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FIAF and Times Square Alliance Present PLEINVREES/AGORAPHOBIA in Times Square, 9/20-22

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FIAF and Times Square Alliance Present PLEINVREES/AGORAPHOBIA in Times Square, 9/20-22

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), New York's premiere French cultural center, and the Times Square Alliance, present the U.S. premiere of Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia, from Lotte van den Berg and her company OMSK, as part of FIAF's 2012 Crossing the Line festival.

Set amidst the hustle and bustle of Times Square, Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia is an intimate performance by Bessie Award-winner Donald Fleming. The event will have two audiences: those who make reservations in advance and, once onsite, hear the audio via their cell phones, and pedestrians who happen upon the performance by accident.

Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia marks the return of award-winning Dutch director Lotte van den Berg to New York following her participation in the New Island Festival on Governors Island in 2009.

Performances of Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia will take place September 20 and 21 at 3pm and September 22 at 11am and 3pm in Times Square. The event is free. Participants are required to make arrangements beforehand at fiaf.org/ctl. Approximately 48 hours prior to the event, participants will receive an email with details on the exact location along with a phone number. Upon arriving at the event, participants will need to call in to the event to fully experience the performance. For more information, please visit fiaf.org/ctl.

Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia explores the impossibility of being together: our shared desire to be among people and the fear we have of others; our yearning to share our lives with others and the fear of loss that compels us to keep to ourselves. Performed in a busy public square, a solitary man walks around, apparently talking to himself. Yet his words are streamed to bystanders and eavesdroppers-actually audience members who have called in to listen to him on their cell phones. Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia is at once an intimate performance about how this solitary man experiences the world and an insightful experience for an audience of spectators and passers-by.

Award-winning director Lotte van den Berg has been making waves in Holland as one of a new generation of artists described as the 'young Dutch minimalists'. In her performances, she explores the power of movement with a profound intensity that is both joyfully uplifting and achingly forlorn. Resisting categorization, her work sits between the worlds of dance, film and theatre, and creates a bold, fresh style that invites the audience to different perspectives and angles. As a Flemish newspaper noted: 'Van den Berg blows a bubble round the ordinary to grasp its naked essence.' After graduating in Theatre Direction from the Amsterdam School of the Arts, she started working freelance as a director for various Flemish and Dutch companies. From 2005 till the beginning of 2009 she worked for het Toneelhuis in Antwerp, Belgium. In 2009, she left Toneelhuis to become artistic director of a new structure called OMSK: a multidisciplinary initiative, based in an old power station in Dordrecht, Netherlands. The large industrial hall and extensive workshop double as venue and base camp for the projects and expeditions that OMSK organizes.

With Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia, Donald Fleming returns to his hometown of New York for his first performance in the city since 2007. Fleming began his career in the 1980s as part of New York's downtown theater/dance scene and received a Bessie Award in 1987 for "a series of unforgettable performances, a complex portrayal of truth and character revealed in the work of Yoshiko Chuma, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Wendy Perron." He was featured in the original production of Houston-Jones' THEM and was a founding member of Chuma's School of Hard Knocks. Fleming has also worked with Sarah Skaggs, David Zambrano, Jill Becker, and Vicki Schick, among others, and is recipient of National Endowment of the Arts Fellowships. Based in Amsterdam, Fleming's performances, which range from intimate solos to large-scale community-based spectacles, have been seen in numerous venues in New York, as well as throughout Europe and South America. With Pleinvrees/Agoraphobia, he makes his premiere with OMSK/Lotte van den Berg.

Crossing the Line is the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)'s annual fall festival presenting interdisciplinary works and performances created by artists from around the world in New York. The festival provides opportunities for New Yorkers to explore the dialogue between artist and participant, examine how artists help re-imagine the world, and engage in the vital role artists play as critical thinkers and catalysts for social evolution. Curated by Lili Chopra, Artistic Director of FIAF, Simon Dove, Director of the Herberger Institute School of Dance at Arizona State University, and Gideon Lester, Director of Theater Programs at Bard College, Crossing the Line is initiated and produced by FIAF in partnership with leading cultural institutions and takes place this year from September 14–October 14, 2012.

Inaugurated in 2007, Crossing the Line has enjoyed increasingly strong audience response from diverse segments of the New York City area, as well as critical acclaim. The festival was voted "Best of 2009" and "Best of 2010" by Time Out New York, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times has said, "The French Institute Alliance Française's annual Crossing the Line has carved out a particular identity as an invigorating, unpredictable, occasionally provocative mix of genres and disciplines…It's the artistic equivalent of a splash of water on the face."

FIAF's mission is to create and offer New Yorkers innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. FIAF seeks to generate new ideas and promote cross cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of expression.

The Times Square Alliance, founded in 1992, works to improve and promote Times Square - cultivating the creativity, energy and edge that have made the area an icon of entertainment, culture and urban life for over a century. In addition to providing core neighborhood services with its Public Safety Officers and Sanitation Associates, the Alliance promotes local businesses; encourages economic development and public improvements; co-coordinates numerous major events in Times Square (including the annual New Year's Eve and Broadway on Broadway celebrations); manages the Times Square Museum and Visitor Center; and advocates on behalf of its constituents with respect to a host of public policy, planning and quality-of-life issues. The Alliance's district covers most of the territory from 40th Street to 53rd Street between 6th and 8th Avenues, as well as Restaurant Row (46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue). For more information, visit www.timessquarenyc.org.

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