Tina Satter is a Brooklyn-based writer and director who makes plays, performances, videos, and music. She is Artistic Director of the Obie Award-winning theater company Half Straddle founded in 2008 and was named a 2014 Doris Duke Impact Award recipient. Her recent critically acclaimed show, House of Dance opened in October 2013 commissioned by Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players. It tours to Zurich and Kyoto, Japan in 2014. Her play, Seagull (Thinking of you) premiered at PS122’s 2013 COIL Festival following residencies at MASS MoCA, New Museum, and Abrons Art Center and has toured to festivals and theaters throughout France and to Croatia and Mass Live Art in Great Barrington, Mass. In the Pony Palace/FOOTBALL was presented at the 2014 Fringe Arts Festival in Philadelphia.
Her new show, Ancient Lives, premiered at the Kitchen, in New York City, in January 2015.
Half Straddle’s In the Pony Palace/FOOTBALL was named a Top 10 Show of 2011 by PAPER Magazine, among other honors, and FAMILY was named a Top 10 show of 2009 by Time Out New York. Tina’s work has been curated into seasons at The Kitchen, PS122, Incubator Arts Project, the Bushwick Starr, Prelude Festival, and Ice Factory Festival. Her play Away Uniform had its European premiere at Culturgest in Lisbon, Portugal in October 2013.
Tina was named a “2011 Off-Off Broadway Innovator to Watch” by Time Out New York, was a 2013 Kitchen L.A.B. resident, and featured director at Culture Project’s 2011 Women Center Stage Festival. She has been a guest artist and teacher at Princeton University, Reed College, and Fordham University. Tina attended Mac Wellman’s graduate playwriting program at Brooklyn College and received a B.A. in English from Bowdoin College and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Reed College.
ANCIENT LIVES merges teen movie influences from the late 80s, a live mixed score, and video landscape to create a brand new coming of age narrative. A teacher leads three students away from society. When they start an alternative TV station in the woods and meet a young witch who alters the group dynamic, their fragile new family begins to fray. Seventeenth-century captivity narratives, adolescent letters of Emily Dickinson, the teen movies, and more infect this darkly humorous consideration of how we make meaning for ourselves and our communities.
Premiered at The Kitchen, NYC (January 2015).
"Ms. Satter is a genre-and-gender-bending, visually exacting stage artist who has developed an ardent following among downtown aesthetes with a taste for acidic eye candy and erotic enigmas…The witch’s caldron that is ANCIENT LIVES is a melting pot of far-flung cultural references and inspirations…These ingredients blend into a surprisingly smooth, hallucinogenic cocktail that summons the confused hothouse atmosphere of young women with percolating hormones in dangerous proximity. The performances are, to a one, perfectly artificial, suggesting people striking poses they don’t always understand…in Ms. Satter’s world, it’s not easy disentangling what we really feel from the pop clichés of how we’re supposed to feel." - The New York Times
“There is something subtly unnerving and, yes, bewitching about this performance, which is much more than an ironic parable about women growing up and finding their voices through uncommon means.” - Blouin Art Info
“There is a strikingly synthetic quality to Tina Satter’s seductive and mesmerizing ANCIENT LIVES, a play that entwines adolescence and obsolescence in order to un-tell a familiar story…it is ironically about This Very Moment (the Digital Age, call it what you prefer), but rather than retreat into critique—pointing to the condition in which we live in order to point to the condition in which we live—Satter finds a fresh way to see.” - Art Forum
“ANCIENT LIVES gives pleasure in outline alone: a lo-fi scrambling of '90s movies such as The Craft with Thoreau's Walden, druidic mysticism grafted onto Heathers.” - Time Out New York
HOUSE OF DANCE
At a tap dance studio in a small town, four characters prepare for a competition. As the instructor teaches a new routine to his student, tensions flare and dead dreams fly back to life. Staged within one of Abrons’ dance studios, House of Dance creates a hyper-realistic environment in which dance sections become more virtuosic, piano accompaniment evolves into full-blown songs, and interactions between characters heighten as we see the fears and vulnerability inherent in any attempt to communicate and define oneself in the context of others.
Premiered at Abrons Arts, October 2013. Subsequent productions at PS 122′s COIL Festival, 2014 and touring to Kyoto, Japan.
“Dancing With the Stars” it most definitely is not. And that’s part of what makes HOUSE OF DANCE so very refreshing…charmingly off-center…[a] small but enchanting show…” – The New York Times
“(4 out of 5 stars) HOUSE OF DANCE will reach deep into your itchiest nostalgia center to give your lizard brain a friendly scratch…it’s a sweet, surprising piece of entertainment, a delicate atmospheric realized with (and dedicated to) puppyish, endearing effort.” –Time Out New York
SEAGULL (THINKING OF YOU)
SEAGULL (THINKING OF YOU) is a live performance that considers and responds to late Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s Seagull. Half Straddle writer/director Tina Satter’s singular contemporary voice takes on the beauty and darkness of chekhov’s original play for a necessary rediscovery
Premiered at PS122′s COIL Festival, NYC (2013). Presented at PRELUDE 2011.
“At a moment in New York theater when adventurous young artists are taking their Chekhov very personally, Ms. Satter manages to be the most strictly personal of all.” – The New York Times
“…we leave the theater with fragmentary impressions, and there is pleasure to be had in finding meaning in them that had been somewhat elusive as we watched.” – NY Theatre Review
“The patented Half Straddle mix of melodrama and amateurishness coincides deliciously with Chekhov’s own sly melancholia.” –Time Out
“…a sort of fashion shoot on the moon reading someone’s diary excerpts while on LSD…[an] intriguingly far-out riff on Chekhov’s The Seagull…” – New Yorker
“…unfettered theatrical imagination…” – Backstage
A darker, unexpected companion piece to the critically acclaimed IN THE PONY PALACE/FOOTBALL. Using her poetically tinged approach to the language and feelings of sports as a textual layer, Tina creates an even more abstracted, but potent world out on the Plains to consider teammates, family, and belief in something more.
Preview showing presented by the Incubator Arts Project (2012). Supported in part by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
IN THE PONY PALACE/FOOTBALL
An all-female cast portrays the players, coaches and cheerleaders of a high school football team in a slyly subversive consideration of gendered roles, sports culture and performance. Mixing the specific language, aesthetics and dynamics of football with Tina’s incisive and tweaked reinterpretation of high school-speak.
Commissioned by and premiered at The Bushwick Starr, NYC (2011).
“IN THE PONY PALACE/FOOTBALL is a giddily exuberant confection that manages to conjure a distinctively eccentric theatrical world.” – The New York Times Critic’s Pick
“Satter is launching a particularly coordinated goal-line drive to a new feminist form.” – Time Out New York
“[Satter’s] specific vision and big, playful imagination is something our theatre will need in spades.” -nytheatre.com
NURSES IN NEW ENGLAND
The language of the hospital drama is given an unexpected comedic and bittersweet spin in stacking up life and death against our most mundane desires. A female head of surgery and her nursing staff find the magic in their starkly beautiful coastal hospital.
Originally produced by Half Straddle and presented at the 2010 Ice Factory Festival.
“NURSES IN NEW ENGLAND is a funny, charming show. Playwright Tina Satter creates a smart, comic mirror of the medical show genre without every venturing into spoof.” – nytheatre.com
An unexpected, musically-enhanced, and close-up look at the ridiculous and inexplicable nature of families and the kinds of love we can’t escape.
Originally produced by Half Straddle and presented at the Ontological Theater (2009).
Time Out New York, Top 10 Show of 2009.
“In [Satter’s] ridiculous, enchanting musical FAMILY, her creation earns the right to kick back by dedicating itself to a well-defined world in which events that could have seemed self-consciously wacky instead feel inevitable, and yes, at ease.” – Time Out New York
“Writer/director Tina Satter has obviously done her homework. FAMILY incorporates elements of the avant-garde tradition going back to the Wooster Group, Mac Wellman, Richard Foreman, and beyond…Clearly, FAMILY knows and respects its lineage. And plays with it, like a kid knocking down a sandcastle to build a newer masterpiece. Satter re-imagines experimental theater with a post-postmodern/girl-group/punk aesthetic.” – nytheatre.com
THE KNOCKOUT BLOW
Three girls inhabit an infectiously weird and dissonant, yet raucously sing-along world where the story of a contemporary werewolf explores dislocation, heartbeats and saying really stupid things when you want to say the most important thing of all.
Originally produced by Half Straddle and presented at the Ontological Theater and HERE Arts Center.
“Three actresses make up a singing girl group haunted by images of the Great White North and the rather inconveinient truth that one, at least, is a werewolf. With terrific music by Chris Giarmo, this concert-cum-performance-piece is a delightful piece of work.” – Superfluities Redux