Ars Nova has unveiled the lineup for the 2019 ANT Fest (All New Talent). Now in its 12th year, the annual festival of new work from the Off-Broadway company showcases an eclectic mix of performances, from cabarets and concerts, to stand-up comedy, new plays, musicals and more.
The four-week festival will run June 3–27.
The 2019 lineup includes a musical adaptation of the Stephen King story Willa, told as a folk-rock campfire; a grand musical ceremony honoring real-life Ghanaian princess and activist Mother Kofi; a Star Is Born-inspired evening of comedy, magic, drag and games; a queer re-interpretation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya; a pop-folk fantasia about Walt Whitman; and a new piece which weaves choral music to tell the story of a resilient speaker who dies repeatedly in a tsunami.
This year, the festival once again includes the ANT Fest Lounge Series, intimate, pop-up encounters with festival alums including Michelle J. Rodriguez (June 7), Deepali Gupta (June 12), Jillian Walker (June 18) and Starr Busby & Jerome Ellis (June 24). Plus, Ars Nova’s ongoing variety show, Showgasm, will continue as part of the festival, hosted by Natalie Walker (June 13) and Bowen Yang (June 27).
ANT Fest has served as the launchpad for subsequent Ars Nova productions such as Rags Parkland and Underground Railroad Game. Participants are selected through an open submission.
Check out the complete lineup below.
June 3: A People's History Of Silicon Valley
Written, programmed and performed by Casual Freyday
A synth-pop send-up of techno-utopianism and startup bros. This byte of multimedia music-theater skewers and scrutinizes the inequalities and myopia of the tech world.
June 4: Mother Kofi: The Tale Of An African Princess
Composed and written by Alphonso Horne, directed by Awoye Timpo, choreographed by Alexandria "Brinae" Bradley and Oludare Bernard
Real-life Ghanaian princess, activist and prophetess Laura Adorka Kofi started a movement that spawned a revolution. Get lost in this grand musical ceremony, led by a descendant of that revolution, to lift up and celebrate Mother Kofi’s legacy.
June 5: What A World! What A World!
Written by Eric Marlin, directed by Ilana Khanin
Two actors break down and refashion an old melodrama over and over again until it, and they, are unrecognizable. Time falls away and gender slips as this knockabout comedy assembles itself into an expressionistic nesting doll of queer storytelling.
June 6: Dreams In Black Major
Created by Nia Farrell, directed by Talia Paulette Oliveras
A celebration of dreams. A reclamation of space. Through five movements of music, ritual and dance, Black people take ownership of what may not traditionally have been theirs and build an Afro-future of radical liberation and actualization.
June 7: Call Out Culture: Or, The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being
Written by Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin
Queen Victoria. Lady Gaga. A confused panda in a club. Traversing both timelines and time zones, this autobiographical X-Ray of race, assault, and imperialism mines both horrors and humor when the personal meets the global.
June 7: Jlo At The Dance Call: Songs And Stories With Michelle J. Rodriguez And Friends
created and performed by Michelle J. Rodriguez
Directed by Caitlin Sullivan
Choreography William Carlos Angulo
Reminiscent of a folksy Tina Turner or an indie Selena, MICHELLE J. RODRIGUEZ invites some great friends (with even greater looks) to stir hearts and spirits in this energetic crop-top themed musical cabaret.
June 8: Dr. Rees Ziti's Pageant For A Better Future
Created by The Bellwether Project, directed by Jack Dentinger, written by Lauren Wimmer
In the not-so-distant future, after decades of natural decline, we can still count on one splashy spectacle of glamour: Dr. Rees Ziti’s Pageant for a Better Future. Beauty contestants compete to determine who deserves to carry us forward in this zany variety-show-meets-harrowing-government-propaganda-machine. Sound familiar?
June 10: White Feminist
Written and Performed by Lee Minora, directed by Alice Yorke
Becky goes to every march and uses all the hashtags—but is it enough? In this comedic one-hander, an outspoken talk show host embodies every well-meaning white feminist just trying to do her best, to brutal effect. #metoo #youtoo #mefirst
June 11: Legal Tender
Created by Antigravity Performance Project, written by Kyle Dacuyan, co-directed by Francesca Montanile Lyons and Michael T. Williams, with choreography Andalyn Young
A decolonized, queer dreamscape made up of poems and movement; a cross-country astral trip through small-town gay bars and newsrooms; a series of guided meditations on hustling, schlock and the breaking points of reality.
June 12: Dream Hou$E
Written by Eliana Pipes, directed by Cristina Angeles
Two Latinx sisters seize an opportunity to capitalize on their “changing neighborhood” by appearing on an HGTV-style reality show, unprepared for the show’s surreal left-turn through ancestry, capitalism and identity. What is the cost of progress in America? And is cashing in always selling out?
June 12: Deepali Gupta Is A Manic Pixie Dream Ghost
Created and performed by Deepali Gupta
A cabaret retrospective of a tortured genius who destroyed herself for her art, performed by the artist herself. Deepali Gupta is just dying to sing for you.
June 13: The Wagging Craze
Written, composed and performed by Joseph White, directed by Anne Cecelia Demelo
Is it a wagging dog? Or a finger? Or something… else? This outlandish historical fiction turned electro-pop-opera leaps down a dizzying rabbit hole of masculinity and spiritual awakening and traces the bizarre journey of a mysterious male bonding ritual that plunged America into a frenzy of chaos and decadence. Find out what wagging is all about.
June 13: Showgasm. – ANT Fest Edition
With Natalie Walker and Crew
Natalie Walker guest hosts our untamed monthly variety-show-meets-party, introducing us to her who's-who of the weird and wonderful—from comedy to burlesque and everything (and anything) in between.
June 14: Virgo Star
Written and Directed by Gian Marco Lo Forte, with choreography Beth Graczyk
Queering the cinematic tropes of the American Western, this kinetic ride through the Cowboy myth combines choreography and live video into one fluid, hilarious and heartfelt evening. You’ve never seen the west this wild.
June 15: Auntie Vanya
Written and Created by Bre Northrup, directed by Alex Keegan
A queer scavenging of Chekhov’s classic like you’ve never seen, diving right into the trenches of trans fetishization, the male gaze and queer body politics. Can “inclusivity” tip over into objectification? Will Yelena ever be more than just a body? It’s so hard being pretty.
June 17: Willa
Created and Performed by Billy Simone Band, based on a story by Stephen King, music by Nathan Skethway, lyrics and book by Abigail Rose and Nathan Skethway, directed by Nathan Skethway
A train derails in the foggy mountains of Wyoming and its passengers wait in the desolate train station, hoping to be rescued. But Willa has gone missing in the night. A folk-rock campfire story about love, uncertainty, and the things we can only find in the dark of night.
Willa © (November 2008) Stephen King. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
June 18: 100 People In A Room
Created and Hosted by Zach Zimmerman
Inspired by a certain pop star’s legendary/unhinged press tour, Zach Zimmerman hosts an evening of comedy, magic, drag and games for his own room of 100 people, imploring each to look around and discover: who believes in you?
June 18: This Is Not A Requiem
Created and Performed by Jillian Walker
Wigs. Lip quivers. Sweat. Go beyond the illusion with Jillian Walker to remember Whitney Houston as she may (or may not) have wanted.
June 19: Annie Aspen's Musical Space Spectacular!
Created by Laura Galindo, directed by Renee Yeong and Talia Oliveras
Annie heads up to the moon and senses a problem with her spaceship; Laura awakens in the night and knows something is wrong with her own body. Through swirling synths and hypnotic melodies, this pop-rock dream follows both women as they stare down the necessity of healing and wonder how to even begin.
June 20: I Love White Men
Created and Performed by Sim Yan Ying
Developed with and directed by Renee Yeong, developed with and dramaturgy by Nicholas Chan
After realizing she spent three years on Tinder swiping right on exclusively white men, a young Singaporean woman found herself plagued with one simple question: Why??? In this auto-fictional stand-up drama, YY takes us through her investigative journey through white worship and postcolonial baggage, attempting to uncover how we can work through our own problematic desires.
June 21: [Wave Emoji]
Written by Nazareth Hassan, directed by Miranda Haymon
A resilient speaker dies in a catastrophic tsunami over and over. This bracing and meditative epic turns the finality of death prismatic, and eventually choral. Cathartic redemption, on repeat.
June 22: Deathbed Edition
Words and music by Julian Hornik, directed and co-conceived by Rory Pelsue
When word spread that American icon Walt Whitman had fallen ill, The New York Times dispatched a reporter to keep a bedside vigil. Discover what he found in this pop-folk fantasia on sex, death and a queer life lived fully.
June 24: An Incomplete List Of All The Things I'm Going To Miss When The World Is No Longer:
Book, music, lyrics, sound design and music direction Dante Green, additional music and lyrics, Marlee Gordon and Lyell Hintz, with direction by GARRETT ALLEN
The world is ending and you’re invited to the last sh*tshow EVER. It’s an indie-pop rager celebrating the delights and deceptions of existing, and it’s the last one we’ve got. Why not go out with a bang?
June 24: An Evening With Starr Busby And Jerome Ellis
Performed by Starr Busby and Jerome Ellis
Join composers Starr Busby and Jerome Ellis as they share their soulful and stirring take on gospel music and psalms.
June 25: Find Him
Created and Performed by Dylan Guerra, directed by Laura Dupper
Late one night, a guy told Dylan he wanted to disappear; the very next day he did. In this not-quite-podcast but Definitely True Crime, Dylan leads us through his obsessive (and obsessively gay) deep dive for truth. Honestly, Sarah Koenig could never.
June 26: Rest In Peace, Circuit City: Songs 'N' Spells From The Neon Coven
Created and performed by The Neon Coven: Andrew Barret Cox, Mark Mauriello, Shira Milikowsky
For one night only, frenetic, leather-clad glam-rockers THE NEON COVEN will summon the most insane singers they know to scream their faces off in an explosive and cathartic blaze of glittery glory.
June 27: Together At Last
Co-created and performed by Spike Einbinder And Amy Zimmer
Elaborate slapstick meets psycho-thriller in this dizzying array of vignettes showcasing the most romantic, obsessive and eccentric duos you never knew you wanted, and definitely didn't know you needed.
June 27: Showgasm. – Ant Fest Edition
With Bowen Yang and Crew
Comedy and culture maven Bowen Yang guest hosts our untamed monthly variety show-meets party, introducing us to his who's-who of the weird and wonderful—from comedy to burlesque and everything (and anything) in between.
Tickets may be purchased at arsnovanyc.com/antfest or by calling (212) 352-3101.