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Penny Arcade, performance artist icon, to be feted at Theater for New City benefit

BY CLAUDE SOLNIK | In keeping with its tradition of honoring artists who have presented work within its walls or simply had an impact on the world, Theater for the New City is honoring performance artist, playwright and Downtown icon Penny Arcade at its annual Love ’n’ Courage Gala on Mon., Feb. 12.

Performers are slated to include Charles Busch, who will sing, along with a roster of other artists.

The gala’s mandate is to raise money to help TNC present an ongoing stream of work by emerging playwrights, by providing everything from rehearsal space to a place to perform.

“Love and courage are what you need to succeed as a writer and we love and encourage you,” said Crystal Field, Theater for the New City’s creative artistic director and co-founder. “Instead of love ‘and’ courage, its love ’n’ courage. It’s en-courage as well as courage. We encourage you.”

While New York City is home to a great deal of new work (think of it as New Work City), TNC serves as a performance venue, plus a kind of theater incubator, for new work.

Its four theaters provide an ongoing stream of shows, including plays written by both emerging and well-known playwrights, along with music, performance art and dance.

TNC on Feb. 12 at The Players Club, at 16 Gramercy Park South, will present its annual gala to support work by emerging playwrights, with cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 6:45 p.m. with wine, and performances at 8 p.m.

Tickets to the gala are $200 and a table is $1,800. More information is available by calling the theater at 212-254-1109.

“It’s a fundraiser for our emerging playwrights,” Field said of the purpose. “Penny Arcade is going to perform and get our award. She’s done a lot of work here, plays and performance art.”

Previous honorees include Austin Pendleton, David Amram, Charles Busch and many others who have done work at TNC.

When Theater for the New City decided to launch an annual benefit for its emerging playwrights program, Field talked with Betsy von Furstenberg, the late actress, socialite and philanthropist.

“We wanted to do something for our emerging playwrights. She said, ‘I’m a socially connected person,’” Field said. “At that time she was a member of the National Ars Club. She said, ‘I can get you in here and you can do a beautiful event.’”

They held the gala there, but have since moved to the Players Club, where performer and TNC board member Mary Tierney is a member. The event has 15 tables that seat 10 to 12 and can accommodate at least 150 people.

“Charles Busch is going to sing two songs,” Field said of another well-known performer taking part. “He’s got a great following and so does Penny.”

There also will be a song from a new musical about Ella Fitzgerald, a song performed by TNC’s Street Theater Company, and participants in the theater’s afterschool program will perform a song they wrote.

Field said the theater next year plans to honor Estelle Parsons, who would join a long list of honorees who have made a difference through the arts.

“We do at least 10 shows a year by emerging playwrights who have never really been professionally produced,” Field said. “This benefit is a way to raise money for the program and attract attention to it.”

Love ’n’ Courage benefit for Theater for the New City’s emerging playwrights program, at The Players club, 16 Gramercy Park South, with Penny Arcade, Charles Busch and many others performing. Mon., Feb. 12, with cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 6:45 p.m., and performances at 8 p.m. Tickets are $200 and a table is $1,800. More information is available by calling the theater at 212-254-1109.

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