DOWNTOWN URBAN ARTS FESTIVAL Offering Free Tickets to Vaccinated Patrons June 10-26
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 02:12 pm EDT 06/04/21



For the First Time, Theatre Tickets Will Be Free
Proof of Vaccination Will Be Required For Seating

Visit www.DUAFnyc.com

NEW YORK – The Downtown Urban Arts Festival (Reg E. Gaines, artistic director; Creative Ammo Inc., producer) today announced its 19th year of new works for the stage by 16 playwrights at the Abron Arts Center (466 Grand Street, New York City) from Thursday, June 10 through Saturday, June 26, 2021. For the first time, theatre tickets will be free of charge. Reservations must be made by visiting www.DUAFnyc.com. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination must be presented at the door for seating. Masks must be worn inside.

The original festival, founded in 2001, was conceived as a theater series 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. The addition of poetry, music and international film selections was added to 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. Last year’s festival was canceled due to pandemic, and this year’s festival will return to its original roots as a theatre series. In the past 18 years, 261 plays have been produced by 203 playwrights.

2021 DUAF theater schedule follows:

Date: Thursday, June 10 at 7pm
Playwright: Sheila Duane
Director: Sophia Parola
Evie hides at a safe house after being attacked by a group of white nationalists called the Aryan Power Congress. Then she hears the sound of a woman being murdered. Because she has PTSD, no one believes her . . . except the Gail whose sister was murdered by the same white nationalists.

Sheila Duane is a playwright, director, and teacher. In 2020, her play Restoration Parts was awarded third place in the Downtown Urban Arts Festival. Unfortunately, the DUAF performances were cancelled due to the pandemic. Her other recent full-length works are: The Loom, Little Methods, Klan Play and Rules.

Date: Friday, June 11 at 7pm
Playwright: Mel Nieves
Director: Wilimina Olivia Garcia
Date: Friday, June 11
Working from home is supposed to be a luxury, but when your home becomes your workplace that luxury turns into just another place to punch the clock.

Mel Nieves is a New York based Actor-Playwright-Screenwriter-Arts Educator. He is a member of the award winning LAByrinth Theater Company. His one hour television pilot script, On the Boulevard, was a quarter finalist for both the 2020 Francis Ford Coppola American Zoetrope screenplay competition and the 2021 Atlanta International Screenplay awards. Most recently his play, Prospect Avenue was published by Next Stage Press.

Shown with:

Playwright: Malique Guinn
Director: Desi Brown
When a mathlete’s old bully transfers to his high school, he is forced to confront his old demons as he attempts to crack the oldest math enigma that can change his life for the better in this mathematical hip hop tale.

Malique Guinn is born and raised in Lancaster, CA, where he felt compelled to envision worlds outside of his own. He is a playwright, screenwriter, songwriter, and lover of people and himself. He is currently an MFA student in the Dramatic Writing Program at Carnegie Mellon University, after previously studying under the tutelage of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig at UCSB (’18).

Date: Saturday, June 12 at 7pm
Playwright: Alano P. Baez
Directed by Dawn Crandell
In 1954, a New York city factory worker named Lolita Lebron, entered the United States Capitol building brandishing arms, unfurled a Puerto Rican flag, shouted "Que Viva Puerto Rico libre!" and began firing. In 2001, a young Puerto Rican woman travels on a NYC subway train headed for a mission to free her people.

Alano P. Baez (aka Prophet/Not4Prophet) is a playwright, director, producer, songwriter/lyricist, singer/mc, actor, poet, sharer of knowledge/teaching artist and community agitator. He is former lead singer of the punk band Ricanstruction , mc of the Hip Hop group X-Vandals, and lead sonero for the Latin soul outfit, Abrazos Army. He has released two books of poetry, Last of the Po Ricans y Otros Afro Artifacts and Mini Manual for the Modern day Machetero: A Poetic Polemic. He starred in and co-wrote/performed the music soundtrack for the award-winning feature film, Machetero. In 2018, his play, Trash Talk: A Play About Garbage, won the award for best short play at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival (DUAF).

Date: Wednesday, June 16 at 7pm
Playwright: Allison Whittenberg
Director: Dria Brown
Choice, a single mother, is faced with a Hobson's choice as she is faced with the possible increase to her family. Her ultimately aching decision is a most realistic one.
Allison Whittenberg is a Philly native who has a global perspective. If she wasn’t an author, she’d be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored, The Carnival of Reality and The Sane Asylum. Her plays have been performed at Interact Theatre, The Spruce Hill Theatre, The Festival of Wrights and The Playwright's Center.

Shown with:

Playwright: Antionette Ellis-Williams
Director: Darrell Willis
Scarf Diaries, written and produced by Antoinette Ellis-Williams, is a one-woman play consisting of multiethnic intergenerational vignettes/monologues telling the stories of life. Scarves serve as visual conduits of the complex narratives of religion, culture, sexuality, work, childbirth, mourning, abuse, sickness, beauty and choices. They mark rites of passage in public ways. Women wrap, drape, cover, hide and adorned themselves with scarves throughout the world. For some women they are symbols of private convents, pain, shame, secrets or ugliness and for others declarations of independence, joy or tributes of honor. If scarves could tell our stories they would speak of these truths.

Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams is Chair and Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at New Jersey City University where she teaches: Women, Hip Hop, Spoken Word & Social Change; Women & Leadership; Race, Class, Gender. Immigrant. Mother. Wife. Citizen. Black Woman of God. Sister. Daughter. Grateful.

Date: Thursday, June 17 at 7pm
Playwright: Sarah Congress
Director: Miriam Grill
Lights up: Staten Island Ferry. A COVID first date. Isabella, chef. Michael, copywriter. Their socially distanced “get to know you," dance goes really well...until it doesn't. Will they make it safely back to Manhattan?

Sarah Congress writes comedic scripts for theatre, television and the books for musicals. Most recently, her full-length play The Angel Manual was selected to be a part of the HB Studio Playwrights Reading Series (June 2021), her ten-minute play Atlantics Pharmaceuticals was tied for Best Play at The Theater Project Think Theater Think Fast one-act play festival (February, 2021), and her play The Virtual Sleepover was selected to be a part of The University of Miami Online Play Festival (May, 2021). She is delighted to be a part of the Downtown Urban Arts Festival!

Shown with:

Playwright: Mary Weems
Director: Ajene Washington
A Black Lives Matter activist, whose parents are civil rights attorneys and an upper middle-class white woman get stuck in an elevator and have a conversation, which reveals how each feels about the state of racism in America.

Dr. Mary E. Weems is a poet, playwright, scholar, and author of fourteen books including Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues, and most recently Still Hanging: Using Performance Texts to Deconstruct Racism (Spring 2021) she co-authored with Dr. Bryant Keith Alexander. Weems’ plays have been produced at some level and/or published since 1997 including Closure, Crack the Door for some Air, At Last: Celebrating the lives of Black Women, Hats, and Hey Siri. Weems’ was awarded a 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize for her full-length drama MEAT. Weems has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Date: Friday, June 18 at 7pm
Playwright: Cris Eli Blak
Director: Christine Sloan Stoddard
After a young immigrant is murdered by police officers for seemingly no reason, a popular rapper decides to make a statement, much to the dismay and disapproval of his white publicist.

Cris Eli Blak is an award winning and internationally produced writer. His work has garnered him a Bronze Remi from the Worldfest Houston International Film and Video Festival, the Christopher Hewitt Award in Fiction, a Pushcart Prize nomination and honors from Vectis Radio, Negro Ensemble Company, Clocktower Players and A is For. His work has been produced, performed and/or published around the world, from Off-Broadway (Urban Stages and Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre), West Coast (Theatre of NOTE, Theatre West, Common Ground Theatre, Left Edge Theatre and Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble), Collegiate (Columbia University, Academy of Arts University and Wellesley College), London (The Quean's Theatre and Flawstate), Australia (Melting Pot Theatre), and Ireland (Eva's Echo). He is developing new work with Derby City Playwrights, The Road Theatre, Imaginarium Theatre Company, Milagro Theatre and Et Alia Theater. He continues to strive to create work that reflects the world that we live in, with all of its different and diverse colors, creeds and cultures.

Shown with:

Playwright: Sheldon Shaw
Director: Liza K Lee
In a cell, waiting, two African American men with different belief systems, one Jewish and one a non-believer, clash.

Sheldon Shaw is a screenwriter, playwright, and actor living in NYC. Right before Covid, Sheldon had his play CNTL+ALT(RIGHT)DEL workshopped at JAGfest in Vermont, and then a staged reading at the Briggs Opera House. Sheldon’s play Clair was a finalist in The Isle of Shoals 2020 playwriting competition. Recently, he workshopped his new play, Billy.Shelly.Ally, with the Eden Theater Company. Sheldon has a BA from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. He studied Playwrighting at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC under Gary Garrison, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Caleen Jennings, and Mark Bly.

Date: Saturday, June 19 at 7pm
Playwright: reg e gaines
Director: Andres Pina
A weekly Bid Whist game takes place between four childhood friends now in their early to mid-twenties. Three of the men are waiting for Lester Ellington. They sip wine while talking smack about females and Lester’s egotistical attitude. The stereo blasts as they question the possible reasons for Lester’s lateness.

reg e gaines is a poet, playwright, director, lecturer and Artistic Director of the Downtown Urban Arts Festival in New York City since 2007. He is a two time Tony Award-nominated playwright, Grammy nominated lyricist (Bring in da Noise/ Bring in da Funk) and author of four books of poetry including Abstract Sax and The Original Buckwheat . A former Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam Champ, reg appears in numerous poetry anthologies including Bum Rush The Page, Paterson Literary Review, Aloud: Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Cafe and A Year in Ink. He has composed the score for the PBS documentary “Senior Year” and has released four poetry albums. reg has appeared on seasons 3-4 of HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” as well as “The Arsenio Hall Show,” “ The John Stewart Show,” “MTV Spoken Word Unplugged “ and MSNBC’s “Edgewise.” He has performed at Woodstock ‘94, Central Park SummerStage, The Berlin Jazz Festival, Carre Opera House in Amsterdam, Aaron Davis Hall, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and NYU’s Gallatin Center. reg is currently writing and directing The 88, a musical with music composed by Calvin Gaines.

Date: Wednesday, June 23 at 7pm
Playwright: Rollin Jewett
Director: J Michaels
An edgy comedy about the life and times of an actor who may be on the verge of success. For Jack, “The Big Dream” is when he gets everything he ever wanted – fame, riches, respect, and love. But has he gone too far into his fantasy world to ever make it a reality?

Rollin Jewett is an award winning playwright, screenwriter, author, singer/songwriter & photographer. His screenwriting credits include Laws of Deception and American Vampire. His short stories, poetry and photography have been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies and his plays have been produced all over the world. He lives in Holly Springs, NC with his wife and son.

Shown with:

Playwright: Marcus Scott
Director: Dev Bondarin
Two newly-minted sophomore students fresh from their first year at university return home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under quarantine and taking shelter within their homes, just as these two sexually curious and sexually-active young men hop online to unleash carnal desires, news of a horrific incident prompts them to not only ask questions about the worth of the black body in America, but also its endurance.

Marcus Scott (he/him) is a playwright & journalist. Selected works: Fidelio (Libretto; Heartbeat Opera at Baruch Performing Arts Center, 2018; called “poignant” by NY Times), Sibling Rivalries (Long-listed for the 2020 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award; finalist for ATHE’s 2021 Judith Royer Excellence in Playwriting Award and the 2021 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference; semifinalist for 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award), Tumbleweed (Finalist for the 2017 BAPF; semi-finalist for the 2017/2018 New Dramatists Princess Grace Fellowship Award), Cherry Bomb (recipient of the 2017 Drama League First Stage Artist-In-Residence; 2017 Finalist for the Yale Institute for Music Theatre) and Sundown Town (Finalist for Abingdon Theatre Company’s Virtual Fall Festival Of Short Plays). He has been developed/presented at Joe's Pub, Feinstein's/54 Below, APAC, Dixon Place, Space on Ryder Farm, Symphony Space, NYC LGBT Center, Out of the Box Theatrics, Theatre West, New Circle Theatre Company, MicroTheater Miami, among others. Scott is a four-time finalist for the R&D Group at The Civilians, a two-time finalist for NBT’s I AM SOUL Playwrights Residency and a 2019 finalist for the Bushwick Starr’s Starr Reading Series. His articles appeared in Time Out New York, American Theatre, Playbill, Elle, Out, Essence, among others. MFA: NYU Tisch.

Date: Thursday, June 24 at 7 pm
Playwright: Juan Ramirez Jr
Director: Juan Ramirez Jr and Jason Westby
In the South Bronx, two emcees stand at the corner, waiting to earn their next stripe and as they try to rap their dreams into reality, they want to know, if within their hopeless lives, will anyone hear their voices?

Juan Ramirez, Jr. is a Borinquén-Chapín-Bronx playwright, monologist, director, screenwriter, filmmaker, poet and producer. Notable works include Calling Puerto Rico (Second Round Austin Film Festival, Voces Latinx Finalist Repertorio Español), Ridin Shotgun (Best Play DUAF) and The American Dream (NAV Playwrights Festival, BBTF). He's a founder of The PlayPen Collective and R&R Productions with his wife Cristy Reynoso. He’s a Dramatist Guild member, 2020-2021 Dramatist Guild Fellow, NYC Latinx Playwright Circle member, an ATG PlayLab member and a teaching artist with Art Defined. He received his B.A. from Lehman College and MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch. www.JuanRamirezJr.com

Date: Friday, June 25 at 7pm
Playwright: Tommy Jamerson
Director: Nicholas J. Clarey
Jacob Freeman seems to have it all - a thriving career, a successful novel, and an adoring wife. But when his past comes to haunt him in the form of his estranged eighteen-year-old daughter, secrets long since buried begin to rise to the surface yet again.

Tommy Jamerson has been writing plays for over a decade. He has received over a hundred professional productions, and his children's shows, The Big Bad Bullysaurus, Princess Pigface, Choose Your Own Oz, and Alice the Brave & Other Tales from Wonderland have been performed all over the world. His one-act comedy, Rags to Bithces, won Best Short Play at the 14th annual Downtown Urban Arts Festival and starred RuPaul's Drag Race alums Alexis Michelle and Brita Filter. His play love/fantasy also won Audience Favorite at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival, as well as Best New Play at the Playwright's Forum Festival. Tommy holds a BS in Theatre with a Concentration in Playwriting from Indiana State University, and an MFA in Playwriting from the University of New Orleans. He lives in West Orange, NJ with his husband Mark and their dog Darby.

Date: Saturday, June 26 at 7 pm
Playwright/Director: James Earl Hardy
Confessions explores Tyson’s hard-scrabble roots (growing up in the ‘hood, dealing and getting hooked on drugs, brushes with the law, becoming a single father) and professional triumphs (forming his own multi-million dollar company, induction into the Porn Hall of Fame). With moments of gut-busting laughter and several shocking revelations, the show illuminates a truth that many XXX fans forget: Porn stars are people, too.

James Earl Hardy is generally considered the first to depict same-sex love stories that take place within the hip-hop community, his writing is largely characterized by its exploration of the African-American LGBTQ experience. Hardy's best-known work is the B-Boy Blues series. The B-Boys Blues series comprises six novels and one short story.

Free festival tickets and can be obtained via DUAFnyc.com. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination must be provided for seating, and masks must be worn inside.

Facebook.com/dutfnyc/ (festival)
Instagram @duaf_nyc
Twitter @DUAFnyc
For more information, tickets and artist bios, visit: www.DUAFnyc.com

DUAF is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Council’s Department of Cultural Affairs and its Coalition of Theaters of Color for the festival’s designation of theater-focused programs working in communities of color.

Creative Ammo Inc., a nonprofit community development organization for artists focused on building stronger communities founded in 1998. CA has created solid programs to strengthen communities, foster creativity and celebrate life through art. Artists are an important leverage point in its work. Its mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills and services they need to develop their talent into a marketable skill to pursue a career in the arts. Its programs are inclusive, open and embrace diverse ideas and art forms, and target communities of color and other underrepresented multicultural, women and LGBTQ populations.
Link http://www.DUAFnyc.com

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