Downtown Urban Arts Festival Announces 2019 Artist Line-Up

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The Downtown Urban Arts Festival today announced its 2019 artist line-up for the 17th annual multi-disciplinary arts festival showcasing music, poetry, live theater and film. The five-week Downtown Urban Arts Festival performs April 11-May 18 at Joe's Pub, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Wild Project and Tribeca Film Center, respectively.

The original festival, conceived as a theater series, was founded in 2001 and curated by artistic director Reg E. Gaines (Tony Award-nominated playwright and Grammy Award-nominated lyricist for Bring in da' Noise, Bring in da' Funk) with the mission to build a repertoire of new American Playwrights that echoed the true spirit of urban life and spoke to a new generation whose lives defy categorization along conventional lines. That mission has since been realized in more than 200 new plays created and refined for the stage by more than 170 writers from a burgeoning multicultural landscape. The addition of poetry, music and international film selections has positioned the Downtown Urban Arts Festival (DUAF) as a unique cultural blend of other festivals' offerings such as the NY Fringe Festival, Toronto Film Festival and SXSW.

MUSIC - R&B and Billboard Top 100 Dance Club recording artist Cece Peniston known for "Finally" - her #1 hit single and 1991 classic dance club anthem - opens the festival with a one-night only concert event of her iconic 90s music on Thursday, April 11 at 9:30 PM (doors open at 9 PM) at Joe's Pub at The Public Theater (425 Lafayette Street). Tickets are $35.

POETRY - The community poetry slam event, Words Matter, is a forum for current social issues where local poets and audience members alike recite their best poems and compete for a cash prize totaling $200. Words Matter is hosted by Jaime Lee Lewis, 2016 Nuyorican Slam Champion and will be held on Saturday, April 13 from 7 PM - 9 PM (sign-up begins at 6:30PM) at Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 East 3rd Street). Tickets are $12.

THEATER - The live theater series will feature new works for the stage by 18 playwrights at The Wild Project (195 East 3rd Street) from Wednesday, April 24 to Saturday, May 11. Tickets are $20. The theater schedule follows:

The Delay by Ledia Xhoga - Wednesday, April 24 at 8 PM

While commuting to work, Peter meets a stranger who seems to know everything about him. Can this mysterious encounter be exactly what he needs?

Black and Ugly as Ever by Porsha Olayiwola - Wednesday, April 24 at 8 PM

A one-person "choreo-poem" that explores what it means to move through reality as a queer, fat, dark-skinned woman.

Ridin' Shotgun by Juan Ramirez, Jr. - Thursday, April 25 at 8 PM

Two friends go through an emotional journey as they contemplate avenging the murder of one of their sisters.

Gambled Eggs by Victoria Moy - Friday, April 26 at 8 PM

Two sisters "hatch" a plan and take a gamble of their own to save their family from ruin when their father's gambling debts brings a henchman to their door.

The Quiet Zone by Augusto Federico Amador - Saturday, April 27 at 8 PM

A middle-aged recluse, living in West Virginia, is confronted by the consequences of being an absent mother when her estranged daughter suddenly arrives.

Flinted by Emma McFarland - Wednesday, May 1 at 8 PM

Flinted focuses on the issue of Flint, Michigan's drinking water.

Paper Towels by Nelson Diaz-Marcano - Wednesday, May 1 at 8 PM

A man that lost everything in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is about to attack the people of the government that left them forgotten. The only thing standing between him and this heinous act? His cousin and an Echo Dot.

Growl by J. Lois Diamond - Thursday, May 2 at 8 PM

A poet is heading to Paris to read her work when she is detained in the Tehran airport. Despite being 82 and almost blind, she is interrogated throughout the night. Will her principles prove to be stronger than her fears?

Buzzkill by Rollin Jewett - Thursday, May 2 at 8 PM

A foreign refugee with a frightful agenda confronts an American looking to have a good time in Amsterdam.

Escalator by Janet Onyenucheya - Friday, May 3 at 8 PM

The coming-of-age story of a Nigerian-American girl living in the Bronx whilst navigating through depression, poverty, self-rejection, and existential questioning.

Love/Fantasy by Tommy Jamerson - Saturday, May 4 at 8 PM

A story of four harrowing accounts of sexual assault and survival told through the perspectives of Cory and Anna, two friends attempting to write a play touching on the current #MeToo movement.

Something True by David Beardsley - Saturday, May 4 at 8 PM

Two young lovers on the cusp of a momentous decision navigate the tricky waters of intimacy.

Call and Response by Marcus Scott - Wednesday, May 8 at 8 PM

Call-And-Response ?explores race relations in America, white male privilege, dog-whistle politics, swatting and police brutality.

In the Name of Us by Ruoxin Xu - Wednesday, May 8 at 8 PM

Four Chinese young women, who live in four different countries, suddenly realize the influence that their names give them while individually experiencing some important moments in their life.

Raghead by Tom Coash - Thursday, May 9 at 8 PM

A New York City firefighter and a woman wearing an Islamic veil go on a blind date. Will sparks fly?

In the Palace of the Planet King by Edwin Rivera-Arias - Thursday, May 9 at 8 PM

Two streeted-down been-around men and a crawling mute find themselves locked away in a bleak and sinister institution they can't puzzle out. Soon enough, it dawns on them that the game's been fixed at jump street. In other words, they might be doomed to a life sentence - and wouldn't you know it? There ain't a parole board in sight...

Story and Her by Josh Drimmer - Friday, May 10 at 8 PM

A middle-aged seducer has a story to tell, a story about the only woman who ever interested him as much as himself. A story that is going to hurt to tell, especially since she's not around.

Veils by Steven A. Butler, Jr. - Saturday, May 11 at 8 PM

An exploration of the lives of women who have been affected by the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements.

FILM - The independent film series will screen film shorts by 16 filmmakers from seven countries, presented at the Tribeca Film Center (375 Greenwich Street) from Wednesday, May 15 to Saturday, May 18. Tickets are $15. The film schedule follows:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 7 PM


A guy lives with his smartphone in his hand, but something goes wrong.

Directed by Gianluca Manzetti

I AM, I AM (14 min) CANADA

A filmmaker struggles with identity after being assaulted by a director she admires.

Directed by Sebastian Back


While in the middle of their fight to find a surrogate mother in Russia, a Spanish gay couple realizes there is a deep wound in their relationship.

Directed by Pablo Gómez Castro

FACE OFF (14 min) USA

Two young competitors battle to overcome insurmountable obstacles and end up going head to head in a fight that changes their lives forever.

Directed by Nino Aldi

Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 7 PM


Roman deals with alcohol and economical problems. The meeting with Mel will make him wonder about who he his, and what he would like to change in his life.

Directed by Daniela Lucato


On a quiet evening at home a couple test prototype biohacking technology, unaware of the dangers it poses.

Directed by Daniel Sharp

WATCH ME (9 min) USA

A young girl trapped in a cage of self-doubt finds the courage to break out into the unknown world around her to follow her dream of love.

Directed by Lesya Malskaya


An introspection of freedom, counter-culture and identity through the minds of raw battle b-boys in the Bay Area.

Directed by Jun Bae


Friday, May 17, 2019 at 7 PM

FENCED (23 min) USA

After the detention of a trailer truck carrying illegal immigrants goes wrong, a border patrol officer opens fire and ends up killing a little child. The officer will have to decide between his duty or the chance to help the mother that wants to say goodbye to her child.

Directed by Rodrigo Zan

THE ONE (7 min) USA

David is struggling to get over his ex Tia. In order to catch up on sleep he starts to take sleeping pills. Now constantly reliving their memories in his dreams, he must decide which place he wants to stay.

Directed by Tony Batchler, Jr.


After losing his brother in a jump, Oscar decides to confront his grief in the same way. Fighting against his own demons and torments, he will understand that the most important thing is not to forget but to forgive.

Directed by Samuel Olivarez


After the tragic passing of a former softball teammate, a young woman returns to her hometown to attend the funeral. There, she encounters an unpleasant figure from her past.

Directed by David Fu and Thomas Byrnes

Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 7 PM


A young writer meets a mysterious woman with a deep secret that will change his life forever.

Directed by Kleber Macedo


A death row prison chef reflects on his life and perfects an old recipe.

Directed by Anthony Almonte


Andy, a 20 years old thoughtful guy, comes back to his hometown after the death of his father, Abraham, a famous chameleon expert. When he arrives, he discovers that his dad left his laboratory full of chameleons to him. Since Abraham constantly neglected Andy to look after his green creatures, the young guy has subconsciously adopted Chameleon features.

Directed by Alessio Marzilli


An 11-year-old girl learns to fend for herself while her undocumented mother spirals in fear of being deported.

Directed by Paola Ossa


Festival tickets range in price from $12-$35 and can be purchased via

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