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So Cool! La MaMa, Theater for the New City Get White Roofs

LaMama1Courtesy La MaMa Preliminary work on La MaMa’s white roof.

The building that houses La MaMa got a new mural back in May, and now it’s getting another paint job – but not in the name of art.

The White Roof Project laid down a first coat of white paint on the theater’s rooftop on Wednesday, adding another 7,000 square feet of solar-reflective white roof to the neighborhood in an ongoing effort to reduce carbon emissions and encourage energy efficiency.

Juan Carlos Piñeiro Escoriaza, the project’s founder, told The Local that the Lower East Side is one the heaviest energy users in the city. “Our efforts there get you more ‘bang for your buck’ every time a roof is coated white,” he said, adding that he wanted to have contiguous rooftops along East Third and Fourth Streets between Bowery and Second Avenue painted white by the end of 2013. Read more…

Weekend That Was: L.E.S. Festival and Veggie Pride Parade

Susan Keyloun

As anticipated, the 17th annual L.E.S. Festival of the Arts, organized by Theater for the New City, returned to East 10th Street this past weekend, bringing with it excerpts from current works by La MaMa E.T.C., Horse Trade Theater Group and other local companies; a performance by the EDG Experimental Dance Group, from The Children’s Workshop School; and poetry jams, art shows, flamenco and belly dance recitals, and more.

And on Sunday, the fifth annual Veggie Pride Parade, featuring the lovely legume Penelo Pea Pod, made its way from the meatpacking district to Union Square Park, where vegan and animal-rights activists and authors did their best to convince the masses not to throw burgers on the barbie. If you were out of town, check out our slideshow to see what you missed.

L.E.S. Festival of the Arts this Weekend at Theater For The New City

Lower East Side Festival at TNCTheater For The New City

An “aerial circus,” poetry, burlesque, plenty of theater and even talk show legend Joe Franklin are part of this weekend’s Lower East Side Festival of the Arts.

The free festival, celebrating its 17th year at the Theater For The New City, starts on Friday and will feature outdoor performances on East 10th Street near First Avenue.

Other highlights include excerpts from productions by local institutions La Mama ETC and Horse Trade Theater Company, a film festival dedicated to the neighborhood, and a performance by the experimental dance group from the Children’s Workshop School. The theme for the over 100 participating arts organizations is “Legalize Freedom: Art as Activism.” Read more…

The Story of Theater for the New City, As Told By Ghosts

IMG_5053Jonathan Slaff Dain Alexandra (l) as the ghost of Molly Picon.
Jennifer Koller (r) as Lily Field.

With the Living Theatre having raised less than half the money it’s seeking in order to stave off eviction, it’s a fitting time for a play about the woes of a theater company.

“155 First Avenue (The Epic Adventures of the Theater for the New Syzygy),” now showing at Theater for the New City, portrays a theater company in New York struggling against financial strains and decades of neighborhood change. Playwright Toby Armour has made the theater itself the main character through his strong and versatile writing, and the actors in the play are facets of the artistic community.

The lifeblood of the theater is a woman named Lily Field, smartly played by Jennifer Koller. The first act presents her reminiscing in the basement of 155 First Avenue. Her guides through the past are ghosts: Molly Picon, Caroline Astor, Walt Whitman, Peter Stuyvesant, and Jake, a Jewish peddler who, starting from the beginning of time itself, recounts the series of “miracles” that led to the theater’s current location. Read more…

‘Bike Shop’ Sings Cycling’s Praises on the Stage

Elizabeth Barkan in Bike ShopTheater For The New City Elizabeth Barkan as Bobby in “Bike Shop.”

Who knew cycling could be so liberating — and devoid of controversy?

In “Bike Shop,” a one-woman musical showing at The Theater for the New City, Bobby, a bike messenger and mechanic, sings odes to the freedom of the streets. For her, the bicycle is an escape — even a vehicle for feminine liberation.

Set in 1993, this bit of cycling nostalgia takes place in a purer time, before every hipster had a neglected fixed gear hanging in his loft, new bike lanes led to lawsuits, business owners blamed cycling for declining customers and passersby won’t even stop a brazen bike thief.

The songs are campy and catchy, and the writing often amusing to the biker-friendly audience. However, non-cyclists likely won’t find the storyline of two-wheeled redemption as touching.

A charming Elizabeth Barkan, the show’s creator and star, plays Bobby, who works at her family’s bike store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her grandmother, also played by Ms. Barkan, opened the store 30 years prior. The final character onstage is an Uncle Rabbi, and at times the exertion required of the multiple rolls and onstage cycling while singing seems to wear the star of the show down. Occasionally Ms. Barkan would start a song strongly, but by the end had lost her momentum.
Read more…

Cycling in the Spotlight, Literally


A new play at Theater for the New City about a bicycle shop encourages the audience to arrive by bike and then park their rides on the stage. “Bike Shop” is a one-woman musical about Bobby, a bike mechanic who tries to get back on her ride after a nasty cycling accident. According to the theater, Bobby “builds and fixes real bicycles onstage while backed up by a four-piece ‘Bicycle Band.'” If you do end up riding to the show, which premieres on Thursday, just be careful when you make turns out of the bike lane. You don’t want to end up getting a ticket like cyclist Evan Neumann, who was so outraged by the citation he received while riding in the Lower East Side that he is suing the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Plenty of Puppetry at Theater for the New City

Two puppet festivals at the Theater for the New City this month will feature performances of children’s fare like “Little Red Riding Hood,” as well as more avant-garde material, like the prisoner uprising at Attica in 1971. Bread and Puppet Theater and the Voice 4 Vision Festival begin on Dec. 7 and 8, respectively, at the theater on First Avenue. The former will also feature “Man of Flesh and Cardboard,” an examination of Bradley Manning, the soldier facing life in prison for allegedly leaking a bounty of government information through WikiLeaks.

Help Theater for the New City Pay Off Its Mortgage

Philip Kalantzis-Cope The Theater for the New City at 155 First Avenue.

The Theater For The New City is in the final stages of a 24-year fundraising drive to pay off its debt.

In 1986 the theater’s mortgage was $717,000. Now, it’s down to $90,000, and administrators are orchestrating a big push to ensure its political, avant garde and always-colorful productions continue at the location on First Avenue.

“Our building, our permanent home, is the basis of our ability to produce new art,” said Crystal Field, the theater’s executive director in a press release. “The economic difficulties coming our way, indeed, to the whole of the art world, will best be met by a strong foundation.” Read more…

The Day | Score One For Bookworms

Theater for the New CityIan Gordon A street performance by the Theater for the New City.

Good Morning, East Village.

Hot on the heels of Michael Moore’s rallying cry for St. Mark’s Bookshop, the East Village book scene notches another victory. The New York Post reports that East Village Books owner Donald Davis helped apprehend a notorious New York City library thief in a sting that included the use of wrestling moves. This would make a great movie or, well, book.

City Room has run a collection of photographs by Leland Bobbe, a regular in the Downtown scene of the 1970s who shot the likes of Patti Smith, Mink DeVille and The Ramones.

The International Business Times takes a look at the Occupy Wall Street protests and finds a few similarities with the Tompkins Square Park Riot of 1988. Do you think the two have much in common?
Read more…

‘Nine/Twelve Tapes’ Dramatizes The Raw Reactions, a Decade Later

nine_twelve The cast, left to right: Andres Munar, Lynne McCollough, Guy Stroman, Lori Prince and Erin Treadway.

Directed by Ryan Pointer, “nine/twelve tapes” is a fascinating reenactment of man-on-the-street interviews conducted by citizen journalist Collin Worster Daniels, mostly during the two days following September 11, 2001. Mr. Daniels had moved to New York shortly before the attacks, and was galvanized to capture the widespread disconnect among his fellow survivors. His tapes sat in a closet for nearly ten years before they were recently turned over to a friend of a friend, playwright Leegrid Stevens.

“I listened to these tapes and was amazed at the immediacy and rawness of the material,” said Mr. Stevens. “They are a time capsule – a bridge back to the thoughts and feelings of that time. They show a people desperately trying to make sense of a world turned upside down, trying to understand it and each other.” During the premiere of “nine/twelve tapes” earlier this month at the Dream Up Festival at the Theater for the New City, the interviews were acted out exactly as they first occurred, with a talented cast performing over the background noise of the original recordings. Read more…

Murder and the Cosmos at Theater for the New City

The Fourth State of MatterEva OstrowskaSamantha Glovin as a café waitress and Andrew W. Hsu as Liao Chen in “The Fourth State of Matter”

In “The Fourth State of Matter” by Joseph Vitale, directed by Robert Angelini, a brilliant Chinese astrophysics student studying at an American university has murdered his beloved academic mentor, an eminent cosmologist. Loosely based on shootings at the University of Iowa in 1991, the play explores the genesis of this tragedy, finding parallels in cosmology and its exploration of the universe and its origins.

Played by Andrew W. Hsu, Liao Chen is a stranger adrift in a foreign land, dealing with the effects of his mother’s mental illness and the threat of fierce competition from fellow students for academic honors. These particles making up Chen’s existence culminate in the murder around which the play is set — the cataclysmic Big Bang, so to speak. Read more…