The Alliance for Downtown New York (Jessica Lappin, President), in association with En Garde Arts, presents Downtown Stories: Dreams from New York´s Oldest Streets.
Lace up your walking shoes with Downtown Stories, a series of plays by some of New York’s most inventive artists as they embark on uncovering the stories embodied by the people who live and work in the oldest neighborhood from New York. It’s art meets anthropological expedition as these artists uncover new or little-known facts about downtown that become a springboard for inventive storytelling that offers a new perspective on the city around us.
Downtown Stories reunites award-winning playwright Rogelio Martinez (Born In East Berlin) and director Johanna McKeon (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, American Idiot) for a documentary theater piece inspired by interviews with small business owners in Lower Manhattan. Their stories are the stories of the United States, of immigrants who came to this country to avoid religious persecution, racial prejudice, or simply to pursue a better life.
Additionally, the program will include two fictional walking tours that will use the rich history of the neighborhood’s landmarks as springboards for imaginative journeys into our past to connect with the people who once lived there. Fictional walking tours are written by Mona Mansour (Vagrant Trilogy, Public Theatre) and Eric Lockley (co-founder of Movement Theater Company), and directed by Jessica Holt (Ironbound, Sense and Sensibility) and morgan green (Co-artistic director, Wilma Theater), respectively. Each 45-minute walking tour will consist of a fictional story juxtaposed with the reality of the story and will take the audience to a series of sites that represent a significant moment in the city’s past, turning into a fictional moment allowing to imagine the future. Tours will end at neighborhood restaurants where the public can enjoy a meal.
En Garde Arts’ month-long series Downtown Stories renews its collaboration with the Downtown Alliance, which launched last May for Downtown Live, a festival that featured 36 live performances at three different Lower Manhattan locations.
Anne Burger, Artistic Director of En Garde Arts said, “The impetus of En Garde’s partnership with Downtown Alliance was born out of our mutual desire to support the neighborhood by doing what the arts do so well…bringing people back on our streets, supporting small businesses and adding neighborhood excitement and vitality. I gathered a group of artists and asked them the question: “How often do we walk down the street without caring about what surrounds us?” For Downtown Stories, artists investigate and uncover the stories of the people and places that make up a neighborhood. In this way, we can look at what surrounds us with fresh eyes.
“Downtown Stories celebrates the resilient immigrants, entrepreneurs and small business owners who have shaped Lower Manhattan and fought to keep their doors open throughout the pandemic,” said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “We know that a thriving arts and culture scene is essential to their recovery and builds excitement about being in the neighborhood again. These performances will engage and delight returning workers, residents and visitors alike. in Lower Manhattan while directly supporting local businesses with every ticket purchased.”
Downtown Stories will take place Wednesday through Saturday, June 8 through June 25, 2022. Tickets for the documentary theater play will be free and tickets for the walking tours will be combined with the purchase of a dining voucher that supports a local restaurant . Reservations are required for all performances and will open May 4.
Additional details, including casting, specific locations and walking tour routes, and COVID safety protocols will be announced at a later date.