An evening of short plays, dance works and poetry
for when streets are your theater, the screams are real and the pain is palpable.

Opening Benefit Night: Monday, June 21, 2021 at 7PM (followed by a live talk-back to meet the artists).
Available streaming on demand 24 hours/day June 22, 23, 24, 25.
Benefit tickets: $35.00; tickets for streaming on demand: $10.00
Running time: :90
All tickets:
Reviewers are invited.

NEW YORK, May 28 -- MultiStages will present "SPEAKOUT: Protest Plays & More," a virtual festival of multidisciplinary commissioned works, live on June 21 and recorded from June 22 to 25. Conceived and directed by Artistic Director/activist Lorca Peress, the program is a 90 minute turntable of short plays, dance works and poetry exploring the essence of protest and activism in the modern period since the killing of George Floyd.

Since 1977, MultiStages has organized collaborations between playwrights and artists of other disciplines to develop multidisciplinary works. When George Floyd was killed and the BLM message exploded, veteran artists of MultiStages took to the streets. The streets were their theater, where the screams were real and the pain was palpable. In deciding what they could do to support this movement, Artistic Director/activist Lorca Peress, created the idea of a multicultural, multidisciplinary call-to-action festival. She commissioned five MultiStages alumni playwrights (three New Works Contest winner and two Script Development writers) to create short new works addressing what they needed to speak out about today. She then assigned choreographer Jennifer Chin, a long-time collaborator, to create new dances based on these themes. The dances were to be interwoven with the plays and illustrated with lush visuals. What emerged were not topical presentations, but insightful treatments of the human condition in times of protest, with a uniquely universal perspective on the feelings and thoughts of activists today.

Peress also requested an "activist poem" from her mother, the noted poet Gloria Vando, to enable the audience to witness Vando's lifetime of protests and struggles and remind us that we must never stop marching. It is used in the program as an introduction and a coda. The entire compilation is energized with a synthesis of projections, music and video.

The artistic goal of the festival is to pioneer the use of streaming technology for multidisciplinary protest plays, holding a mirror up to the times we are living in and the stories we wish to tell online with a synthesis of drama, dance, poetry, music and visual/projection imagery. The entire program, sanctioned by the Theatre Authority, will be live streamed on June 21 at 7:00 PM followed by a live talk-back to meet the artists. Its recording will be available 24 hours per day from June 22 to 25. The live performance June 21 will be a benefit for MultiStages with tickets $35. Tickets to access the program June 22 to 25 are $10. Box office is

Please see the history of MultiStages at bottom of this document.


"Liberal Confession," a poem written and read by Gloria Vando, directed by Lorca Peress.
A prominent Nuyorican poet and activist Gloria Vando, apologizes to her children that despite decades of political activism nothing has changed. Ms. Vando descends from a long-line of Puerto Rican activists and writers: her father Erasmo Vando was an independentista, and a writer, actor, producer and journalist who gave soapbox speeches in Harlem; her maternal uncle Carlos Vélez Rieckehoff was imprisoned for his activism with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Her playwright/performer mother Anita Velez-Mitchell (and Tio Carlos) addressed the UN numerous times against the bombing of Vieques by the US military. Their political and artistic lifework is housed in the Center for Puerto Rican Studies Archives at Hunter College.

Gloria Vando is a Nuyorican poet currently living in Los Angeles. Her books and poems have won the Poetry Society of America's Di Castagnola Award, Latino Literary Hall of Fame's Poetry Book Award, Thorpe Menn Book Award, River Styx International Poetry Award, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Poetry Award and others. Her work has appeared in magazines, textbooks, and anthologies, including the Grammy-nominated "Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work 1888-2006." She is founder of Helicon Nine Editions, for which she received the Governor's Arts Award (KS) and CCLM's Editor's Grant, contributing editor to the North American Review, co-founder of The Writers Place (Kansas City), and serves on the boards of the Venice Arts Council and Beyond Baroque in L.A.

FIVE DANCES, choreographed by Jennifer Chin
These dances are interspersed throughout the festival, alternating with the plays.
Envisioned through modern dance, these five dances express internal trauma and the need for communities to protest, empower each other, and collectively breathe. Ms. Chin marched during the summer of 2020 through the streets of NYC and brings her activism, experiences, and heart into these pieces. They are:
• "Percussive," featuring Jennifer Chin, Madeline Jafari, Anne Parichon-Buoncore, Oscar Antonio Rodriguez and Richard T. Sayama.
• "Rage," featuring Oscar Antonio Rodriguez.
• "Women's Trio," featuring Jennifer Chin, Madeline Jafari, Anne Parichon-Buoncore.
• "Asian Duet," featuring Jennifer Chin and Richard T. Sayama.
• "Breath," featuring Jennifer Chin, Madeline Jafari, Oscar Antonio Rodriguez, Anne Parichon-Buoncore, Richard T. Sayama.

Jennifer Chin's choreography has been presented at festivals in Croatia, Scotland, Italy, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Arizona, and New York City. Her company, JENNIFERCHINdance, has an ongoing collaboration with WADE (Wandering Avian Dance Experience), operating at the intersection of performing arts, activism, and social change. In addition, she choreographs for theater and opera and is a longstanding collaborator with MultiStages. She is currently on faculty of The José Limón Foundation and Brooklyn College CUNY.

"Beautiful Morning," a play by Dorothy Tan, directed by Eugene Ma, featuring Wai Chin Ho, Michael Striano and TBA. In Mandarin and English with subtitles.
This three-character play, acted in Mandarin and English (with subtitles), takes place when a stranger interrupts two friends chatting on the morning of a protest. Tan was inspired to write this Anti-Asian-Hate protest play by the rising number of violent attacks on US streets.

Dorothy Tan is a playwright and novelist. Her produced plays are: "The Loved One and Womb Song" in Boston, "The Palace of Loneliness" produced OOB in NYC by MultiStages, and a play for children, "Tabbit," which was awarded the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild's Marilyn Hall Award

"Lessons on Solidarity," a play by Gena Bardwell, directed by Kimille Howard, featuring Messeret Stroman Wheeler.
A personal story about a once in a life-time meeting of an Iconic activist at her grandfather's famous African-American book shop in the heart of Los Angeles. Through Bardwell's pre-teen eyes, we learn how meeting Angela Davis significantly impacted her young life. Looking back on that moment in time, in the turbulent 1970's, she grapples with questions and the need for answers that escaped her on that life-changing day spent with her learned grandfather, Frank James Whitley and an authentic Black goddess who took her breath away.

Gena Bardwell's plays have been developed at Crossroads Theater in NJ and MultiStages in Manhattan. Her latest arts project, "The Most Dangerous Animal," which addresses the plight of 21st Century Sudanese people, was written, directed and produced by Al Sutton and performed at the United Nations. She is also an actor.

"The Keepers" by Melody Cooper, directed by Lorca Peress, featuring Brie Eley, Amanda Salazar and Rainbow Dickerson.
A sci-fi climate change fantasy that centers on three women who meet on a zoom-type platform across time. They are a Lakota activist marching against the Pipeline, a Latina rebel fighting against oppressors in the future, and a young African-American woman in Flint Michigan who does not yet know the water is toxic.

Melody Cooper is currently story editor on NBC Universal's "Law & Order: SVU." She was previously staff writer on Stage 13's "Two Sentence Horror Stories," now on Netflix. A 2019 HBO Access Writing Fellow, she has been named one of the Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2021 by ISA. She received a Ford Foundation grant to develop her Rwanda play, "Sweet Mercy," and won the Jane Chambers Award and MultiStages New Works Contest for "Day of Reckoning."

"My Body My Battlefield" by Fengar Gael, directed by Kimille Howard, featuring Kate Bornstein and Vanessa Guadiana.
This short play takes us into a zoom conversation following a traditional online church service. A female Reverend, later to be revealed as transgender, and a pregnant congregant who is filled with conspiracy theories clash in an absurd mismatching of minds and "alternative" facts.

Fengar Gael has had workshops and/or productions at the Sundance Playwrights Lab, the InterAct Theatre, New Jersey Repertory, Moxie Theatre, Athena Project, Landing Theatre, and in New York at Ego Actus Theatre, MultiStages (two-time New Works Contest winner), Urban Stages, Turn to Flesh Productions, Project Y Theatre, and TRU Resources. She is a recipient of the Craig Noel Award, Playwrights First Award, Wilde Award and Julie Harris Award and is the winner of two MultiStages New Works Contests.

"Trilogy," a short play by Nathan Yungerberg, directed by Toussaint Jeanlouis, featuring Dimitri Carter, Michael Gene Jacobs, Donnell E. Smith
A play about three Black men who are healing. They're gonna burn sage, palo santo, cinnamon sticks, and lather on Shea butter while gazing at the moon. They're gonna feel too much, cry in front of their children, and create a class about Black self-love. They're gonna ride horses for the first time— free to go where they please.

Nathan Yungerberg's plays have been developed or presented by The Cherry Lane Theatre, JAG Productions, LAByrinth Theater, The National Black Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival, 48 Hours in Harlem, The Lark, The Playwrights' Center, Crowded Fire Theater and The Bushwick Starr. He has had fellowships with Jerome Hill (2021-22), National Black Theatre of Harlem (2021), Djerassi Resident Artist (2019) and O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (Semifinalist, 2016). He is also a writer for Sesame Street.

Producers: Lorca Peress, Producing Artistic Director, and Gena Bardwell, Associate Producer.
Designers: Jan Hartley, Festival Projection Design and Editor, Videographer on dance films; Lisa Renee Jordan, Costume Design; Sun Hee Kil, Music and Sound Design; Paul Peress, Drummer on "Rage" dance film; Michael Lee Stever, dance film Videographer; Christopher Marston, dance film Video Editor; Tate Kenney, Costume Assistant; Luisa Battista, Festival Video Editor; Zija Brubaker Lubin-West, Production Stage Manager.

Founded in 1997 by Artistic Director Lorca Peress, MultiStages' mission is to encourage collaborations between playwrights and artists to develop multicultural and multidisciplinary new works. MultiStages produces new works Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway, Festivals, Script Development Series, and New Works Contests. The company has presented and developed over 100 theater collaborations with playwrights and filmmakers, composers, choreographers, musicians, visual artists, theater artists and designers covering issues such as gun control, gender equality /identity, climate change, mental illness, Black Lives matter, Latinx and indigenous subjugation/ displacement, and gentrification. Over 700 playwrights have submitted multicultural and multidisciplinary scripts to the company's New Works Contests.

Awards include: 2021 and 2019 Creative Engagement Grant (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs), 2021 A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theatres, 2021 the Cultural Arts Solidarity Fund administered by the Indie Theatre Fund, 2017 NYMF Next Link Project, six 2015 NY Innovative Theatre Nominations, four 2012 HOLA Awards (including Outstanding Production), four Manhattan Community Arts Fund Awards (LMCC and the DCA), Dramatists Guild Fund Award, N.W. Dible Foundation grants, Jewish Communal Fund grants. MultiStages is a member of Materials for the Arts and is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas.

"SPEAKOUT: Protest Plays & More" is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by LMCC. Other support includes the N.W. Dible Foundation, A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theatres, the Cultural Arts Solidarity Fund administered by the Indie Theatre Fund, and private donations.

MultiStages expresses its gratitude to the performing unions, Actors Equity Association, American Guild of Musical Artists, American Guild of Variety Artists and SAG-AFTRA, through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the artists to appear on this program.

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REVIEWERS are invited.