Click Here for More Articles on NEW YORK CITY

International Human Rights Art Festival Kicks Off Today at Dixon Place

International Human Rights Art Festival Kicks Off Today at Dixon Place

Playwright Mashuq Deen (New Dramatists Fellow 2022) brings the story of his own transgender journey as a member of a traditional South Asian family and Playwright Catherine Filloux, winner of more than 40 awards for playwriting, activism and peace work, brings her latest work to the stage at New York City's first arts-advocacy festival of its kind, the International Human Rights Art Festival.

Presented by The Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, co-sponsored and housed at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, NYC), the Festival will take place this weekend, March 3-5, 2017. Tickets are Free-$25 and are now available online with full schedule and participant information at

All works are advocacy-based, and treat a specific issue of concern -- of even more concern now, with the recent political transfer of power!

Deen and Filloux are joined by the award-winning collective Superhero Clubhouse, Grammy-nominated Alika Hope and the Ray of Hope Project, long-time NYC spoken word collective Poetic People Power, Ari Gold, America's first openly gay popstar and winner of numerous national awards.

The International Human Rights Art Festival unites over 70 artists in Arts Advocacy producing more than 40 events. The Festival will use passionate, tough, unforgiving beauty to create social energy to catalyze collective action on social concerns, promote equality for racial, ethnic and religious groups, advocate for specific policy change in issues such as climate change, LGBT and disability laws, religious tolerance and other issues. Additionally, it will use workshops, discussions and other hands-on activities to inspire nearly 2000 audience members (including child participants in the "kidsfest") to learn how to use their own creative agency to advocate for positive policy changes and realize their power and capacity for greater civic engagement.

Featured playwright Catherine Filloux (Kidnap Road) noted, "I am thrilled to be participating in the International Human Rights Arts Festival. President Santos of Colombia was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his peace building work in Colombia [the theme treated by Catherine's play], and we hope that Kidnap Road can open up a discussion about the importance of arts advocacy right now."

Draw the Circle by Mashuq Deen

New Dramatists Fellow (2022) Mashuq Deen presents his hilarious and deeply moving story of conservative Muslim mother at her wits end, a Muslim father who likes to tell jokes, and a queer American woman trying to make a good impression on her Indian in-laws. One immigrant family must come to terms with a child who defies their most basic expectations of what it means to have a daughter... and one woman will redefine the limits of unconditional love. This unique show compassionately brings to life the often ignored struggle that a family goes through when their child transitions from one gender to another.

Saturday, March 4, at 7:00 pm

Kidnap Road by Catherine Filloux

Catherine Filloux, a French-American playwright who has received awards from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, the O'Neill, the MAP Fund, and the Asian Cultural Council and many more, will present her latest activist piece of theater, Kidnap Road. While Ingrid Betancourt, a former senator and anti-corruption activist, was running for President of Colombia in 2002, she was kidnapped by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, a Marxist revolutionary terrorist organization, better known as FARC. This story is a theatrical imagining based on those events. TV/Film/Theater U.S. actress Kimber Riddle, also artistic associate with Anna Deavere Smith, brought this project to award-winning playwright Filloux, after Riddle played the lead in Filloux's play about gender-based violence Luz, at La MaMa.

Sunday, March 5, at 2:00 pm

PLUTO (No Longer a Play) by Superhero Clubhouse

Superhero Clubhouse will be previewing its latest work, in which three humans have uncovered The Remains of an unremarkable play that no longer exists. The fragments seem to suggest a story about a unicorn, a magician, and a knight, all undergoing mortal changes. The three reconstruct and enact their findings, searching for hope among the bones. An allegory about extinction inspired by Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn and the science of the Anthropocene. Superhero Clubhouse is an award-winning, (Rauschenberg Foundation, Drama League, LMCC etc.) New York-based collective of artists and scientists working at the intersection of environmentalism and theater.

Sunday, March 5, at 5:30 pm

Poetic People Power

Now in its fifteenth year, Poetic People Power is an ongoing project that combines poetry and social change. They present informative and engaging poetry shows collected around specific and vital issues that affect our everyday lives. In addition to annual shows, they also bring their work to schools, festivals, and perform at non-profit fundraisers. PPP will present a selection of their best work from the past 15 thematic, activist shows.

Saturday, March 4, at 8:30 pm

Ray of Hope Project

Helmed by singer and actress Alika Hope, The Ray of Hope Project uses historical accounts of successful African Americans and primary source readings to teach about slavery in 19th century America.

Saturday, Marvh 4, at 12:15 pm

PopOut by Ari Gold

America's first openly gay pop star will bring his one-man, autobiographical piece exploring his metamorphosis from an Orthodox Jewish child advertising and singing star to pop star. Gold has won the Out Music Award for Outstanding Debut Recording, The 7th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best R&B Song, the 13th Annual USA Songwriting Competition and has opened for Rupaul, Chaka Khan, and numerous other tours, awards and accolades.

Sunday, March 5, at 7:00 pm

Mary Speaks by Angela Polite

In MARY SPEAKS, the life of biblical figure Mary, the mother of Jesus, is used to explore parallels in the history of black mothers and their sons from slavery to present day. Mother Mary becomes a prototype for the struggle of black mothers to raise and keep their sons alive in a society where their very existence is a threat.

Saturday, March 4, at 1:30 pm

Duck by Tom Block

Festival Producer Tom Block will show the latest iteration of his play "Duck," which follows the tale of Duck (Billy), who has reached the end of his rope and only communicates by quacking. After a career in the CIA, which has led to a downward emotional spiral, he finds himself on a park bench, which happens to be the home of his older brother Crumb (John), who was also once a CIA operative and Duck's boss. Crumb drags his brother on a voyage through Duck's past, so he can understand how he found himself there, without faith. Block, also an award-winning visual artist and author, has had his plays read and produced at Off and Off-Off Broadway venues over the past few years.

Saturday, March 4, at 5:00 pm

Uproot by Julia Levine

Written by Festival Assistant Producer Julia Levine, Uproot is a new ensemble production exploring the Western food system. A meditation on where our food comes from and how we got to be disconnected from its source, Uproot merges non-linear narrative with tropes from twenty-first century life. A ten-minute extract of Uproot (entitled Our Food At Work) premiered at Manhattan Repertory Theatre in August 2016. Levine is also a director and educator, and is involved with various downton theatre companies.

Saturday, March 4, at 3:00 pm


Producer TOM BLOCK, a 20-year activist painter, author, playwright and arts producer, as well as creator of the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival (MD, 2010) is bringing the concept to NYC, with the 2017 International Human Rights Art Festival. The event is part of the growing number of initiatives of the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, which Mr. Block founded last year to teach, learn from, and work with New York's activist artist community.

MASHUQ MUSHTAQ DEEN is an award-winning, queer theater artist and a resident playwright at New Dramatists (class of 2022). Full-length plays: The Shaking Earth, Draw the Circle, Tank & Horse, and Shut Up! Deen's plays have been produced and/or developed by New Dramatists, The Public Theater, NYTW, InterAct Theatre, Page73, Ma-Yi, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Georgetown University, BEAT Festival, PACE University, Hampshire College, Averett University, Dixon Place, Passage Theatre, Queens Theatre in the Park, Tofte Lake Center, Berkshire Fringe. Awards and Grants: Helene Wurlitzer's Chesley/Bumbalo Foundation Award, MacDowell Colony's Arch an Bruce Brown Fellow (2015-16), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow; Fellowships: MacDowell Colony Fellow (2015), Bogliasco Foundation Fellow (2016), Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Fellow (2016), New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow; Writing Groups: Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group (2009), Page73 Interstate writing group (2014); Other: Jerome New York Fellowship finalist, O'Neill Conference semifinalist, Weissberger Award nomination, Playwrights Center Core Writers Finalist, James Baldwin Award, Dennis Johnston Playwriting Prize honorable mention, Literary Committee of Queens Theatre (2014-15). Teaching Artist:Lower Manhattan Cultural Council SPARC Fellow, Community Voices Workshop with Second Generation Theatre, Mind the Gap (NYTW), and various colleges/universities while touring with Draw the Circle. Member: NYTW Usual Suspect, Ma-Yi Writers Lab, Public Theater Alumni Writers Group, Dramatists Guild. He earned his MFA from The Actors Studio Drama School/New School for Drama. He is represented by the Gurman Agency LLC.

CATHERINE FILLOUX is an award-winning playwright who has been writing about human rights and social justice for over twenty years. Recent productions include: Selma '65, her play about the civil rights movement and the KKK, at La MaMa in New York City, where she is an Artist in Residence; Selma '65 toured the country through 2016. Luz also premiered at La MaMa and played at Looking for Lilith in Louisville, Kentucky. Luz is published by NoPassport Press. Catherine went on an overseas reading tour to Sudan and South Sudan organized by the University of Iowa's International Writing Program; and her play The Beauty Inside was produced in Northern Iraq, in the Kurdish language, by ArtRole. Filloux has been commissioned by the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) to write the libretto for composer Olga Neuwirth's Orlando, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf. The premiere is scheduled for December 2019. She was the Playwright Facilitator for the 8th Annual International Playwright Retreat at La MaMa Umbria in Italy. Catherine is on the Advisory Board and an Editor for Alexander Street Press's Human Rights Studies Online Collection. In Development: Musical All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go with Composer Jimmy Roberts (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) and John Daggett (Lemkin's House), based on her play; and a new play Kidnap Road; directed by Stan Cahill, starring Kimber Riddle and Steve Guevara, sound design by Darren R. Sussman, movement coach Michael L. Thomas. Catherine has joined the faculty at Vassar College in the Department of Drama as the Playwriting Instructor. Filloux's commissioned libretto, New Arrivals, premiered at Houston Grand Opera, Song of Houston, composed by John Glover. Catherine traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the Henry Smith Artist in Residence Programme in Woodvale Cambrai Community Centre and Holy Cross/Wheatfield Primary Schools, with The Playhouse Derry~Londonderry.

Award Winning Billboard Top 10 Recording Artist SIR Ari Gold is that rare artist who with every song, every video, every show and every album unfolds a wholly original story never seen or heard before in quite the same way. His latest video and single "Play My F**kn Record," from the remixed retrospective Play My F**kn Remix is no exception. People Magazine says his music "takes the listener to fresh places" and "packs Born-This-Way swagger." Industry legend Clive Davis says he "writes from the heart" and icon RuPaul calls his work simply "brilliant." Play My F**kn Remix marks Gold's sixth album and chronicles Gold's career as an openly gay singer-songwriter since his first album was independently released on his own GOLD18 Records in 2000. His commitment to making pop music with a message has most recently rewarded Ari with the "Visionary Award" by the LGBT Academy Of Recording Arts as well as being Knighted by the Imperial Court Of New York, one of the longest standing human rights organizations in the world.

Assistant Producer JULIA LEVINE, a participant in the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, is a theatre artist, educator, and activist around environmental, social, and economic justice.

POETIC PEOPLE POWER was founded by writer Tara Bracco in 2003 to create an ongoing project that combines poetry and activism. Each year, a diverse group of poets are commissioned to write new works about a political or social issue. The new poems are then presented to a public audience in a professional spoken word show. Poetic People Power entertains and informs. It raises awareness on specific topics and engages audiences through the expressive art of poetry.

Angela Polite is an actress, singer and arts educator. Off-Broadway credits: Theater for the New City (Flambeaux), Classical Theatre of Harlem (Trojan Women, Emancipation), Fire This Time Festival (Exodus, Outcry), Juneteenth Theater Festival (Darasa: a musical) and Abingdon Theater Company (Foggy Bottom). Regional credits: New York Stage and Film (Exodus), Berkshire Theater Festival (Can You Hear Me Baby?) dir. Jayne Atkinson Gill, The Kennedy Center, (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof w/ Mary Stuart Masterston and Dana Ivey) dir. Mark Lamos, Fords Theatre (A Christmas Carol ) dir. Matt August and Signature Theatre (The Gospel According to Fishman) dir. Eric Schaeffer. TV: Blue Bloods, The Wire. Film: Acceptance. As an arts educator, Angela works as a Teaching Artist with Center for Arts Education.

THE RAY OF HOPE PROJECT started with the goal of using African American spirituals to shed light on The Combined anti-slavery efforts of blacks and whites in 19th century New England and now includes nine musicians and actors who incorporate African American spirituals with live music in their participatory programs. The Ray of Hope Project musicians and actors use historical accounts of successful African Americans and primary source readings to teach about slavery in 19th century America. Schools, libraries, and museums throughout the U.S. have enjoyed working with The Ray of Hope Project members to create poems and performance pieces.

SUPERHERO CLUBHOUSE is a New York-based collective of artists and scientists working at the intersection of environmentalism and theater. We create fictional performances rooted in complex environmental questions, practice ecological production, and collaborate across disciplines and communities to enact a thriving society. We believe theater is an essential tool for evolving our consciousness in the face of global environmental crises.

DIXON PLACE is honored to host to the first Human Rights Art Festival in New York's vibrant artistic history. An artistic incubator since 1986, Dixon Place is a Bessie and Obie Award-winning non-profit institution committed to supporting the creative process by presenting original works of theater, dance, music, puppetry, circus arts, literature and visual art at all stages of development. Presenting over 1000 creators a year, this local haven inspires and encourages diverse artists of all stripes and callings to take risks, generate new ideas and consummate new practices. Many artists, such as Blue Man Group, John Leguizamo, Lisa Kron, David Cale, David Drake, Deb Margolin and Reno, began their careers at DP. In addition to emerging artists, Dixon Place has been privileged to present established artists such as Mac Wellman, Holly Hughes, Justin Bond, Karen Finley, Kate Clinton and Martha Wainwright. After spawning a salon in her Paris apartment in 1985, founding Artistic Director Ellie Covan pioneered the institution in her NYC living room for 23 years. Covan was a recipient of a Bessie, a New York Dance and Performance Award and a Bax10 Award for her service to the community. Dixon Place received two Obie Awards, and an Edwin Booth Award for Excellence in Theater. Dixon Place has organically developed and expanded into a leading professional, state-of-the-art facility for artistic expression.

What Do You Think? Tell Us In The Comments!

Related Articles

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...