Europe & Origin Bringing NEW ARTS & CULTURE FESTIVAL To NY

The Delegation of the European Union to the United States, in partnership with Origin Theatre Company -- the city's only theatre company devoted to introducing New York audiences to an illuminating spectrum of new theatre voices from across Europe - is announcing a new cultural event in New York taking place every May. A continuation of the EU-sponsored "European Month of Culture," which has taken place in May since 2013, this new, annual arts and culture festival showcasing consequential new voices and new works emanating from across Europe launches with a special inaugural edition from May 10 to 28, 2018.

Hosted by a number of distinguished New York cultural venues -- including the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, La MaMa CultureHub, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Italian Cultural Institute, and the NYU Glucksman Ireland House -- the three-week inaugural event will be anchored by a mix of symposia and staged readings focusing on work from Italy, titled "Cultural Crossroads in Italy." Starting in May 2019 the 1st Annual "European Month of Culture NYC" will take its place on New York City's busy arts calendar as an annual festival, with a majority of free events.

In jointly making the announcement with Origin Theatre Company, James Barbour, Head of Press & Public Diplomacy for the Delegation of the European Union to the United States said, "This is a fantastic year for New York to take part in European Month of Culture for the first time, thanks to a partnership with Origin Theatre Company. With 2018 being the European Year of Cultural Heritage, I'm delighted that we'll have the opportunity to show New York something of the unique and diverse cultures that make up the European Union."

"Our plan is to make this an annual event," added George C. Heslin, Origin Theatre's artistic director. "The formula we're developing for this Pan-European festival has us showcasing the work of individual countries every year, and experiencing the changing perspectives and priorities of diverse artists from these countries in a broader European and global context. Italy was chosen for the focus of the first year, and it is through open engagement with an international audience that the artists and audiences alike will benefit and be enriched."

Heslin also commented: "With its diversity of viewpoints and cultural perspectives 'European Month of Culture NYC' will epitomize a culturally diverse New York helping all of us embrace our leadership in promoting global citizenship, respect among cultures and recognizing the social and economic benefits of free and tolerant exchanges of ideas, art and culture."

Thursday May 10, 6pm to 9pm: The Festival's VIP Launch & Theatre Symposium is on Thursday May 10, with a Welcoming Ceremony at 6pm, at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, 111 Amsterdam Avenue, at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts. Hosted by Deputy EU Ambassador to the UN Joanne Adamson, and Origin Theatre artistic director George Heslin, the Welcoming Ceremony will offer details for both the current 3-week inaugural and plans for next year's official 1st Annual "European Month of Culture NYC" in 2019.

At 6:30pm this year's Highlighted Symposium Artist, the Italian playwright and filmmaker Marco Calvani, will introduce his short narrative film, "The View from Up Here," about a Syrian refugee starring Leila Bekhti (France) and the American actress Melissa Leo.

At 7pm, a round-table discussion allowing the audience to join in a conversation with invited panelists from different European nations and the US, will explore the impact of global immigration, and the European refugee crisis on the theatre and how artists are responding. Moderated by Erwin Maas (Origin's programming director and the artistic director of the International Society for Performing Arts), the panelists include Marco Calvani; Linda Zachrison (cultural attaché for Sweden in Wash DC); Daniel Hrbek (Czech theatermaker); Maria Rapicavoli (Italian visual artist); Mersiha Mesihovic (Bosnian-Swedish choreographer); Ross Burnett (senior policy manager of the Arts Council England), Gian Maria Tosatti (Italian visual and instillation artist), and Shukri Sindi (NYC-based Iraqi artist).

The symposium concludes with a cocktail reception. To reserve your seat, visit www.origintheatre.org

Friday May 11, 6pm to 8pm A staged reading of a new play in development, "Beautiful Day Without You," by Marco Calvani. Commissioned by Origin Theatre, the work-in-progress will be followed by a Q&A with the playwright and director. A wine reception precedes the reading. At the Italian Cultural Institute, 686 Park Avenue (between 68th & 69th Streets).

Saturday May 12, 12pm to 3pm Devised Theater & Theater for Young Audiences - a Screening and Conversation with Italian Artists and Companies. A sampler of short films and videos by such cutting edge Italian companies as Motus, Compagnia Rodisio, TPO/Teatro Metastasio Stabile della Toscana, is followed by an audience-participatory panel discussion with a number of New York-based Italian artists who will discuss group devised theater and working with youth.

Moderated by Erwin Maas, the "long table" panel includes Orietta Crispino (artistic director of TheaterLab NYC), Enzo Celli (Italian choreographer), Mia Yoo (artistic director La MaMa), Valeria Orani (artistic director Umanism LLC), Guy DeLancey (NY-based theatermaker and designer), and Thomas Walker (associate artistic director The Living Theatre NYC). The afternoon concludes with a Trans-Atlantic Cultural Networking Reception. At La MaMa CultureHub, 47 Great Jones (between Lafayette & Bowery).

Sunday May 13, 12pm to 4pm Master Class/Workshop for AADA Students. Internationally acclaimed Italian choreographer Enzo Celli teaches a master class in contemporary dance technique and movement to students of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a venerable New York-Los Angeles institution offering professional acting training to a highly diverse international student body. American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NB: this event is not open to the public.)

Monday May 21, 7pm Reading of "A Kid Like Rishi" Based on the true story of Rishi Chandrikasing, who was killed on Platform 4 of The Hague Hollands Spoor by Dutch police in 2012. Was he the wrong person in the wrong place, or the victim of something much more sinister? By Kees Roorda (Netherlands), directed by Erwin Maas (Netherlands). Reading followed by a Q&A with Maas and Roorda who will be visiting from The Netherlands. NYU Glucksman Ireland House, 1 Washington Mews.

Monday May 28, 7pm Reading of "All Mod Cons" Erica Murray's (Ireland) new play, introduces us two millennials living on society's fringe who are trying to find a flat in the midst of a housing crisis. Directed by Kim Kerfoot. NYU Glucksman Ireland House, 1 Washington Mews.

"Each annual event will attract artists and work from across the 28-country Union," observed Mr. Heslin, "but we will give a special anchor focus to individual countries on a rotating basis, to insure meaningful exploration of the range of trends, issues and events dominating the public discourse in different countries." This year's anchor focus is Italy.

Each year a new EU member country will take center stage. Origin Theatre Company, which is organizing the Festival, is the producer of the annual Origin's 1st Irish Festival (the 10th edition took place in January) and has produced mainstage New York premieres of acclaimed contemporary plays from Sweden, and the Netherlands as well as symposia on the The Balkans, The Nordic Countries, and Scotland.

Now in its 15th season, and under artistic director George C. Heslin, Origin Theatre Company is the city's only theatre company devoted to presenting the New York and American premieres of new plays by Europe's brightest contemporary playwrights. Since its founding in 2002, Origin has introduced works by 162 playwrights, from such countries as the Netherlands, Sweden, Romania, Macedonia, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

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