New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Theater has a future, and it’s in Red Hook

Founded by NYU junior Booth McGowan, the Quick & Dirty Theatre Company offers artists a space to create within a close community.
A+person+wearing+a+black+bodysuit+and+face+mask+stretches+their+arm+out%2C+and+a+person+standing+next+to+them+is+holding+their+arm.+A+person+sits+to+the+left+with+a+microphone+and+a+music+stand%2C+reading+a+script+that+is+on+the+stand.
Quick & Dirty Theatre Company’s next show will be “Surgical Fairytales.” (Courtesy of Booth McGowan)

Balancing work as a theatrical director and full-time student is not easy. But, Gallatin junior Booth McGowan, co-founder and co-artistic director of the Quick & Dirty Theatre Company, makes it look just so. 

As a filmmaker, actor, writer and director, McGowan has a life rooted in artistry. Before transferring to NYU, he went to Colorado College where he helped create his first feature film, “Boys at Twenty.”  In an interview with WSN, McGowan said that during his time in Colorado, he felt he was missing out on “being in a community of people making films and making theater because there was no access to that.” He ended up transferring to Gallatin last year to study semiotics, theater and activism. 

After moving to Red Hook, a community in Brooklyn with a small-town artistic culture, McGowan found himself forming connections with fellow creatives. Then, in May of 2023, he and Tisch drama alum Maya Hendricks founded the Quick & Dirty Theatre Company.

McGowan said that the group’s goal is to foster a space similar to Andy Warhol’s The Factory, wherein any artist can develop their work in a collaborative space, creating “recklessly and with a sense of abandon.” The group focuses more on the communal creative process of art, rather than simply the final product. 

The group mounted its first production in July, putting on “Mommies & Daddies” at Red Hook’s historic Sunny’s Bar. The collection of one-act plays falling under the theme of families includes works like Tennessee Williams’ “The Pink Bedroom” and Shawn Pfautsch’s “Ichor.”

The group’s work, however, does not have an intrinsic political message. “We’re gonna create the work, first and foremost, and leave the rest up to the audience to decide,” McGowan said. Perhaps it’s this ambiguity of message that appeals to audiences and keeps them coming to productions.  

December sees Quick & Dirty return to the stage with “Surgical Fairytales,” another collection of one-act plays. The production features two pieces, one by Tony-nominated playwright Lee Blessing, and the other by McGowan himself. Each play revolves around surgery in some variation, bridged together by short medical fairytales.

Quick & Dirty creates art as a communal experience. The group creates its work for locals, so that people in Red Hook can experience live performance. While Broadway has made a post-pandemic comeback, not all of the United States’ other theaters have been doing as well. But, regional and community productions are still alive, and artists like McGowan and the Quick & Dirty Theatre Company are making sure of that.

Quick & Dirty’s production of “Surgical Fairytales” will run for three performances at 64 Sullivan St. in Red Hook, with one performance on Dec. 15 and two on Dec. 16.

Contact Joe Paladino at [email protected]

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    booth mcgowanDec 4, 2023 at 10:05 am

    Thank you so much Joe! It was great to talk to you and this is such a lovely piece! 🙂

    Reply