AFROFEMONONOMY // WORK THE ROOTS, AN EXPLORATORY COLLABORATION OF BLACK FEMME THEATERMAKERS
PERFORMANCE SPACE NEW YORK + NEW GEORGES
PERFORMANCE SPACE NEW YORK, WITH CO-PRODUCTION PARTNER NEW GEORGES, ANNOUNCES DETAILS FOR AFROFEMONONOMY // WORK THE ROOTS, AN EXPLORATORY COLLABORATION OF BLACK FEMME THEATERMAKERS
With a Theater-Making Model Centering Community Care and Liberatory Practices, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Charlotte Brathwaite, Eisa Davis, Stacey Derosier, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Ayesha Jordan, Joie Lee, April Matthis, Jennifer Harrison Newman, Okwui Okpokwasili, Stacey Karen Robinson, and Kaneza Schaal Join to Celebrate Each Other and the Work of Literary Foremother Kathleen Collins—Particularly Her Quartet of Previously Unproduced One-Acts, Begin the Beguine—in Dialogue with Eisa Davis’ The Essentialisn’t
Local and Global Activations of These Texts Include:
- Outdoor offerings of the Begin the Beguine One-Acts, with The Reading at Performance Space New York (May 15, 16, 22, 23); Begin the Beguine on a Harlem park bench (May 15, 16); Remembrance in an arcade in lower Manhattan as part of Downtown Live, presented by the Downtown Alliance in association with En Garde Arts and The Tank (May 16, 22, 23); and The Healing in a Brooklyn park
- An installation, “Last night, I dreamt I danced in the image of God,” a space for dance, rest and sustenance made for and in appreciation of black women created by Lileana Blain-Cruz in the Courtyard at 122CC, the building housing Performance Space New York (May 15, 16, 22, 23)
- An installation, The Essentialisn’t: Gold Taste, with occasional live sound interaction in Performance Space New York’s Keith Haring Theatre and outdoor projection in the Courtyard at 122CC (May 29-June 27)
- A web-based radio project documenting these explorations, on the AFROFEMONONOMY website, launching May 15
- Visual responses from overseas collaborators in Norway and Senegal, which will be featured in the Performance Space New York installation and on the AFROFEMONONOMY website.
Performance Space New York, with co-production partner New Georges, announces details surrounding AFROFEMONONOMY // WORK THE ROOTS, a group activation of Black femme theater artists in celebration of each other. Since March 2021, collaborators within AFROFEMONONOMY—including Lileana Blain-Cruz, Charlotte Brathwaite, Eisa Davis, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Ayesha Jordan, Joie Lee, April Matthis, Jennifer Harrison Newman, Okwui Okpokwasili, Stacey Karen Robinson, and Kaneza Schaal—have been meeting in informal in-person and remote gatherings to explore Kathleen Collins’ 1984 quartet of unproduced one-acts Begin the Beguine and Eisa Davis’ musical performance work The Essentialisn’t. Resonating throughout both works are questions of societal strains on Black women’s physical and mental health as well as concomitant expectations of performance—questions the group engages through their own model of care and liberation. In a snapshot of this continuing, generative process, AFROFEMONONOMY will join in a global reverberation this spring of Kathleen Collins’ texts in responsive visions—with performance, music, film, radio—across New York City and in Oakland, California, with works made in Norway and Senegal, and online.
The late Kathleen Collins, a visionary writer, director, and professor with a prodigious output of films, plays, screenplays, novels, and short stories, died of breast cancer at the early age of 46. Her premature death, mirroring those of other Black women writers such as Audre Lorde and June Jordan, begs the question of Black women’s endangered health. Eisa Davis met Collins’ daughter, Nina—who has ensured her mother’s legacy for generations to come by securing distribution for Collins' breakthrough feature film Losing Ground, and by editing and publishing two books of Collins’ writing—when Davis performed excerpts of Collins’ short stories. As they strategized about how to bring Begin The Beguine to life, Davis organized a reading through The New Black Fest at the Lark—then brought the project to the artists of AFROFEMONONOMY.
Begin the Beguine Schedule Information:
Begin the Beguine joins together four one-acts, each of which will be presented outdoors by AFROFEMONONOMY collaborators in locations across New York City, as well as in Oakland by Oakland Theater Project, in a synchronized world premiere.
The first, Remembrance (part of Downtown Live, presented by the Downtown Alliance in association with En Garde Arts and The Tank), features performances by Eisa Davis and Kaneza Schaal, with Jackie Sibblies Drury as the project’s directorial consultant. It will take place in an arcade adjacent to the Stone Street Historic District (85 Broad Street) in Manhattan on May 16 at 6:30pm, May 22 at 1:30pm and 4pm & May 23 at 4pm (tickets available at https://ci.ovationtix.com/35658/production/1046061).
The Reading will come alive in the Courtyard at 122CC, the building housing Performance Space, May 15, 16, 22 & 23 at 2:30pm and 3:45pm, with a live offering created by Lileana Blain-Cruz, Amelia Workman, Kara Young, Gabby Beans and Jennifer Harrison Newman (tickets available at www.performancespacenewyork.org/shows/work-the-roots).
On a Central Park bench in Harlem, April Matthis and Stacey Karen Robinson will share Begin the Beguine, an offering created with Charlotte Brathwaite, on May 15 & 16. And Joie Lee, Kaneza Schaal and Jackie Sibblies Drury will offer The Healing in a park in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Follow @Afrofemononomy on Instagram for more information on these performance offerings.
All New York performance offerings are free, with donations collected for the Black Women’s Health Imperative. And in California, the Oakland Theater Project will present the entire series of one acts (co-directed by Dawn L. Troupe and Michael Socrates Moran) together as a drive-in theater production, May 15-July 3.
Schedule Information About Accompanying Installations
“Last night, I dreamt I danced in the image of God.”
Created by Lileana Blain-Cruz
A space for dance, rest, and sustenance made for and in appreciation of black women
Dates: May 15, 16, 22, 23
Viewings: 12pm - 2:30pm & 4pm - 7pm
Location: Courtyard at 122CC, 150 First Avenue, New York, NY
The Essentialisn't: Gold Taste
Created by Eisa Davis with the artists of Afrofemononomy
Dates: May 29 - June 27
Viewings: Thurs - Sun | 12pm - 6pm
*Late Night Thursdays (3pm - 9pm): June 10, 17 & 24
Location: Keith Haring Theatre, Fourth Floor, Performance Space New York, 150 First Avenue, New York, NY
Ticket Information: www.performancespacenewyork.org/shows/work-the-roots
About Begin the Beguine and The Essentialisn’t:
Across Collins’ trenchant, vulnerable, and disquieting works, Black women—many of them artists—push against the demanding and debilitating roles society expects them to fulfill. As Vinson Cunningham writes in The New Yorker, “Collins was, foremost, an artist and an interpreter of the striated psyche...Dispassionate inquiry, occult oddity, the search for understanding as an attempt at control, a wary but nonetheless ardent relationship with Christian imagery and thought” are “densely woven and excruciatingly resolved in Collins’s one-act plays.”
In Remembrance, a dancer, mother, and wife performs a personal séance of sorts, seeking to disentangle herself from life’s mess of expectations and labels, to access God and some core form of self, in a cramped bathroom: ”as mothers the world over would agree, the most sought-after retreat.” In The Reading, tension fills a psychic’s waiting room as an oversharing white novelist directs smalltalk into personal territory with a Black fashion designer, leading to a verbal and emotional duel that excavates deep disparities in senses of entitlement—to space, to being heard, to being loved. The subtly surreal Begin the Beguine seems to hover in time and space, as an actress mother and her adult son meet in a tree-less “space that resembles a park,” wading—with song, dance, and floating recollection—through personal history, regret, and the burdens of performance placed on Black Americans. The Healing simultaneously locates intimacy and distance in one interaction, as a white healer performs a touchless energy massage on a Black woman seeking alternative treatments for an unnamed illness. All roles in the New York productions will be played by Black femmes, in keeping with the AFROFEMONONOMY collaborators’ vision.
Eisa Davis’ The Essentialisn’t finds kindred themes with Collins’ work as it conjures Nella Larsen, Jessie Redmon Fauset, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Carl Van Vechten as figures in an imagined sung-and-spoken meeting that circles around variations of the question: “Can you be black and not perform?” Alongside the one-acts by Collins and work by the other AFROFEMONONOMY artists, The Essentialisn’t forms the basis of a free, in-person audio-visual installation, Gold Taste, in Performance Space New York’s Keith Haring Theater, featuring the occasional surprise live sound interaction (May 29 through June 27; on view for minimal audiences, with timed entrances and COVID-safe protocols). As AFROFEMONONOMY continues their intertextual, interdisciplinary exploration over the next months—probing overlapping themes of performance of the role of the good Black woman, artist, mother, wife, and the potentials for liberation from and within them—they will document and open their process and the ideas it generates to online audiences via web-based radio programming. The AFROFEMONONOMY website, as well as the indoor and outdoor installations, will also feature short film works by overseas collaborators in Norway and Senegal. These public-facing offerings are artifacts of AFROFEMONONOMY’s creative process that, through community care and liberatory practice, melts down systemic obstacles to their holistic health and wellbeing.
The members of AFROFEMONONOMY have collaborated in different configurations, gathered, and celebrated each other’s work—but have never worked together as a group. WORK THE ROOTS brings these cross-genre, innovative artists, and their multivalent aesthetic and personal histories, together at Performance Space New York.
AFROFEMONONOMY, in a collective statement, says, “AFROFEMONONOMY // WORK THE ROOTS is an affirmation of how we as Black women, expected to maintain the world's health, can restore and not imperil our own. Black women absorb disproportionate stress and often develop a variety of risk factors, including higher early mortality rates with cancer and other diseases. Working inside the unsustainable economy and time structures of theatre making are often depleting for us. AFROFEMONONOMY // WORK THE ROOTS is a Black femme reclaiming of time and space, a model for restoration, a continuation of the lineage of our foremothers’ formative presence in the downtown avant-garde. We claim our health and sovereignty, prioritizing our human needs, and translate the ease, free expression, and non-compulsory ethos of our informal gatherings to our working conditions and aesthetic.”
About the Artists
Lileana Blain-Cruz is a director from New York City and Miami. In 2020, she was named Resident Director at Lincoln Center Theater, where she was a recent recipient of a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award; she is also the recipient of an Obie Award for Marys Seacole at LCT3. Recent projects include Anatomy of a Suicide at The Atlantic Theater Company, Fefu and Her Friends at Theater For a New Audience, Girls at Yale Repertory Theater, Faust at Opera Omaha, and The House That Will Not Stand at New York Theater Workshop. She won an Obie Award for her direction of The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA The Negro Book of the Dead at Signature Theater. Other projects include Lucas Hnath's Red Speedo at NYTW, Alice Birch's Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again at Soho Rep, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' War at LCT3 and Yale Rep, Henry IV Part 1 and Much Ado About Nothing at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Bluest Eye at The Guthrie, Actually at MTC, SALOME at JACK, Christina Anderson’s Hollow Roots which premiered in the Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater, Project Realms an electric pop opera performed at La Sala, a new translation of The Bakkhai at the Fisher Center of Performing Arts at Bard College, and A Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic, a collaboration with choreographer Isabel Lewis and playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Dance New Amsterdam. She was a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, an Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage, and is currently a Usual Suspect of New York Theater Workshop. She was awarded a 2018 United States Artist Fellowship and the Josephine Abady Award from the League of Professional Theater Women. She received her BA from Princeton and her MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama, where received both the Julian Milton Kaufman Memorial Prize and the Pierre-Andre Salim Prize for her leadership and directing. Upcoming projects include Dreaming Zenzile at St. Louis Repertory Theater and the McCarter, and The Listeners, a new opera by Missy Mazzoli which will premiere at Opera Norway and Opera Philadelphia.
Director Charlotte Brathwaite’s genre-defying works illuminate the realities and the dreams of the marginalized and center unheard, unseen, and overlooked stories. Dealing with subject matter from the historical past, the present and the distant future, her work brings to light issues of social justice, race, sex, power and the complexities of the human condition. Recent: Chapter & Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin created with musician Meshell Ndegeocello and The Future is Present (TFP), a laboratory project amplifying the life-affirming demands of young black and indigenous activists and artists; and Only When It’s Dark Enough You Can See the Stars nominated for Best Experimental Film at Black Star Film Festival; Souvenirs d’Autres Mondes [Memories of Other Worlds] at Théâtre du Châtelet Après, Demain Festival. Upcoming: Omar, an opera composed by Rhiannon Giddens inspired by the life of Omar Ibn Said; Forgotten Paradise: Grazettes Sun, a feature-length film and traveling installation on historical trauma and the legacy of the transAtlantic slave trade; and Awakening a new opera inspired by the work of freedom seekers Rebecca Cox Jackson, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth composed by Courtney Bryan. Awards: Julian Milton Kaufman Prize (Yale), Princess Grace, Creative Capital, United States Artist, Map Fund, Art Matters. Associate Professor Theater Arts MIT. charlottebrathwaite.com
Eisa Davis is an award-winning actor, writer, and singer-songwriter working on stage and screen. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Bulrusher, and wrote and starred in Angela’s Mixtape, named a best of the year by The New Yorker. Alongside her thirteen full length plays, Eisa has written for both seasons of Spike Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, and is creating a limited series based on the memoir by Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine. Eisa is a 2020 Creative Capital recipient. She was awarded the Herb Alpert Award in Theatre, the Helen Merrill Award, was a resident playwright at New Dramatists, and has received fellowships from Sundance, Yaddo, MacDowell, Cave Canem, and the Van Lier, Mellon and Doris Duke Foundations. As a singer-songwriter, she has released the albums Something Else and Tinctures, and is writing songs/libretti for a musical of Devil In A Blue Dress, an opera of Bulrusher, and for The Essentialisn’t. As an actor, she is an Obie Award winner for Sustained Excellence in Performance. Her work includes screen roles on Mare of Easttown, Betty, Pose, The Wire, House of Cards, Succession, The Looming Tower; roles onstage in Carrie Mae Weems’ Grace Notes/Past Tense, the musical of The Secret Life of Bees (AUDELCO Award), Kings (Drama League nomination), Preludes, The Call, This, Luck of The Irish, Antigone in Ferguson, and Passing Strange.
Stacey Derosier's recent credits include The Refuge Plays at McCarter Theatre Center (director, Patricia McGregor); School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (director, Awoye Timpo); for all the women who thought they were Mad at Soho Rep. (director, Whitney White); White Noise at NYU Skirball Center (director, Daniel Fish). She received nominations for both the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Henry Hewes Design Award for her lighting design for Lewiston/Clarkson at Rattlesticks Playwrights Theatre (director, Davis McCallum) and won the Daryl Roth Prize at the 2018 Lillys Awards.
Jackie Sibblies Drury is a Brooklyn-based playwright, and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fairview. Other plays include the Obie Award-winning Marys Seacole, We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915, Really, and Social Creatures. Drury's plays have been presented by the Young Vic, Lincoln Center Theater, New York City Players and Abrons Arts Center, Soho Rep, Berkeley Rep, Victory Gardens, Trinity Rep, Woolly Mammoth, Undermain Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Company One, and The Bush Theatre in London, among others. Her work has been developed at The Bellagio Center, Sundance, The Ground Floor, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, A.C.T., The Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, NYTW, PRELUDE, The Bushwick Starr, and MacDowell. Drury is a NYTW Usual Suspect, and a United States Artists Gracie Fellow. She has received a Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, a Jerome Fellowship at The LARK, a Windham-Campbell Literary Prize in Drama, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and the Steinberg Playwright Award.
Ayesha Jordan is a multidisciplinary performance artist based between Oslo, Norway and New York City. She often uses characters and stories to create indelible moments for cerebral and visceral experiences. She and her collaborators have been making art together for several years, producing innovative theater and music events in NYC and beyond described as edgy, dynamic, and hilarious. Most recently, she presented the work Shasta Geaux Pop: Blended Therapy as part of The Shed’s Up Close and as a commissioned artist for their Open Call 2020. Called a “Glamazon Hip-Hop Icon” (The New Yorker), Shasta Geaux Pop has appeared at the Public Theater/Under the Radar Festival, the High Line, Wow Festival, Off Center Festival, Contemporary Arts Center, the Bushwick Starr, and the Right About Now Festival (Amsterdam), among other spaces. Other works include Come See My Double D’s (JACK NY), Social Studies (Danspace NYC), Enter & Exit: Playing House, and Enter & Exit: Family Reunion. Some of her video projects include Living Room Dance Breaks, Drunk & Famous, and Shasta Geaux Pop for President 2020.
Joie Lee is an artist whose impetus for creative expression crosses the disciplines of acting, writing, performing, and visual arts. Joie is the original screenwriter of the feature film, Crooklyn, loosely based on her childhood growing up in 1970’s Brooklyn. Recent writing credits include two episodes of Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It where she served as Staff Writer (Season l) & Story Editor (Season ll). Recent acting credits include Farewell Amour, Ekwa Msgani’s directorial debut; a guest appearance on the final season of Broad City; and a recurring role on Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It (Seasons l & ll). Joie has appeared in Mo’ Better Blues and Do the Right Thing, directed by her brother Spike Lee. She has also been featured in Coffee and Cigarettes, directed by Jim Jarmusch. Joie made her Broadway debut in Mule Bone, written by Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. She also appeared off-Broadway in Jessica Goldberg’s The Hologram Theory. Joie has written and directed short films, including Subway Vignettes, pts. l & ll, and Snapped. Other screenwriting works include Georgia Mule; Positive; Gem; and Jesus Children of America, a UNICEF sponsored short. Producing credits include Crooklyn, Jesus Children of America, and Nowhere Fast. Joie has taught acting, directing, and writing at the School of Visual Arts; theater at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY; and has been a Teaching Artist for Franklin Furnace Archives. Lee attended Sarah Lawrence College. Fellowships: Lucas Arts Program at Montalvo, Artist-in-Residence; New York Foundation for the Arts, Screenwriting; NY Urban Arts Initiative, Screenwriting; Yaddo: Artist-in- Residence. Joie is currently adapting and developing a pilot for streaming episodic television.
April Matthis is an OBIE-winning performer and collaborator best known for her presence in the New York downtown theater world. She most recently starred in Toni Stone at The Roundabout Theatre, and is a member of the groundbreaking experimental theater collective Elevator Repair Service, with whom she most recently toured Gatz, as Jordan Baker. As an actor, Ms. Matthis has premiered work at Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater, The Signature Theater, New York Theater Workshop, LCT3, Soho Rep, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, and Ma-Yi. Her original work has been shown at Dixon Place, Movement Research and PLATFORM at Danspace. Other work in the dance/performance world includes The Blues with Judson Church pioneer Deborah Hay at MoMA and Scaffold Room, a ‘lecture-musical’ with multidisciplinary artist Ralph Lemon at Walker Art Space. Television and film work includes “New Amsterdam” (NBC), “Instinct” (CBS) and the upcoming feature Fugitive Dreams, currently screening in the festival circuit (FantasiaFest, Austin Film Festival, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF), Manchester Film Festival).
Jennifer Harrison Newman is an artistic director, producer, educator, choreographer, and performance artist with over twenty-five years in the visual and performing arts. Working collaboratively across disciplines with emerging and established artists alike, Jennifer pushes the boundaries of music, dance, opera, and theater. From Broadway to Bushwick and from Boston to Beijing, Jennifer engages deeply with the process of making performance. Jennifer has been an artist in residence at The Juilliard School, Princeton University, Yale University, Central Connecticut State University, The Field, Mabou Mines, Baryshnikov Arts Center, 651 Arts, and Sisters Academy Inkost and has led workshops across the United States, and in Sweden, South Africa, and Mexico. Her work has been presented at Yale University, Central Arts Festival in Seoul, Korea, JACK NYC, and Bronx Academy of Art and Dance (BAAD!).
Okwui Okpokwasili is a Brooklyn-based performance maker. Her work includes two Bessie Award winning productions: Pent-Up: a revenge dance and Bronx Gothic. Other productions include Poor People’s TV Room, and Adaku’s Revolt. Okpokwasili recently co-curated the Danspace Project Platform “Utterances From the Chorus.” Her commissions, residencies and awards: 10th Annual Berlin Biennale Commission, 2018 Doris Duke Artist Award in Contemporary Dance, 2018 USA Artist Fellow, 2018 Princeton Hodder Fellow, 2018 Herb Alpert Award in Dance, LMCC’s Extended Life Program (2013-2016, 2019), The Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ Artist Grant in Dance (2014), MOMA, The Young Vic, Tate Modern. Okpokwasili is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow.
Stacey Karen Robinson is a multidisciplinary theater artist. She engages a somatic, improvisational process to create solo work. Her experimental works often investigate death/life/laughter thresholds. She is fascinated by the possibilities of nonlinear storytelling to explore the emotional & spirit life of Black folx. Stacey is a 2020/2021 Artist in Residence at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club and a recipient of an Art Matters Grant (2019). She performed her solo work, You Never Can Always Sometimes Tell, at JACK (NYC) and Salvage Vanguard Theater (TX). The work was developed with support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Process Space Residency and the Foundation of Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant. Her previous monodrama, Quiet Frenzy, is published in solo / black / woman: scripts, interviews, and essays, Northwestern University Press (2014). Performances of Quiet Frenzy included: JACK, the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies (TX), the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University (IL) and the Wild Project (NYC). Stacey received a BA in Africana Studies from Brown University and is a proud Bronx native. As an actress she has appeared in many productions. Most recently she performed in the 2018-2019 tour of Kaneza Schaal’s JACK &, which played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Live Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Walker Art Center, REDCAT, On The Boards, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.
Kaneza Schaal is a New York City based theater artist. She has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, SOROS Art Migration and Public Space Fellowship, Ford Foundation Art For Justice Bearing Witness Award, and Creative Capital Award. Her new original work, KLII, an exorcism of King Leopold II drawing on Mark Twain’s journalistic account of the Belgian King’s reign of terror, King Leopold’s Soliloquy, was co-commissioned by Walker Art Center, REDCAT and CAC Cincinnati, and as part of the Eureka Commissions program by the Onassis Foundation. Schaal’s work has shown at BAM, The Shed, The Kennedy Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The New Victory Theater, PICA, and On The Boards. Most recently, she directed Bryce Dessner’s Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), which premiered at LA Philharmonic, then traveled to The Power Center, MI; BAM Opera House, NY; and Holland Festival, Amsterdam. Schaal’s piece GO FORTH premiered at Performance Space 122 (now Performance Space New York) and then showed at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda; Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans; Cairo International Contemporary Theater Festival in Egypt; and at her alma mater Wesleyan University, CT. Schaal’s work has also been supported by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, National Performance Network, New England Foundation for the Arts, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Theater Communications Group, French Cultural Council, and by a Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award.
About New Georges
At NEW GEORGES, founded in 1992, we launch and sustain artists of assertive imagination—individually, as collaborators, and as a community—and advance their exuberantly theatrical new plays. We serve the largest ongoing working community of women and tgnc theater artists in New York City with career-transforming productions; a diverse slate of development programs; and The Room, our indispensable workspace for women+ theater artists. New Georges has established a boundary-pushing, influential aesthetic through 48 world or New York premieres of new American plays and countless works in development. We were the site of first or early New York productions for playwrights and directors now visible in every precinct of the American theater and every corner of our culture. They include Heidi Schreck, Marielle Heller, Diana Son, Anne Kauffman, Eisa Davis, Lisa D’Amour, Tracey Scott Wilson, Jenny Schwartz, Lee Sunday Evans, Sheila Callaghan, Kara Lee Corthron, Kate Benson, Hilary Bettis, Daniella Topol, Carson Kreitzer, Tamilla Woodard, Rachel Dickstein, Cusi Cram, Neena Beber and Maria Mileaf; for Lucy Alibar, Jen Silverman, Rachel Chavkin, Laura Eason, Charise Castro Smith, Rachel Bonds, Boo Killebrew, Anna Ziegler and countless more we’ve been an early artistic home. Honors for New Georges, its plays and its people include 3 Obie Awards, The Lilly Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn and Kesselring prizes. Projects during this pandemic year include tiny plays for the time of no plays, in which New Georges artists respond to the current moment. The collected tiny plays can be read here.
About Performance Space New York
At Performance Space New York, artists shed the confines of genre and form, building worlds that reveal new potentials and alternate futures for art and society. Here, performance art, dance, theater, music, visual art, poetry and prose, ritual, partying, food, film, and technology spill into one another in vital interdisciplinary offerings. The organization believes that artists and culture are at the forefront of social change and political engagement, and that performance has a particular ability to address, critique, and transcend our precarious moment and challenge its oppressive politics.
When Performance Space turned 40, under the guidance of Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka, it took steps to reconceive artists’ place in relationship to, and within, the institution. These included: building an artist-populated board that places artists at the center of everything Performance Space does; the 02020project, a year of revisioning institutional structures, with a cohort of salaried artists (Janice Amaya; members of BRUJAS Arianna Gil, Dada Coz, Sarah Snider, Antonia Perez, and Ripley Soprano; Jonathan González; Monica Mirabile; and The New Red Order, with core contributors Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, and Jackson Polys) working side-by-side with the organization’s staff and project-initiator Sarah Michelson. In 2021, Performance Space continues its work with many 02020members to further consider how to make artists central to all facets of the institution and reshape the vision and strategic plan for the future by building systems for access, equitable employment, and life-affirming institutional practices.
Aware of the art world’s sweeping history of exclusion and canonic myopia, as well as how our city and country’s entrenched racism and wealth inequality create severe gaps in access, the organization uncompromisingly seeks to serve and create space for diverse communities and artists. As New York’s relentless gentrification and development prices people out of having the time and space to create with and engage one another, Performance Space New York fervently aims to foster a future-focused collectivity by providing space for lasting social and intellectual encounters, participation, and experimentation.
Founded in 1980 (as Performance Space 122) by a tight-knit group of artists wielding the political momentum of self-expression amidst the intensifying American culture wars, Performance Space is the birthplace of contemporary performance as it is known today—and an incubator for how it will be known tomorrow.
Performance Space New York pays respect to the Lenape ancestors past, present, and future. The organization acknowledges that the work of Performance Space is situated on the Lenape island of Manhahtaan (Mannahatta) and more broadly in Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland.
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