Innovative series of street performances, to support artists and small theatres, can now be viewed on the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment website
New York, NY – A series of five, innovative and entertaining "Off Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Ups" performances, 20 minutes each in length, can now be enjoyed online at nyc.gov/OffBwayBoros.
The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and small theatre groups collaborated on these outdoor pop-up performances, which took place in late October in public plazas in each of the five boroughs.
Offering these performances online is part of the City's larger efforts to bring local theatre, along with a variety of arts and entertainment experiences, into the homes of New Yorkers over the holidays, while creating opportunities for people to connect with local industries and neighborhood businesses through the "All in NYC" program.
"We're thrilled to offer streaming video of our Off Broadway in the Boros: Pop Ups' series so that everyone can experience the joy of these live performances virtually," said the Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, Anne del Castillo. "In these challenging times, New York City continues to look for innovative ways to keep people connected to the magic of our diverse theatre and performing arts offerings, and to support the talented New Yorkers who fuel our city's reputation as the creative capital of the world."
The "Off Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Ups" series was created to provide support for artists and organizations struggling during the pandemic and to call attention to the important contribution small theatres make to New York City's cultural fabric. In 2019, MOME conducted the first-ever Small Theatre Industry Cultural and Economic Impact Study, which showed that pre-COVID, NYC's small theatres contributed $1.3 billion in economic output, 8,400-plus full-time jobs and $512 million in wages a year.
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. The City of New York contributed funding, video documentation of each performance and inclusion in a promotional video, and marketing support to the groups and performers.
The participating theatre organizations are: Pregones/PRTT, La MaMa, The Chocolate Factory Theater, The Bushwick Starr, and A Collaboration: Kaleidoscope Entertainment and Staten Island Illuminart Productions.
"Pregones+Puerto Rican Traveling Theater was born on the road, working in public parks, street corners, in small and large theatres throughout the country and the world. With a theatre 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-plus 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 have hosted this performance by Yackez, having worked with Larissa Velez-Jackson numerous times. 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 and so many more virtually 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 and Bushwick 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 have it shared virtually to many more New Yorkers."
"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."
"Each year, Broadway in the Boros brings the talent, energy and sound of Broadway to Staten Island. Hundreds gather to enjoy the spectacle and it's a highlight for so many," said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. "Obviously, this year, that could not happen in the traditional way and will be shown virtually. While it's not the same, I'm confident many who have been missing live music and theatre will enjoy this 'Off Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Up 'performance."
"Our arts institutions have been hit hard by COVID-19, and New Yorkers have suffered from a lack of access to the diverse array of cultural gems for which our city is renowned. Thankfully, the 'Off-Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Ups' series gives all New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs a chance to experience world-class theatre from the comfort of their homes," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. "At a time when our city faces challenging times, these shows offer a much-needed opportunity to lift our spirits. I thank MOME and their partners for their commitment to elevating and supporting the arts, which are needed now more than ever."
"The global pandemic has had an adverse effect on all aspects of our lives, including the arts," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "Unfortunately, COVID-19 has hit our theatre community pretty hard, especially those who ply their trade working off-Broadway. The 'Off Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Ups' is not only a great opportunity for us to enjoy their artistry in these trying times, bringing much needed smiles to our residents, but also support our city's artists and theatre organizations that have been struggling, as we adjust to new norms."
"The videos of these pop-up live performances are a great way to enjoy the arts in the coming weeks, as the sun sets earlier and the nights get longer," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "It's a testament to the inventiveness of the theatre community and the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment that they could pull these off safely. Kudos to everyone involved - even those in boroughs other than Manhattan!"
"Off Broadway in the Boros is especially meaningful given all that families have been through due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," said Queens Borough President Sharon Lee. "Queens looks forward to seeing these great free performances from some of the premier theatre groups in NYC, including Queens' own The Chocolate Factory Theater."
"Now more than ever the public spaces in New York City are vital to the wellbeing of our community," said WIlliam Kelley, Executive Director of the Village Alliance BID. "The entire neighborhood was thrilled to have Off Broadway in the Boros activate Astor Place with music and vocals, bringing a genuine sense of shared humanity and hope to the East Village."
"Space in New York City is something very precious, and we've always thought of our plazas as a way to showcase our Borough's talent in a venue that is free and accessible to all," said Jaime-Faye Bean, Executive Director of Sunnyside Shines. "2020 has been a traumatic year for so many; but this program allowed us to share the arts with our community in a way that was safe, and reminded many of our residents of why they still love New York City more than ever."
Following is background on the theatre organizations and performers:
Pregones-Puerto Rican Traveling Theater
An artist-led theatre company with venues in The Bronx and the theatre 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 theatre. 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 Theater
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, theatre, 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 theatre 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 and collaborator 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 theatre and the arts as a tool to creatively express thoughts and feelings about critical social issues, facilitating conversations for positive change.