Goldstar Sponsors SPACE on Ryder Farm’s Gala: Farm in the City

As anyone who’s read Selling Out before knows, we here at Goldstar love live entertainment. That’s why we’re in this business. It’s our goal to spread our love of live entertainment to others by making it easy for them to go out often and have as many magical moments as possible. So it totally made sense for us to jump on board when given the chance to sponsor a fabulous live event that’ll help raise funds for a nonprofit artists’ program. This is a double-whammy: A night of live entertainment in support of artists who create future live entertainment! Here’s the scoop:

The nonprofit is SPACE on Ryder Farm, an artist residency program on a gorgeous 130-acre organic farm in upstate New York. SPACE has quickly become one of the premier centers for new play development in the country.

The event is the inaugural Farm in the City Gala, featuring cocktails, a farm-to-table dinner, performances from six seasons of SPACE-developed work, and an auction — all hosted by How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor, a member of the SPACE Advisory Board. It all happens at Manhattan’s Sunwest Studios on Monday, October 24 from 7:00pm-10:00pm.

As we gear up for the event, we wanted to share more info on the remarkable experiences happening at SPACE on Ryder Farm. So we talked to SPACE founder and executive director Emily Simoness. Check out the first half of our Q&A with her below. And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Simoness’ inspirational talk from last year’s TEDxBroadway, where she shared how her life’s path veered in an unexpected direction, leading to better results than she could have ever imagined.

Selling Out: You started SPACE on Ryder Farm six years ago. What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Emily Simoness: I’ve learned about the power of community. How small groups of people can come together in an incredibly meaningful way and make something. There is a lot of power in movement. One of my biggest takeaways is to “Keep going.” There are DOZENS of times when giving up was very tempting. In many ways SPACE exists because I kept going, I didn’t give up. This whole experience really has been about continuing to show up day in and day out.

I’ve learned a lot about the power of family. I’m a seventh generation Ryder family member, but when I showed up on the farm for the first time in 2009, I had never laid eyes on the distant extended family members I met or the farm itself. They trusted me and opened the farm up to me in an incredibly generous way because I was family. Had my mother not had the maiden name Ryder, I am not sure SPACE would exist today.

I’m a big fan of just starting. The whole ‘waiting around game’ isn’t interesting to me. When I look back there are many times when I wasn’t ready for the different challenges that presented themselves, but my ability to continue on in the face of uncertainty has proved effective.

SO: What are some of your favorite projects that have been created at SPACE?
ES: The Working Farm, our resident playwrights group, is comprised of eight individuals who are at the farm for five non-successive weeks throughout the season. To see an impressive amount (I mention some of the plays below) of The Working Farm plays go on to production has been pretty sweet.

• Grace McLean, a dynamo singer/performer/actress/musician/comedian, has been in the SPACE-fold since inception. Her Von Hildegard von Bingen project is pretty exciting.
• Shaina Taub developed music at SPACE for her adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for the Public Theater that was performed this past summer at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Works initiative.
• Isaac Oliver penned some of the short stories in his debut collection of essays, Intimacy Idiot, at SPACE.
• Comedian John Early developed material for Netflix’s The Characters at SPACE.

SO: What has been some of the rewarding feedback you’ve received from participants of the program?
ES: Sam Hunter recently had this to say about his time working on The Harvest, which will premiere at LCT3 this season: “I made my first tenuous stabs at writing The Harvest while I was up at SPACE. It’s an odd and frenetic play with a lot of moving parts, and I don’t think I would have been able to put it together in my head if I hadn’t been in such a tranquil and supportive environment. Every need I had was catered to so I had nothing to do but focus on the work. Honestly, I wish I could write all my first drafts up at SPACE.”

Recent MacArthur Genius recipient Branden Jacobs-Jenkins had this to say about this time on the farm: “SPACE is one of the few places on earth where I have felt genuine inspiration happen over and over again … out on the lake or alone at a desk, watching the sky change colors over the Bowling Green on in conversation with fellow artists, sitting around a bonfire or the dinner table deep into the morning, long past the plates being cleared. There is something magic in the air up there, which I have been lucky to feel, and this is a rare thing every young artist should have the chance to experience.”

SO: Do you think people in NYC have a good idea of the scope and vision of SPACE on Ryder Farm, or is that what you hope to achieve by hosting a gala in the city?
ES: Because so many of our residents hail from NYC, word has spread quickly about SPACE — specifically within the NYC artist community. As we near the end of our sixth season, we are starting to see a slew of SPACE-developed shows off-Broadway. Sarah Burgess, a member of SPACE’s inaugural Working Farm playwrights’ group, penned Dry Powder on the farm. That show went on to have an incredible sold-out run at the Public earlier this year. Six of our SPACE-developed plays will be receiving off-Broadway productions over the next 12 months: Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Signature; The Harvest by Sam Hunter at Lincoln Center; Rancho Viejo by Dan LeFranc at Playwrights Horizons; Her Portmanteau by Mfoniso Udofia at Playwrights Realm; Sundown, Yellow Moon by Rachel Bonds at the Women’s Project with Ars Nova; and The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobel at New York Theater Workshop.

This gala is our way of celebrating the 1,000 residents we’ve supported over the last six years and to build awareness to support our next 1,000.

SO: Are you planning to host more events, maybe even beyond New York State?
ES: We host many events annually at Ryder Farm over the course of SPACE’s season (June-October). Favorite events include our Seasonal Supper series: farm-to-table dinners paired with artist performances; and our signature Roving Dinner, an eight-course meal, served at eight locations around Ryder Farm, paired with eight excerpts of new plays. Nothing planned YET for events beyond New York state — but stay tuned. A lot is on the horizon!

Follow SPACE on Ryder Farm on Twitter @SPACEonRyder.

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