Daphne Rubin-Vega and More Featured in REBEL VERSES Festival, Kicking Off Today

Daphne Rubin-Vega and More Featured in REBEL VERSES Festival, Kicking Off Today

Developing Artists, in partnership with Vineyard Theatre, welcomes a lineup of stars to their 13th annual REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, with performances today, July 27, Friday, July 28, Saturday, July 29, Thursday, August 3, Friday, August 4, and Saturday, August 5 at Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th St.).

This year, REBEL VERSES welcomes festival spokesperson and stage and screen star Daphne Rubin-Vega (RENT, ANNA IN THE TROPICS) on July 27; recording artist and percussionist Okai on July 28; actress and singer-songwriter Diana Oh July 29; actor and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Eric Bogosian (TALK RADIO, subUrbia) on August 3; singer and Emmy, Obie, and Tony Award-winning actress LaChanze (THE COLOR PURPLE, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND) on August 4 and poet and performer muMs the Schemer (HBO's "Def Poetry," "Oz") on August 5.

These artists, who have exemplary careers as both writers and performers, will model professionalism for the student-led theatre groups and will be featured as the closing act of each night's showcase.

REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival is a journey into the unapologetic, unrestrainable creativity of the next generation. This two-week festival brings together student ensembles from all five boroughs of New York City, Jersey City, and Pittsburgh. This two-week festival brings together student ensembles from all five boroughs of New York City, Jersey City, and Pittsburgh. Professional artists will lead daytime workshops to develop the students' skills in a wide range of performing arts disciplines.

"We are fortunate to have so many talented professional artists who understand what Developing Artists is doing, believe in arts education, and understand the importance in giving back to the community," says Jinn S. Kim, Executive Director of Developing Artists. "This mixture of youth companies with experienced professionals provides an opportunity for these young artists to learn from and engage with working artists, while performing alongside them allows the students to proclaim themselves as artists and gain confidence in their art," explains Jill DeArmon, Developing Artists' Artistic Director.

The student theatre ensembles in the festival will perform their own original pieces, tailored and refined over the course of the two-week event, with a 10-15 minute slot at the end of the evening for the celebrity guest to perform works of their own choosing. Audience members can expect the original songs of Diana Oh, slam poetry from muMs, musical selections spanning the stage and recording career of LaChanze, monologues from Obie and Drama Desk-winning solo performer Eric Bogosian, performance by recording artist and percussionist Okai, and a new take on Daphne Rubin-Vega's signature song, "Out Tonight," which she performed in the original Broadway cast of RENT.

The performance schedule for REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival is as follows: Today, July 27; Friday, July 28; Saturday, July, 29; Thursday, August 3; Friday, August 4; and Saturday, August 5 at 7pm. Tickets are $20-$25 for adults, student tickets are available at the box office for $15, and student groups of 10+ are $5. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit www.developingartists.org or call the Vineyard Theatre Box Office at (212) 353-0303.

Developing Artists is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for underdog teens to reach their full potential through a practical application of the performing arts. Since 1999, Developing Artists has helped kids find their place and their connection to their community through participation in the arts. Developing Artists' signature innovation is the creation of REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, which unites an underserved segment of the theater community; one that celebrates the voices of young artists by inviting the best youth performing arts companies around to participate in an annual two-week festival. Developing Artists' Board of Directors includes David Zayas ("Gotham," "Dexter"), Ana Ortiz ("Ugly Betty," "Devious Maids") and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis (BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY, Co-Creator & Executive Producer of "The Get Down"), who all believe passionately in the organization's mission. (www.developingartists.org)

Dedicated to the creation and production of daring new plays and musicals, Vineyard Theatre has consistently premiered provocative, groundbreaking works, including Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman's INDECENT, now on Broadway, and over 90 world premiere plays and musicals across its 35 year history. The Vineyard's productions have been honored with two Pulitzer Prizes, five Tony Awards, and numerous Drama Desk, Obie, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards. The Vineyard launched its education program 17 years ago in collaboration with the Union Square Partnership, when a need was identified for arts curriculum support at nearby Washington Irving High School. The Vineyard has worked closely with teachers and students in the school since then, in recognition of which the theatre has been honored with the Cus D'Amato Community Service Award and the Harvest in the Square Award. Today, WIHS has transitioned into multiple smaller schools, three of which the theatre works closely with: Gramercy Arts, Union Square Academy for Health Science, and the Academy for Software Engineering. In 2016, The Vineyard partnered with the nonprofit Developing Artists (DA), who now serve as the theatre's Education Directors and teaching artists. The Vineyard's education program includes in-class arts instruction, field trips to matinee performances of contemporary plays at The Vineyard, master classes by guest artists, intensive theatre "boot camps" over spring and winter breaks, and The Vineyard Theatre Student Ensemble in which students write and perform work of their own. This year The Vineyard will host REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival and Vineyard Theatre Student Ensemble will be participating in the festival for the first time.

REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement / Creative Learning, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council(LMCC.net). Education programming at Vineyard Theatre is made possible by the support of the following institutions: The Bay and Paul Foundations, Tiger Baron Foundation, Inc., The Turrell Fund and individual donors.

Photo by Bobby Rodriguez

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