NACL began in New York City at La MaMa E.T.C. in 1997, and later operated at the A.R.T./NY building in Brooklyn. Since 2000 the company has operated its own theatre center in Highland Lake, NY consisting of a 1920s Franciscan church converted into a theatre, and an adjacent former resort hotel called Lakewood House, which now functions as the theatre office, artist residence, and retreat center.
NACL is artist-run and defines itself as a laboratory theatre. In tandem with its theatre-creation work, the company has developed a performer training technique that has evolved from the work of its theatrical ancestors: Primus Theatre; Odin Teatret; and artistic descendents of the late Jerzy Grotowski. The company offers performer training retreats and has led workshops at universities and colleges around the world.
NACL has created numerous original performances. It takes many months to create a performance, and every effort is made to keep performances in repertory for a number of years. Since 1997 the company’s work has been seen across the US and Canada, as well as in England, Italy, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Mexico.
From 2000 to 2010, the company produced The NACL Catskill Festival of New Theatre, a summer theatre festival featuring the performances and workshops of independent ensembles and artists from across North America and abroad. The Festival has since transformed into a full season of presented works, including the freshest new work from emerging and established artists participating in the Deep Space Performance Residency Program.
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