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Metropolitan’s Sixth Annual Living Literature Fest Features Harlem Renaissance

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Metropolitan Playhouse hosts The Harlem Renaissance Festival, the theater's sixth annual Living Literature Festival of performances inspired by the lives and works of American authors. The Festival is a collection of seven new works by artists and companies from near and far taking their inspiration from The Harlem Renaissance. Performances take place daily from January 17 to 30 at Metropolitan Playhouse, 220 East Fourth Street.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.metropolitanplayhouse.org, or by phone at 212 995 5302.

The Harlem Renaissance Festival includes musical, poetic, one-act and full-length plays ranging from adaptations to biographical fantasy. Rather than an exhaustive survey of the literature of the period, The Harlem Renaissance Festival is a deep exploration of several well- and lesser-known artists and their oeuvre. All in all each new work is presented four times over the festival. (Project descriptions and schedule follow.)
Artists and figures featured include poets Langston Hughes, Georgia Doulas Johnson, Countee Cullen, Angelina Grimke, and Paul Laurence Dunbar; composers Duke Ellington, Fats Waller; journalist and activist Marcus Garvey, as well as surprising personages such as enterprising purveyer of good eats, Pig Foot Mary, and librarian Belle da Costa Greene-first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library.
Additional events include readings of salient works, and discussions with contemporary artists and scholars.
Artist participants in the festival include Danny Ashkenasi (beTwixt, beTween & be TWAIN "Evocative and exciting ... gorgeous ... beautiful ... A musical voice that commands attention" - nytheatre.com" ); Leah Maddrie (O'Neill Conference semi-finalist, EST Sloan Foundation commission); Daniel Carlton (Artistic Director of Committed Artists of Color); students from the Newburgh Performing Arts Academy; David Lally (Little Edie and the Marble Faun "[a] touching examination of memory and loss." - Backstage); Juliane Hiam (writer-in-residence at MassMOCA; A Tanglewood Tale - Melvilapalooza); and Xoregos Performing Company.

Previous years' festivals were the Poefest (2006), Twainathon (2007), Hawthornucopia (2008-"exhilarating"--nytheatre.com), and Melvillapalooza (2009 "divine.... put the life and works of Melville in a new light" - New Theatre Corps), and Another Sky (2010). Metropolitan Playhouse explores America's theatrical and cultural moment. Metropolitan has earned accolades from The New York Times, The Village Voice, BackStage, and nytheatre.com. Recent noted productions include Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Drunkard, Dodsworth, The Return of Peter Grimm, Year One of the Empire, The Pioneer: 5 plays by Eugene O'Neill, Denial and The Melting Pot.

Tickets are $18.00 per show. Student and senior discounts are $15.00. Children under 18 $10.00. TDF vouchers are accepted. Visit www.metropolitanplayhouse.org for more information and to purchase tickets online or call 212 995 5302

PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS

The Blues According to Langston Hughes
by Danny Ashkenasi; a Frederic Byers Productions production
More than 30 songs adapting nearly 60 of Langston Hughes' poems. A musical journey of the African-American experience in the 20th Century evoking the drama and emotions of the times. Composed by Danny Ashkenasi, composer of Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!, beTwixt, beTween & beTWAIN and The Tell-Tale Heart - a musicabre.

Harlem On My Mind
A production of the Xoregos Performing Company
Four new plays, set between 1920-1939 and authentic songs and poems from the Harlem Renaissance by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Langston Hughes and others performed by a dynamic cast of six.


A Block of Time, pt. 1: Pigfoot Mary Says Goodbye to the Harlem Renaissance
by Daniel Carlton

A verse reminiscence of one of Harlem's most successful early entrepreneurs, Pig Foot Mary, whose "eats" stand at 135th and Leonox Avenue served and touched the likes of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Marcus Garvey, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

The White Person's Guide to the Harlem Renaissance
by David Lally; produced by The Oxy-Morons
A mirthful and sarconic journey through Harlem from the creator of "Little Edie & The Marble Faun" ("an unexpectedly touching examination of memory and loss" -- Backstage) and "The Real Housewives of the 19th Century" ("VERY FUNNY--thanks to the clever script and great cast with impeccable comedy timing." -- HI! Drama)

Belle of the Books
By Juliane Hiam

A dream play in the the heart and mind of Belle da Costa Greene, the first librarian and director of the Pierpont Morgan Library in Manhattan, who concealed her own heritage, including her father-the first African American to graduate Harvard.

Chasing Heaven

By Leah Maddrie

A Pulitzer Prize-winning black female author tangles with the lively ghost of a white male Tin Alley legend when she tries to reinvent his controversial musical work Chasin' Hebbin.

A Tribute to Langston Hughes

Created and performed by The Newburgh Performing Arts Academy Teen Theatre Ensemble

Directed by Paul Kwame Johnson, ten teens from the City of Newburgh, New York use mime, movement and creative staging to help enhance the emotional impact of the poet's intent. Eleven of Mr. Hughes' most famous poems are featured.
Special Price: $15 Adults; $12 Seniors/Students; $10 Children under 18

 


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