GENERATION NYZ Returns to La MaMa Beginning Jan. 24th
La MaMa presents a limited encore engagement of Ping Chong + Company's critically-acclaimed Generation NYZ at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E 4th St) from January 24 through February 3. This show features seven young people who bravely share their true stories on stage with affecting vulnerability, bold honesty and enduring spirit. Written and directed by Sara Zatz(Beyond Sacred, Secret Survivors) and Kirya Traber (PBS's First Person) in collaboration with the performers, Generation NYZ illuminates the challenges and joys of growing up in New York City. It was originally commissioned by The New Victory Theater where it premiered in January 2018.
From East New York to West Harlem and from the South Bronx to Far Rockaway, the cast, ranging in age from 19-23, represents and celebrates their Black, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, South Asian, and European culture and heritage. Through bold honesty and humor, intertwined with the pulse of New York City, they share the challenges of their past and hopes for their future. Their personal stories tackle some of the most pressing topics of today: depression, gender identity, sexuality, homelessness, immigration, bullying, and domestic violence.
"Undesirable Elements has taken me to places-geographic, psychic and spiritual-that I never imagined and it continues to inspire me," says Ping Chong, a 2017 Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow and National Medal of Arts recipient. "I know that in these difficult and unjust times, we need art and the power of storytelling more than ever
"Generation NYZ is a love letter to New York City, told by the young people who are going to write the next chapter of our city's future. The bravery and vulnerability of the cast is profoundly moving, and it was particularly powerful to see the show's impact on young audiences members, who saw their own stories reflected back at them. We are thrilled to be able to bring this show back to reach more people, and to bring it downtown to Ping Chong + Company's home-base at LaMaMa."," says co-writer and co-director Sara Zatz. For Generation NYZ, she and co-writer and co-director Kirya Traber approached over 50 community organizations and schools from all five boroughs, ultimately interviewing 20 young people and collecting over 50 hours of interviews to unpack all that makes New York City inclusive, gritty, determined and creative.
Designed as a chamber piece of storytelling, Ping Chong + Company's Undesirable Elements is the company's ongoing series of interview-based theater examining issues of culture and identity from the perspective of individuals who see themselves as outsiders within their community. Since 1992, there have been over 50 productions in the series, including Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity; Inside/Out...voices from the Disability Community; Secret Survivors; and Cry for Peace: Voices From the Congo.
Generation NYZ is conceived by Ping Chong, and written and directed by Sara Zatz and Kirya Traber in collaboration with the cast including Edwin Aguila, Monica Victoria Tatacoya Castañeda, Syl (Andrea) Egerton, Mohammad Murtaza, De-Andra Pryce, Porscha Polkahantis Rippy, and Rafael Rosario.
The production team includes Marika Kent (lighting design), Katherine Freer (projection design), Ernesto Valenzuela (sound designer), Courtney Golden(production associate), Hao Bai (projection operator), and Bruce Allardice (executive director).
Post-show conversations with the cast, members of the creative team, and local youth advocates will be held on January 26 and February 3.
Performances of Generation NYZ will take place January 24 - February 3 at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre, located at 66 E 4th Street. General admission tickets, which are priced $20-$25 plus $1 facility fee, are available at lamama.org and by calling OvationTix at 212.352.3101. The first ten tickets to every performance are available for only $10 each by using the code 10AT10.
The running time of Generation NYZ is 75 minutes with no intermission and is recommended for ages 12 and up.
Photo Credit: Alexis Buatti-Ramos