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New York International Fringe Festival: All the Boroughs' a Stage


Featuring performance art from around the world, the New York International Fringe Festival, returns to NYC after a year long hiatus. Running October 12 to 28, the festival is now split into two segments: FringeNYC and FringeBYOV. FringeNYC takes place in Manhattan and is a jury selected slate of performances from artists around the world, giving leverage and exposure to underrepresented performers. FringeNYC will feature 84 different performances.

FringeBYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) is an “open access” part of the festival taking place at venues across the outer boroughs. Participating venues will include BAX|Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Branded Saloon and Irondale Center in Brooklyn and Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, The Secret Theatre, and Q.E.D. in Queens.

Both tracks contain opera, comedic theatre, drama, experimental dance, performance art, improv, with a diverse assembly of artists, actors, and performers.

Deya Danielle Drake’s dark comedy, ESCAPE, will premiere at FringeNYC. In the aftermath of a violent incident onboard a commercial jet, an airline CEO and flight attendant fight to control the narrative of a news cycle in free fall. When the incident crosses over from news ticker headline to twitter #trending, the two women discover how fraught with turbulence the internet can be. ESCAPE paints a timely picture of the temptation to pursue power, by any means necessary, and the human need to solidify our own relevance in a world that is changing quicker than we are.

To learn more, go to:

New York International Fringe Festival
October 12 - 28, 2018

Various Venues

Celebrating New Theater Though New York’s Festival Scene


“Birthday Boy”
The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (Closed)

9th annual Dream Up Festival
Running August 26th -September 16th 2018
Theater for the New City
155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street)

New York City has always been a home to live theater, especially musicals. And July and August are the months in which several festivals have taken place or are being staged that celebrate new theatrical productions. This city does a lot for workshopping new shows -- some of which become legendary hits.

While both The New York Musical Festival and The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity have finished up, they again demonstrated how such festivals nurture the creation, development, and public presentation of diverse new productions. 

So when I had a chance to see one show at this year’s Planet Connections Theatre Festivity — held on the lower east side  — I grabbed the opportunity and it was worth it. 

Titled “Birthday Boy,” it was a raw and unvarnished production with some inexperienced talent, but seeing such a show early on in its history is what make the experience all the more worthwhile when one realizes this is how big productions get started. Drawing on the playwright Jack Donahue’s personal experience, he and Brett Roelofs (featuring an original score by Roelofs), as well as director Angie Kristic, transformed a dark interlude into a musical drama.

The play documented in both song and dialogue one of those cultural tragedies shared by many —  abandonment by a substance-addicted mother in an orphanage run by the Catholic Church where those who are meant to protect turn out to be abusers. In a way, this piece was not unlike the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen” — which takes a personally painful experience (teen suicide) and transforms it, not only into a narrative but into a musical entertainment experience.

Though this production was done with minimal set parameters and limited stage movements, it hints at what could come out of this touching and sometimes raw show.

But that what’s great about such festivals which present creation such as this. Usually, at this time of the year, the the big gorilla on the August scene is the three-week long New York International Fringe Festival. Though it offers much more than just musicals or theatrical productions,  it will happens this year in October rather than during the late summer as it has in the past,

So that leaves audiences with the upcoming 9th annual Dream Up Festival which takes place this August 26th to September 16th. Under the direction of Theater for the New City Artistic Director Crystal Field, the Dream Up Fest has an adventurous mix of world premieres, American premieres and New York premieres of new work dedicated to offering work by new authors and edgy, innovative performances.

The Fest presents 27 plays, of which 20 are world premieres and four are New York premieres. Contemporary controversies such as the #MeToo theme appears prominently in many of the productions. Others include a play on violence against LGBT people, two plays addressing stereotypes and race, and an investigative documentary play on corruption in Arizona. An epic musical, three movement theater works, an aerial dance work as well as a radical adaptation of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" and a new translation of Strindberg's acute psychological masterpiece, "Creditors" will also be presented. 

As the press release explains, “The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us. 2018 marks the largest number of plays presented at one time by the Dream Up Festival.”

Curator/Festival Director Michael Scott-Price has directed at New York venues including Chashama, Dixon Place and Collective Unconscious. He has written and directed productions that were presented nationally as well as in Canada, Ireland and England. Currently, he is also Curator of TNC's "New City, New Blood" reading series and "Scratch Night" (works-in-progress) and is Artistic Director of an experimental theater company, Asteroid B612 Theatre Company, which made its debut in the 17th Annual HERE American Living Room Series in August 2006

Theater for the New City 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 live, original musical in 13 neighborhoods in all five boroughs. Most of these are free to the public.

Dream Up Festival tickets are $12-$20 for the participating productions.

For tickets, go or call TNC box office at 212-254-1109.

Speak Up Rise Up 2018: Diverse Storytelling

Negin Farsad. Photo by Bret Hartman

Now in its second year, the Speak Up Rise Up storytelling festival takes place August 6 - 12 at New York’s The Tank (312 W 36th St.). Speak Up, Rise Up was started by community organizer and storyteller, Asher Novek, after the 2016 Presidential election. The mission of the festival is to create a network of stories, sharing, and workshops to elevate disenfranchised communities’ and bring together people via personal storytelling.

The festival includes storytellers, stand ups, podcasts and solo performers, including WNYC's Nancy Podcast, Andrew Collin, Ophira Eisenberg, Bobby Hankinson, Shalewa Sharpe, Sydnee Washington, and Josh Johnson who is one of 6 comics to be features in The Comedy LineUp on Netflix which premieres on August 31.

Other events include the Tell, Queer Storytelling Show,  featuring a line-up of queer folks telling their own stories on their own terms including Danielle Earle, Azure D. Osborne-Lee, David Reyes, Sara Jane Stoner, and Foxy Squire.

Average Women with Average Rage features stand up comics Leah Bonnema, Ophira Eisenberg, and Negin Farsad as they blend personal stories and political commentary.

To learn more, go to:

Speak Up Rise Up 2018
August 6 - 12, 2018

The Tank
312 W 36th St.
New York, NY 10018

Shakespeare’s Henry V Comes to The Public Theater


The late Joseph Papp had a dream which was to bring free Shakespeare to the communities. His legacy lives and the commitment, to bring free Shakespearean plays to the community, and to strengthen audience engagement with the arts, via The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit continues and it’s still free.  

The spring the free three-week tour to the five boroughs will present Henry V, directed by Robert O’Hara marking the mobile units eighth year (March 29 – April 21) and will feature original music by Elisheba Ittoop. Making the tour mobile allows the team to literally bring the work to audiences who have limited or no access to the arts by visiting correctional facilities, homeless shelters, social service organizations, and other community venues. Part of The Public’s Astor Anniversary Season at their landmark downtown home on Lafayette Street, celebrating 50 years of new work at 425 Lafayette Street and the 50th Anniversary of HAIR, the three-week engagement at The Public Theater will also be free, running Monday, April 23 through Sunday, May 13 with an official press opening on Friday, April 27.

“The Mobile Unit is fueled by an unwavering belief in the power of a shared storytelling, and a commitment to meeting audiences where they are,” said Director of Special Artistic Projects Stephanie Ybarra. “I’m thrilled to welcome this company of artists to join The Public’s decades-old legacy of creating world-class theater for the city of New York.”

The casting of all the plays produced at the Public Theater is tremendous, and the Henry V cast includes Michael Bradley Cohen (Canterbury/Dauphin), Leland Fowler (Scroop/William-Bates), Patrice Johnson (Montjoy/Messengers), Carolyn Kettig (Katharine/Cambridge), Ariel Shafir (Westmoreland/Constable), David Ryan Smith (Exeter/Governor), Joe Tapper (French King/French Queen), Zenzi Williams (Henry), and Kim Wong (Alice/Grey).

Directed by Robert O’Hara the story is about the warring King and their band of brothers to communities all across New York with the Mobile Unit’s spring production of Henry V. Insulted by the regent of France, Britain’s King Henry V decide to wage war and claim the throne across the Channel.  But Henry’s charm only distracts the soldiers for so long before the dire stakes of their task call into question the King’s true motives and direction. Resonating from across the centuries—wherever there may be a kingdom for a stage, and royalty to act—Shakespeare’s drama about an invasion, ego, and leadership delves into history’s thorniest questions: What makes a person worthy of wearing the crown, and what do they owe the people they lead?

All tour performances are free, and performances at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center; Roy Wilkins Recreation Center; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; Brownsville Recreation Center; Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center; St. Paul’s Chapel; Pelham Fritz Recreation Center; and Faber Park Field House, are also open to the general public via RSVP.

For more information, visit

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