One of the seminal figures of New York's Off-Off-Broadway movement, Dempster founded EST in 1972. Over the next 35 years, he produced more than 6,000 plays, many by playwrights who were destined to become some of America's most prominent dramatists.
The large number of plays he produced was due to EST's most famous enterprise: an annual "marathon" of new one-act plays. Each spring, at EST's second-floor black box on a desolate block on West 52nd Street near Tenth Avenue, 12 or more short plays received their world premieres in three series labeled "A," "B" and "C."
The One-Act Marathons became a yearly benchmark of the New York theatre calendar and lent prestige and a showcase to a form of writing often given short shrift by critics, scholars and audiences. When David Mamet, Craig Lucas, Michael Weller or John Guare had a short play they wanted staged, they invariably turned to EST. Romulus Linney was a frequent participant in the festivals. Horton Foote was another recurring author. In June of 1994, Mr. Dempster was given a Village Voice OBIE Award for the annual Marathon of New One-Act Plays.
One of EST's primary goals was to nurture new American writers, and many young playwrights cut their teeth at the theatre, among them Richard Greenberg, John Patrick Shanley, Arthur Giron, Jose Rivera, Eduardo Machado and Leslie Ayvazian.
William Carden was recently named the new producing artistic director of Ensemble Studio Theatre. The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College is located at 899 10th Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets. Seating is limited. For reservations and more information, call (212) 247-4982, ext. 20 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.