Performances in outdoor, public spaces in all five boroughs help support artists and call attention to the importance of small theatres
(New York, NY) - The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and small theatre groups collaborated on an innovative series of five outdoor pop-up performances, one in each borough, from Friday, October 23 through Monday, October 26. This series builds on MOME's "Broadway in the Boros," a series of free, outdoor performances by Broadway casts that takes place during the summer months.
The "Off Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Ups" series was a way to call attention to the important contribution small theatres make to New York City's cultural fabric, while also providing support for artists and organizations struggling during the pandemic. In 2019, MOME conducted the first-ever Small Theatre Industry Cultural and Economic Impact Study and found that pre-COVID, NYC's small theatres contributed $1.3B in economic output, 8,400-plus full-time jobs and $512M in wages a year.
These events gave artists and theatres the opportunity to bring their work right into the communities they are a part of. Each pop-up performance took place at a public plaza in each of the five boroughs.
"We're thrilled to celebrate New York City theatre in a safe and accessible way at a time when New Yorkers need it most and when our small theatres and artists need financial and promotional support," said the Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, Anne del Castillo. "Theatre is at the heart of what makes this the creative capital of the world and this series allowed us to bring back a bit of that magic to communities across the city."
MOME worked with its fellow NYC agencies, Citywide Event Coordination and Management (CECM) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), to present safe and socially distanced outdoor performances. The performances were not announced in advance to avoid crowding. No stages were used. Amplified sound was provided by MOME's production team. Each theater or presenting company received payment, inclusion in a promotional video, and marketing support.
"Our streets and plazas are already some of the most interesting intersections in the world, and this week they'll be all the more exciting with Off Broadway in the Boros," said Ellyn Canfield, Executive Director at the NYC Mayor's Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management. "The Mayor's Office is proud to support our cultural organizations by providing them a stage in the streets."
"Smaller theater producers are essential to New York's vibrant cultural ecosystem, but the live experiences that they thrive on have been devastated by the pandemic," said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. "We applaud Commissioner del Castillo and her team for fostering this opportunity for small theater organizations and artists to create fleeting-but-fantastic moments for socially-distanced audiences, and for New Yorkers to experience the social engagement and communal uplift that live theater provides."
To share these performances with a larger audience, videos of the performances will be available for free on each participating theatre's website.
Friday, October 23, 1 p.m.
Roberto Clemente Plaza, East 149th street & 3rd Avenue, The Bronx
Theater artists and musicians combined Nuyorican pieces with a Dominican fusion of folk and contemporary music. The performance began with a short poem "Where were you" written by Rosalba Rolón, read by the actress Christin Eve Cato, and featuring master bongocero and percussionist Anthony Carrillo. This led into a trilogy featuring a piece from "Torched!," which is set to premiere next Summer. This was followed by a performance of Magadalena Gómez's "Madre de Bomba" by the company's ensemble and guest band Yasser Tejeda & Palotré, an exciting quartet that fuses a variety of Dominican traditional sounds with jazz, rock and other genres.
Friday, October 23, 4 p.m.
Astor Place South & 4th Avenue, Manhattan
A performance by the storyteller, composer, pianist, artist and singer, Dane Terry, whose music is a mix of Pop, Classical, Latin, Folk, Jazz and Boogie-woogie.
Saturday, October 24, 11 a.m.
Lowery Plaza, 40th Street & Queens Blvd., Sunnyside, Queens
The Chocolate Factory Theatre
A dance and musical performance by Yackez, the married musical duo of Larissa and Jon Velez-Jackson.
Saturday, October 24, 2 p.m.
Myrtle/Wyckoff Plaza, Wyckoff Avenue & Gates Avenue, Ridgewood, Brooklyn
A performance by the composer, singer and actor, Whitney White and the guitarist, Dan Rosato, of Whitney's musical and theatrical experience piece, "Definition," which takes a surrealist look at an African American woman's inner awakenings. "Definition" was in the Sundance Theatre Lab 2016 ANT Fest and will be part of The Bushwick Starr's 2020-2021 season.
Monday, October 26, 1 p.m.
St. George Ferry Terminal Plaza, Staten Island
A Collaboration: Kaleidoscope Entertainment and Staten Island Illuminart Productions
The theatrical producer Holly-Anne Devlin of Kaleidoscope Entertainment created a program of song and dance featuring artists who perform under the name of the Hell's Kitchen Happiness Krewe including, the HKHK Quartet, the Josh Roberts Trio, "Taptastic" Brian Davis, and the Imposters' Colin Summers and Jefferson McDonald. These artists were joined by the theatrical chorus of Staten Island Illuminart Productions.
"Pregones+Puerto Rican Traveling Theater was born on the road, working in public parks, street corners, in small and large theaters throughout the country and the world. With a theater in The Bronx and in Manhattan, our creative work has retained the spirit of outdoor performances through our Stage Garden Rumba's work in public gardens in The Bronx," said Rosalba Rolón, Artistic Director, PREGONES/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. "This is why performing at the Roberto Clemente Plaza today was so inspiring to all involved. We are grateful to MOME's 'Off Broadway In The Boros' series initiative for this opportunity to serve our neighborhood, our artists, and our City. We value our continued collaboration with MOME over the past 6 years."
"In this time when NYC theatres must discover new ways to connect and engage with our artists and audiences, Off Broadway in the Boros are restorative events for local theatres and communities to come together in person to celebrate the necessity of arts in this city. It was moving to see and feel a performer in a public space share their humanity through their art," said Mia Yoo, Artistic Director, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club.
"In its 15+ years of existence, The Chocolate Factory Theater has maintained deep ties to its Western Queens community - via its artistic programs, its support for Queens-based artists, and its large-scale community events such as Taste of LIC," said Brian Rogers, Artistic Director at The Chocolate Factory Theater. "We are thrilled to be hosting this performance by Yackez, having worked with Larissa Velez-Jackson numerous times (including a commission for an upcoming work). We are grateful to NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment for the opportunity to bring our work directly to the residents of Western Queens at a time when venues like ours remain indefinitely closed."
Whitney White and Dan Rosato's performance of songs from Whitney's upcoming show, Definition, was the Starr's first live performance since we had to shut down in March, and it felt like coming home again, said Noel Allain, Artistic Director of the Bushwick Starr. "We feel very grateful to the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment for this opportunity to do what we do best, and for giving Whitney and Dan the opportunity to perform their music for the Ridgewood community. There's nothing more valuable for an artist than getting to share their work with a live audience and it's a special opportunity to get to do it out in public. We hope it's the first of many opportunities to bring the performing arts back to NYC through outdoor performances while our doors are closed."
"The artists of Kaleidoscope Entertainment and I are thrilled to be a part of the 'Off Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Up' series," said theatrical producer Holly-Anne Devlin. "We have been bringing unique, outdoor entertainment offerings to small businesses and restaurants all over the five boroughs all summer and fall, to bring joy and drive revenue for our fellow residents who have been so badly impacted by Covid-19. We're honored to be included in the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment's programming during this challenging time."
Pregones-Puerto Rican Traveling Theater
An artist-led theater company with venues in The Bronx and the theater district in Manhattan. PregonesPRTT champions a Puerto Rican/Latinx cultural legacy of universal value through creation and performance of original plays and musicals, exchange and partnership with other artists of merit, and engagement of diverse audiences. The company has traveled to 37 U.S. stages, 500 cities and 18 countries.
Rosalba Rolón is the Artistic Director of Pregones + Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. She is an accomplished director and dramaturg specializing in the adaptation of literary and non-literary texts for stage performance with live music. She is a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee and co-Chair of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals 2021 National Conference.
Magdalena Gómez is a Bronx-born-and-raised, award-winning poet, playwright and performer. She is the Poet Laureate of Springfield Massachusetts (2019-2021); recipient of the Latina Letters Award in Literature presented at Fordham University; New England Public Radio's Arts and Humanities Award recipient, among many other honors. Her piece "Madre de Bomba" is part of the produced collection of her works by PregonesPRTT.
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
Since its founding in NYC East Village in 1961, La MaMa has been a pillar of independent theater. La MaMa has a worldwide reputation for producing theatre, dance, music, and performance art that defies form and embraces all identities. To date, La MaMa has supported more than 5,000 productions, featuring 150,000 artists from 70 nations. In 2018, The American Theatre Wing presented La MaMa with the Regional Theatre Tony Award, recognizing it as "the influential company that helped give birth to the Off-Off-Broadway movement." La MaMa has also been honored with more than 30 Obie Awards, and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards.
Dane Terry is a multi-media storymaker, performer and composer. He is the writer, composer and lead performer of the music fiction podcast Dreamboy (Night Vale Presents, 2018-19). Works for stage include Jupiter's Lifeless Moons (PSNY 2018) and Bird In The House (La MaMa 2015, Under The Radar Festival at The Public Theater, 2016). Dane was the 2016 recipient of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award from PSNY.
The Chocolate Factory
Since its first season in 2005, The Chocolate Factory Theater has supported the development and presentation of new work by a community of local, national and international artists working in dance, theater, and interdisciplinary performance. The Chocolate Factory's programs have drawn many thousands of new visitors to its 5,000-square foot industrial facility in Long Island City, Queens.
Yackez is the art pop/multimedia collaboration of Larissa and Jon Velez-Jackson, aka Twitta and Papi Jon. Formed in 2010, this married musical duo exists as a celebration and a critique of popular culture, politics, and itself. In 2019, Yackez launched the podcast "Life Advice," which is available on platforms and on their website, where you can also find original music and videos. Yackez lives in Brooklyn and has performed at El Museo del Barrio's Dia De Los Tres Reyes parade for four years in a row, Bronx Museum's Boogie on the Boulevard, 92STY Street Fair and The Chocolate Factory's Taste of LIC.
The Bushwick Starr
This Obie-Award winning, not-for-profit theater presents an annual season of new performance work. Since 2007, it has grown into a thriving theatrical venue, a vital neighborhood arts center, and a destination for exciting and engaging performances. The theatre provides a springboard for emerging professional artists to make career-defining leaps, and a sanctuary where established artists come to experiment and innovate. It is also a neighborhood playhouse, serving its Bushwick, Brooklyn community's diverse artistic needs and impulses.
Whitney White is an Obie-Award and Lilly-Award-winning director, actor, and musician from Brooklyn. Her musical discipline is rooted in indie-soul and rock. She is passionate about black stories, reconstructing classics, stories for and about women, genre-defying multimedia work and film. She is the current recipient of the Susan Stroman Directing award, an Artistic Associate at the Roundabout, and a part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She performs with guitarist Dan Rosato.
A Collaboration: Kaleidoscope Entertainment & Staten Island Illuminart Productions
Kaleidoscope Entertainment is a full-service production company providing interactive entertainment for all demographics. Founded by immersive entertainment innovator Holly-Anne Devlin, Kaleidoscope puts a contemporary and comedic spin on infamous tunes. Its events are accessible, immersive, and celebratory. Kaleidoscope Entertainment created a program of song and dance featuring artists who perform under the name of the Hell's Kitchen Happiness Krewe, who were joined by the theatrical chorus of Staten Island Illuminart Productions.
Illuminart Productions' mission is to empower students of all ages to utilize theater and the arts as a tool to creatively express thoughts and feelings about critical social issues, facilitating conversations for positive change.