Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Ars Nova’s Brilliant Career
The New Yorker: n a Monday night this winter, at a gala in a Beaux-Arts former bank downtown, the young playwright Rachel Bonds, whose luminous “Sundown, Yellow Moon” is currently onstage uptown, made a showstopper of a speech, on a night not lacking in potential showstoppers. The event was a fund-raiser for the nonprofit Off Broadway theatre and artist incubator Ars Nova. It had a Russia-in-winter theme—bear-shaped ice sculpture, stilt walkers, faux-fur hats—in honor of the company’s first Broadway transfer, Dave Malloy’s “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.” It featured songs from the show, performed by Malloy, Josh Groban, Denée Benton, and others. But when Bonds spoke people made sounds of amazement: as Ars Nova’s playwright-in-residence, she said, she was paid a salary and given benefits. Good benefits. “I actually went to the dentist,” she said, to “ooh”s. “I also had my first child.” Prenatal care, delivery, everything, was covered by her Ars Nova health insurance. “He’s eight weeks old, and it’s my first night away from him,” she said. “So that tells you how much Ars Nova means to me.” After her speech, she went out to the street and got a car home. Inside, the party raged on, with vodka and accordions.