MAR 2008

About Hatchery Arts

Curious about the company behind Hollywood Fringe? Here’s a little history for all you buffs out there…

Hatchery Arts was founded by Ben Hill and Dave McKeever in January 2005 and later joined by a growing team of driven and like-minded artists and producers. They have a singular mission: Produce new and provocative works by undiscovered artists for benefit of the community.

Our inaugural production was The Hatchery Festival (www.HatcheryFestival.org) in Washington DC. The 2005 Festival featured Playing House, a new play by playwright Sarah Sander. This festival was well-attended by the theatre-community. Its mission to introduce new works was widely received as a critical injection of vigor into the community’s literary culture.

Building upon the success of its first year, Hatchery expanded its scope to a three week event. The new format included three new plays never before produced. The playwrights underwent an extensive dramaturgical workshop process to improve their works, and prepare them for production. Each playwright benefited from the process. The response was overwhelming and universally positive.

One of its productions, The Woodpecker by Samuel Brett Williams, is about to be produced at “The Cherry Lane Theatre” in New York City. Snow Falling Fast by Sarah Sander and The Disappearance of Janey Jones by Jennifer Fawcett were participating productions in the University of Iowa New Play Festival.

Also included in 2006 was a new program entitled PopTart, which provided selected playwrights the opportunity to collaborate on a sustained storyline over several installments spoofing American pop culture. Over ten emerging playwrights collaborated nightly to produce the following day’s installment. Actors from the workshop plays joined together to perform installments each evening to the festival crowd. This project provided its audience with a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the playwright’s creative process.

Hatchery worked intensively with the city of Washington DC, presenting works which benefited the cultural welfare of the community. In recognition of our efforts towards community betterment, we were awarded a grant from the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities.

In 2006, the founders of the Hatchery Festival moved to Iowa City, IA to produce the “The Iowa City Commedia Project”; it’s mission to spread the theatrical tradition of Commedia Dell’Arte to a contemporary audience.

In a project spreading across two months, Hatchery partnered with the Iowa City Jazz Festival and the Iowa City Arts Festival, as well as several local businesses. Utilizing classical methods of bringing theatre to the uninitiated, they sought out non-traditional performance spaces in local neighborhoods. Community icons were used as inspiration for performance material. The improvisational nature of the performances encouraged the audience to join the actors on-stage to share their own experiences and individual points of view.

Seeking new and more expansive outlets of creativity, the producers moved to Hollywood, CA in order to continue their mission of producing innovative and experimental works for the public. Recognizing the obvious void in the local arts scene, efforts are now underway to produce the first annual Hollywood Fringe Festival.

This will be an expansive event uniting local and international artists in a celebration of theatrical works. It’s mission is to:

  • Host an environment for bold and experimental theatre
  • Vitalize the theatre industry in Los Angeles
  • Promote and enrich the Hollywood neighborhood
  • Champion underground art and artists

The Festival will open in the Summer of 2010.