make stories come to life did not dissipate, even when I pretended an intention to drop it.
My dad was a driving force behind my ultimately pursuing a life in the theatre. When I was heading to college, intent on focusing all energy on pre-law endeavors, he was adamant that I choose a school with a strong theatre department and opportunities for student productions. When I graduated college, he was the one who helped me set up the non-profit theatre company I’d go on to manage for two decades, first in Boston and then in San Francisco. In the final years of that endeavor, for multiple complicated reasons, running a company had worn me down, had made believe I’d grown to hate my passion.
A New Start
New York changed all that. A theatre person arriving here cannot help but fall madly in love with the thing all over again. From the moment I arrived in the city nearly a decade ago, I picked back up with a small group of producer and artist friends with whom I’d collaborated in my previous life across the country and, through them, was reminded that the whole point of theatre was to inspire, to collaborate, to discover voices – in short, to be a community.
I’ve been truly blessed by this city, the theatrical hub that I’d spent my whole life longing for. From the moment I decided I wanted to get involved, people gifted me the opportunity.
Kira Simring, whom I’d known for a single show in the early 2000’s, brought me into the cell where she’s long been its artistic director – there, she helped me launch what has become the Undiscovered Works monthly storytelling series, co-produced with me a piece I’d longed to do since college, and got me my first G.M. gig on a show that introduced me to Marianne Driscoll who is the kind of person that makes you think there are indeed angels walking among us.
When the cell’s programming got so full that we needed a new home for the reading season, the seemingly unlikeliest of places took us in – Ryan’s Daughter, an upper east side bar where, at the time, one of The Irish Rep Theatre’s most beloved artists, Mick Mellamphy, was involved before he took to full-time acting. He and partner Jim Gerding gave us a home for five years, until we accepted an invitation from Dixon Place to move the series to their lounge.
With that last move (prior to our current reality of online programming) came the full realization of the potential of Undiscovered Works. Our focus is on community – on giving life to stories, often in their infancy, in the belief that we learn and grow and empathize not through facts and statistics but through listening to someone else’s experience. Where do our differences converge?
What I essentially wanted was to invite people to my parlor to share and support one another as we find our voices. I wanted a place where I could welcome the people who care for our neighbors to share their work and so we have our non-profit partners. As for those full-scale productions that were my focus for so long, there is still space for them. If a writer has something to say, something our society needs to hear, then I want to help it be heard. Productions will happen – they are already planned. They are the kinds of pieces I used to be proud and excited to let loose on the world, and the kind I am passionate about supporting.
At Undiscovered Works, we believe, at the end of the day, that theatre should be about bettering our shared world. And we’re proud to play our small part.
Our Blog Endeavor
Moving forward, we’ll be featuring a wide variety of content here on the Undiscovered Works blog, including new work, interviews with creators, opinion pieces, information about artistic happenings, and just about anything else our community can come up with.
We’re excited for this new launch and we believe it will provide more opportunities to connect, to share, to learn, to develop ideas. Many of you will be hearing from our team directly to solicit your contributions, but please feel to contact us at with ideas, suggestions, or proposed topics at firstname.lastname@example.org.