The Elif Collective debuted under the name Pale Fire Theater in November 2022 with a production of Waiting for Godot. We were, admittedly, operating on far more enthusiasm than experience. We had no stage manager. A life-size tree was out of the question. And our fundraising experience was near zero. But we had gathered a team of artists we loved. We made time to move together in random classrooms and put up our first show.
In the end, we sold out all three nights of Waiting for Godot. We found our strength in working as a collective, but it would take us another few months to discover our purpose: producing new work.
Jennie and Jules, our brilliant stage manager and lighting designer for Godot.
The Elif Collective aims to create new plays, together. We want to gather in empty studios with characters only barely formed and collaborate to build new worlds on our feet. In order to do this, we pair talented playwrights with actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs, and other creatives from day one—so that the development process centers the voice and body.
Isn’t it obvious that the developmental process should go this way? The reason theater has survived in the wake of digital content is that engaging with live bodies in a room provides an irreplaceable experience. Thus, plays should grow in a live environment—they should begin to breathe collectively as soon as possible–and not wait until opening night.
We want theater to be a group experience not only for our artists but also for our audience members. The Elif is committed to exploring and pushing the boundaries of what it means to attend the theater in NYC.
The Elif hereby commits itself to deformalizing the experience of attending theater, in order to increase accessibility for younger or less “elite” audiences
The Elif hereby commits itself to providing low-cost or free access to all of our programming for low-income community members
Finally, The Elif hereby commits itself to cultivating a work environment and an audience base that reflects the ethnic and racial make-up of the world. The Global Majority is not only welcome at The Elif; its presence is demanded.
The brilliant team of our Timon of Athens workshop.
Why The "Elif" Collective?
Why The Elif Collective? Elif is a starting point, a beginning. Elif is the first letter of the Semitic writing systems used for languages like Arabic, Hebrew, Phoenician, but also Persian, Swahili, and Ladino. It is a unique character that in most languages, lacks its own inherent sound. Diacritic markings on top or below the Elif modify the letter’s pronunciation.
We’ve adopted the Elif as a metaphor for our collaborative practice. To us, an original project–a story, a dance, a melody–is an Elif. Only through collaboration does that project come to life.