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Underground Zero Festival 2012

A Brief History of Avant Garde Theater in NYC   By Arnold Aronson with special guest Judith MalinaThe 2012 Underground Zero Festival will be held June 29-July 29 2012 at The Living Theatre (21 Clinton Street), Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center (107 Suffolk St # 312) in Manhattan as well as JACK (505 1/2 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn) and Scapegrace (20 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn) in Brooklyn.

The presenters at the festival will be various independent artists in theater, dance, multimedia and installation who have established the undergroundzero unit in order to improve conditions in NYC and to channel an artist-driven and focused event with the incorporation of artistic and social themes.

Underground Zero will have a special kickoff Event on Friday, June 29 at The Living Theatre (21 Clinton Street) and includes: 

  • A Brief History of Avant Garde Theater in NYC with Columbia University professor Arnold Aronson provides historical context for the current experimental theater-making environment in NYC, with Judith Malina of the Living Theatre.  
  • Politics, Art & Culture War, a discussion with members of the original NEA 4 on the future of the National Endowment of the Arts and America's Culture Wars.

 The Underground Zero Festival embraces theater at it's strangest and most inovative. Plays include:

  • Romanyeah: A Live Video Performance
    By Cinty Ionescu and the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York.
    Take a walk on the wild East side with Romanian video artist Cinty Ionescu (winner of the 2011 Excellence in Video Design award at the NY International Fringe Festival) as she weaves an immersive video and musical journey through contemporary Romania.  
  • Trace of Purple Sadness
    Presented by LEIMAY Ximena Garnica and Shige Moriya 
    Meditative dance and poetic video design unify in a mesmerizing experience constructed by LEIMAY, the duo behind CAVE, The NY Butoh Festival and the Soak Festival.  
  • TITANIC! A Folk Rock Musical
    Presented by Tribeca Lab
    Downtown veterans Tribeca Lab reprise their cult musical hit TITANIC! in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic performed by the musical duo Low End (Al Ramos and Stefan Zorich). The entire adventure and ultimate tragedy are told in an original song cycle by the ship’s captain E.J. Smith and First Officer William Murdoch
  • DEBT! 
    Five artists from Eastern Europe paired with five American scholars will present their collaborative research in a series of performative lectures on the nature, history and meaning of debt. 
  • Little West 12th Night
    Presented by Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant 
    Conceived by Rachel Murdy & written by Peter Lettre
    Former meatpackers, displaced club kids, personal assistants to a wealthy hotel heiress, and artists trying to find their way back home ... these are your guides in this modern-language riff on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Neighborhood history provides the backdrop for four intersecting tours with visits to a number of local establishments.  
  • Disquiet 
    Directed by Anna Brenner
    A new play by veteran undergroundzero resident artist Anna Brenner (winner of the 2009 Underground Zero Audience Award) inspired by The Master and MargaritaFernando Pessoa, and her upstairs neighbor. 
  • Cho H Cho
    Presented by One-Eighth
    Directed by Daniel Irizarry 
    Cho H Cho' is an original theater collage created by the new theater collective One-Eighth directed by downtown all-star Daniel Irizarry. The play explores and observes the culture and values of globalized consumption through the lens of quantum physics, DaDa, Artaud, and the loving and violent extremes of the body. 
  • Baal
    By Bertolt Brecht.  A Hoi Polloi production,
    Directed by Alec Duffy
    OBIE Award-winning theater company Hoi Polloi inaugurates its new Brooklyn performance space, JACK, with Bertolt Brecht's first play, Baal, about a self-destructive poet who incites chaos wherever he goes. The immersive production features an ensemble of seven actors taking on thirty roles, with set design by Mimi Lien and music by Steven Leffue
    Presented by Dangerous Ground 
    Directed by Doris Mirescu 
    … BUT THE NEXT MORNING is a multimedia art-installation/performance event inspired by Jacques Rivette’s 1974 film Céline and Julie Go Boating. This intricate, and layered set-up of live video feed, projections, and performance combine to create a unique theatrical environment that deconstructs perception and uncovers new terrains of intimacy and participation.  
  • Take What Is Yours
    Directed by Jill A. Samuels 
    Take What Is Yours, the (too) little-known (true) story of how American women fought and won the right to vote, is back by popular demand! A Critics’ Pick in both The New York Times and Backstage, this new play has been called “riveting… powerful… positively Hitchcockian” by The NYTimes, ”engaging and visceral from start to finish” by The Huffington Post, ”a theatrically poetic evocation” by Backstage, and ”a brilliant docudrama” by Theatremania.
  • Servers
    Presented by Patrick Flynn
    Servers is a live play for television in three installments that explores the stranglehold technology has over public privacy, and a plan that leaves an entire television network in the dark. Inspired by early television artists of the 1950s Rod Serling and John Frankenheimer, the play will be live broadcast on public access television and the Internet.  
    Presented by The Assembly
    A reprise of the Assembly’s critically acclaimed play on the Weather Underground. Disgusted by the Vietnam War and rampant inequality at home, a handful of leaders from the 1960s U.S. student movement seized control of Students for a Democratic Society and reshaped it in the name of overthrowing the United States' government. Based on real events, HOME / SICK explores the Weather Underground's inspiration and idealism, infighting and ultimate disintegration, in a passionate examination of collective action. 
  • Oxygen
    Presented by B-Floor Theatre Company (Bangkok, Thailand)
    The US Premiere of the latest production by B-Floor, hailed in the Bangkok press as “Thailand’s most active and vibrant physical theatre company.” Oxygen is a visual, movement and multimedia exploration of Thailand’s tumultuous political situation from 2010 to the present. The performance explores a nation deprived of the oxygen of free expression. 

 To learn more, go to

2012 Underground Zero Festival
June 29-July 29 2012

Various Locations

The Living Theater
21 Clinton St
(between Avenue B & Houston St) 
Manhattan, NY 

Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk St # 312 
New York, NY 

505 1/2 Waverly Ave
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, NY

20 Wyckoff Avenue 
Brooklyn, NY

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