Independent Theater in NYC

See the Arts in the City a Little Differently.

Theater is HUGE in NYC!

People come from all over the world, drawn to the lights and magic of the broadway stage.  What most don't know, however, is what kind of wonder can be found in other parts of the city, and often for a lot less money!  This page is intended as an intro to some independent theater, a great part of New York that is dedicated to artistic, rather than commercial, ends and as a result sometimes takes some seeking out.  There's way too much to cover in a page, but hopefully this page is a good starting point. 

Independent Theater is EXTRA HUGE!'s theater glossary says that Independent theater is "generic term for (mostly) small theaters at the end of the nineteenth century whose aim was not commercial success but artistic and social drama. The Théâtre-Libre in Paris, the Abbey Theater in Ireland, and the Provincetown Playhouse in America typify the independent theater movement."

What a great idea, huh?  Since the nineteenth century, independent theaters have been producing new and artistic shows.  And they still do it today.  It's great to be able to go to one of these new and unusual productions, usually found in out of the way, Off-Off-Broadway locales. 

Off-Off-Broadway is Not a Location, It's a Way of Being.

Differences Between Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway:


Broadway theaters get their name by meeting location and size criteria (to which there are very few exceptions).  They are located in the rectangle between 41st and 65th streets, between 6th and 8th avenues.  They have 500 or more seats.  Below is a map of the Broadway Theaters.


Off-Broadway theaters are smaller, with between 100 and 499 seats.  They're often non-profit theaters, and can be anywhere in the city.


Off-Off-Broadway theaters are the smallest, with 99 seats or fewer in the theater.  Like Off-Broadway theaters, they are usually non-profit.   (Source of this info).  This is the sector where most independent theaters are found!

Also, there are restrictions as to whether actors in Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway shows must be union, determined by contracts with the actors' equity association.   

So the distinction is really quite complicated!  But the main thing to remember is that an Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway production will definitely be in a smaller theater, and probably be more imaginative than a larger production.   

 Some Independent Companies to Check Out

East River Commedia is a touring company that produces a lot of cool stuff on the lower east side.

Clancy Productions, a production company that does a lot of creative, smart, new, "bare-bones" theater.

The Collective: Unconscious: home of the new Underground Zero festival, full of new things to see!

The New York International Fringe Festival.  A long-running, HUGE festival of independent theater in downtown NYC.  If you've never checked out Indie theater before, you definitely must see this!

To Find Out More about Independent Theater, Find Reviews, Find Tickets, Etc., a go-to spot for New York Theater.  Nicely categorized and always up to date., another wonderful resource for finding out more about Independent Theater.

For a filamentality hotlist on theater go to this site:



one of the many places to get theater tickets in NYC




Provincetown Playhouse

Historic Provincetown Playhouse




Innovative Theater Awards Logo



Inside a Broadway Theater -- HUGE! 




Inside of an Off-Broadway Theater --

Kinda Big!



Inside and Off-Off Broadway Theater --

Really, Really Small!


 New NYC Indie Festival

poster for the 2007 Fringe Festival