Love N’ Courage Celebrates Spring Press Release

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

Call for Writers!

Theater for the New City is looking for new works for our LIVE weekly reading series, TNC “On The Air,” where we work with a diverse group of writers, directors, and actors from the NYC theater community and beyond to present new works live online every Thursday evening.

Some of our previous plays include; “Visitors in the Dark” written and performed by Charles Busch; “Hamlet in Harlem” by Alberto Ferreras; and “PULL THIS OUT! Or a Play About Nerds” by Dan Moldovan

How to submit:
Please send the first 10 pages of your work and a brief synopsis. 

Where to submit:
Please include in the subject line: TNC “On The Air” Play Submission.

Email to: info@theaterforthenewcity.net
Submission Deadline: March 22nd

Press Release Thunderbird American Dancers Pow Wow and Dance Concert

TNC PRESENTS ITS 46th ANNUAL THUNDERBIRD AMERICAN INDIAN DANCERS’ POW WOW AND DANCE CONCERT VIRTUALLY FEBRUARY 20, 2021.

Performance will also be available on-demand until March 7.

All ticket sales and donations will benefit Native American scholarship fund.

WHERE AND WHEN:
Live streamed February 20, 2021 at 7:00 PM

Recording available on-demand through March 7.
A virtual production of Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (at Tenth Street).
$5 general admission.  Supplemental donations will be gratefully accepted. Ticketing available here!

Recommended for all ages.
TNC box office:  212-254-1109, www.theaterforthenewecity.net
Running time 90 min. Reviewers are invited.
PHOTOS AND VIDEO ARE AVAILABLE. See directions at bottom of this document.

NEW YORK, January 23 — Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, will present its 46th annual Thunderbird American Dancers Pow Wow and Dance Concert live-streamed from facility’s Joyce and Seward Johnson Theater, on February 20, 2021, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.  This “virtual Pow-Wow” will be accessible from the theater’s website, www.theaterforthenewcity.net, and available there on-demand until March 7, 2021.  There will be dances, stories and traditional music from Native Peoples of the Northeast, Southwest and Great Plains regions. The event, emceed by Bessie-winner Louis Mofsie (Hopi/Winnebago), has become a treasured New York tradition for celebrating our diversity by honoring the culture of our first Americans.  TNC donates all proceeds from this event to college scholarship funds for Native American students.  Admission is only $5 and additional donations will be gratefully accepted.  The event is recommended for all ages. Ticketing available here!

A Pow-Wow is more than just a spectator event: it is a joyous reunion for native peoples nationwide and an opportunity for the non-Indian community to voyage into the philosophy and beauty of Native culture. Traditionally a gathering and sharing of events, Pow-Wows have come to include spectacular dance competitions, exhibitions, and enjoyment of traditional foods.

Highlights will include storytelling by Matoaka Eagle (Santo Domingo/Chickahominy), a Hoop Dance by Marie Ponce (Cherokee and Seminole) that will be set to drum and guitar, a Deer Dance (from the Yaqui Tribes of Southern Arizona) with Ciaran Tufford (Mayan/Cherokee) and Carlos Ponce (Mayan), and various ensemble dances: a Grass Dance and Jingle Dress Dance (from the Northern Plains people), a Shawl Dance (from the Oklahoma tribes), a Fancy Dance (from the Oklahoma tribes) and a Robin Dance and Smoke Dance (from the Iroquois). A new work, “Flute Music Old and New”, will be performed by Louis Mofsie (old) and Rob Mastrianni (new).

Pageantry is an important component of the event, and all participants are elaborately dressed. There is a wealth of cultural information encoded in the movements of each dance. More than ten distinct tribes will be represented in the performance. The dozen-or-so dancers are people of all ages, raging from twelve-year-old Isabel Cespedes (Mayan) to retirees.

Throughout the performance, all elements are explained in depth through detailed introductions by the troupe’s Director and Emcee Louis Mofsie (Hopi/Winnebago). An educator, Mofsie plays an important part in the show by his ability to present a comprehensive view of native culture.  Mofsie was awarded the 2019 Bessie Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.  In 2017, he was honored, along with Garth Fagan and Martha Myers, with a Lifetime Achievement Award from American Dance Guild.

The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers are the oldest resident Native American dance company in New York. The troupe was founded in 1963 by a group of ten Native American men and women, all New Yorkers, who were descended from Mohawk, Hopi, Winnebago and San Blas tribes. Prominent among the founders were Louis Mofsie (Hopi/Winnebago) and his sister, Josephine Mofsie (deceased), Rosemary Richmond (Mohawk, deceased), Muriel Miguel (Cuna/Rapahannock) and Jack Preston (Seneca, deceased). Some were in school at the time; all were “first generation,” meaning that their parents had been born on reservations. They founded the troupe to keep alive the traditions, songs and dances they had learned from their parents, and added to their repertoire from other Native Americans living in New York and some who were passing through. Jack Preston taught the company its Iroquois dances, including the Robin Dance and Fish Dance. To these were added dances from the plains, including the Hopi Buffalo Dance, and newer dances including the Grass Dance and Jingle Dress Dance. The company was all-volunteer, a tradition that exists to today. Members range in professions from teachers to hospital patient advocates, tree surgeons and computer engineers. Now Louis Mofsie says, “To be going for 50 years is just amazing to me, and to be able to do the work we do.”

The troupe made a home in the old McBurney YMCA on 23rd Street and Seventh Ave. Within three or four years, they were traveling throughout the continental U.S., expanding and sharing their repertoire and gleaning new dances on the reservations. A number of Thunderbird members are winners of Fancy Dance contests held on reservations, where the standard of competition is unmistakably high.

The Thunderbird-TNC collaboration began in 1975, when Crystal Field directed a play called “The Only Good Indian.” For research, Ms. Field lived on a Hopi reservation for three weeks. In preparation for the project, she met Louis Mofsie, Artistic Director of the dance troupe and a representative of the American Indian Community House. Mofsie suggested a Pow Wow and dance concert to celebrate the winter solstice. Field, who is herself 1% native American, committed herself to bring this to fruition.  The event has continued annually to this day.

The troupe’s appearances benefit college scholarship funds for Native American students. The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Scholarship Fund receives its sole support from events like this concert (it receives no government or corporate contributions), and has bestowed over 350 scholarships to-date. Theater for the New City has been presenting Pow-Wows annually as a two-week event since 1976, with the box office donated to these scholarships

Video production of this event is by Alexander Bartenieff (lighting & sound director, video production manager) and Brian Park (camera/sound engineer, assistant technical director).

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CRITICS ARE INVITED.  Press contact Jonathan Slaff (212) 924-0496.

VIDEOS ARE AVAILABLE upon request.

2019 PRODUCTION PHOTOS: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ebLLGRPPQVHjJsxt8

RECENT YEARS’ PHOTOS: https://goo.gl/photos/tcrxbtPYtF2hdvhV6 and https://goo.gl/photos/SLr4PXEHJrsq34j9A

HISTORICAL PHOTOS of Pow-Wows from 2004 to 2015 are available for download at:

Open ‘Tho Shut with The Manhattan Beat

The Theater for the New City Presents Live Weekly Variety Shows

Full Article Here!

“State and city government mandated that all theaters close in March. Darkness covered the theater world, with no promise of a re-opening date. Over time, many productions turned to live streams. In recent months, the Theater for the New City, led by its executive director, Crystal Field, launched an innovative weekly pop-up series featuring live music and spoken-word performances. The tightly-run one-hour variety show, called “Open ‘Tho Shut,” happens live on Saturdays at 2 p.m. in the venue’s set shop, renamed the ChopShop Theater.

The staging area features full stage lighting and a four-microphone sound system, and Mark Marcante and Lytza Colon created a colorful backdrop specifically for this series. A live socially-distanced audience on the sidewalk watches the shows through an open garage door. Cameras simultaneously broadcast the shows to home viewers via the venue’s website. Both the in-person performance and the live-stream are free of charge to the public. All installments of “Open ‘Tho Shut” are accessible on the Theater for the New City’s website.

The Theater for the New City’s health protocol requires that all “Open ‘Tho Shut” performers test for COVID before their appearances. Staff takes the temperatures of the performers as they arrive and offers hand sanitizer. Stage hands sanitize the communal microphones between performances, and the emcee uses a separate microphone.

Snowflakes drawn in chalk on the ground indicate where audience members should stand in order to remain socially distant. Staff provides masks to audience members who arrive without their own.

Today’s “walk-by theater” was the ninth installment of Open ‘Tho Shut. Crystal Field was the mistress of ceremonies. The performances began with COBU, the all-female Japanese Taiko drumming and dance troupe comprised of Yako Miyamoto, Ayaha Otsuka, Mayu Yamashita, Micro Fukuyama, and Kana Matsui. Mark Marcante, Dan Kelly, and Arthur Abrams led a vaudevillian British music hall sing-along set. Cheryl Gadsden sang pop standards and Robert Homeyer recited monologues by William Shakespeare.

“Open ‘Tho Shut” will continue throughout the winter as a weekly event. In inclement weather, the live audience will be able to shelter under tents.”

by Everynight Charley Crespo

Art Gallery Lens on the Lower East Side

East Village: Lens on the Lower East Side by Lower East Side Preservation Initiative’s A Photo-journal Essay

This remarkable collection of contemporary photographs, shot by photographers whose artistic roots in the East Village, shows unique and beautiful portraits of a now familiar neighborhood. This collection reminds people of our neighborhood’s beauty, wonder, and individuality and calls out for the preservation of its invaluable, irreplaceable legacy, for our own and future generations.

Click Here to View!

Mark Your Calendar!
East Village: Lens on the LES will lead a Zoom Discussion on December 29th @ 6:30PM EST.

Follow TNC On Instagram!

Click Here for More!

Photos from The ChopShop Theater, Open ‘Tho Shut

Check out The ChopShop Theater, Open ‘Tho Shut Performances Here!

Photos from Open ‘Tho Shut on 11.14.20

Photos from Open ‘Tho Shut on 11.21.20

After-School Arts-in-Education

John David West interviews our very own Michael David Gordon, Director of Arts-in-Education
Watch below!

Theater For The New City’s Arts-in-Ed After-School Theater Arts program has returned!

We shall begin the ten-week session beginning Tuesday, December 1st. Classes will be conducted via Zoom – kids will have to have access to the technology, including camera capability – sessions will run for 90 minutes (3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

In the Tuesday and Thursday workshops, the children will train to present a special hour-long culminating zoom production, written, crafted, and performed for family, friends, and community members!

Michael-David Gordon, Director

Teachers:
Justin Rodriguez
Celestina Bradsher
T. Scott Lily
Juan Villegas

* Spot session’ teachers:
Matt Angel (music, improv) and Michael Sanders (mime, storytelling)

New lessons for this session include!
Mime and Storytelling

Please email info@theaterforthenewcity.net and windhammd@aol.com for inquiries.

Lower East Side Festival of the Arts

May 22 – May 25, 2020 TNC celebrated its Lower East Side Festival of the Arts Virtually with 145 theater groups, artists, painters, sculptures, dancers, actors, puppet makers, poets, musical comedy stars, kid performers, and Street performers, in an extraordinary experience as New York’s finest artistic talents grace the Festival Stage, reaching out to the public with the passionate embrace that only the arts can provide.

Click on the image to watch!

Street Theater 2020

This summer, for the first time ever, TNC held its Street Theater Virtually from August 2020 – September 2020. Click on the below image to watch!

“LIBERTY Or JUST US, A City Park Story” is an oratorio that honors New York City parks for being sites of activism for many 20th and 21st century progressive causes, from the Triangle Shirtwaist protests to Occupy Wall Street. It revisits these movements through the eyes of a contemporary Parks Manager in songs featuring him and the multi-ethnic, multi-abled ensemble. The piece celebrates the idea that the USA can be a country of all its people, that moral aspiration can be reinvented to harness energy to overcome our problems, and that our vision can focus on dignity rather than power, equality rather than wealth and solidarity rather than competition. The audience is invited to sing along, both in new songs and in new lyrics for old tunes.