Hip Hop, Spoken Word, Urban Lives Explored in NYC's First Annual Urban Theatre Arts Fest, July 17-Aug. 17

News   Hip Hop, Spoken Word, Urban Lives Explored in NYC's First Annual Urban Theatre Arts Fest, July 17-Aug. 17 The first of a planned annual Urban Theatre Arts Festival will play Manhattan's Chashama Theatre July 17-Aug. 17, offering a variety of hip-hop, spoken word and poetry driven performances.
Participants in the First Annual Urban Theatre Arts Festival.
Participants in the First Annual Urban Theatre Arts Festival.

The month-long fest on West 42nd Street promises a mix of solo and ensemble performances and theatrical presentations.

Among the works are: The world premiere of writer performer Daniel Beaty's Emergence-SEE! 2003, a fusion of "slam poetry, multi-character transformation and song," directed by Lenora Pace, with 40 characters ranging from an 11-year-old girl in the projects to the ghost of a 400-year-old African chief; Nuyorican Poetry Café's Rome Neal's Monk, about jazz legend Thelonius Monk; Noise/Funk's Tony-nominated Reg E. Gaines' collaboration with comic/gay activist and HBO Def Poetry favorite Regie Cabico, in the solo show, Straight Out; Vanessa Hidary's Culture Bandit; Iris Silverio's Spanglish comedy El Beauty Parlor; David Mills' solo show, Langston Hughes; and Universis' Slanguage.

The First Annual Urban Theatre Arts Festival is presented by Chashama Theatre, Bone Bristle Entertainment, LLC and Deborah Pointer. Pointer is the executive producer of the acclaimed Peabody Award-winning HBO series "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry," and was executive consultant on Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, which won critics' raves and the 2003 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event.

"For the past five years, the underground poetry slam movement has experienced tremendous growth and visibility, which has led to poetry spots, one person shows and group ensembles performing almost every night in locations throughout the United States and Europe," Pointer said in a statement. "The main goal of The Urban Theatre Arts Festival is to parallel this trend by focusing on a classical and traditional form of performance art that has returned to popularity with the hip-hop generation — live theatre."

The festival's scenic designer is Troy Hourie, lighting design is by Ben Stanton. The fest's artistic director is Lenora Pace, who has directed productions at New York Theatre Workshop, P.S. 122, Portland Center Stage, The Guthrie, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and elsewhere. Each evening's performance will be introduced by writer-poet Tehut Nine, and musical interludes between the 7 and 9:15 PM performances will be provided by jazz musician Lisi Axelrod.

Performance at Chashama on 42nd Street take place Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7 and 9:15 PM, with midweek matinees on Thursdays at 3 PM, special one-hour lunchtime performances on Fridays at 1 PM, and performances on Sundays at 3 and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets may be purchased by calling (212) 352-3101.

Chashama Theatre is at 135 W. 42nd Street. For more information, visit www.urbantheatreartsfestival.com.