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WAITING FOR GIOVANNI Comes to the New York Stage This Summer

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WAITING FOR GIOVANNI Comes to the New York Stage This Summer A great American writer at a pivotal moment in his career is the subject of a play by another iconic American author.

It's 1957. Bombs are exploding in Black churches and lynchings are a fact of life for many across the U.S. From these ashes a young Black writer emerges to become a literary celebrity bringing with him both his boundless talent and personal insecurities. "Waiting for Giovanni," a new play by Jewelle Gomez, in collaboration with Harry Waters Jr., imagines a moment in the mind of James Baldwin in which he struggles with writing a novel that he's been told will ruin his career.

The play will have its New York premiere presented by TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), the city's oldest LGBTQ theater. The production will be performed as part of the company's partnership with the Flea Theater in The Siggy, a below-ground theater named for Flea founder and continuing inspiration Sigourney Weaver and one of the three performance spaces at The Flea's new building at 20 Thomas Street.

"Working on this has been a huge thrill for me." said playwright Gomez, "It reminds me of how much raw passion it takes to live a creative life and to make social change."

"Baldwin is enjoying a rediscovery at the moment," said TOSOS artistic director Mark Finley. "Not only (I think) because of his work's eloquence but because of its stark relevance fifty years later.

"In Jewelle's play, Jimmy wrestles with his identity as a black writer and a gay man -- as a newly noted author and a truthful creative vessel," Finley said. "It dramatizes not only the creative process but also relationships between creative people--how we love and limit each other--and how we love and limit ourselves."

"Waiting for Giovanni," directed by Mark Finley, begins previews July 12 at The Flea Theater, running through August 4. Performances are at 7pm, Thursday - Saturday July 12-14, Tuesday - Saturday July 17 - 21 and Wednesday - Saturday July 25 - August 4. Tickets start at $27 (including a $2 renovation fee); to purchase and find more information, visit www.theflea.org. Purchase tickets by phone at (866) 811-4111 and at the box office of the Flea Theater, 20 Thomas Street, New York, NY, 10017. Box office hours: 12p - 7p weekdays, 5p - 7p weekends.

BIOGRAPHIES

Jewelle Gomez (Playwright) is the author of eight books including the Lambda Award-winning classic, THE GILDA STORIES, which has been in print since 1991. Her play, "Bones and Ash," based on THE GILDA STORIES, was commissioned by the Urban Bush Women Company. "Waiting for Giovanni" is the first play of a trilogy about African American artists in the early part of the 20th century. The second play, "Leaving the Blues" about singer/composer, Alberta Hunter, premiered at San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center, where she is Playwright in Residence, in 2017. She is currently working on "Unpacking at Ptown," the third play in the trilogy, which will premier in 2021. www.jewellegomez.com/ ; waiting4giovanni.blogspot.com/

Mark Finley (Director) is the artistic director of TOSOS and has directed many of its acclaimed productions including Doric Wilson's Street Theater - 2016 IT Award Winner for Best Revival. He made his Off-Broadway directorial debut with Chris Weikel's Penny Penniworth. He most recently directed the TOSOS production of the Byron Loyd's Rebel Boy Fireworks (which premiered at the United Solo Arts Festival) and Virginia Baeta's Damaged Goods (Emerging Artists). Mark is also an author, an actor and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence) is New York City's oldest professional LGBTQ theater. In 1974, Off-Off Broadway veteran Doric Wilson (1939-2011), cabaret star Billy Blackwell and director Peter dell Valle, started the first professional gay theatre company in NYC. It was called The Other Side of Silence; TOSOS for short. In 2002, directors Mark Finley and Barry Childs and playwright Wilson resurrected TOSOS. The company has produced over 30 mainstage shows and so many readings of new plays and works in progress we have trouble counting them all. www.tososnyc.org

The Flea Theater, under Artistic Director Niegel Smith and Producing Director Carol Ostrow, is one of New York's leading Off-Off-Broadway companies. Winner of several Obie Awards, a Special Drama Desk Award for outstanding achievement and an Otto Award for political theater, The Flea has presented over 100 theatrical, musical and dance performances since its inception in 1996. Past productions include premieres by Steven Banks, Thomas Bradshaw, Erin Courtney, Bathsheba Doran, Will Eno, Karen Finley, Amy Freed, Sarah Gancher, Sean Graney, A.R. Gurney, Jennifer Haley, Hamish Linklater, Enrique Gutiérrez Ortiz Monasterio, Itamar Moses, Anne Nelson, Qui Nguyen, Adam Rapp, Jonathan Reynolds, Kate Robbins, Roger Rosenblatt, Elizabeth Swados, and Mac Wellman. Successes include Drama Desk nominated She Kills Monsters, These Seven Sicknesses, Restoration Comedy, The Mysteries and ten World Premiere productions by A.R. Gurney, including the WSJ Best New Play of 2013, Family Furniture. www.theflea.org

The Flea Theater is located at 20 Thomas Street between Church and Broadway, three blocks north of Chambers, close to the A/C/E, N/Q/R/W, 4/5/6, J/M/Z and 1/2/3 subway lines. Purchase tickets by calling 866-811-4111 or online at www.theflea.org.


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