The Lilith Blog 1 of 2

April 20, 2015 by

She Wants to Democratize Theater Access

Dramaturg, director and theater critic Molly Marinik loves stories, so it is no surprise that finding the best way to tell a tale is one of her passions.

As a resident director at the multi-award winning Flea Theater and Literary Manager at the Barefoot Theatre Company in New York City, Marinik has directed a host of one-act and full-length plays and has coordinated numerous staged readings. But although she finds it gratifying to steer, prune and orchestrate productions, Marinik also enjoys critiquing them, which is why, in 2007, she founded Theatre is Easy, a website devoted to reviewing the Off and Off-Off Broadway shows that mainstream media typically ignores.

“I want audiences to be smart consumers of the amazing plays in New York and have access to information to make informed choices about what to see,” she begins. “If one of our reviewers is really excited about a show that has no celebrities or glitz, we try to blast the review on social media. Obviously the advertising power of commercial productions is a lot higher than that of Off or Off-Off Broadway, so we try to even the playing field by promoting and publicizing this work.”

Theasy also tries to promote diverse voices – plays written by, starring, or directed by women, people of color, and ethnic minorities. “We’re totally independent so we don’t have to cater to anyone’s expectations,” Marinik continues. “This means we don’t need to prioritize big shows starring high-profile, Broadway actors. For example, we’ve featured the work of cultural organizations like LABA, which operates out of the 14th Street YMHA, the Irish Repertory, and the MA-YI Theater Company,” groups whose work tends to be off the radar of the New York Times, Time Out New York and

It’s a unique niche, bringing more than 300 reviews a year to approximately 120,000 readers. As Marinik rattles off these numbers, it is clear that she is proud of the site. At the same time, she is far from satisfied, which is why raising money is high on her agenda. She estimates that it will take $50,000 to promote Theasy to the legions of theatergoers who have never heard of it, a goal she believes is lofty, but possible. Thanks to fiscal sponsorship from an arts support organization called Fractured Atlas, she has begun the arduous work of grant-writing and is simultaneously seeking contributions from individual donors.

Marinik is cautiously optimistic about Theasy’s future. Indeed, she radiates energy as she outlines the site’s development and recounts its history. “I moved to New York immediately after graduating from Ohio University in 2005,” she says. “At that point, I was working as a graphic designer at a stationery company. Once I’d been in the city for a while I began to see a lot of plays. I had a bunch of friends who were making theater and other friends who were always asking for suggestions about what to see. I responded by starting a blog called Theatre is Easy. I simply wanted to make it easy for the productions I loved to get exposure.”

Two things happened immediately after Marinik began posting her opinions. For one, many of Marinik’s actor friends expressed annoyance, arguing that theater was certainly not easy for performers. Nonetheless, the blog name stuck, albeit eventually conflating to Theasy. At the same time, as Marinik’s posts began to circulate beyond her immediate circle of friends and family, she began receiving invitations to review shows that were opening throughout the five boroughs. “When people got wind of the fact that I now had access to free entry, they started to contact me, offering to write reviews in exchange for tickets,” she says. By 2009, the site was fully off the ground and now boasts more than 30 volunteer contributors.

Marinik, too, is unpaid. So why does she do it? I ask. “It all goes back to the JCC Theater Camp in Toledo, Ohio,” she laughs. “As a seven-year-old I began attending a summer program that introduced me to performance and improvisation. We played theater games all day long. There was Charades and a game called Interpreter where we would develop a gibberish language. One person would be the interpreter while another would serve as the interviewer. We also took conventional fairy tales and would spin them into something different and then perform scenes from the newly-fractured story.”

After five or six years at the camp, Marinik says that she was completely hooked, and, while she ultimately chose directing and reviewing over performance, she credits the JCC with provoking these interests. What’s more, intensive dance classes—tap, jazz and ballet—added another tangent to her performance repertoire.

“Whether through dance or theater, I love being able to create the components to tell a story,” Marinik notes. “I was always more interested in the big picture than in what’s happening with one particular character. For me, it’s always been about storytelling. Using actors along with text is a really satisfying process and I enjoy anticipating how an audience will receive something. I love thinking about how they might respond.”

Marinik presently juggles directing at two theater companies with writing and editing Theasy. She is also a reader at the Jewish Plays Project, an annual competition aimed at “putting bold, progressive Jewish conversations on the world stage.”

Her decade in New York has included stints as a babysitter, graphic designer and paralegal—as well as the 2013 completion of a master’s degree in theater history and criticism at Brooklyn College, something that has enabled her to work full-time in her chosen field.

And the future? “My goal is to see Theasy become a critical resource that champions shows that would not otherwise be in the consciousness of audiences,” Marinik says.