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The Bronx to Take the Spotlight in Working Theater's THE BLOCK at Urban Stages

Working Theater, the Off-Broadway company that in 2013 staged a production (about undocumented workers crossing the border to find work in this country) in the confines of an actual 48' trailer truck, will once again shed a unique light on a group of individuals rarely portrayed on stage. Under the direction of Artistic Producing Director Mark Plesent, the company will present THE BLOCK - a new play about community in the Bronx - which is no longer burning, but where life on the streets is as brutal as ever.

Written by Dan Hoyle, directed by Tamilla Woodard and developed with Maureen Towey & Tamilla Woodard, the production will begin previews on May 28th with an official opening on Tuesday, June 7th at 7:00PM. Performances will continue on through June 23rd at Urban Stages in Manhattan and venues in the other four boroughs. For more information, visit www.workingtheatre.org.

Based on conversations and interviews that took place for over two years in the South Bronx comes a piece that will change the way you look at New York. THE BLOCK examines a neighborhood in the South Bronx from the perspective of Dontrell, a Bronx native returning home from a failed romance with a woman upstate to find both his neighborhood and his group of friends changed. The play examines his struggle to fit in again and reconcile his past indiscretions with present life. From a uniquely New York perspective, THE BLOCK asks, "can we ever go home?"

Working Theater defies the perception that theater has to be in a certain venue or part of the city in order to be quality enough to be seen. THE BLOCK was developed in the Bronx, as Tamilla Woodard, Maureen Towney and Playwright Dan Hoyle worked closely with members of CASA who live in the Highbridge section, where New Settlement Apartments are located as well as interviewing people living near Dan Hoyle's apartment in the Melrose section of the South Bronx. CASA is a housing rights group that has been organizing in the neighborhood to push for changes in how housing court works (in particular trying to get NYC to be the first city in the country to guaranty legal representation in housing court.) FIVE BOROUGHS / ONE CITY artists have been particularly moved by the sense of self-actualization and hopefulness that being part of CASA has instilled in a group of people with fewer resources than most and who could feel disenfranchised, but instead feel connected and powerful.

Playwright Dan Hoyle's previous solo shows The Real Americans and Tings Dey Happen had critically acclaimed runs Off-Broadway (Culture Project, Joe's Pub at The Public Theater) toured the country and overseas (The Marsh, Berkeley Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Painted Bride in Philadelphia, The Lensic in Santa Fe, The Park Hotel in Calcutta, India and five cities in Nigeria on an official U.S. State Department tour), and received numerous awards (Will Glickman, Prize of Hope, Lucille Lortel nominee, Bay Area Theater Critics Circle). His multi-actor play Game On, written with Tony Taccone, was an Edgerton Award grantee and had its World Premiere at San Jose Rep in April 2014. Hoyle has been commissioned by The Aurora Theatre Company, SF Playhouse, First Person Arts, has had readings of his plays at The Public, Ashland Shakespeare Festival, and The Magic Theater, and has been awarded grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Pew Theater Initiative, the Fleishhacker Foundation, the Zellerbach Foundation, and the Circumnavigator's Club, among others. He has served as an artist-in-residence teacher and has taught workshops at colleges and theaters around the country. His essays have been featured in Salon, Mother Jones, and Sports Illustrated, among other publications. He holds a double degree in Performance Studies and History from Northwestern University. He lives in the South Bronx with his wife Lyra, a visual artist and art teacher in Bronx and Manhattan schools.

Director Tamilla Woodard is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, an alumnus of The Lincoln Center Directors Lab and founder of PopUp Theatrics, a partnership creating site impacting theatrical events in collaboration with theatre artists working around the globe. Most recent work: Long Distanace Affair: BA Edition, (Bienal Arte Joven Buenos Aires and PopUP Theatrics, Buenos Aires) INSIDE (PopUP Theatrics, Madrid, Spain;) La Ruta, by Ed Cardona Jr (Working Theater, NYC) With PopUP Theatrics: Long Distance Affair, an international collaboration for live Skype performance; Hotel Project, Co-Creator, world premiere in Querétaro Mexico in July 2011, American premiere at Washington Jefferson Hotel and the Summit Grand Hotel in January 2012; Other recent work includes, 3 Editions of Long Distance Affair, Edinburgh, Scotland, Querétaro, Mexico, New York, USA; DramaTour in Querétaro Mexico (Sabandijas del Palacio) Valiant by Lanna Joffrey at InterAct Theatre (Philadelphia, PA); Nightlands by Sylvan Oswald (New Georges,NYC) and the development and direction of Saviana Stanescu's Polanski Polanski (Teatrul Odeon, Bucharest; The Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Sibiu, TIFF International Festival, Cluj; PS122/SoloNOVA festival, HERE, NYC and The Chain, LIC, New York). She has directed for the Working Theater, HERE, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, PS122, DR 2, The Culture Project, Urban Stages, Dance Theatre Workshop, The Kitchen Theatre and for festivals around the US and internationally. She a recipient of The Charles Bowden Award from New Dramatists, The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women, New York Theatre Workshop Director Fellowship, New Georges Audrey Residency and a TCG On The Road Grant.

Maureen Towey directs live performance events. She works as a creative director for musicians such as Arcade Fire, Ray LaMontagne, and tUnE-yArDs. She has been recognized as a AOL/PBS MAKER, a Princess Grace fellow, a TCG Leadership U fellow, and a Fulbright scholar in South Africa. She is an ensemble member of Sojourn Theatre where she has directed Throwing Bones and Finding Penelope. Other theater highlights include The Saints Tour (River to River Festival), Three Sisters (Working Theater), Emergence (Foundry Theatre), Swallow What You Steal (ubom, South Africa), Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper, I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document...(Boise Contemporary Theatre). In 2014, she is premiering The Islands of Milwaukee with Sojourn and Black Mountain Songs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival.

THE BLOCK features: Clinton Lowe, Nathan Hinton, Flaco Navajo, Yvette Ganier and Robert Jimenez.

Performances of THE BLOCK begin on May 28th and continue through June 11th at Urban Stages and then go on a tour of the other boroughs. For performance dates and times, visit theworkingtheater.org/theblock.

Because the production is the first fully staged play to result from the company's ambitious FIVE BOROUGHS / ONE CITY initiative, the show will begin touring the boroughs when it concludes it's Manhattan run.

THE BLOCK will perform in Brooklyn on June 13th and June 14th at Ridgewood Bushwick Youth Center (1474 Gates Avenue), in Queens, June 16th and 17th at Local 3 IBEW Auditorium (158-11 Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Avenue); in the Bronx on June 18th and June 19th at the Pregones Theater (571 Walton Ave); and in Staten Island on June 21st and 23rd at Snug Harbour Cultural Center (10000 Richmond Terrace) in Staten Island.

The production's running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.

Tickets are $25 and available at theworkingtheater.org/theblock.


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