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New York's Stage

Published on
May 28

What makes the divergent group of acts Concha Buika, The Metropolitan Opera, DJ Boogie Blind, Out Latin Thing, and Fete de la Musique, cohere artistically? These performances, part of the lineup at the upcoming SummerStage 2014, is a reflection of New York City itself: the art of blending harmoniously the different and the diverse.  

This year’s SummerStage, the most popular (FREE!) performing arts festival in the city, will take place from June 3 to August 24 across the five boroughs. New York-based music label Fania Records is the backdrop for this year's lineup. From Mambo to Boogaloo, Salsa to Jazz, and later Disco and House, Fania Records represents music inspired and created in New York City’s barrios since 1964.  SummerStage 2014 celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the label by showcasing talent that was influenced by the label. Along with its music concerts, this year's SummerStage also includes theater performances. I spoke with Director of Theater Programs at City Park Foundation, Freedome Bradley, to get his insight on the Festival.

In theater, Freedome has selected three productions that will be staged in the first two weeks of August in Central Park, Marcus Garvey Park (Harlem), and East River Park. Each expresses a conscious voice about our most pressing urban social issues and are: John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown, Handball by Urban Theatre Movement, and Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind by the company The New York Neo-Futurists.

Leguizamo is an established and versatile artist, who has performed his one-man play on Latino empowerment on Broadway; but Urban Theatre Movement and The New York Neo-Futurist are young companies. “Giving young artists and theater companies a stage where they can come and see their vision manifested in the world is one of the best things about my job,” said Bradley. Performing at SummerStage for these young companies represents validation from a prestigious organization.

 

A play about gentrification will play in the neighborhood which is in the midst of this transition: Harlem. Handball by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld will have a total of eleven performances in both Marcus Garvey Park and Central Park; the first performance is on July 29, 2014 at 8pm. Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind by Greg Allen, is an eight-person ensemble with “an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 Plays in 60 Minutes,” and is “an emotional and intellectual roller-coaster of ideas and images ridden at break-neck speed by a participating audience.” As a festival that represents the diversity of New York City, it is a testament to its veracity that this year's theater presentations tackle issues of such immediate importance to people across all of New York City. 

 

As New Yorkers we are lucky to have the best of arts and culture all year long, but summertime in the city is especially entertaining since you can immerse yourself in the quality and range of NYC performances in the warm summer sun -- for free! So check out SummerStage's music, dance, and theater shows this summer and experience the diversity and groove of your fellow New Yorker's stories and art.