June 20th, 2019
Today is the last day of The Interval. On behalf of the entire staff of The Interval, I want to thank you for reading and engaging with us over the last few years. We will be leaving all content available so it can continue to be read, and we hope you will continue to find value in it.
Since I started The Interval in August of 2014, we have published over 200 interviews and multiple highly regarded in-depth profiles and features, had all original photography, produced multiple free events, raised awareness about political causes and voting, and raised money for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. We have always kept all content and events free in order to make things as accessible as possible for the largest number of people possible, and all while having a paid staff (albeit not paid as much as they deserve). We have done all of this despite tremendous odds and as a completely independent publication, and with no institutional support, including from organizations that purport to support women in theatre.
The Interval primarily stemmed from a term paper I wrote about media coverage of women in musical theatre and the antiquated ways that they, and the form, were written about, especially as compared to other areas of the arts and entertainment industry. In 2014, I pitched a micro version of this idea to Laura Brown at Harper’s Bazaar (she’s now Editor-in-Chief of InStyle) and it led me to doing a series of pieces for their online Tony coverage that year, proving that my ideas were viable and a needed addition to the landscape. When The Interval launched, for many women who were interviewed, it was the first time they’d ever been asked questions about the impact of gender on their careers, and what was, to me, more galling, the first time many had been asked in-depth questions about their work, process, and their lives as artists. The Interval has unequivocally pushed forward and changed the conversation around women in theatre, and by changing things for women, I believe we have changed things for everyone.
But here is the thing: The Interval has moved things forward not by claiming to be any sort of advocacy organization (it is not), but simply by doing good, journalistic work—by asking smart and thoughtful questions, by having excellent and substantive writing, and by thinking critically and beyond the scope of the existing paradigm. What was most subversive about The Interval, and at times, most threatening to some people, was that rather than think outside the box, we decided there was no box.
I want to thank everyone who has shared their views, process, and beliefs with us over the years, especially the people who said “yes” to big, unproven asks along the way. I want to thank the people in this industry who felt unseen and did the work anyway, drawing a map with their convictions and their furious talent, yet without getting the credit they so rightly deserved; they made it a little easier for all of us. And I want to say a special thank you to all of the young people who have shared their thoughts with us—it’s not always easy to say what you think, especially when there can be so many things that teach you to believe that your thoughts aren’t valuable. I hope we made it a little easier for people to be what they wanted to be.
But mostly, I want to thank the amazing staff of The Interval. It has been a profound disappointment to me that they have not gotten the individual attention and recognition that they deserve. I’d like to tell you all a little about them, and it’s my sincerest hope that you all will take the time to read about them.
Danielle Feder is The Interval’s copy editor has also helped with marketing and social media. She is passionate about theatre and social justice, and skillfully knows how to bring those things together. She is also an excellent copy editor, an under-appreciated skill. Doing copy editing for The Interval takes a great facility with language and an ability to make things grammatically correct while also maintaining the voice of the speaker or writer. Danielle just completed her first year of Columbia’s MFA program in Dramaturgy and has a great interest in new play development. So if you are a playwright reading this, get in touch with Danielle. You won’t be sorry. And once she graduates, any theatre company would be lucky to work with her. You can keep up with her here and here.
Desiree Nasim is The Interval’s Design Director. She joined The Interval when she was still in college, and from the beginning showed ability and maturity far beyond her years. All of the graphics and logos and animated videos have all been Desiree. Beyond being a skilled graphic designer, Desiree is also a thoughtful one—every design she does has a thought-out rationale behind it (seriously, ask her about The Interval logo). She also works at AKA and does freelance design projects (you might have purchased one of her character charts) and she will probably have her own design firm before she’s 30. You can keep up with her here and here.
Sarah Rebell is one of The Interval’s writers. Over the last few years, she’s done an increasing amount of interviews with a wide range of artists, and written some big pieces on aspects of the theatre that don’t always get the attention they deserve (there’s a good chance you learned about music directors from Sarah). As an interviewer, she is always thoughtful and prepared and knows how to ask engaging questions about a multitude of projects. In addition to writing for The Interval, she also has an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU as a book writer and lyricist, and one of her projects is an adaptation of The Awakening. You can keep up with her here and here.
Shoshana Greenberg is also one of The Interval’s writers. She is responsible for making sure women of theatre history are remembered. Her “Women of Theatre History You Should Know” pieces have required extensive research, both in finding information about the subjects, but also in finding out who history has forgotten. Theses pieces have been invaluable not only to The Interval, but to the entire theatre community. Shoshana is also one of the busiest people I know and is involved in numerous other projects including a podcast and being a musical theatre writer (she too has an MFA in musical theatre writing). You can keep up with her here and here.
I want to thank our photographers, especially Tess Mayer, Jacqueline Harriet, Marisa Chafetz, and Miranda Barnes, who have all consistently produced amazing work for us. I also want to thank the other photographers who have shot for us over the years: Jessica Nash, Sofia Colvin, Melodie Jeng, and Emma Pratte. Having all original photography has always been important to me (the idea came from an interview I read with the founders of The New Potato, who pointed out that controlling the visuals was the only way to control the tone), and our photographers have done an outstanding job, sometimes not always in the easiest of circumstances. They often have to shoot quickly and in environments where they have little control. Yet, they still manage to produce powerful and evocative images. Their talent is immense and their contribution invaluable.
(My therapist—who now knows more about theatre than she ever wanted to—suggested that I might want to include that I, too, have plans, so you can follow me here and here, if you are curious or if you like cats or if you are my mother).
The Interval staff has shown a tremendous amount of talent and integrity over the years, even more impressive considering they all have worked for The Interval while also having other jobs and projects. But I think the thing I am most impressed by is their ability to let their work speak for itself, and their belief that doing good work is enough. It has been my great privilege to work with them.
I am not a journalist, but over the last almost five years, I have given a lot of thought to what it means to operate in a journalistic sphere. While writing about theatre is by no means comparable to writing about politics or world events, I believe all journalism is a tremendous responsibility. I have endeavored to hold The Interval to a rigorous journalistic and ethical standard. I don’t know if we always succeeded—there are questions I regret, interviews I regret, times when I should have pushed harder, and staffing decisions that were inexcusable and took too long to rectify. It has raised many questions for me. I wonder about the effects of people seeing interviews as endorsements and I wonder if we accidentally opened the door to the de-professionalizing of theatrical journalism at a time when we need journalists and people willing to ask the hard questions, particularly as the democratization of voices can so easily be used as cover for a smaller and smaller group of individuals getting a larger and larger share of power. I found what became one of the guiding principles of The Interval in some writing by the great Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn was a journalist who covered multiple wars. She was at Normandy Beach and the liberation of Dachau; she wrote New Journalism 30 years before Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese invented it. Disillusioned with the world, she wrote that she didn’t think journalism brought about change, but that its great contribution was keeping the record straight. I hope The Interval helped keep the record straight about who was here, what they were doing, and what they were thinking.
In 2008, my friend Deborah Blumenthal (and a third person who was a friend until she wasn’t, as is so often the case in one’s early twenties) started a theatre publication that in many ways was a prototype for The Interval. We were in our very early twenties and I was terribly unhappy, with my imagination lost somewhere between reality and the ideals I had formed as a child about living in New York and being in the arts. We called the publication The Eighth Avenue Observer. I have no idea where that name came from and now it makes me cringe a little. I wanted to call it The Florie Rotondo Society. Florie Rotondo is a character—no, not even a character—in the first chapter of Truman Capote’s unfinished novel Answered Prayers. The chapter begins: “Somewhere in this world there exists an exceptional philosopher named Florie Rotondo. The other day I came across one of her ruminations printed in a magazine devoted to the writings of schoolchildren. It said: If I could do anything, I would go to the middle of our planet, Earth, and seek uranium, rubies, and gold. I’d look for Unspoiled Monsters. Then I’d move to the country. Florie Rotondo, age eight.” And it ends, “And a very special good night to that wise philosopher Florie Rotondo, age eight. Florie—and I mean this, honey—I hope you never reached the interior of the planet Earth, never discovered uranium, rubies, and Unspoiled Monsters. With all my heart, what there is of it, I hope you moved to the country and lived there happily ever after.”
I am not sure what the exact sequence of events were that led me, at 22, to remember those lines and think, “Yes, that is it. That is the feeling.” But I think I was right. That’s it. I still think it is.
On and off over the last year, I have thought about what I wanted this letter to say, and written different versions of it in my head. But the thing that I keep thinking of is that time in my life a little over a decade ago, and how young I was then and how I am not anymore.
In the last moments that I have this platform, I guess all I want to say is: thank you, and a very special good morning.