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Wednesday
Sep212016

Hispanic Heritage Month Features "4 By Jack" at Medicine Show Theatre: 4 Plays by Playwright Jack Agüeros.

Mr. Agueros in 1981, Photo by Frank Espada, Courtesy of The New York Times

By Roger Gonzalez

Jack Agüeros, the activist, poet, playwright and former director of EL MUSEO DEL BARRIO is being honored this month at the famed Medicine Show Ensemble Theatre with the presentation of four of his seldom seen plays. The production is directed by Oliver Conant and opens October 5th with 5 shows a week for 4 weeks. The play runs Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, Saturday matinees are at 3pm.

A champion of the Puerto Rican and Latino people of New York City, he was a versatile and multi-talented writer who is somewhat lost to many younger Latinos. The company presented his work earlier this year at El Museo Del Barrio and is now embarking in a new, full-scale production of these plays in an effort to draw attention to Mr. Agüeros in time for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Agüeros was born in East Harlem and was a New York based writer and activist. He died back in 2014 at the age of 79 at his home in Manhattan due to complications with Alzheimer’s disease.

The four plays in 4 by Jack are: 

Awoke One, a surreal reimagining of the Passion of Christ, He Can't Even Read Spanish, set in early seventies New York City about a bodega owner trying to take care of business at a time of heightened Puerto Rican militancy, Ye Tragical Historie of Doctor Pedro Albizu Campos, a blast of truth telling fire from Puerto Rico's great nationalist leader, and Notary Sojac, a wild comic vision of homeless people, a depressed beat cop and visiting Gods from Greek mythology in Hell's Kitchen. 

Awoke One is part of a cycle Agueros called "auto-sacramental." The term refers to a very old kind of religious and allegorical drama, akin to medieval mystery plays, that originated in Spain. Sanctioned by the church, they were performed with much pageantry on holy days in cities and towns, bringing the Passion of Christ or the meaning of the Eucharist directly to the populace. Two of Spain's greatest Golden Age playwrights, Lope de Vega and Calderon, contributed to the genre, deepening it with added layers of meaning and introducing elements of ancient mythology.  So too Agueros, who includes a kind of Greek chorus, and embeds an allegorical treatment of Christ's teaching, trial and crucifixion--with Christ as "Him" and Pontius Pilate as the "Referee"--in language that is at once abstract and gorgeous, with inspirations as varied as Kafka and the surrealist paintings of Rene Magritte.

He Can't Even Read Spanish was originally a television play broadcast on NBC in 1971, when Agueros' organizing work was making him into an acknowledged spokesman for the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York City. Presented for the first time as a stage play, it tells the story of Don Luis Rivera, abodeguerro, or bodega owner, his older son Samuel's girlfriend Laura, who represents an aspirational accommodation to the American way, his variously needy and loyal customers, and a plainclothes detective on the take. Luis is a first generation immigrant from Puerto Rico whose ideals of hard work, of "dignidad" more precious than "dollares" will be sorely tried in the course of the play. Laura, the young law student, wants to know why he doesn't open a supermarket.  He is lectured by his restive younger son Carlos, whose head is turned by the rhetoric and militancy of the Young Lords, a revolutionary group Agueros calls, with gentle irony, the "Young People's Party." Their occupation of a public library--because it does not contain any books about Puerto Rican history and culture--fills Luis with both fear for his son's safety and a grudging pride, as well as a dawning sense of the constraints of the life he has made in America.

The play that follows, Ye Tragical Historie of Doctor Pedro Albizu Campos, comes as if in answer to the protest of the young revolutionaries occupying the library: Agueros has the great nationalist leader, "an elegant, eloquent man, who speaks with the fire of truth"  deliver a corruscating history lesson about the colonialism and imperialism that shaped Peurto Rico and the waves of resistance to foreign domination, from the 1868 Grito de Lares (Lares rebellion) against Spanish rule to the formation and armed struggle of Campos' own Nationalist, pro-Independence party against the United States. Campos was imprisoned for his beliefs for decades, refusing all pardons. Agueros' play is set in a prison--or is it?  The Typist, "pronouncing every Spanish word incorrectly," a snarling, contemptuous bureaucrat busy with a victor's version of the history of the man in his charge, could be a figment, a bad dream, and the whole play, from the lyrical origin myth of its opening to Campos' anguished, repeated "I have never been absent from Puerto Rico" could be taking place inside the brilliant, tormented mind of the great nationalist leader, as he contemplates the great wave of decolonizations occurring in his lifetime and asks "why not Puerto Rico?" 

You can read more about Jack Agüeros HERE

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For more information, visit The Medicine Show Website at www.medicineshowtheatre.orgTo Purchase Tickets: http://medicineshowtheatre.brownpapertickets.com/ 

Four By Jack

Location: 549 W. 52nd St., 3rd Fl, (between 10th & 11th Aves.)

Phone: 212 262-4216

Tickets: $20, Seniors and students $17

To charge tickets: brownpapertickets.com or 800 838-3006

Reservations: 212 262-4216 or email:medicineshow@medicineshowtheatre.org 

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Monday
Sep192016

IN MEMORY OF ICONIC PLAYWRIGHT EDWARD ALBEE...BROADWAY TO DIM THE LIGHTS ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST, at 7:45PM

Photo: Edward Albee Society

The Broadway community mourns the loss of three-time Tony Award® and three-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, producer, and director, Edward Albee, who passed away on September 16th at age 88. He was one of the foremost playwrights of his generation. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his honor on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at exactly 7:45pm for one minute. 

Edward Albee was one of our most influential and most honored American playwrights and a master of words, with nearly 30 plays on Broadway. The outpouring of accolades and personal memories being shared since his death are a tribute to a dramatist who deeply affected audiences and inspired so many fellow writers with his brilliant dialogue and indelible characters. An original voice, Albee created some of the most complex and compelling works presented on stage in the past six decades.  In recent years Broadway audiences have been fortunate to see new expressions of his work through notable revivals of his most treasured dramas. Albee will be missed by those who knew him and all who were influenced by him; but his iconic works will continue to challenge and entertain audiences whenever they are presented on Broadway and beyond,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League.

He was best known for his first full-length play and Broadway debut in 1962 with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a TonyAward® -winning production (1963) which also became a 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Albee received Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1994). Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize by the award’s drama jury, but was overruled by the advisory committee, which elected not to give a drama award at all. The jury subsequently resigned in protest.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is considered a modern theatre classic. Various award-winning Broadway revivals have been staged including a 1976 production starring Colleen Dewhurst and Ben Gazarra; a 2005 production starring Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin; and a 2012 production starring Amy Morton and Tracy Letts. In addition to the Tony Award for Best Play for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1963), he received the Tony Award for Best Play for The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?(2002) and was the recipient of a Special Tony Award® Tony Lifetime Achievement Award (2005.)

Beyond his three Tony Awards including one for lifetime achievement, and six Tony nominations, he won three Pulitzer Prizes and was nominated for two others. Albee is the recipient of many distinguished honors for his work including being the recipient of Kennedy Honors and the National Medal of the Arts, both in 1996.

Over five decades, Albee wrote more than two dozen other plays, many of which were produced on Broadway including Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966), All Over (1971), Seascape (1975), and more. His adaptations of other authors' work include The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1963), based on a Carson McCullers’ novella; Malcolm (1965), based on a James Purdy novel; and Lolita (1981), based on the Vladimir Nabokov classic. Stretching My Mind, a collection of his essays, was published in 2005. 

In 1967, the playwright established the Edward F. Albee Foundation, which allows writers and visual artists to have a retreat in Montauk on Long Island in New York. The foundation maintains the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center (better known as "The Barn") as a residence for writers and visual artists. The foundation's mission is to serve writers and visual artists from all walks of life, by providing time and space in which to work without disturbance. The only criteria for selection are talent and need, and the foundation invites any and all artists to apply.

A few years ago, before undergoing major surgery, Albee penned a short statement to be published at the time of his death: "To all of you who have made my being alive so wonderful, so exciting and so full, my thanks and all my love," he wrote.

Albee's longtime partner, sculptor Jonathan Thomas, died in 2005.

His full Broadway biography can be found on the Internet Broadway Database: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/edward-albee-5258

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Monday
Aug292016

DREAM UP FESTIVAL is up and running at Theatre For The New City

Theater for the New City’s 7th Annual Dream Up Festival returns August 28 – September 18, 2016 (Performances 7 days a week) with close to 20 performances running over 3 weeks.

Theater for the New City will present a lineup of wide-ranging and original theatrical visions embracing drama, poetry, music, and dance. Dream Up Festival will consist of performing artists representing theater and performance companies in our theater complex in downtown New York. In 2010, the inaugural Dream Up Festival offered 25 shows consisting of 23 World Premieres and 2 American Premieres.

With its Dream Up Festival, Theater for the New City (TNC), which customarily presents new work by local artists, opens itself up to theater from the country at large and to artists from overseas. Its founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed now in a time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level all across the country and abroad.

TNC has consistently been the most inexpensive theater of its caliber and the institution continues its commitment to affordable tickets with this festival. Dream Up Festival ticket prices will range from $12-$20 for the participating productions. Most of the productions will be staged at least five times. 

Theater for the New City (TNC) maintains a distinctive commitment to high artistic values and community service. In an effort to make theater accessible to all, TNC presents an assortment of distinct, exceptional events each year, including the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, which celebrates the artistic and cultural diversity of TNC's Lower East Side community; an annual Village Halloween Ball and an annual summer Street Theater tour that presents a free, live, original musical in thirteen neighborhoods in all five boroughs. Most of these are free of charge to the public.


Theater Background

Theater for the New City (TNC) Selected Awards: TNC has won over 42 VILLAGE VOICE OBIE AWARDS for excellence in for excellence in every theatrical discipline. TNC has won 5 ASCAP AWARDS. Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Sam Shepard’s BURIED CHILD, premiered & commissioned by TNC.

All performances will take place at Theater for the New City 155 First Avenue New York, NY 10003.

19 productions: 14 World Premieres…Musicals, Comedy, Drama, Experimental, International and more.

Buy Tickets at smarttix.com or calling by phone (212) 868-4444

Saturday
Aug132016

FringeNYC Opens 20th Anniversary Season!

It's FringeNYC 2016!

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC), the largest multi-arts festival in North America, will present the 20th Annual Festival from August 12 – 28, 2016. Each year the festival presents programming by nearly 200 of the world’s best emerging theatre troupes and dance companies.

FringeNYC also present Special Events, including FringeJR (shows for kids), FringeAL FRESCO (free outdoor performances), FringeHIGH (shows that will resonate with High School kids), FringeCLUB (celebrations), FringeART and more!

In 1997, New York City became the seventh US city to host a fringe festival, joining Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Houston, Orlando and San Francisco. FringeNYC has presented over 3000 performing groups representing every continent, prompting Switzerland’s national daily, The New Zurich Zeitung, to declare FringeNYC as “the premiere meeting ground for alternative artists.”

FringeNYC has also been the launching pad for numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Matt & Ben, Never Swim Alone, The Jammer, Debbie Does Dallas, Dog Sees God, Brandon Teena, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, 21 Dog Years, The Irish Curse, Jurassic Parq, The Fartiste, Silence! The Musical and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche; movies including WTC View and Armless; and even a TV show (‘da Kink in My Hair).

FringeNYC alumni include Bradley Cooper, Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory), Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, CNN’s Inside Man), Mindy Kaling, Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Pippin), Alex Timbers (Rocky), Leigh Silverman (Violet), W. Kamau Bell (Totally Biased), Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story) and Chris Lowell (Enlisted), among countless other success stories.

FringeNYC is a production of The Present Company, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy. Ms. Holy was selected as a “Person of the Decade” in nytheatre now’s Indie Theater Hall of Fame.

Please visit our LocalTheatreNY Section dedicated to all things FringeNYC HERE.

Friday
Jun242016

Here Come the Spring & Summer Festivals of 2016!

You don’t want to miss this year’s festival season...

If you love theatre – and you must if you are reading anything on this site – summer in New York is the season for everything new that theatre might offer in the near future. From brand new musicals hitting the boards at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) to condensed versions of new plays about New York City featured at the Short Play Festival produced by The Player’s Theater on MacDougal Street in the village, June is going to be busy.  Unlike previous years, this year’s festivals are even more abundant in variety, style, length and genre. At the Hudson Guild Theatre on 26th Street, the Thespis Theater Festival, now under the banner of "New York Theater Festival" alongside it's winter version, the Venus Adonis Theater Festival is offering more productions than ever, with a whopping 75+ shows that will run into the fall! And, of course, FringeNYC lands in more than 17 venues this summer with more than 200 individual productions. There is MITF (Midtown International Theatre Festival), Strawberry One Act Festival and a slew of other festivals like the Dream Up Festival at Theater For The New City sprinkled throughout the season. If you are into theatre, nothing else compares.

How important is the theatre festival season to New York City? In addition to stimulating the economy, some of these shows go on to some fame and fortune! Currently, The Imbible, now celebrating its 2nd anniversary at the Soho Playhouse, started as a festival offering and has become a NYC hit! So did Sistas, playing at the St. Luke’s Off Broadway Theater for - get ready for this - 5 years!

Below is a sample of some of the "must-see" Theatre Festival offerings starting this June. To visit the websites and for more information, simply click on the festival name.

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The Players Theatre Short Play & Musical Festival
June 9 – 25, 2016
The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre
The Players Theatre 115 MacDougal Street 

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity 2016
June 13- July 10, 2016
Paradise Factory, 64 East 4th Street

Fresh Fruit Festival
July 11 - 24, 2016
The Wild Project
195 East 3rd Street 

New York Musical Festival
July 11 - August 7, 2016 
Various Venues – NYC
 
20th Annual NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival
August 12 – 28, 2016
Venue – Various
 
Thespis Theater Festival ~ Part of New York Theater Festival
July 11 thru October 2, 2016 
Hudson Guild Theatre
441 West 26th St
 
Midtown International Theatre Festival
July 16 - August 7, 2016
The WorkShop Theater's Main Stage and Jewel Box Theaters
312 W 36th Street

Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival
August 9 - 14, 2016
East 13th Street Theater

TNC’s Dream Up Festival 2016
August 28 – September 18, 2016
Theater For The New City
155 1st Avenue
 
New York New Works Theatre Festival
August 29 – September 26, 2016
Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 W 42nd St
 
28th Annual Festival of New Musicals
October 27 - 28, 2016
New World Stages 
340 W 50th Street, New York, NY
 
Are we missing any other festivals? Let us know! email LocalTheatreNY@gmail.com or message us on Facebook! 

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