Jonathan Slaff

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Jonathan Slaff

Jonathan Slaff (born 1950) is an American theater publicist, specializing in new works, and actor, best known for comedic parts and for his appearance in numerous television commercials. He is also known for his 2002-4 surveys on the economic impact of the 9/11 attacks on artists of all disciplines in New York City and vicinity.

Life and career

Slaff was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Exposed to theater throughout his life, he made his professional acting debut as a child actor in "South Pacific" with the Kenley Players in Columbus, Ohio in 1962. He graduated from Yale University with a BA in American Studies and from Columbia Business School with an MBA in Media Management. He made his New York theatrical debut in 1976, appearing in "End as a Man" by Calder Willingham at the Lion Theatre Company, directed by Garland Wright.

Slaff began acting in TV commercials in the late 1970s and in the early 1980s, appeared in Clio Award winning campaigns for Federal Express and Wendy's[1] that were directed by the legendary commercials director Joe Sedelmaier. Slaff appeared with Wendy's owner Dave Thomas in several noted commercials for that restaurant chain.

Slaff's career as a theatrical press agent began in 1988. He specializes in new work and international works. He began his career as a press agent for Theater for the New City. For that organization, he has represented new works by playwrights including Romulus Linney, Maria Irene Fornes, Eduardo Machado, Rosalyn Drexler, Nilo Cruz, Bloolips, Spiderwoman Theater and Crystal Field, Artistic Director of the theater. Slaff provides photography services for his clients.

He was the in-house press agent of La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club from 1989 to 2005,[2][3] representing works by artists including Tadeusz Kantor, Split Britches, John Kelly, Douglas Dunn, Dario D'Ambrosi (Teatro Pathologico) and David Sedaris. During his tenure, he also represented revivals of "Fragments of a Greek Trilogy," directed by Andre Serban with music by Elizabeth Swados,[4] and many new works by La MaMa's founder and Artistic Director, Ellen Stewart. He introduced Blue Man Group in the La MaMa production of Blue Man Group's "Tubes" in 1991.[5] That production continued as an Off-Broadway run at the Astor Place Theatre and is now one of New York's most long-running and successful theatrical attractions.

Other significant arts organizations he has represented include The American Place Theatre,[6] Bread and Puppet Theater, Jean Cocteau Repertory, The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, Klezmer Conservatory Band, Klezmer Mountain Boys, New Federal Theatre, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot and Ubu Repertory Theater.[7]

Beside theater, his publicity practice also includes work in dance, classical music and visual art. He has acted in television and film. His notable appearances as a print model include the cover of National Lampoon.

9/11 Recovery Surveys

In 2002 and 2004, Slaff conducted and authored two research studies that documented the significant effects of the September 11 attacks on the arts and entertainment sector and on the livelihoods of individual artists,[8][9] both those self-employed and those employed by others. These surveys were conducted through professional organizations, labor unions, and the resources of arts granting organizations. The first survey was conducted by The Government Outreach Committee of DowntownNYC! on behalf of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) in conjunction with Consortium For Worker Education (CWE). The second was conducted solely by DowntownNYC!. These surveys were the first time anyone had done an economic impact survey on artists[10] The severe impact of the 9/11 attacks on the cultural sector had been masked by other events until these surveys were released. The surveys revealed that the cultural sector was as severely affected, percentage-wise, as the travel and airline industries.[11] Nevertheless, government and institutionally-sponsored recovery efforts had not reached the arts sector and weaknesses in New York's cultural economy had caused many established artists to resort to non-artistic work and others to leave the city to avoid economic hardship. The surveys have inspired a series of later investigations into structural problems in the arts economy.

Personal life

Slaff lives in the Greenwich Village, New York with his family. He is married to actress Shirley Curtin and has a daughter, Julia.



"Futz" by Rochelle Owens,[12] Dir. Tom O'Horgan, 1991, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club

"Casa" with Denise Stoklos,[13] 1990, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club

"Duet for Solo Voice" by David Scott Milton,[14] Dir. Stanley Allan Sherman, 2010, Theater for the New City

Print Model

National Lampoon Magazine, May 1982.[15]


  1. ^ Jonathan Slaff. "Jonathan Slaff Commercials." February 17, 2014. August 16, 2016.
  2. ^ La MaMa Archives.
  3. ^ "La MaMa E.T.C."Theatre World 1990-1991. Ed. Willis, John. Hal Leonard Corporation, 1991, pg. 88. Print.
  4. ^ McGarth, Seth. "Serban & Swados Fragments revived at La MaMa, March 26 - April 11." Playbill. 26 March 1999. Web. Accessed August 16, 2016.
  5. ^ Press Clipping of Holden, Stephen. "3 Clowns with Message on Ritual, Art and Comedy." The New York Times. January 25, 1991.
  6. ^ New York Public Library Archives.
  7. ^ Fales Library Archives.
  8. ^ Slaff, Jonathan and Sevos, Carolyn. "Artists One Year Later: Survey of 9/11's Economic Impact on Individual Artists in NYC." Survey., October, 2002. Web. Accessed August 16, 2016.
  9. ^ Slaff, Jonathan and Veaudor, Delphine. "The Continuing Economic Impact of 9/11 Upon Artists of All Disciplines in NYC: 2004 Artists Write-In." Survey., 28 February 2004. Web. Accessed August 16, 2016.
  10. ^ Jeffri, Joan with Greenblat, Robert. "Information on Artists 2: A Study of Artists' Work-Related Human and Social Service Needs in Four U.S. Locations."
  11. ^ McKinley, Jesse. "Survey Finds Post-9/11 Times Harder for City Artists." The New York Times. 15 March 2004. Web. Access August 16, 2016.
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen. "Theater in Review." Review of "Futz," written by Rochelle Owens, directed by Tom O'Horgan. The New York Times, 23 October 1991. Web.
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen. "Review/Theater; The Details of Daily Life, Surrealistically." Review of "Casa," by Denise Stoklos. The New York Times, 18 January 1990. Web.
  14. ^ Duet for Solo Voice. Yates, Barney, 2010, Accessed August 16, 2016.
  15. ^

External links

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