The Lower East Side Festival of the Arts Press Release



Is coming your way at Theater for the New City
155 1st Avenue, New York, NY
(212) 254-1109

MAY 28, 29 AND 30

LES – MAY 28, 29 and 30, 2021

DateJohnson TheaterCabaret TheaterCommunity Space TheaterOutside on East 10th Street
Fri, May 28Performances 6pm – 11pmPerformances 7pm – 11pm  
Sat, May 29Performances 6pm – 11pmFilm Program 12pm – 6pm Cultural Festival, Performances, Food, Vendors and More 1pm – 5pm
Sun, May 30Performances 6pm – 11pmPerformances 7pm – 11pmPoetry Readings 4pm – 7pm 

All vaxxed up and no place to go? We’ll tell you where to go! The 26th Annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts—L.E.S.    

L.E.S. is our annual, joyous, boisterous, thought-provoking and always exciting celebration of the Arts of the Lower East Side and East Village. From the prestigious past, the knockout now, and fabulous future.   

For 24 years, it took place at Theater for the New City at 155 First Ave, but last year, we spent our silver 25th Anniversary in the virtual world. Just like the rest of the world, we were cornered by COVID and performed on Zoom. But now for our 26th Annual L.E.S., we are back, back home on stage and ready to welcome you all to join us for our free to all festival.   

As always, we cast our eyes, minds and hearts back to the amazing artistic history of our beloved Lower East Side and East Village; which produced the genius and magic of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin and Yip Harburg. Edgar Allan Poe spent time writing here, as did Mark Twain, Eugene O’Neill, and Garcia Lorca. Eddie Cantor, George Raft and James Cagney (whose early films featured the fluent Yiddish he picked up here) all hailed from The Lower East Side. Molly Picon started here, as did the Yiddish Theater, and the entire film industry had its Genesis on The Lower East Side. The talent goes on ad infinitum.

And then we look to the art that is happening right now, all around us. Icons and stars who either live on the Lower East Side, or work here all the time. And then of course there is the future we embrace and present. New names about to make their mark and perhaps one day destined to join the pantheon of stars who began their journey to greatness here.    

L.E.S. consists of theater, music, dance, comedy, poetry, film and fine arts. Numerous theater and dance groups and companies present excerpts of work they will be performing at their own venues in the area. Hundreds of solo performers take part as well.   

Some of the notables who have already signed on to bring the arts back alive to L.E.S. include:

David Amram: International Jazz Man, Composer, Conductor and LES fave. 

James Rado: World-famous as one of the creators of “Hair.” His warmth and spirit casts the brightest of lights wherever and whenever he performs. He is, we are happy to say, a close friend of TNC and L.E.S.

Phoebe Legere: A Wow of a woman with peerless talent as a Composer, Performer, Playwright and Teacher of the young.

Penny Arcade: A woman for whom a microphone is a lethal weapon, a Performance Artist best known for her barbed social commentary on the subject of everything…and funny as hell.   

Ashley Liang and her Dance Company: An exquisite combination of traditional Chinese dance limned with a modern sensibility and tinged with a hint of the sacred. You don’t watch Ashley dance. You experience her.

Vinie Burrows: Star of stages from Broadway to TNC, Community activist and lifelong force for good. Eric Yves Garcia: Up-coming star of cabaret and boites all over town (when the town was open). L.E.S. audiences left yelling for more…so we had to have him back.

Reno: Raucous, ribald, lesbionic, and learned legend with the wisdom of age—She can always complain and does so to hilarious effect. 

Rod Rodgers Dance Company: It wouldn’t be LES without them. They say so much with glorious movement and never fail to live up to the legacy of their founder.

Le Squeezebox Cabaret: Led by David F. Slone, Esq. Will they strip? Will they ascend  the ropes…and strip? Will they break into techno-dance? Will David belt out Le Jazz or make like a rabbi and have us practically doven with him? All to the strains of an accordion? One never knows with Le Squeeze Box cabaret.

An excerpt from acclaimed poet and memoirist Dean Kostos’s “The Boy Who Listened to Paintings:” a musical adapted from his book of the same name. Music composed by Paul Kirby and directed by Lissa Moira. Starring Moore Theobald and William Broderick.

Judy Gorman: Folk singer, a favorite of Pete Seeger‘s, a woman whose talent is only exceeded by her social conscience.

Louisa Bradshaw: An actress and chanteuse who has graced stages all over the world.

Melange: Consisting of guitarist Richard West, violinist Susan Mitchell and percussionist Jiggers Turner. Their music defies categorization, with strains of Indian ragas, flamenco, classic jazz, folk, classical and so on and on.

The Love Show, The Drilling Company, Zero Boy and so many, many more.

Some of the writers who have created new works expressly for the festival include: Tom Diriwachter, Lissa Moira, Bina Sharif, Barbara Kahn, and Peter Welch.   

For the uninitiated who have never joined us in these 26 years, here’s how our three-day festival known as L.E.S. works:   

Friday, May 28, upstairs in the Johnson Theater from 6pm to 11pm (we’ve curtailed our hours to comply with COVID regulations): A continuous cavalcade of Theater, Music, Dance, Comedy and Performance Art (This special year, we will break into the action hourly to let audience out and bring in audience members who have been waiting in our holding area, again to comply with COVID capacity regulations.).   

Friday, May 28, downstairs in our Cabaret Theater from 7pm to 11pm: We present more intimate, outré or sub-rosa acts, again Theater, Music, Dance, Comedy and Performance Art.

Saturday, May 29, outside on East 10th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, from 1pm to 5pm: We throw up a stage and curator and Host, Composer, Playwright, and Bohemian Historian, Mr. Richard West will gift the crowd with Music, Dancers, Comedians, Poets and his own wit and wisdom and guitar licks. Lining the streets will be tables full of vendors hawking their colorful goods (all within COVID regulations.).

Saturday, May 29, downstairs in the Cabaret from 12pm to 6pm, we will have the film portion of our festival (Usually it goes from noon to midnight, but again we bow to COVID curtailment): It will be curated by the talented and very knowledgeable film maven Eva Dorrepaal (she is currently sifting through the deluge of submissions). Expect shorts, animation and feature-length films by local auteurs and filmmakers who have created works pertinent to the Lower East Side and East Village. Watch this space for the list of chosen films. Sharing hosting duties will be the gifted man responsible for making TNC’s On-The-Air Series possible, John David West. Roy Chang will handle the technical elements. Again, to accommodate the COVID situation the audience will go through a good number of changeovers, so those who are waiting have a chance to partake.

Saturday, May 29, upstairs in the Johnson Theater from 6pm to 11pm: Live Theater (doesn’t that sound just marvelous)! Music, Dance, Comedy and Performance Art continues unabated, except for stoppages to allow for audience turnover because of COVID capacity rules.

Sunday, May 30, upstairs in the Community Space Theater from 4pm to 7pm, L.E.S. presents a Poetry Jam with Prose on the Side: Curated and hosted by Playwright, Director, Actor, Artist and Poet Lissa Moira. This year’s featured guest will be celebrated Poet and Memoirist Dean Kostos. Over three dozen of the East Village’s most published and prolific poets will be participating, as well as many newly-minted word warriors eager to share their work, followed by an open mic for those in the audience who wish to surprise us.

Sunday, May 30, Upstairs in the Johnson Theater 6pm to 11pm: Glorious Theater, Music, Dance, Comedy and Performance art galore goes on and on.

Sunday, May 30, 7PM to 11PM: We again give you, in our black box Cabaret, more outside-of-the-box entertainment.

Throughout the festival, in TNC’s Lobby Art Gallery: An exhibition of Fine Art. Painting, Photography and Sculptures of all description will be on display. Curated by community activist, dear friend of The Lower East Side and a Fine Artist in her own right, Carolyn Ratcliffe. The exhibition will remain on display through June and will have its own special opening reception on Wednesday, May 26 from 6pm to 8pm. Of course, open to the public to mingle, schmooze and wine with the artists. However, how many we will be able to accommodate, and what we will be able to serve as far as the lovely tidbits we usually offer, is still in flux, for again we must adhere to all the rules of COVID in order to keep everyone safe.

In 2021, there is very little not affected by the pandemic. Obviously, L.E.S. is no exception. And sadly, we cannot be as uninhibited and laissez-faire with our audience as usual. So, we must let you know that you WILL BE ASKED TO SHOW US YOUR VACCINATION CARD or a NEGATIVE COVID TEST NO MORE THAN FIVE DAYS OLD, IN ORDER TO BE ADMITTED! There will be masking and social distancing, and we will adhere to the most recent rules promulgated by the CDC, State and New York City. We feel your cooperation is a small price to pay for our otherwise FREE FESTIVAL. We want nothing more than to spread the joys of the artistic delights of The Lower East Side and the East Village to all who can attend. Crystal Field and the LES Production Committee are delighted to say ixnay on the oomzay, and welcome you all to our house, Theater For The New City for L.E.S.: HOME AGAIN!!! 

*Small Program Note: L.E.S. cannot present its usual children’s program this year, because the youngsters cannot as yet be vaccinated. 

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