Theater for the New City’s Lower East Side Festival of the Arts is an indoor and outdoor live audience event with a lineup of more than 200 performing arts organizations, independent artists, poets, puppeteers, literary artists, visual artists and filmmakers participating. It will be presented Fri., May 26, to Sun., May 28, in and around Theater for the New City, at155 First Ave., at E. 10th Street. Admission is free but donations will be gratefully accepted.
Performances will be offered on two of the theater’s indoor stages each evening of the festival. An afternoon of performances for and by kids will be presented Saturday afternoon. A fine-art show will be hanging throughout the fest in the theater’s lobby gallery. A film program will be presented Saturday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., featuring works by filmmakers from the Lower East Side/East Village along with works that reflect the essence of the neighborhood. Outdoors on Saturday there will be music and variety acts. A poetry jam (with prose on the side) will be presented indoors on Sunday afternoon.
The event started in 1996 as a three-day, indoor and outdoor multi-arts festival intended to demonstrate the creative explosion of the Lower East Side and the area’s importance to culture and tourism for New York City. It now employs three theater spaces inside TNC, plus the block of E. 10th Street between First and Second Avenues. For the past 27 years, the event has been organized by TNC and a coalition of civic, cultural and business leaders and presented free to an average attendance of 4,000 (although in 2020 the fest was produced online due to pandemic concerns).
The performers’ roster includes such luminaries as David Amram, KT Sullivan, Austin Pendleton, Penny Arcade and Vinie Burrows. City Councilmember Carlina Rivera will speak Friday between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Kevin Reed, associate dean of research and associate professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, will speak at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Performing ensembles participating will include Chinese Theatre Works, Cobu (all-female Japanese Taiko drumming company), Constellation Moving Company (aerial dance), Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater, DADA New York, The Drilling Company, La Mama, Le Squeezebox Cabaret, Mary Tierney’s TNC Theater Workshop, New Yiddish Rep, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, Textile Theater Company and Wise Guise.
There will be excerpts of plays and original works (many written exclusively for the festival) by Toby Armour, JC Augustin, Briana Barteneiff, William Electric Black, Richard Courage, Josh Darpan, Steve Epstein, Alberto Ferreras, Alicia Foxworth, Willianne Gissendanner, Melanie Goodreaux, Steven Harris, Barbara Kahn, Anne Lucas, Ed Malin, Lissa Moira, Matt Morillo, Stephan Morrow, Sabura Rashid, James Stanton and Victor “Jr.” Vauban.
Individual performers appearing will include Matt Angel, Penny Arcade, Stan Baker, Joe Bendik, Elisa Blynn, Vinie Burrows, David Elyha, Face Boy, Zoe Gray, John Grimaldi, Sophia Gutchinov, Hollie Harper, Eric Kuzmik, Evan Lawrence, T. Scott Lilly, Tommie J Moore, Tym Moss, Bryce Payne, Austin Pendleton, Smokey Stevens, Christine Stoddard, The Legendary Amaz’n Grace, Aaron Dalla Villa, Richard Weber and Lei Zhou.
Dance performances will include Ashley Liang Dance Company, Alessandra Belloni, Glitter Kitty, Angela Harriell (“The Love Show”), Kaoru Ikeda, Infinity Dance Theater, Kinding Sindaw, Rasvan Stoian Dance, Rod Rodgers Dance Company, Laura Shapiro, Carol Tandava, Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, Akiko Tokuoka and Charly Wenzel.
Musical performers will include David Amram, Art Lillard Qurtet, Mimi Block, Maude Lardner Burke, Burning City Orchestra, Charlie Sub and Sound Dogs, Domingo, Jr Dias, Peter Dizozza, Alisa Ermolaev, Fiddler and the Crossroads, Robert Gonzales Jr., Judy Gorman, Ironic Hipsters, Michael Laderman, Lex and The Cult of Spirits, Janice Lowe, Lower East Side Performing Arts, Liz Magnes, Melange, mister pablo, Oyu-Oro, Bennet Pologe, Ellen Steier, Wendy Stewart, KT Sullivan, Michael Vazquez, Yip Harburg Rainbow Troupe, Bei-Bei Yubo Zhong, Jonathan Fox Powers and Velvette.
Emcees will be Crystal Field, Robert Gonzales Jr., Danielle Aziza and Sabura Rashid (in the Johnson Theater) and David F. Slone Esq., Joe John Battista and Claude Solnick (in the Cabaret Theater). The film program will be emceed by Eva Dorrepaal.
Specialty curators of the festival include Lissa Moira (poetry), Eva Dorrepal (film), Danielle Hauser (kids’ performances), Carolyn Ratcliffe (visual art) and Richard West (outdoor theater-dance-music) The whole festival is run by committee and chaired by Crystal Field.
Indoor performances will take stage from 6 p.m. to midnight each day, utilizing two of TNC’s four theaters. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, vendors and food sellers, including booths from nearby restaurants, will set up in the closed-off block of E. 10th Street between First and Second Avenues. On Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., an outdoor stage adjoining the theater will offer music and multidiscipline performances curated by Richard West. On Saturday afternoon inside in the Johnson Theater, there will be performances by and for children, curated by Danielle Hauser. On Saturday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Cabaret Theater, more than 15 films curated by Eva Dorrepaal will be screened, accompanied by talkbacks with a number of the filmmakers. On Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in TNC’s Community Theater, there will be a “poetry jam with prose on the side” curated by Lissa Moira. Throughout the festival, an art show curated by Carolyn Ratcliffe will grace the TNC lobby spaces.
COVID-19 masks are optional.
Find the complete schedule of events at https://www.jsnyc.com/season/LES-2023.htm.
Richard West has been running the Saturday afternoon outdoor festival of readings and music performances for god knows how many years! I took part in it myself once. CONGRATULATIONS AND BREAK A LEG, RICHARD & All participants!!