20th Anniversary Honorees

SITI Company entering its 20th Anniversary year as a non-profit theater company is a great accomplishment in our minds.  It is also one that makes us reflect on those individuals whose unwavering support, energetic spirit, and trustworthy guidance helped us reach this seminal milestone.  And upon reflection about who those individuals might be, we realized that it’s not just a few, but in fact many who have helped shape the path we’ve walked.  

We asked those special people to allow SITI Company to honor them throughout the 20th Anniversary season and toast to them at our Anniversary JAM and Celebration in May.  Truly SITI Company would not be where we are today if it weren’t for their involvement. Below you’ll see some of the kinds things they’ve said about our work over the past two decades in response. - Anne Bogart

Ben Cameron, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Why do I love SITI

Perhaps it’s the memories I have of Bobrauschenbergamerica or Hotel Cassiopeia or Radio Macbeth.  Perhaps it’s because Anne Bogart is one of the most generous, thoughtful, profoundly inquisitive artists in America today.  Perhaps it’s because the acting ensemble is composed of some of the fiercest, bravest, most profoundly talented actors we have.  Perhaps it’s because of the way they create—an intermeshing ensemble, a choir of voices offering insight and ideas.  Perhaps it’s the fact that they pioneered opening the rehearsal hall to the curious public.  Perhaps it’s because of Anne’s incredibly fascinating and valuable interview series with other artists.  Perhaps it’s because every time I see a SITI show I leave and see the world a new way. Perhaps it’s because I have never forgotten hearing Anne say “our job as artists is to redefine the time signature of how we live.”  Perhaps it’s because I never understood Viewpoints until there was SITI.  Perhaps it’s because of A DIRECTOR PREPARES.  Perhaps it’s because Darren West makes me hear things I’ve never heard before.  Perhaps its because when I see them on stage, I want to be Tom Nelis—well, until Barney comes along, and then I want to be Barney–until Ellen comes along and then I want to be Ellen, but oops here comes Leon and now I want to be Leon, and wait I still want to be Tom, and well you get the idea…

Maybe it’s all of these. Maybe it’s other things I can’t articulate in the flush of the moment.  All I know for sure is that, ever since they appeared on the theatre scene in the 1980’s, there has been no one in America like them.  No one whose integrity, whose commitment, whose singularity of collective vision and whose generosity surpasses theirs.  They have inspired an entire generation of young artists—not to imitate them, but to find their own way, to ask their own questions, to stay eternally dissatisfied in the quest for always asking more.  The American theatre has been all the richer for their appearance.  And how lucky are we to have been able to have seen their work.

Jocelyn Clark, Playwright

The first time I saw the work of Anne Bogart and the SITI Company, I was completely gobsmacked. I wondered who were these people and how did they do this?  The Medium was everything I love in the theatre: daring, rigorous, and effortless.   A year later I met Anne and the company in Skidmore, and a year after that we made Bob together.

I still wonder who are these people and how do they do this?  But in the best way. I can point to Viewpoints and Suzuki and to the work that we have made together but every time I see a SITI show I witness a powerful alchemy. An at once mysterious and mundane process that combines the lives of the members of the company with their training and their work to create a truly living theatre which grows with greater intensity and urgency with each passing year.  Almost 20 years and seven collaborations later, I am still gobsmacked.

Anne Hamburger

Anne is one of the most extraordinary human beings I have ever known.  Her capacity for giving, for listening and for absorbing the creative energies and quests of others is unparalleled.  This quality that she has, almost Buddah-like, draws people to her like a magnet and I’ve watched this happen time and time again.  In an age where it feels almost impossible to be heard amidst the din of information overload, Anne hears.  In a time where the arts are underfunded and under supported and young directors are having an ever so difficult time finding their way, Anne supports.  In a time where commitment feels all too fleeting, Anne has lived by a dedication to SITI that has enabled it to survive and thrive.  IN an age where creative friendships come and go quickly, Anne truly knows how to be a loving, loyal friend.  For this I am eternally grateful and say “Thank you”.

Chuck Helm

Congratulations to Anne and everyone at SITI Company for 20 years of creating some of the most exceptional ensemble theatre on the scene.  It’s been a pleasure to play a part in realizing some of your artistic ambitions alongside you over the years, driven by your collective enthusiasm and unique vision for making special work for the stage.  SITI productions are truly gems: multi-faceted, polished and brilliant.  Your deep commitment to connecting with audiences and articulating your artistic processes clearly for students who eagerly follow your path are values that we share, too.  It’s terrific that you are taking the time to reflect on all you’ve accomplished in the past two decades, stop and smell the roses. You’ve made an impressive body of work that you all can be very proud of as everybody in the room shaped each moment together and I feel privileged to have witnessed this in action.   But, what’s next?  That’s the question that has fueled your journey together so far, let’s see more greatness from SITI.  Looking forward to seeing all the new work you’ve unveil in this celebratory anniversary season and in the years to come.

Tom Hewitt

Someone once said that a career isn’t something you can plan, but rather something you can look back on.  Twenty years ago, working with the SITI Company in Charles Mee’s Orestes, it was impossible to imagine being firmly ensconced in the Big Budget Broadway Musical.  How sad it would be to abandon the heightened peripheral vision than comes with real ensemble work, the power of stillness, or the freedom to explore the theatrical event in a non-linear way. 

But the past two decades have shown me that the Theatre evolves and theatrical sensibilities change.  I can think of no rehearsal process in the past several years where someone hasn’t referenced the SITI Company.  Rare is the heated late-night conversation among actors that doesn’t site a SITI production, actor, or workshop.  The aesthetics of the Company are now part of the theatrical vernacular.  Their playful, courageous and intelligent work is transforming the American theatre. 

Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer BAM

Three artistic ingredients distinguishes the SITI Company. The artistic leadership of Anne Bogart, her art plus the men and women who compose the company. I am consistently reminded that the interplay of all three yields compelling, dynamic theater for our time. Consistently evolving and bringing us to insightful, human moments that tell us through art that we are alive. These artists are valued artistic crusaders.

Rob Orchard

The many pleasures of working with SITI Company are foreshadowed by my time with Anne before SITI was born. When I think about the projects we’ve done together - from Calderon de la Barca to Paula Vogel, Kaufman and Hart to many Chuck Mee collaborations, with a smidgen of Marivaux and Gershwin, I’m struck but not surprised by the range of styles and forms. This characteristic seems true to SITI as well. Maybe it has roots in Anne’s constant moving from school to school growing up in a military family adapting to and eventually perhaps even relishing differences. The Company has a wide embrace.

And what a gift SITI Company has been to the American Theatre. As we all know, the work is united by rigorous and constant training and populated by a group of the nicest and most talented people I know. They are all dedicated teachers AND performers, people knowledgeable about the world - another SITI goal of seeking and absorbing impulses from a variety of cultures - and capable of making the inscrutable scrutable. Just think of the two Bob productions - bobrauschenbergamerica, and Bob (as in Wilson). And what fun too.

Twenty years is a long time for any Company. This is perhaps the greatest tribute to all it’s members. The Group Theatre lasted only 10 years. But the SITI culture is porous, and I imagine the artistic satisfaction, considerable. Their goals are complex. Not just turning out excellent productions (which they do with remarkable regularity), but injecting our culture with their artistic and intellectual leadership. The American theatre NEEDS SITI Company to thrive for many decades to come. Congratulations!

Marc Masterson

Growing up together creates a special bond. Over the past 20 years I have witnessed SITI at their best, their worst and their most vulnerable. I have seen brilliance, fierce battles over nothing, love affairs, break-ups, fierce battles over very important things, jealousy and their deep admiration for each other. I have watched them read each others minds and bodies. They have reached transcendence, crumbled into nothing and rebuilt countless times. They have thrown out some of their best work. They have been bankrupt, awash in grant money and then empty again. In every way, they have demonstrated to themselves and to the world how deeply difficult and profoundly rewarding it is to be an ensemble, and they have made a body of work that is passionately distinctive. They are my best friends, my dearest colleagues and I follow everything that they do with abiding interest and lasting love. I am honored to be a part of their world.

Jefferson Mays

I cannot think of SITI and my five years in their company without recalling Charles Ludlam: “You are the living mockery of your ideals,” he wrote. “If not, you have set your ideals too low.”

I am proud to say that I am indeed a living mockery of my ideals. Largely because they were set for me when I joined SITI eighteen years ago.

In no other place, and among no other collaborators, have I encountered a higher collective intelligence or a greater rigor and level of artistry. It was an annealing, often chastening and always exhilarating time, that has formed the benchmark of excellence for me to this day. SITI continues to define and exhort me.

Mike Ross

Artists change lives.  Some much more so than others.  Anne Bogart and SITI Company changed mine.  Profoundly.  Not just once.  And not just mine.

Over the course of the privileged time that I have known Anne and her fabulous SITI colleagues, I have had scores and scores of deeply moving and inspiring conversations with audience members across generations — including students and faculty as well as members of the general public from all walks of life — about the impact of these extraordinary artists and their work. And I cannot begin to estimate the number of people who have personally thanked me for bringing Anne and SITI into their lives.

I love what these artists stand for.  Invention.  Deep inquiry.  Courage.  Elusive beauty.  Elegant complexity.  And so much more.  But perhaps most, I love their fierce belief in our human capacity to overcome our all-too-human flaws.

They are consummately soulful artists of, and for, our time.  We need them, for we are all the beneficiaries of their gifts.

Big cheers on your 20th, SITI Company.  And may we be blessed with decades more of your life-affirming spirit!

More Testimonials will be added throughout the anniversary season. Stayed tuned!