Edie Falco, Bobby Cannavale & More Set for 52nd Street Project's Playmaking Series This Weekend
The 52nd Street Project makes a difference in the lives of countless Hell's Kitchen (Clinton) kids by pairing them with theater professionals who mentor them through the creation of original theater. Perhaps the most poignant presentations made by The 52nd Street Project are those in its semi-annual Playmaking series, which features the Project's youngest Hell's Kitchen mentees-ten year-olds who have just begun their theatrical education-writing for accomplished professional actors and revealing their work to a public audience for the first time.
Larger Than Life will run this weekend, December 11-13 at The 52nd Street Project's Five Angels Theater (789 Tenth Avenue, 2nd floor, NYC). Performances will take place Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm, and Saturday & Sunday at 3pm. Admission is free, but reservations must be made in advance at 212.642.5052 or www.52project.org.
The Playmaking process begins with a nine-week playwriting course. At the end of the course, the kids are taken (along with their volunteer adult dramaturge/director) out of town for a "writer's retreat" in the countryside. After writing his/her own plays, each child is given a professional cast to complete the expression of his or her personal vision. The finished plays enjoy a run of public performances.
The kids writing the one-acts are Lauren Amador-Cruz, Lily Kuzminski, Ayman Musa, Bryanna Ohene Kari-Kari, Leonel Perez, Derek Rey, Selena Sanchez, Gage Simmons and Beyonce Thomas.
The adult performers are Jose Aguila, Lisa Benavides-Nelson, Jonathan Bock, Bobby Cannavale, Nehassaiu DeGannes, Bjorn DuPaty, Edie Falco, Ceci Fernandez, Carl Hendrick Louis, Mozhan Marnó, Bhavesh Patel, Carra Patterson, Joe Paulik, Mallory Portnoy, Annie Purcell, Jeanine Serralles, Joe Tapper and Frank Wood.
Avi Amon is composing original music for the show.
The 52nd Street Project was founded in 1981 by actor/playwright and 1994 MacArthur Fellow Willie Reale in response to a deepening need to improve the quality of life for New York's inner-city children. Reale, an actor, playwright, and company member of the Ensemble Studio Theater (EST), used his company privileges to reach out to the children of the neighborhood by creating theatrical endeavors specifically for them. This was done with the cooperation and support of EST and its across-the-street-neighbor, the Police Athletic League's Duncan Center. The Project is now an independent not-for-profit organization that creates over eighty new plays and serves over 130 children every year.
The 52nd Street Project has been a place where many preeminent theater-makers have volunteered their efforts to mentor kids from Hell's Kitchen. To name just a few: Billy Crudup, Peter Dinklage, Edie Falco, Nancy Giles, James McDaniel, Frances McDormand, Cynthia Nixon, Oliver Platt, Martha Plimpton and Lili Taylor.
The Project is about making children proud of themselves. The Project is not about teaching children to act, although they will learn to. It is not about teaching them to write plays, although they will learn that as well. What it is about is giving a kid an experience of success. It is about giving a kid an opportunity to prove that he or she has something of value to offer, something that comes from within that he or she alone possesses, something that cannot be taken away.
In order to make The 52nd Street Project experience available to children in other locations, The Project has published a manual and other supporting materials, which have been distributed as far as Vancouver and South Africa. There are now projects underway across the country in places such as Los Angeles; Chicago; Trenton, NJ; Williamstown, MA; Providence, RI; and London, England.
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