Venue Changes Announces For 5-Borough Tour Of NO BRAINER OR THE SOLUTION TO PARASITES
Theater for the New City's award-winning Street Theater Company will open its 43rd annual tour August 3 with "No Brainer or the Solution to Parasites," a rip-roaring musical which portrays our road to national madness as a bad trip to Hades. Free performances will tour parks, playgrounds and closed-off streets throughout the five boroughs through September 15. Book, lyrics and direction are by Crystal Field; the musical score is composed and arranged by Joseph Vernon Banks. (Schedule follows at bottom of this document.)
A Social Service Provider (working for the NYC Department of Social Services) is not interested in politics at all. He is fighting valiantly in the natural world to protect families facing eviction, children in temporary housing and immigrants struggling for citizenship. But the mythic world, headed by Mr. Pluto, is set on edge because a raging, somewhat drunk real estate magnate from a TV reality show has invaded its sacred sanctuary in Hades. There he has drunk deeply from the cauldron of woes--a vessel where the underworld gods cleanse a nation's soul by boiling out its historically tragic mis-steps, including those of genocide, slavery and war. Ravenous for notoriety, he slurps down the steamy stew, gobbling down all the horrors and recklessness to which our time is heir. The bubbling brew, extracted from the garbage of history, is full of parasites, which infect his brain and direct the would-be dictator/strongman toward the highest office in the land.
The heroic Social Worker accepts the challenge of helping to save the world from this grandiose charlatan. But he can't just chant, "Circle, circle, dot, dot - now you've got the cootie shot!" Our champion must survive the horror of Russian spies, drone warfare, faceless armies and man-made climate change. What ensues is a battle of light and dark, respect and protection versus corruption and power madness. Finally, in closing the borders, the imperious fraudster becomes embedded in his own Wall and finally repents. We learn that his businesses owe so much money that they are bankrupt and he is actually stone cold broke and homeless. He grovels for the succor of public assistance and--surprise!--the Social Worker takes his case. He will find him a home! Mister Pluto arrives to reveal that he, too, is a social worker. The Underworld Gods, together with the Social Worker, will take care of this mythical ogre down below. They will find him a home in the cauldron of historical garbage. Up above, the people dance! Once again we have saved our planet and our history through brother-and-sisterhood, and through history we have saved ourselves.
The production will be staged with an elaborate assemblage of trap doors, giant puppets, smoke machines, masks, original choreography and a huge (9' x 12') running screen or "cranky" providing continuous moving scenery behind the actors. The company of 30 actors, ten crew members, two stage managers, three assistant directors and five live musicians (led by the composer at the keyboard) will share the challenge of performing outside and holding a large, non-captive audience. The music will vary in style from Bossa Nova to Hip Hop to Musical Comedy to classical Cantata. The play is a bouncy joyride through the undulations of the body politic, with astute commentary couched in satire, song and slapstick.
TNC's free street theater productions are delightfully suited for family audiences, since complex social issues are often presented through children's allegories, with children and neighborhood people as the heroes.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Author/director Crystal Field began writing street theater in 1968 as a member of Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia. She wrote and performed her own outdoor theater pieces against the Vietnam War and also curated and performed many poetry programs for the Philadelphia Public Schools. There she found tremendous enthusiasm and comprehension on the part of poor and minority students for both modern and classical poetry when presented in a context of relevancy to current issues. She realized that for poetry to find its true audience, the bonds of authoritarian criticism must and can be transcended. Her earliest New York street productions were playlets written in Philadelphia and performed on the flatbed truck of Bread and Puppet Theater in Central Park. Peter Schumann, director of that troupe, was her first NY artistic supporter.
In 1971, Ms. Field became a protégé of Robert Nichols, founder of the Judson Poets Theater in Manhattan, and of Peter Schuman, founder of Bread and Puppet Theater. It is an interesting historic note that "The Expressway" by Robert Nichols, directed by Crystal Field (a Street theater satire about Robert Moses' plan for a throughway to run across Little Italy from the West Side Highway to the FDR Drive) was actually the first production of Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. Nichols wrote street theater plays for TNC in its early years, but as time went on, wrote scenarios and only the first lines of songs, leaving Field to "fill in the blanks." When Nichols announced his retirement to Vermont in 1975, he urged Field to "write your own." The undertaking, while stressful at first, became the impetus for her to express her own topical political philosophy and to immerse her plays in that special brand of humor referred to often as "that brainy slapstick." Her first complete work was "Mama Liberty's Bicentennial Party" (1976), in honor of the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution.
Field has an associate's degree in Dance from Juilliard and a BA in Philosophy form Hunter College.
TNC Street Theater's leading actor is and has been Michael David Gordon, a teacher and performer with Irondale Theatre Company who is also bandleader of a performance group which performs classic rock in the subways.
Field has written and directed a completely new opera for the TNC Street Theater company each successive year. She collaborated for eleven years with composer Mark Hardwick, whose "Pump Boys and Dinettes" and "Oil City Symphony" were inspired by his street theater work with Ms. Field. At the time of his death from AIDS in 1994, he was writing a clown musical with Field called "On the Road," which was never finished. One long-running actor in TNC street theater was Tim Robbins, who was a member of the company for six years in the 1980s, from age twelve to 18.
The Village Halloween Parade, which TNC produced single-handedly for the Parade's first two years, grew out of the procession which preceded each Street Theater production. Ralph Lee, who created the Parade with Ms. Field, was chief designer for TNC's Street Theater for four years before the Village Halloween Parade began.
Field has also written for TNC's annual Halloween Ball and for an annual Yuletime pageant that was performed outdoors for 2,000 children on the Saturday before Christmas. She has written two full-length indoor plays, "Upstate" and "One Director Against His Cast." She is Executive Director of TNC.
Composer Joseph-Vernon Banks has written original music for the TNC street theater productions "SHAME! Or The Doomsday Machine," "Checks and Balances, or Bottoms Up!," "Teach it Right, or Right to Teach," "EMERGENCY!!! or The World Takes A Selfie," "99% "Reduced Fat, or, You Can Bank On Us," "Bamboozled, or the Real Reality Show," "Tap Dance," "State Of The Union," "The Patients Are Running The Asylum," "Bio-Tech," "Code Orange: on the M15," "Social Insecurity," "Buckle My Shoe" and "Gone Fission: Alternative Power," all with book and lyrics by Crystal Field. His other TNC productions include music and lyrics for "Life's Too Short To Cry" by Michael Vazquez. His awards include a Meet The Composer Grant, the ASCAP Special Awards Program, and a fellowship from the Tisch Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU. His musical "Girlfriends!" premiered at The Goodspeed Opera House. He has been a composer-in-residence in The Tribeca Performing Arts Center Work and Show Series and is a member of The Dramatists Guild.
SCHEDULE (AS OF JULY 23)
VENUE CHANGES ARE HIGHLIGHTED
Saturday, August 3 - 2 PM - Manhattan - TNC, East 10th Street at 1st Avenue
Sunday, August 4 - 2 PM - Bronx - St. Mary's Park, 147th Street & St. Ann's Avenue
Sunday, August 4 - 2 PM - Bronx - Pontiac Playground, 450 St. Ann's Avenue
Saturday, August 10 - 2PM - Manhattan - Tompkins Square Park at E. 7th St. & Avenue A
Saturday, August 10 - 2PM - Manhattan - St. Marks Church, East 10th Street at 2nd Avenue
Sunday, August 11 - 2 PM - Manhattan - Central Park Bandshell, 72nd Street Crosswalk
Friday, August 16 - 6:30 PM - Brooklyn - Coney Island Boardwalk at West 10th Street
Saturday, August 17 - 2 PM - Brooklyn - Maria Hernandez Park at Knickerbocker Ave &, Starr St, Brooklyn
Sunday, August 18 - 2 PM - Manhattan - Jackie Robinson Park, West 147th Street & Bradhurst Avenue
Saturday, August 24 - 2 PM - Brooklyn - Sunset Park at 6th Ave. and 44th Street
Sunday, August 25 - 2 PM - Queens - Travers Park, 34th Avenue Between 77th and 78th Street
Saturday, September 7 - 2 PM - Manhattan - Washington Square Park
Sunday, September 8 - 2 PM - Manhattan - Sol Bloom Park, 32 W 92nd Street Upper West Side
Sunday, September 8 - 2 PM - Manhattan - Sol Bloom Park, W. 91st Street betw Columbus & CPW
Saturday, Sept. 14 - 2 PM - Staten Island - Corporal Thompson Park, B'way & Wayne St., West New Brighton
Sunday, September 15 - 2 PM - Manhattan - St. Marks Church, East 10th Street at 2nd Avenue
Sunday, September 15 - 2 PM - Manhattan - Manhattan - Tompkins Square Park at E. 7th St. & Avenue