Music  |  Features

CMJ Side Trip: The 52nd Street Project

October 15, 2009  |  3:32pm

In between enjoying all your free skunked beer and ear shattering buzz bands at the Bowery, Cake Shop, and every open phone booth or hip neighbor's house when CMJ takes over NYC next week, do yourself a favor and check out some real emerging talent.

The 52nd Street Project, through which accomplished theater actors and directors mentor Hell's Kitchen kids, is presenting public performances Oct 23 - 25 at Manhattan¹s TBG Theater.

Entitled GETTING THERE: THE JOURNEY PLAYS, the program consists of 8
one-acts written by Project kids and co-starring the kids and adult
professionals.

This is probably the last show they'll do outside their own theater, which
after 28 years without one, they're opening in a couple of months.

Here are the details:

The 52nd Street Project (The Project) was founded in 1981 by
actor/playwright and 1994 MacArthur Fellow Willie Reale in response to a
deepening need to improve the quality of life for New York's inner-city
children. Reale, an actor, playwright, and company member of the Ensemble
Studio Theater (EST), used his company privileges to reach out to the
children of the neighborhood by creating theatrical endeavors specifically
for them. This was done with the cooperation and support of EST and its
across-the-street-neighbor, the Police Athletic League's Duncan Center. The
Project is now an independent not-for-profit organization that creates over
eighty new plays and serves over 125 children every year.

The 52nd Street Project has been a place where many of preeminent
theater-makers have volunteered their efforts to mentor kids from Hell¹s
Kitchen. To name just a few: Billy Crudup, Peter Dinklage, Edie Falco, Nancy
Giles, James McDaniel, Frances McDormand, Cynthia Nixon, Oliver Platt,
Martha Plimpton and Lili Taylor.

The Project is about making children proud of themselves. The Project is not
about teaching children to act, although they will learn to. It is not about
teaching them to write plays, although they will learn that as well. What it
is about is giving a kid an experience of success. It is about giving a kid
an opportunity to prove that he or she has something of value to offer,
something that comes from within that he or she alone possesses, something
that cannot be taken away.

In order to make The 52nd Street Project experience available to children in
other locations, The Project has published a manual and other supporting
materials, which have been distributed as far as Vancouver and South Africa.
There are now projects underway across the country in places such as Los
Angeles; Chicago; Trenton, NJ; Williamstown, MA; Providence, RI; and London,
England. 

 Performances of Getting There will take place Friday, October 23 at 7:30
P.M.; Saturday, October 24 at 7:30 P.M.; and Sunday, October 25 at 3:00 P.M.
The TBG Theater is located at 312 West 36th Street (between 8th and 9th
Avenues) on the 3rd Floor. Admission is free, but reservations should be
made in advance by calling 212.642.5052.

 

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