With the amazing success of Rent, it was only a matter of time before all New York -- and the country -- began paying more attention to the Lower East Side. To demonstrate the area's importance to NYC culture and tourism, Theatre For The New City (TNC) is sponsoring its second annual, three-day-long, Lower East Side Festival Of The Arts, May 30-June 1.
Guest speakers for the Fest include play playwright Arthur Miller, currently represented Off-Broadway by a 50th anniversary revival of All My Sons, and director Richard Foreman, currently touring with his Pearls For Pigs. Also speaking will be Anne Jackson & Eli Wallach, Quentin Crisp, Ron Liebman (Angels In America), Virginia Rambal, Woody King, assemblywoman Debra Glick and councilman Antonio Pagan.
The festival will overtake three theatre spaces in the TNC building (on East 10th St.), with a day-long, outdoor block party scheduled for Saturday, May 31.
Performance artists scheduled to appear include Charles Busch (author of The Green Heart), Tuli Kupferberg (of "The Fugs" fame), Phoebe Legere, Penny Arcade, Mark Marcante, Epstein & Hassan, Margo Lee Sherman, Wise Guise and Lavinia Co-Op.
Contributing material to the event will be playwrights Eduardo Machado, Arthur Sainer, Jack Agueros, Ira Jeffries, Liana Rosario, Larry Myers, Lissa Moira, Bina Sharif and David Willinger. Among the musicians on the bill are Hair's Tom O'Horgan and the bands "Gurgle" and "Missing Chunk." Theatres reprsented include New York Theatre Workshop, the NY Shakespeare Festival, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Ontological Hysteric Theatre (Foreman's home base), The Bangladesh Theatre Of America, WOW Cafe (which specializes in lesbian theatre), Yangtze Rep, Italian American Rep, Amato Opera, The Living Theatre and INTAR.
During the festival, the TNC lobby will offer a chronicle of "The Golden Age Of Second Avenue," with photos and memorabilia of the Yiddish Theatre.
A timetable of performances will be available after May 24, but here's the tentative schedule of events:
May 30: speakers & performances upstairs; cabaret performances downstairs.
May 31: afternoon outside: including jazz, poets and dancing (rain date would be June 1); afternoon inside: plays by kids for kids; evening inside: speakers & performances upstairs; cabaret performances downstairs.
June 1: 5-7 PM - Poetry downstairs; 7:30-midnight: dance and other performances upstairs.
The Lower East Side Festival of the Arts at Theatre For The New City is organized by over 100 performing arts organizations, artists, politicians and filmmakers. In 1995, TNC artistic director Crystal Field set up a committee to address "the undervaluation of the Lower East Side" as a cultural resource. Others on the committee included filmmaker Jonas Mekas, stage director Rome Neal and Miguel Algarin, director of Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The first Festival ran June 14-16, 1996 and was successful enough to prompt TNC to repeat the venture.
For information and reservations to this free event, call (212) 254 1109.
--By David Lefkowitz