A foray into the criminal justice system reveals a travesty

September August 26 to September 9.
Theater for the New City (Cabaret Theater) 155 1st Avenue.
Presented by Theater for the New City (Crystal Field, Artistic Director) as part of Dream Up Festival 2018.
August 26 at 8 PM, August 27 at 9 PM, August 29 at 6:30 PM, September 1 at 3:30 PM, September 2 at 2 PM, September 3 at 9 PM, September 4 at 9 PM, September 9 at 5 PM.
Tickets: $12 students and seniors. $18 general. Box Office: (212) 254-1109,
Running time: 60 min. Critics are invited to all performances.

NEW YORK, August 2 – The age of sixteen is a delicate one—especially if you’re in trouble with the law. “Sixteen,” a new drama by Hama Zaman examines the root causes of criminal activity at the age of sixteen, an age where you could be tried as an adult but are far from it. Incorporating spoken word, poetry and multimedia, the play cracks open each offender's story two ways: from inside the subject’s mind by direct address monologues, and from the outside analyses and judgments of psychiatric and law enforcement "professionals." Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival will present the world premiere of “Sixteen” August 26 to September 9, directed by Michael Whitney.

In a psychiatric assessment facility run by the State, a host of inmates whose fates revolve around the age of sixteen are processed by sympathetic Doctors Stevens and Kalanithi. One by one, the inmates are interviewed by two doctors and tell their stories in their own words, highlighting the irony of their wildly contrasting personalities and world views, yet identical fates. There is nothing to link the inmates by background or crime except their age. They are disparaged by Corrections Officer McAndrew, who escorts the inmates in and out of the room. Unlike the doctors, McAndrew is unpitying toward the inmates and repeatedly bickers with the doctors, frustrated by their inability to see the inmates as low-life, violent miscreants. This disagreement devolves into a liberal-conservative clash over the veracity of the inmates' stories, which paradoxically incites the evolution of the doctors' relationship into something more than their mutual respect.

The injustice portrayed in this play is the plight of the two thousand juveniles serving life without parole, which moved Zaman to find an answer. An invitation to Rikers Island sparked a quest for Zaman, who then made it his goal to illuminate the travesty of justice. 

Hamza Zaman (author) is an award-winning filmmaker, critically acclaimed playwright, and actor. He is best known for his films "Blue Skies" and "Vemana" as well as numerous TV/film appearances and theatrical productions. Zaman's work deals with what troubles him about our society. Issues such as addiction, criminal justice, and spirituality form the backbone of his ouevre. His play "Fresh Meat" premiered at the 20th Anniversary Fringe NYC Festival at The Clemente. His solo show "Redemption" was a part of The ONE Festival at Teatro Circulo. He took this show to Rikers Island for their Youth Arts program and continues to develop works with at-risk youth.

The cast of six will play multiple characters, giving them a chance to experience a variety of costume changes and bringing another thread of meaning in the narrative. 

The ninth annual Dream Up Festival ( is being presented by Theater for the New City from August 26 to September 16. An ultimate new work festival, it is dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances. Audiences savor the excitement, awe, passion, challenge and intrigue of new plays from around the country and around the world.

The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us.

In addition to traditional plays, a unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered, drawing upon a variety of performance genres including musicals, puppetry and movement theater. The Festival's founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.

# # #

Return to festival listings

Captioned, high-resolution photos of shows in this festival are available for download at:
The festival's website is