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Free Lower East Side Festival of the Arts Returns

Yes, LES, is still here and still fearlessly free to all!

Art v. Tyranny, is the theme of this year's Lower East Side Festival of the Arts. Though we are still dedicated to the rich legacy left to us by the artists who lived and created on the Lower East Side and the East Village (nearly all of whom we hasten to add were immigrants) their work more relevant than ever; we must embrace with re-doubled fervency our art of the here and now. With non-profit world of the Arts, under attack from on-high, and the houses of government closed to all but the super-rich, it is vital that we fight back by keeping our doors wide open. The message of inclusiveness, truth and beauty ringing out for all to hear. A clarion call for all to take up art against a sea of trouble. We will not go quietly, but rather we will use our art as a battering ram against the wall of lies and unalloyed hypocrisy that currently surrounds us.

LES, The Lower East Side Festival of the Arts takes place over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the Memorial Day Weekend, May 26th, 27th and 28th, all of it taking place at Theater For The New City and the street surrounding the Theater. LES is theater, music, dance, comedy, performance art, film poetry, video, painting, sculpture and photography.

While paying homage to greats of the past, (who lived and or worked in LES), Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Eugene O'Neill, James Cagney, (whose fluency in Yiddish was highlighted in several of his early films), George Raft, Garcia Lorca, Charlie "Bird Parker, Yip Harburg...; LES presents works by artists whose fame is far flung and by those whose names are as yet known to only a few (a situation we seek to rectify). Besides hundreds of individual performances, as always numerous theater and dance companies from our area will be participating.

Already aboard, David Amram, world renowned jazzman, composer, conductor, eternal optimist, a globe-trotting performer who has scored classic films, such as the original "Manchurian Candidate," "Pull My Daisy," (made with buddy Jack Kerouac) and "Splendor in the Grass" (with Crystal Field and Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty) which will be part of the film portion of LES with a talk back with David and Crystal.

Luba Mason, a Broadway star ("How To Succeed in Business....... with Mathew Broderick, "Chicago" with Brook Shields) who ventures downtown when a project excites her (she appeared right here at Theater For The New City in a smash hit musical version of Nicholas Nickelby, as Mrs. Squeers.)

The New York Theatre Workshop, The Rod Rodgers DanceCo., Baba Brinkman (whose been covering history, religion and ecology through hip hop long before those "Hamilton" folks got the idea.) Phoebe Legere, downtown icon and goddess, pianist, accordionist, performance artist, painter and playwright, (her latest show ("Schmatte") opens soon at TNC - she must be seen to be believed. The whack-a-doodle group DaDaNY, an excerpt from the recent runaway hit musical "Grand Theft Musical" by Robert Sickinger and Lissa Moira ("raucous, raunchy, witty and wise). The outrageous Reno, comedian, political and social commentator, she has never taken a prisoner yet. Penny Arcade, monologist, playwright, actress, social surgeon and International Performance Artist and Chronicler of the East Village. KT Sullivan Chanteuse extraordinaire. As more of the artists respond, we will update the list.

LES and Theater For The New City holds its writers dear, we will be presenting new works and excerpts of old by: Edward Albee, Eduardo Machado, Mario Fratti, Lissa Moira, Barbara Kahn, Larry Myers, Ed Malin, Tom /Doriwachter, Robert Homeyer, Stephan Morrow, Maria Micheles, Peter Welch and Peter Zacheri among others.

For those unaware of the nuts and bolts of LES. This is how it works: we kick off on Friday, May 26 at 6 p.m. and go to around midnight upstairs in the Johnson Theater. the first act is always a big band to get the hood stirring, and the feet flying. We continue with music, excerpts of theater from companies all over our creative hood, dance, aerial acts, comedy and performance art.

Check out a video from last year:

At 7 p.m., our downstairs Cabaret Theater chimes in with some swinging but more sub rosa and intricate acts also going until midnight or thereabouts.

Sharing curating and hosting duties downstairs will be brilliant writer/actor Robert Homeyer and the scintillating, performer, actor singer David F. Slone, Esquire.

Saturday, May 27th is jam-packed outdoors on 10th Street and First Avenue beginning at 11 a.m. we line the street with all manner of vendors, foods and fancies of all kinds, including the works of local artisans will be on sale. At Noon, we throw up a stage on the street where the playwright, performer, guitarist, songwriter, satirist and sage of Villages West and East, Richard West will curate and host. He will be presenting poets, singers, groups (such as Flamenco artist Irma Heredia), comics (such as Stan Baker), some familiar and some new, gleaned from his frequent forays to performance venues around the hood.

While the merriment commences outdoors from 12 Noon to 6pm, cinema enthusiasts are invited indoors and downstairs to our Cabaret Theater to the Film portion of LES curated and hosted by superb actor, playwright, photo and filmmaker Peter Welch-. See feature film, shorts, animation and video that relate to the numerous ethic groups that are the strength of the LES and East Village or are created by our local auteurs. Film goes to midnight.

Also on Saturday, May 27th from 2 p.m.-5 p.m., indoors in the Johnson Theater, we have youth performing for youth - ever popular and always filled to the brim with kids, parents and teens, it will be curated by Danielle Hauser and hosted by Lyric Circus' own multi-gifted Bubble Meister, John Grimaldi all ready and slated to perform are Cobu Kids, the Dance Project and the Experimental Dance Group with many more to come.

Saturday, May 27th, from 6 p.m. to Midnightish we continue to titillate the mind and tickle the imagination with a continuous program of Theater, Music, Dance, Comedy and Performance Art.

Sunday, May 28th, we bring you triple treat Poetry and Prose from 4-7p.m. in our upstairs Community Space Theater in the center of attention. As always, a joyful jam rather than a competitive slam. It is curated and hosted by playwright, director, actor, poet, Lissa Moira fresh from her own smash hit musical "Grand Theft Musical." It features some of Downtown's best known poetic voices and also welcomes an injection of fresh blood from those less familiar to us. There is as always an open mic as time permits.

Sunday night is fraught with entertainment. Upstairs in the Johnson 6 p.m.-Midnight or so non-stop Theater, Music, Dance, Comedy and Performance Art.

Downstairs in the Cabaret Theater 7 p.m. to 11 or so, we keep kickin' up close and personal with high impact acts on the Fringe.

Throughout the Festival, our lobby is as festive as it gets. We've got performance artists, such as the exquisitely elegant HumanKinetics and our Annual Lower East Side Festival Art Show. The Art Show is curated by artist and activist, Carolyn Ratcliffe and exhibits the works of 35 or more local artists.

The Art Show enjoys its own extra special opening Wednesday night, May 24th from 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m., so that art-lovers can feast their eyes without the glamour of the rest of the fabulous LES Festival to distract them. Come schmooze and booze with free wine and tempting tid-bits while hobbing and nobbing with the participating artists. The art will be up throughout the Festival and beyond until the end of June.

Crystal Field and the entire production committee invites you to the true USA, The United States of Art that is LES. The Lower East Side Festival of the Arts Open to All and Free for All.

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