TNC Street Theater Summer Tour – THE SOCIALIZATION OF A SOCIAL WORKER or JUSTICE IN A TIME OF NEED (2024)

By Crystal Field
Directed by Crystal Field
August 3 – September 15
AUG 3 - SEP 15, Saturday and Sundays @ 2 PM; Friday Performance in Coney Island @ 5:00 PM

Executive Director, Crystal Field

Presents:

TNC Street Theater Summer Tour
THE SOCIALIZATION OF A SOCIAL WORKER or JUSTICE IN A TIME OF NEED

August 3 – September 15, 2024
Free! In The Streets!
Saturdays and Sundays @ 2 PM; Friday Performance in Coney Island @ 5:00 PM (full schedule below)

Writer and Director – Crystal Field
Composer – Peter Dizozza

8/3 • 2pm • Manhattan • TNC at E. 10th St. & First Ave.
8/4 • 2pm • Bronx • St. Mary’s Park at 147th St. & St. Ann’s Ave.
8/10 • 2pm • Staten Island • Tappen Park btw. Canal & Water Streets
8/11 • 2pm • Manhattan • Central Park Bandshell, 72nd Street Crosswalk
8/16 • 5pm • Brooklyn • Coney Island Boardwalk at W. 21st St.
8/17 • 2pm • Manhattan • St. Marks Church at E. 10th St. & Second Ave.
8/18 • 2pm • Manhattan • Jackie Robinson Park at W. 147th St. & Bradhurst Ave.
8/24 • 2pm • Manhattan • Washington Square Park
8/25 • 2pm • Queens • Travers Park at 34th Ave. btw. 77th & 78th Streets
9/7 • 2pm • Brooklyn • Sunset Park at 6th Ave. & 44th St.
9/8 • 2pm • Brooklyn • Fort Greene Park, Myrtle Avenue & St. Edwards Street
9/14 • 2pm • Manhattan • Sol Bloom Playground, W 91st Street btw. Columbus Ave & Central Park West
9/15 • 2pm • Manhattan • Tompkins Square Park at E. 7th St. & Ave. A

NEW YORK, July 2 – Theater for the New City’s award-winning Street Theater Company will open its 2024 annual tour Saturday, August 3 with “The Socialization of a Social Worker or The Fight for Social Justice,” a rip-roaring original musical which tells a story of a humanitarian case worker learning to overcome despair and find strength for today’s challenges through people power. Book, lyrics and direction are by Crystal Field, Artistic Director of Theater for the New City (TNC). The musical score is composed and arranged by Peter Dizzoza. Free performances will tour parks, playgrounds and closed-off streets throughout the five boroughs through September 15.

In the play a social worker, transferred to a New York City hospital, burns with hope that he will help make things better for the growing immigrant population which is being cast upon New York. But he is surrounded by red tape in every direction. He is tempted to give up when he meets a bunch of New York City activists who are campaigning for the future of homeless children. They show him that even among the homeless population there is power for change, but that no one can do it alone, and that the power to instill change lies within our neighborhoods. They lead him through an odyssey of homeless life in the subways, the horror and terror of the January 6 insurrection, the heroism of the DC Police, and the causes of women’s rights, abortion and affordable housing. He learns that politicians are not perfect, even the good ones, and that they can be swayed by collective people power. Ultimately, he learns that change is driven by civil society mobilization. This means that every day is a new day and that everyone must vote when election time comes, learn the lessons of January 6, and not succumb to the hatred and resentment.

The production will be staged with an elaborate assemblage of trap doors, giant puppets, smoke machines, masks, original choreography and a huge (9′ x 12′) running screen or “cranky” providing continuous moving scenery behind the actors. The company of 22 actors, ten crew members, two stage managers, three assistant directors and five live musicians (led by the composer at the keyboard) will share the challenge of performing outside and holding a large, non-captive audience. The music will vary in style from Bossa Nova to Hip Hop to Musical Comedy to classical Cantata. The play is a bouncy joyride through the undulations of the body politic, with astute commentary couched in satire, song and slapstick.

TNC’s free Street Theater productions are delightfully suited for family audiences, since complex social issues are often presented through children’s allegories, with children and neighborhood people as the heroes.

Michael David Gordon heads the cast of 25, with Michael Vazquez sharing top honors on August 16, 17 and 18. The five-piece band is led by composer Peter Dizozza.

Theater for the New City has mounted a new musical for a five borough tour each year since 1976. In 2020, in response to the Covid-19 lockdown, TNC’s Street Theater production, “Liberty or Just Us: a City Park Story,” was an oratorio that live streamed for an eight week, 14 performance run. Each performance payed tribute to the park or other location it had been originally scheduled for. The popular tradition returned to live, in-person performances the following year.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Author/director Crystal Field began writing street theater in 1968 as a member of Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia. She wrote and performed her own outdoor theater pieces against the Vietnam War and also curated and performed many poetry programs for the Philadelphia Public Schools. There she found tremendous enthusiasm and comprehension on the part of poor and minority students for both modern and classical poetry when presented in a context of relevancy to current issues. She realized that for poetry to find its true audience, the bonds of authoritarian criticism must and can be transcended. Her earliest New York street productions were playlets written in Philadelphia and performed on the flatbed truck of Bread and Puppet Theater in Central Park. Peter Schumann, director of that troupe, was her first NY artistic supporter.

In 1971, Ms. Field became a protégé of Robert Nichols, founder of the Judson Poets Theater in Manhattan, and of Peter Schuman, founder of Bread and Puppet Theater. It is an interesting historic note that “The Expressway” by Robert Nichols, directed by Crystal Field (a Street theater satire about Robert Moses’ plan for a throughway to run across Little Italy from the West Side Highway to the FDR Drive) was actually the first production of Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. Nichols wrote street theater plays for TNC in its early years, but as time went on, wrote scenarios and only the first lines of songs, leaving Field to “fill in the blanks.” When Nichols announced his retirement to Vermont in 1975, he urged Field to “write your own.” The undertaking, while stressful at first, became the impetus for her to express her own topical political philosophy and to immerse her plays in that special brand of humor referred to often as “that brainy slapstick.” Her first complete work was “Mama Liberty’s Bicentennial Party” (1976), in honor of the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution.

Field has an associate’s degree in Dance from Juilliard and a BA in Philosophy from Hunter College.

Field has written and directed a completely new opera for the TNC Street Theater company each successive year. She collaborated for eleven years with composer Mark Hardwick, whose “Pump Boys and Dinettes” and “Oil City Symphony” were inspired by his street theater work with Ms. Field. At the time of his death from AIDS in 1994, he was writing a clown musical with Field called “On the Road,” which was never finished. One long-running actor in TNC street theater was Tim Robbins, who was a member of the company for six years in the 1980s, from age twelve to 18.

The Village Halloween Parade, which TNC produced single-handedly for the Parade’s first two years, grew out of the procession which preceded each Street Theater production. Ralph Lee, who created the Parade with Ms. Field, was chief designer for TNC’s Street Theater for four years before the Village Halloween Parade began.

Field has also written for TNC’s annual Halloween Ball and for an annual Yuletime pageant that was performed outdoors for 2,000 children on the Saturday before Christmas. She has written two full-length indoor plays, “Upstate” and “One Director Against His Cast.” She is co-founder and Artistic Director of TNC.

Composer Peter Dizozza was composer/musical director of TNC’s 2022 Street Theater tour, “Teacher! Teacher! or PS I Love You.” He appeared frequently in 2020-2021 in TNC’s weekly “Open ‘Tho Shut” walk-by theater productions, which demonstrated the theater’s ability to serve its neighborhood culturally during the lockdown. He is known for his simple, cheerful music with a Gershwinesque flair.  He began writing plays with music for La Mama’s Experimenta Series in 1997 and became a regular composer for productions directed by George Ferencz. Among his TNC credits are his scores for Toby Armour’s plays “Aunt Susan and Her Tennessee Waltz” (2022) and “155 Thru the Roof” (2014). His song settings include poems and texts by Shakespeare, T.S.Eliot and Thomas Hardy. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild, The Lambs Club and The New York Composers Circle.