Innovative Modular Stage Donated to Thrown Stone
June 29, 2017—from the news pages of the Thrown Stone web site
A chance encounter propels Thrown Stone years into the future
On the sunny afternoon of June 3, 2017, Thrown Stone Production Manager Cyrus Newitt was at the Murray Hill Street Fair in Manhattan. The Snarks, Ltd., a local theatre institution, was attending in costume as historic Murray Hill characters, and Cyrus was their J.P. Morgan. So it was, in tops and tails, that he was introduced to Paula J Riley, Artistic Director of The Spiral Theatre Studio.
Over the course of many years, the Spiral had developed an innovative theatrical concept: The Spiral Stage. With eight modular rhombus-shaped platforms, the stage can be configured to create an endless array of immersive environments. And since each piece can be easily moved by actors, these environments can morph right before the audience’s eyes. Built sustainably — literally at a 1-horse-powered sawmill in Pennsylvania — this stage was designed with the intent of reducing the cost and waste inherent in set builds and load-ins ...
Read more >click here.
Thrown Stone created this video showing just a few stage configurations using the Spiral Theatre module models
The pages on this site will offer an overall picture of this innovative theatre—a long dream of Paula J Riley. The stage was resurrected after Iza Itkin's Chamber Theatre closed in the seventies and led a short but fruitful life in Manhattan as The Spiral Theatre Studio.
It all began in August of 2013 when Paula and Steve J. Hill took a large plain rental room at Paul Michael's The Network and transformed it into an intimate, acoustically-optimized gray-box performance venue that seated fifty in comfortable chairs. In a nine-month period Paula produced and directed five equity showcase productions, two readings, and three celebrity interviews on the movable modular stage.
Paula was informed on June 30, 2014 that The Network would be closing its doors and the Spiral Theatre would have to move out within a week.
The stage went into storage and months of searching for a new venue commenced with no concrete results. Paula continued to teach and lend her directing talents to several productions outside of The Spiral Theatre.
In October of 2016 Paula was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer. It was apparent in order to fight the disease the Spiral Theatre—as well as directing and producing—would have to be put on hold.
Then in June of 2017 the chance encounter with Thrown Stone led to a permanent home for the Spiral Theatre in Connecticut.
> Click Here to go to our gallery page to see what The Spiral Theatre Studio accomplished in less than a year.
> Click here for Thrown Stone web site
Paula was honored to speak at Thrown Stone's inaugural performance on July 14th 2017. But because of illness she was unable to attend. This was the speech she planned on giving.
Good evening I am Paula J Riley. Welcome to the opening night of Thrown Stone’s U.S. premiere performance of Milk by Ross Dunsmore.
I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. At the early age of 23, I worked with Iza Itkin, a director of some standing. From early on she spoke of creating a chamber theatre in her large apartment. It was there she erected a mobile stage. The stage consisted of eight geometric structures that forms a hexagon. The pieces could move throughout the course of a play or remain stationery. I studied with her on that stage for many years. Her classes consisted of exercises in strict improvisation. When Iza died— the stage went with her.
Years later after discovering my true calling as a director I resurrected the stage and added a process to help actors, directors and students become involved in a metaphoric approach to the understanding of character right from the start. I called it the inevitable progression of character development.
I named the new stage The Spiral Theatre Studio and the process the Primary Principals of Acting. I wrote a guide that accompanies my teaching: The Character Core: A visual portal revealing the inevitable progression of character development.
Last year I was diagnosed with lung cancer. The time needed to spend on my recovery led me to realize it was time to close a chapter in my life. In order for the stage and its process to continue, I started looking for like-minded theatre companies, which I discovered were few and far between.
At a summer fair on Park Avenue I found my simpatico theater company when I met Cyrus Newitt and later Jonathan Winn and Jason Peck.
And Cyrus “knew it” as soon as I approached him and asked him if he would be interested in adopting my stage—his jaw dropped and his eyes teared—as did mine.
I am privileged to be a founding sponsor and to pass along my contribution in honor of truth and art.
Today we come to a launching of Thrown Stone’s theatre and to send her into exciting seas. We ask the actors of old and the mood of God that is the theatre to accept Thrown Stone as her name, to help her through rough passages, and allow her safe return with full crew. So here is to Thrown Stone's maiden voyage.
Three views of the Spiral Theatre stage and the gray-box studio at The Network, 2013