Bond Street Theatre was founded in 1976 by Joanna Sherman and Patrick Sciarratta, and a group of physically skilled, socially concerned actors dedicated to innovative theatre and motivated by a passion to be useful in the world. A resident company at LaMama Theatre in its early years, the ensemble created both indoor works and large street theatre productions that toured throughout New York and nationally.
The company has trained extensively in the physical and gestural arts of many traditions to develop a theatrical language that communicates across cultural borders. The ensemble selects the gestures, rituals, and symbols that give life its shape and dynamics, and complements them with striking theatrical forms such as acrobatics, martial arts, masks, stilts, dance, puppetry, many types of music, and performance styles from many cultures. The ensemble utilizes forum theatre, playback, and other interactive theatre forms.
Today, Bond Street Theatre spends much of its time working internationally, collaborating with local theatre artists throughout the world, and initiating community-based arts projects. The company is committed to furthering peace and cross-cultural understanding through creative associations with artists worldwide, creating theatre-based projects for education, healing, and empowerment in critical areas, and training trainers in these techniques to insure the sustainability of its artistic-humanitarian programs.
In a radio interview in 1997 at the height of the war in Kosovo, Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director for UNICEF at the time, noted that children traumatized by the violence now filled the surrounding refugee camps and needed help. Her message was a call to artists: the children need to express their fears through any means, she said. Bond Street answered her call. Since that time, we have seen again and again the value of the expressive arts in areas of conflict, and have been fortunate enough to learn from a variety of global partners.
To date, the company has worked in Afghanistan, India, Myanmar (Burma), Haiti, Guatemala, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, and across Europe, Canada, and the USA, performing, teaching and creating theatre projects.
Highlights: Bond Street created Jerusalem’s first street theatre company with Arabs and Jews together (1984); initiated the first Afghan-US theatre collaboration (2005); worked with refugees in Montreal (1987), Macedonia (1999), Pakistan (2002), and Haiti (2011); toured an Afghan-US-Indian theatre team to rural communities across India (2006-2009); performed in war-torn theatres across the Balkans and created the Performing Artists for Balkan Peace uniting artists from 8 Balkans nations. Since 2003, the company has been working in Afghanistan to revitalize the theatre arts and create theatre to reach isolated women, and currently conducts projects with groups in Myanmar and Haiti.
The company received a MacArthur Award for its innovative programming, and receives consistent foundation and governmental support, including the US Institute for Peace, the US Department of State and its Embassies around the world. Bond Street Theatre is an NGO in association with the United Nations.
2016-2017: Implemented the USIP-supported Youth Mobilization for Peace and Justice program in Afghanistan to educate communities about issues of corruption, rule of law and access to justice through mobile theatre and media events in 10 provinces. 2013-2017: Conducted a TCG-supported collaboration with Thukhuma Khayeethe, working on a mobile theatre production of Volpone in Myanmar, a play about corruption, status and greed, and one of the first public theatre shows since the military regime.
2014-2016: Conducted the US Embassy-supported Creativity in Action project with 400+ youth from 25 provinces across Afghanistan, teaching leadership, and creating youth-designed and implemented volunteer community improvement programs.
2016: Initiated a US Embassy-funded project in Azerbaijan, working with university students to devise an educational theatre production about domestic violence that toured across the country, with sub-topics of corruption.
2015: Implemented a Creative Arts Program for incarcerated women in the Herat Women's Prison in Afghanistan, giving women a voice to speak out about unequal justice practices that imperil women. Supported by Dining for Women.
2009-2010: As US Cultural Envoys in Myanmar, conducted workshops at Gitameit Music School in Yangon. Created and toured a show about hygiene to jungle villages near Thai border with the theatre group Thukhuma Khayeethe.
2009: Toured Michael McGuigan's original play about science, technology, and magic, The Mechanical, in New York and Baltimore.
2009: Toured Beyond the Mirror with Exile Theatre of Kabul to theatres and festivals in the San Francisco area, California.
2006-2009: Conducted performances and workshops for women, children and others in 8 states in India, including Kashmir, with Exile Theatre of Afghanistan and Purvabhyas Theatre of India, in urban and rural areas.
2006-2009: Created educational and creative programs for youth, adults and children in Afghanistan (Kunduz, Mazar, Kabul).
2005: Toured Beyond the Mirror in Afghanistan, Japan, New York, Baltimore, and Washington DC -- the first US-Afghan collaboration and the first Afghan theatre group to come to the US.
2003-2005: Created the play Beyond the Mirror in collaboration with Exile Theatre of Afghanistan based on personal accounts of the 30 years of Afghan conflict, and premiered it in the Kabul Theatre Festival.
2003: Brought an uplifting theatre show, The Garden Party, and workshops to 10,000 children in schools in northern Afghanistan, to audiences that had never seen theatre before due to its being banned during the Taliban regime.
2003: Trained theatre students at Kabul University in new theatre techniques to revive the theatre arts in Afghanistan, and received an award from Afghanistan's Minister of Culture, Said Makhdoom Rahin.
2002: Initiated programs for children, youth, and teachers in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, and trained trainers for PLAN International.
2001-2003: Brought creative therapy to firefighters and others in New York who lost loved ones on 9/11.
2001-2002: Toured our non-verbal Romeo and Juliet created in collaboration with Theatre Tsvete throughout Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, and Romania.
2000: Created a visual, non-verbal version of Romeo and Juliet in collaboration with Bulgarian puppet theatre, Theatre Tsvete, and toured the show across war-torn Kosovo and in Bulgaria.
1999: Brought uplifting performances and workshops to seven Kosovar refugee camps in Macedonia in response to the war in Kosovo, in association with UNICEF.
1996: Created WERK, a play about work and those who collect and recycle trash, and toured the show in Brazil.
1995: Attended the UN Conference on Women in Beijing, in association with UNIFEM.
1992: Toured Nightmare on Wall Street in Brazil, and gave "life skills" workshops for street children in Brasilia.
1990: Presented Nightmare on Wall Street in Germany, including the first legal political street theatre in East Berlin in 50 years, just after the Berlin Wall came down.
1990: Received a MacArthur Award for innovative interdisciplinary and intercultural programming.
1987: Conducted theatre workshops designed especially for teen refugees from 15 countries in conflict, held in Montreal.
1984-present: Programs using theatre for social improvement in Indonesia, China, Singapore, Japan, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, and the USA.
1984: Presented four theatre productions at major venues at the Israel Festival, and created Israel’s first inter-ethnic theatre company in Jerusalem made up of 60 Jews, Arabs, Kurds, and other minorities, following the war with Lebanon.
1983-1993: Created and operated the Palenville Interarts Colony, an artists’ retreat in the Catskills, and produced A Shakespeare Party, a popular selection of Shakespeare's favorite plays, presented in the woods.
1982: Toured the east coast from North Carolina to Vermont with Powerplay, during which we discovered Palenville, our future theatre laboratory called the Palenville Interarts Colony.
1980: La Caja Fuerte, created by the ensemble, toured to the Santander region in northern Spain, the company's first international tour.
1977-1979: Presented Kafka’s The Hunger Artist, Moliere’s The Flying Doctor, and Lars Forsell’s Charlie McDeath at LaMama, plus original works, The Myth of Erysichthon, and the first edition of a long-running street theatre serial, Powerplay.
Christmas Eve 1976: Presented Bond Street Theatre's first production at LaMama Annex, A Christmas Carol.
October 8, 1976: Bond Street Theatre was founded by a group of socially concerned actors, and became a resident theatre group at LaMama ETC.