14th Annual LES Festival Brings Celebs, Artists, Poets Together From 5/22-24

THE 14th ANNUAL LOWER EAST SIDE (LES) FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS will bring together under one roof in just three days over 100 performing arts organizations, local and international celebrities, independent artists, poets, puppeteers, film makers and many others -- all of whom reside, work or have their roots in the culturally diverse, willfully anarchistic Lower East Side -- for New York City's most diverse FREE 3-day festival, from Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24, at Theater for the New City (155 1st Avenue, between E. 9th and 10th Sts.) in Manhattan.

The 3-day, indoor and outdoor festival of the arts is organized by Theater for the New City and a coalition of civic, cultural and business leaders, and is FREE to all New Yorkers and visitors. THE LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS was founded in 1996 to demonstrate the creative explosion of Manhattan's Lower East Side and the area's importance to the culture and tourism of New York City. Last year's festival attracted more than 3,000 people.

"Art: A Necessity for Life in Good Times and Bad Times" is the theme of the 14th Annual LES FESTIVAL. All weekend events celebrate the rich history of Theater for the New City and the Lower East Side which have embraced all genres of the arts and nurtured artists, including George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Yip Harburg, Eddie Candor, Molly Picon, EuGene O'Neill, Mark Twain, and countless others, who have live and created in New York, in poverty and in wealth. The LES FESTIVAL, which continues to offer its events FREE, is a time to remember the past and continue their tradition by continuing to create.

This year's participants, representing the unique ethnic and cultural diversity of the Lower East Side, include an eclectic mix of talent, including Jazz legend David Amram; legendary talk show host Joe Franklin; The Living Theater's Judith Malina; Taylor Mead, Phoebe Legere, Broadway actress Vinie Burrows, folksinger Judy Gorman; downtown favorites Epstein & Hassan (The Black & The Jew), clown The Red Bastard (a.k.a. Eric Davis); theatre and dance companies such as Rod Rodgers Dance Company, Joe's Pub, La MaMa E.T.C., DADA NY, New York Theater Workshop, The Mariana Bekerman Dance Company, the Bangladesh Theatre of America, Kinding Sindaw Dance Company and many more. Plus, there will be new works by established and rapidly rising playwrights including Eduardo Machado, Barbara Kahn, Lissa Moira, Larry Myers, and others to be announced.

Events, from Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 245, are FREE, open to all, and take place within two theater spaces at Theater for the New City (155 1st Avenue, between E. 9th and 10th Streets) and along East 10th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.

Additional attractions throughout the 3-day event include film, and multimedia, dance, poetry, puppetry, musicians, readings, theater pieces that reflect the LES life, and an art installation, representing some of New York's most original fine artists.

The complete lineup and schedule will be posted online at www.theaterforthenewcity.net.

Participants include artists presently residing on the Lower East Side, arts groups performing in the area, prominent writers and artists whose work has dealt directly with the Lower East Side experience, and emerging playwrights who have written original works specifically for the festival.

Festivities kick off on Friday, May 22 at Theater for the New City at 6pm, with performances hosted by Theater for the New City Artistic Director Crystal Field, Alberto Minero, Susan Gittens, and Sol Escheverria; followed by cabaret, music, comedy and eclectic acts, hosted by actor Robert Fitzsimmons.

On Saturday, May 23, THE 14th ANNUAL LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS offers a day-long block party, hosted by composer/satirist Richard West, featuring performances from musicians, singers, belly and flamenco dancers, comics, poets and more, as well as a community Arts Fair with food and crafts vendors. Additional ttractions on Saturday afternoon will emphasize performances with and by kids and tweens, hosted by performer John Grimaldi curated by actor and teacher the talented Primy Rivera and Lily Burd.

Another highlight on Saturday, May 23 is the LES Film Festival. Francesse M. Maingrette hosts screenings of full-length features, shorts, and animation about the Lower East Side and its inhabitants, or created by local filmmakers.

On Sunday, May 24, playwright and poet Lissa Moira hosts a poetry and performance tribute to Jushi, a late poet, musician, performance artist and longtime supporter of The LES Festival whose memory lives in the work of today's artists.

THE 14th ANNUAL LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS features performances for and by kids, and performers with disabilities. Additionally, the distinct ethnic communities of the Lower East Side are amply represented, including the Latin American, African American, Chinese, Indian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Native American, Polish and Ukrainian communities.

Previous participants at THE LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS have included F. Murray Abraham, Quentin Crisp, Oscar Brand, KT Sullivan, Miguel Algarin, Bond Street Theatre, Vinie Burrows, Kaleidoscope Dance Company, Sudden Enlightenment Theater Company, Tuli Kupferberg, Matt Morillo, and Kitty Carlisle, among others.

Theater for the New City (TNC) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning community cultural center known for its high artistic standards and widespread community service. One of New York's most prolific theatrical organizations, TNC produces 30-40 premieres of new American plays per year, at least 10 of which are by emerging and young playwrights. Many influential theater artists of the last quarter century have found TNC's Resident Theater Program instrumental to their careers, among them: Sam Shepard, Moises Kaufman, Richard Foreman, Charles Busch, Maria Irene Fornes, Miguel Piñero and Academy Award-winners Tim Robbins and Adrien Brody. TNC also presents plays by multi-ethnic/multi-disciplinary theater companies who have no permanent home. Among the well-known companies that have been presented by TNC are Mabou Mines, The Living Theater, Bread and Puppet Theater, the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Ma-Yi Theater Company. TNC also produced the Yangtze Repertory Company's 1997 production of BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH, which was the only play ever produced in America by Gao Xingjian before he won the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature. TNC seeks to develop theater audiences and inspire future theater artists from the often-overlooked low-income minority communities of New York City by producing minority writers from around the world and by bringing the community into theater and theater into the community through its many free festivals. TNC productions have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and over 40 OBIE Awards for excellence in every theatrical discipline. TNC is also the only Theatrical Organization to have won the Mayor's Stop the Violence Award. Samuel French has published Mark Morillo's ANGRY YOUNG WOMEN IN LOW-RISE JEANS WITH HIGH-CLASS ISSUES and ALL ABOUT THE MARRIAGE HEARSE, which each had runs at Theater for the New City. A scene from Crystal Field's new play LET IT GO is published in Applause Book's "The Best Women's Monologues for 21st Century."

THE 14th ANNUAL LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS runs in and around Theater for the New City (155 1st Avenue, between E. 9th and 10th Streets) throughout Memorial Day weekend: Friday, May 22, 6pm-1am; Saturday, May 23, 10am-1am (10am-6pm - Cultural Fair, outside on East 10th Street between 1st and Second Avenues; 2pm-5pm - Performances for kids and by kids, inside Theater for the New City); and Sunday, May 24, 6pm-1am.

All events are FREE and open to the public. For additional information and a full performance schedule, please call Theater for the New City at 212-254-1109 or visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net.

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