by David Lally · June 19, 2014
David Lally introduces us to Believe Theatrical
Believe Theatrical may not be a name that many people in New York theatre are familiar with.
The company, whose mission is to develop new, character-driven pieces with potential for both stage & screen production, was founded in December of 2012 by a collection of actors, writers, filmmakers and producers: Ryan Gielen, Patrick Morris, Kate White, Katy Wright-Mead and Patrick James Lynch.
On June 23rd, Believe Theatrical hosts its next event, a staged reading of Almost, Maine playwright John Cariani’s newest piece, Love/Sick. Believe is no stranger to putting together incredible evenings, regularly hosting their star-studded reading series at the gorgeous Playwrights Horizons with bookended open bar receptions, free of charge. But with an all-star cast of 20 and a reading that will double as a fundraiser for the Hemophilia Association of New York (HANY), Believe again seems primed to top themselves.
But why hemophilia? Why HANY? Well, in addition to his creative background, co-founder Patrick James Lynch is also a severe hemophiliac who has devoted the better part of the last three years to creating dynamic and entertaining web video for the benefit of young people with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders.
“People need community, and for people with hemophilia, engaging with that community means engaging with disorder, something particularly important for teens and young people as they mature into independent adults,” says Lynch.
Hemophilia, a genetic-bleeding disorder that impairs the body’s ability to clot properly, is, for most Americans living with it, manageable. Sadly however, disengaging from one’s self-care and medical regimen can be life-threatening as Lynch well knows, having lost his brother Adam - also born with severe hemophilia - to a potentially preventable brain bleed in 2007. He was only 18.
“At the time, outside of summer camps, there really wasn’t sufficient programming to engage teens with bleeding disorders. Teens, now more than ever, are inundated with demands for their attention. My programs are designed to entertain and inspire first, with educational takeaways carefully woven into that entertaining and inspiring fabric. This entertainment-forward approach keeps young people engaged with the programming, the community, their disorder, and their self-care, hopefully preventing something like what happened to Adam from happening again.”
Lynch’s first hemophilia-specific project “Stop The Bleeding!” is now an award-winning comedic web series. I worked with him co-writing the first season, and know firsthand how many hurdles there were to overcome before his unique approach to outreach and advocacy was fully understood by those it was seeking to benefit. But now, with the full funding support of Baxter International Inc. - a company that makes multiple drugs for the hemophilia community - “Stop The Bleeding!” is in good health and about to enter its fourth season. The first three can be found here.
So, you may wonder, with all this concentration in filmed content, why a theatrical company?
“My creative interests don’t end with hemophilia. I want to have a hand in creating and producing the voices of emerging artists, just like the other Believe Producers. That said, when HANY’s Executive Director Linda Mugford approached us about producing a reading to benefit HANY’s Patient Services Fund, we saw an opportunity to expand the reach of Believe Theatrical and provide the bleeding disorders community of NYC with a unique and entertaining evening of theatre and fundraising.”
To date, Believe Theatrical’s reading series has included Pulitzer-Prize nominee Rebecca Gilman’s screenplay adaption of Blue Surge, Charlotte Miller’s The Magic Club, and two pieces by co-founder Ryan Gielen in Deleted Scenes and Under The Boardwalk. Believe also co-produced NYC-native Nick Vergara’s play Elsewhere in Los Angeles this past April.
Lynch states that Gielen’s Under The Boardwalk will be the first piece from the company’s reading series that they will produce a theatrical run of in New York, but that for now, all eyes are on June 23rd.
“Putting together an evening like this one is labor-intensive and challenging. Fortunately, our producers working relationship goes back well beyond the start of Believe Theatrical. We know how to get things done together, and we’ve got an incredible partner in the folks at HANY.”
Tickets for Love/Sick are $35 and 50% Tax Deductible. It will take place at the Mainstage Theater at 416 West 42nd Street, with the pre-show open bar reception and raffle beginning at 6pm, and the reading scheduled for 7pm. For more information and tickets, please visit believetheatrical.com.