BY CLAUDE SOLNIK | Theater for the New City will present a wide range of performers as it honors playwright Eduardo Machado and Councilmember Carlina Rivera on Mon., Feb. 13, at The Players, 16 Gramercy Park South, at its Love ’n Courage gala, raising money for its Emerging Playwrights Program.
Love ’n Courage is an annual TNC fundraiser held around Valentine’s Day and a key part of the East Village theater’s initiative to present new work.
Machado, a playwright born in Cuba, has presented a wide range of work at Theater for the New City, including most recently “Not About Me.” Rivera is the representative of the Second City Council District.
Theater for the New City, a four-theater complex at 155 First Ave., has presented shows that won the Pulitzer Prize, 43 Village Voice OBIE Awards, nine Audelco Awards, two Bessie Awards, five ASCAP Awards, 10 Rockefeller Playwrights Fellowships, The Mayor’s Stop the Violence Award, and the Manhattan Borough President’s Award for Public Service and Artistic Excellence in Theater, and been presented with a New York City Council proclamation that pays tribute to TNC’s contributions to improving the quality of life in the city through its “rich tradition of bringing theater to people in multicultural neighborhoods.”
“TNC’s 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,” said Crystal Field, TNC executive artistic director.
TNC seeks to give playwrights a forum where their work can be seen and heard.
“TNC does not believe that readings are enough help an artist to grow into the American playwriting mainstream,” she added. “The theater gives emerging artists full productions, with a minimum run of three weeks, with full lighting, sets, costumes and overall good production values. The theater staff does marketing and ticket prices are kept low to ensure good attendances.”
Each year between 20 and 30 emerging playwrights are presented. No other theater approaches the volume of work by emerging playwrights that TNC has presented in the 52 years since the theater’s founding. Playwrights are selected for the quality of their work and their historical and social vision.
“That is our ballast,” Field said. “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. Once the play is selected, the producer cannot fire the writer and there is no censorship of any kind.
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 since COVID began, TNC has added streaming capabilities.
Love ’n Courge will be hosted by songwriter/playwright/
Entertainment during the cocktail hour will include lobby dancing by Human Kinetics, songs by Michael Vazquez and atmospheric music by The Head Peddlers.
Honoree Eduardo Machado was born in Cuba and came to the United States when he was 9. He is the author of more than 40 plays, including “The Cook,” “Havana is Waiting,” “The Modern Ladies Of Guanabacoa,” “Fabiola,” “Broken Eggs” and “Stevie Wants to Play the Blues.”
His works have been produced by TNC, Seattle Repertory, the Goodman, Hartford Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf, Hampstead Theatre in London, The Cherry Lane Theatre, Repertorio Español and many others. His TV writing credits include Starz’s “Magic City” and HBO’s “Hung.” He is a professor of playwriting at New York University/Tisch and was artistic director of INTAR from 2004 to 2010. He acted at TNC in productions of his own plays “Don Juan in NYC” and “Mariquitas.”
He has directed numerous plays, including his own works and those of emerging writers. He is co-author of “Tastes Like Cuba: An Exile’s Hunger for Home” (Gotham Press, 2007). His plays are published by Samuel French and TCG.
Carlina Rivera, the evening’s other honoree, was born and raised on the Lower East Side, in the Second Council District, by a single mother who moved to New York City from Puerto Rico. Throughout her tenure in the City Council, she has been a stalwart supporter of the arts. She has also introduced and passed legislation related to sexual harassment, reproductive health, immigration, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, small business survival and transportation.
While chairperson of the City Council’s Committee on Hospitals during the COVID crisis, she worked collaboratively with healthcare providers and organizers to ensure that testing and tracing outreach was being run by credible organizations, pushed for vaccine equity, and delivered PPE and food to neighbors most in need. After Superstorm Sandy, she helped coordinate thousands of volunteers to assist more than 10,000 homebound residents as part of a recovery network that would go on to support families affected by the deadly Second Avenue gas explosion in 2015 and the Flatiron steampipe explosion in 2018.
The benefit committee includes Chairperson Mary Tierney, F. Murray Abraham, David Amram, Alexander Bartenieff, Vinie Burrows, Charles Busch, Janet Piontek, Myrna Duarte, Carol Dudgeon, Renee S. Edelman, Crystal Field, Matthew Fitzgerald, Andrea Fulton, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Robert Gonzales, Jr., Robert Greer, Philip Hackett, Alan Hanna, Deena and Ernie Harburg, Celia Kornfeld, Anne Lucas, Eduardo Machado, Nancy and Allan Manocherian, Mark Marcante, Audrey Heffernan Meyer, Louis Mofsie, Lissa Moira, Stephan Morrow, Emily Pezzella, Richard Ploetz, Tim Robbins, Liana Rosario, Michael Scott-Price, Jonathan Slaff, David F. Slone, Esq., Founder Betsy von Furstenberg (in memoriam), Jenne Vath, Joel Vig, Jonathan Weber, Patricia and Dr. Jay Weiner and Frank Zuback.
Cocktails are at 6 p.m. with a seated dinner at 7 p.m. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $200 (individuals) and $1,750 for a table of 10, available online at www.theaterforthenewcity.net. For information call 212-254-1109. RSVP by Feb. 7. Dress is festive.
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