TIM ROBBINS JOINS CELEBRITIES APPEARING IN THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY’S “LOVE ‘N COURAGE” VIRTUAL GALA MARCH 22
Event benefits theater’s emerging playwrights program.
NEW YORK, March 15, 2021 — Tim Robbins has joined the list of celebrities contributing performances for Theater or the New City’s 2021 “Love ‘N Courage” gala March 22, which benefits the theater’s emerging playwrights program. Robbins joins Charles Busch, David Amram, F. Murray Abraham and Vinie Burrows in the roster of stars sharing prepared performances.
The program will also include performances by stars and Downtown luminaries, addresses by elected officials, a performance by students in the theater’s cultural arts program and highlights from the theater’s “Open ‘Tho Shut” weekly walk-by theater series, which will have played for 20 weeks by the date of the gala. The event will begin streaming at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $200 and available on the theater’s website, www.theaterforthenewcity.net.
Tim Robbins cut his acting teeth at Theater for the New City, appearing in its annual Street Theater musicals when he was twelve and continuing until he was 18. His family’s affiliation with the theater preceded him: his sisters, Adele and Gabrielle, had been regular Assistant Directors before he became active there. Robbins also starred at TNC in the title role of “The Little Prince” (1973), a musical adaptation by Laurel Hessing and David Tice of the classic book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that was directed by Crystal Field.
TNC stalwarts performing at the gala will also include Phoebe Legere, Cobu (all-women Japanese Taiko drumming and dance company), British Music Hall (Mark Marcante and friends, with texts of chorus provided for sing-alongs), Pablo Raul (conductor of Mr. Pablo Band), Arthur Abrams (Yiddish songs from Lower East Side Festival of the Arts), Thunderbird American Indian Dancers (Deer Dance), Yip Harburg Rainbow Troupe (songs by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg), Carol Tendava (Belly Dance), and Michael David Gordon, Justin Rodriguez and Natasha Velez (in songs from last summer’s TNC Street Theater oratorio, “Liberty or Just Us: a City Park Story”).
Theater for the New City turns 50 this month. The event salutes that milestone and has been scheduled for March 22, in the rebirth of early Spring, to celebrate theater’s rise from the ashes of Covid-19. With New York arts venues now allowed to reopen April 2 (to limited audiences), funds from this benefit will enable TNC to “hit the ground running” when reopening.
Elected officials offering greetings will include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Carlina Rivera.
The event will also feature a song written by students in TNC’s afterschool cultural arts program which was performed in its culminating event on February 21, and a montage of images from “TNC On The Air” hosted by John David West.
Theater for the New City (TNC) is a four-theater complex at 155 First Avenue. It started out in March 1971 in the Westbeth Artists Community and moved to a new home at 133 Bank Street (later known as the Jane Street Theater) that same year. In 1977, the theater moved from the West Village to the East Village, converting the former Tabernacle Baptist church at 156 Second Ave. near East 10th Street into a cultural complex with a rehearsal room and three theaters. Its final move, to the former Second Avenue Retail Market at 155 First Ave, was completed in 1986. Each migration was the result of gentrification that was catalyzed, at least partly, by the success of the theater. TNC made the final payment on the mortgage for its present building in 2013. Although the institution operates with very low budgets for its productions, its stability as an organization is a miracle in New York’s volatile and challenging theatrical landscape.
TNC’s awards include the Pulitzer Prize, 43 Village Voice OBIE Awards (including a grant and citation for “uncompromising commitment to unconventional and daring plays”), eight Audelco Awards, two Bessie Awards, five ASCAP Awards, 10 Rockefeller Playwrights Fellowships, The Mayor’s Stop the Violence Award, the Manhattan Borough President’s Award for Public Service and Artistic Excellence in Theater, and a NY City Council Proclamation that pays tribute to TNC’s contributions to improving the quality of life in the City by its “rich tradition of bringing theater to people in multi-cultural neighborhoods.”
The Emerging Playwrights program is integral to the theater’s mission, which includes being a center for new and innovative theater arts, discovering relevant new writing and nurturing new playwrights. TNC does not believe that readings are enough help for an artist to grow into the American playwriting mainstream. So the theater gives emerging artists full productions, with a minimal run of three weeks, full lighting, sets, costumes and overall good production values. The theater staff does marketing to make sure they have audiences, and ticket prices are kept low to ensure good attendance.
Each year there are between 20 and 30 emerging playwrights presented. No other theater approaches the volume of work by emerging playwrights that TNC has presented in the 50 years since its founding.
Playwrights are selected for the quality of their work and their historical and social vision. Executive Director Crystal Field declares, “That is our ballast. Everything else is just decoration.” Many colleges have playwriting programs, but the process at TNC is different from what happens in university theaters because at TNC, the playwright is involved in all aspects of the production and has final say on everything including budget, casting, designers and choice of director. The producer cannot fire the writer and there is no censorship in any way. It’s a nurturing relationship in which the author is also invited to create a new work for the following season.
Emerging playwright productions get to use the theater’s set and costume shops and its vast inventory of set pieces. Each theater space is fully equipped and this year, TNC has added a projector and sound mixer.
The benefit committee includes Mary Tierney (Chairperson) F. Murray Abraham, David Amram, Tom Attea, Alexander Bartenieff, Patricia Bosworth, Jean Buchalter, Vinie Burrows, Charles Busch, Janet Cooper-Piontek, Myrna Duarte, Carol Dudgeon, Crystal Field, Matthew Fitzgerald, Andrea Fulton, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Robert Gonzales, Jr., Robert Greer, Margaret Guarino, Philip Hackett, Alan Hanna, Deena & Ernie Harburg, Celia Kornfeld, David Lewis, Anne Lucas, Eduardo Machado, Nancy Manocherian, Mark Marcante, Audrey Heffernan Meyer, Alberto Minero, Louis Mofsie, Lissa Moira, Matt Morillo, Stephan Morrow, Richard Ploetz, Council Member Carlina Rivera, Tim Robbins, Liana Rosario, Gerald E. Rupp, Esq., Michael Scott-Price, Edward Shea, David F. Slone, Jean-Claude Van Itallie, Betsy Von Furstenberg (in memoriam), Jenne Vath, Joel Vig, Jonathan Weber, Patricia & Dr. Jay Weiner and Frank Zuback.
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For photos of recent TNC Emerging Playwright productions, go to: https://photos.app.goo.gl/iFZw9TF8ztn7McMBA