Atlantic Theater Company is an Off-Broadway non-profit theater, whose mission is to produce great plays "simply and truthfully utilizing an artistic ensemble." The company was founded in 1985 by David Mamet, William H. Macy, and 30 of their acting students from New York University, inspired by the historical examples of the Group Theatre and Stanislavski. Atlantic believes that the story of a play and the intent of its playwright are at the core of the creative process. In February 2017, Mamet's play The Penitent started its previews at the Atlantic Theater Company leading to its premiere at the end of February.
The company operates two theaters in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. First, the 199-seat mainstage Linda Gross Theater, which is located at 336 West 20th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, in the parish hall of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, built in 1854 and recently renovated. And second, the 99-seat black-box theater, Stage 2 at 330 West 16th Street, also between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, in the former Port Authority building. Stage 2, which opened in June 2006, is the home of Atlantic’s new play development program which includes the commissioning of new works, readings, workshops, and fully staged productions.
Since its inception, Atlantic has produced more than 120 plays, including the Tony Award winning production of Spring Awakening (which the company moved to Broadway in 2006), David Mamet’s adaptation of The Voysey Inheritance by Harley Granville Barker, Mamet’s Romance, Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange, Dublin Carol by Conor McPherson, Woody Allen’s Writer’s Block, the revival of Hobson's Choice, the revivals of Mamet's American Buffalo, The Woods, and Edmond, Dangerous Corner by J. B. Priestley, The Cider House Rules, adapted by Peter Parnell, Celebration, The Room and The Hothouse by Harold Pinter, Mojo by Jez Butterworth, the New York premieres of Howard Korder’s Boys’ Life and The Lights at Lincoln Center Theater, Kevin Heelan’s Distant Fires, Quincy Long’s The Joy of Going Somewhere Definite and Shaker Heights, Tom Donaghy’s Minutes From The Blue Route, Edwin Sánchez’ Trafficking in Broken Hearts, and Missing Persons by Craig Lucas.
Atlantic has also had a notable collaboration with the Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, having premiered three of his plays in York: The Cripple of Inishmaan (2008), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2006) and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1998). The latter two were immediately transferred to Broadway.
Other Mamet productions by Atlantic include his adaptation of Chekhov's Three Sisters, and his own plays The Blue Hour, Yes, But So What?, Revenge of the Space Pandas, The Poet and the Rent, Vermont Sketches, Reunion, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, The Duck Variations, The Water Engine, Home, School, and Keep Your Pantheon. In February 2017, Mamet's play The Penitent started its previews leading to its premiere at the end of February.
In other recent productions, Atlantic has produced Farragut North by Beau Willimon on its mainstage, and What's That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling by David Pittu and Randy Redd on Stage 2. The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh was presented in collaboration with the Druid Theatre Company, and a co-produced revival of Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow played on Broadway.
The company celebrated its 25th Anniversary season beginning in September 2010 with the world premiere of Bottom of the World by Lucy Thurber and ending in June 2011 with the 10 X 25 One Act Festival, 25 newly commissioned ten-minute plays.
The Atlantic Acting School operates as both a private conservatory and an undergraduate program in conjunction with the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. The school focuses on the Practical Aesthetics, a philosophy and acting technique that grew out of a series of NYU summer workshops in Vermont in 1983 and 1984 with playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy.
The Atlantic Acting School fosters new generations of theater artists by creating a student ensemble that allows actors to hone their craft. Distinguished guest lecturers include Kate Winslet, Alan Alda, Glenn Close, Chris Noth, Richard Dreyfuss, Sam Shepard, Margo Jefferson, Gore Vidal, Charles Durning, Gabriel Byrne, Brian Dennehy, Howard Korder, Mary Steenburgen, Nicky Silver, Rose Byrne, and Ted Danson as well as program graduates Kristen Johnston, Felicity Huffman, and Eddie Cahill. Atlantic is committed to preparing its students for all aspects of a performing arts career.
A number of theater companies have been formed by former students of Atlantic Acting School, including Mobius Group Productions, Bar Hoppers, Thirsty Turtle Productions, Harvard Sailing Team, The Common Tongue, The Group B Project, The Fifteenth Minute, The Ateh Theater Company, The Production Company, Hair of the Dog, EBE Ensemble, Riot, and The Management.