Marchánt Davis, Gizel Jimenez & More to be Featured in The New Group's FREEFEST

The festival will provide a public platform for artists to showcase their creative expression and further their writing process. 

By: Jun. 01, 2023
Marchánt Davis, Gizel Jimenez & More to be Featured in The New Group's FREEFEST

The New Group will present the debut of FreeFest, a weeklong festival of FREE play readings and panel discussions, featuring new works that embrace radical expression.  The festival, a new venture in The New Group/New Works program, will provide a public platform for artists to showcase their creative expression and further their writing process. 

  

Conceived and curated by The New Group’s Director of Artistic Projects Shariffa Ali, the inaugural festival will feature free readings of two plays and one musical: Culture Shock, by Gloria Majule, directed by Shariffa Ali; Bocking by Preston Crowder, directed by Stevie Walker-Webb; and Rocky Mountain High: A New Comedy Musical, with Book & Lyrics by Kia Beth Kofron & Cooper Kofron and Music by Mark Hollmann & Drew Gasparini, directed by Marc Acito. The Artistic Producer of Freefest is Adrian Alea.  

FreeFest readings will feature Malachi Beasley, Shuga Cain, Marchánt Davis, Rebecca L. Hargrove, Amandla Jahava, Gizel Jimenez, PJ Johnnie, Abigail Onwunali, Brad Oscar, Nomé Sidone, Sis, Jason Tam, Aurelia Williams, and others to be announced. Additional information about these works is below. 

   

A dedicated panel discussion will accompany each reading, giving a forum for artists and audiences to engage with the themes and issues highlighted in each work. 

Shariffa Ali shares, “It is with excitement and joy that I get to share three exceptional stories by artists of extraordinary ability. For me, the theater is the place where we can be our most brave and daring selves. Each of these pieces seek to do just that. I hope you will join us and give Gloria, Cooper, Kia, Mark, Drew and Preston a radically hospitable welcome.” 

  

Shariffa Ali's vision for this new festival is inspired, and an ideal way forward for The New Group's ongoing commitment to brilliant emerging artists - like those featured this year - getting to stretch and explore new territory.  It's easy to imagine FreeFest continuing to be an important part of our development process,” says Scott Elliott, The New Group’s Artistic Director. 

  

The New Group/New Works development program focuses on the nurturing and development of new plays and musicals.  A core tenant of this program is to build and facilitate lasting relationships between The New Group, artists, and audiences who connect through theater that is adventurous, stimulating, and socially relevant.  This program has become a vital incubator for emerging and established playwrights, and serves as the primary pipeline for world premieres at The New Group.  Public reading festivals have long been a part of the program’s developmental process.  This is the first reading festival produced by The New Group since 2020’s Face the Rising Tide Festival in partnership with Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC). 

FreeFest runs June 14 – 16, with readings taking place at 4:00pm on each day.  All readings and panel discussions will take place in The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036).  Readings are free and all are invited. Reservations are required as space is limited.  To learn more, visit thenewgroup.org/FreeFest. 

  

Culture Shock 

by Gloria Majule 

directed by Shariffa Ali 

with Malachi Beasley, Amandla Jahava, Abigail Onwunali, Nomé Sidone and others. 

Wednesday, June 14 at 4:00PM 

  

Buddies Zahra and Hawi, two brilliant Ivy League students from East Africa, experience new levels of (dis)orientation in a whirl of competitive placements and pledge parties. Culture Shock is written by Gloria Majule, and directed by Shariffa Ali

  

  

Rocky Mountain High: A New Comedy Musical 

Book & Lyrics by Kia Beth Kofron & Cooper Kofron 

Music by Mark Hollmann & Drew Gasparini 

Directed by Marc Acito 

With Shuga Cain, Gizel Jimenez, Brad Oscar, Jason Tam, Aurelia Williams, and others. 

Thursday, June 15 at 4:00PM 

  

In this satirical musical comedy, a sports-obsessed high school tackles budget cuts by converting their state-of-the-art football stadium into a pot farm.  Rocky Mountain High features book &lyrics by Kia Beth Kofron & Cooper Kofron and music by Mark Hollmann & Drew Gasparini, and directed by Marc Acito

  

  

Bocking 

by Preston Crowder 

Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb 

With Marchánt Davis, Rebecca L. Hargrove, PJ Johnnie, Sis, and others. 

Friday, June 16 at 4:00PM 

  

After an alarming incident between their young children, two very different couples must confront their taboo secrets and guilty pleasures. Bocking is written by Preston Crowder and directed by Stevie Walker-Webb

  

The Pershing Square Signature Center

is the permanent home of Signature Theatre, is a three-theatre facility on West 42nd Street designed by Frank Gehry Architects to host Signature’s three distinct playwrights’ residencies and foster a cultural community. The Center is a major contribution to New York City’s cultural landscape and provides a venue for cultural organizations that supports and encourages collaboration among artists throughout the space.  In addition to its three intimate theatres, the Center features a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, a bookstore, and the Signature Cafe + Bar, open to the public from noon-midnight Tuesdays –Sundays.  For more information on renting the Center, please visit www.signaturetheatre.org/rentals. 

The New Group

(Scott Elliott, Founding Artistic Director; Adam Bernstein, Executive Director) is an award-winning, artist-driven company with a commitment to developing and producing powerful, contemporary theater.  The organization’s New Group/New Works play and musical development program champions original works by emerging and established authors.  The New Group Off Stage celebrates work at the intersection of art, multimedia and social engagement by showcasing some of today’s most compelling storytellers through web series, films, audio plays and more.  The New Group also operates a variety of theater education programs from teen acting ensembles to college access programs, and a college-level acting studio in collaboration with Long Island University-Brooklyn.   

Ahead this season from The New Group Off Stage is the world premiere of Lypsinka: Toxic Femininity, a new film written and performed by John Epperson and directed by Chloë Sevigny. 

On stage the company is currently represented by Bernarda’s Daughters by Diane Exavier, directed by Dominique Rider and co-produced by National Black Theatre. Previously this season, the company presented Will Arbery’s Evanston Salt Costs Climbing, directed by Danya Taymor, and the world premiere of Thomas Bradshaw’s The Seagull/Woodstock, NY directed by Scott Elliott.  
 



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