Theater for the New City's 2021 Street Theater tour will be
"Critical Care, or Rehearsals for a Nurse"
Rip-roaring musical tours City's streets, parks and playgrounds July 31 to September 12

July 31 to September 12 (critics invited to all performances).
In parks, playgrounds and closed-off streets throughout the five boroughs.
See complete schedule at bottom of this document.
Presented by Theater for the New City (
Free to the public. Audience info (212) 254-1109,
Runs 1:15. Critics are invited to all performances.
Photos are available at:
B-roll of past TNC street theater productions is available upon request.

NEW YORK, June 30 - Theater for the New City's award-winning Street Theater Company will return to playing for live audiences this year, opening its 2021 annual tour July 31 with "Critical Care, or Rehearsals for a Nurse," a rip-roaring original musical which tells the story of a young person studying to be a nurse who, in order to pay for tuition and books, takes a job in a nursing home. Free performances will tour parks, playgrounds and closed-off streets throughout the five boroughs through September 12. Book, lyrics and direction are by Crystal Field; the musical score is composed and arranged by Joseph Vernon Banks. (Schedule follows at bottom of this document.)

In the musical's story, a third year nursing student finds a job as a nurse's aid in a nursing home, where residents dance before her eyes, becoming superstars as they sing "Who We Really Are." They are menaced by the dreaded Covid-19 virus, but good people fight back. A fighting scientist acts as the girl's mentor and activists teach her how to tell the truth. She learns from a physician/scientist who battles the insurance companies and from a Head Nurse who partners with a mayoral candidate to teach us to stick together. All find joy in working together to defend out immigrant population, pushing our politicians for affordable housing, and bringing us a jobs program so that we can survive the terrible lockdown of the "early days." A blessed hero, a juggling clown from the clown care unit of the Big Apple Circus, entraps the virus and Lady Hypodermic administers a coupe de grace. Theater, music and dance join hands to tell us how to find each other so that the terror of the Trump years will not happen again.

The production will be staged with an elaborate assemblage of trap doors, giant puppets, smoke machines, masks, original choreography and a huge (9' x 12') running screen or "cranky" providing continuous moving scenery behind the actors. The company of 22 actors, ten crew members, two stage managers, three assistant directors and five live musicians (led by the composer at the keyboard) will share the challenge of performing outside and holding a large, non-captive audience. The music will vary in style from Bossa Nova to Hip Hop to Musical Comedy to classical Cantata. The play is a bouncy joyride through the undulations of the body politic, with astute commentary couched in satire, song and slapstick.

TNC's free Street Theater productions are delightfully suited for family audiences, since complex social issues are often presented through children's allegories, with children and neighborhood people as the heroes.

TNC Street Theater's leading actor is and has been Michael David Gordon, a teacher and performer with Irondale Theatre Company who is also bandleader of a performance group which plays classic rock in the subways. In this year's show, he plays the Doctor who is the Nurse's mentor and the Narrator of the play.

The ensemble of 22 also includes: Natasha Velez (Nursing Student), Cheryl Gadsten (Head Nurse), Danielle Aziza (Vaccine, as a People Puppet), T. Scott Lilly (The Virus, as a People Puppet), Alexander Bartenieff, Mark Marcante, Emily Pezella and Lei Zhou.

Last summer, in response to the Covid-19 lockdown, TNC's Street Theater production, "Liberty or Just Us: a City Park Story," was an oratorio, live streamed for an eight week, 14 performance run. Each performance payed tribute to the park or other location it had been originally scheduled for.

Author/director Crystal Field began writing street theater in 1968 as a member of Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia. She wrote and performed her own outdoor theater pieces against the Vietnam War and also curated and performed many poetry programs for the Philadelphia Public Schools. There she found tremendous enthusiasm and comprehension on the part of poor and minority students for both modern and classical poetry when presented in a context of relevancy to current issues. She realized that for poetry to find its true audience, the bonds of authoritarian criticism must and can be transcended. Her earliest New York street productions were playlets written in Philadelphia and performed on the flatbed truck of Bread and Puppet Theater in Central Park. Peter Schumann, director of that troupe, was her first NY artistic supporter.

In 1971, Ms. Field became a protégé of Robert Nichols, founder of the Judson Poets Theater in Manhattan, and of Peter Schuman, founder of Bread and Puppet Theater. It is an interesting historic note that "The Expressway" by Robert Nichols, directed by Crystal Field (a Street theater satire about Robert Moses' plan for a throughway to run across Little Italy from the West Side Highway to the FDR Drive) was actually the first production of Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. Nichols wrote street theater plays for TNC in its early years, but as time went on, wrote scenarios and only the first lines of songs, leaving Field to "fill in the blanks." When Nichols announced his retirement to Vermont in 1975, he urged Field to "write your own." The undertaking, while stressful at first, became the impetus for her to express her own topical political philosophy and to immerse her plays in that special brand of humor referred to often as "that brainy slapstick." Her first complete work was "Mama Liberty's Bicentennial Party" (1976), in honor of the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution.

Field has an associate's degree in Dance from Juilliard and a BA in Philosophy form Hunter College.

Field has written and directed a completely new opera for the TNC Street Theater company each successive year. She collaborated for eleven years with composer Mark Hardwick, whose "Pump Boys and Dinettes" and "Oil City Symphony" were inspired by his street theater work with Ms. Field. At the time of his death from AIDS in 1994, he was writing a clown musical with Field called "On the Road," which was never finished. One long-running actor in TNC street theater was Tim Robbins, who was a member of the company for six years in the 1980s, from age twelve to 18.

The Village Halloween Parade, which TNC produced single-handedly for the Parade's first two years, grew out of the procession which preceded each Street Theater production. Ralph Lee, who created the Parade with Ms. Field, was chief designer for TNC's Street Theater for four years before the Village Halloween Parade began.

Field has also written for TNC's annual Halloween Ball and for an annual Yuletime pageant that was performed outdoors for 2,000 children on the Saturday before Christmas. She has written two full-length indoor plays, "Upstate" and "One Director Against His Cast." She is co-founder and Artistic Director of TNC.

Composer Joseph-Vernon Banks has written original music for the TNC street theater productions "Liberty or Just Us: a City Park Story," "No Brainer or the Solution to Parasites," "SHAME! Or The Doomsday Machine," "Checks and Balances, or Bottoms Up!," "Teach it Right, or Right to Teach," "EMERGENCY!!! or The World Takes A Selfie," "99% "Reduced Fat, or, You Can Bank On Us," "Bamboozled, or the Real Reality Show," "Tap Dance," "State Of The Union," "The Patients Are Running The Asylum," "Bio-Tech," "Code Orange: on the M15," "Social Insecurity," "Buckle My Shoe" and "Gone Fission: Alternative Power," all with book and lyrics by Crystal Field. His other TNC productions include music and lyrics for "Life's Too Short To Cry" by Michael Vazquez. His awards include a Meet The Composer Grant, the ASCAP Special Awards Program, and a fellowship from the Tisch Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU. His musical "Girlfriends!" premiered at The Goodspeed Opera House. He has been a composer–in-residence in The Tribeca Performing Arts Center Work and Show Series and is a member of The Dramatists Guild.

Saturday, July 31@ 2:00 PM: MANHATTAN -- Outside Theater for the New City at E. 10th Street & 1st Ave.
Sunday, Aug 1 @ 2:00 PM: BRONX -- Pontiac Playground at St. Mary's Park, 350 St. Ann's Ave.
Saturday. Aug 7 @ 2:00 PM: MANHATTAN -- Wise Towers, 117 West 90th Street
Sunday, Aug 8 @ 2:00 PM: MANHATTAN -- Central Park Bandshell, 72nd Street Crosswalk
Friday, Aug13 @ 6:30 PM: BROOKLYN -- Coney Island Boardwalk @ W. 10th Street
Sat, Aug 14 @ 2:00 PM: MANHATTAN -- Abe Lebwohl Park @St. Marks Church, E. 10th St. & 2nd Ave.
Sunday, Aug 15 @2:00 PM: MANHATTAN -- Jackie Robinson Park, W. 147th St. & Bradhurst Ave.
Saturday, Aug 21 @ 2:00 PM: MANHATTAN --- Washington Square Park
Saturday, August 28 @ 2:00 PM: BROOKLYN -- Sunset Park, 6th Ave. & 44th Street
Sun, Aug 29 @ 2:00 PM: BROOKLYN -- Ft. Greene Park, Myrtle Ave. bet. N. Portland Ave. & St. Edwards St.
Saturday, Sept. 4 @ 2:00 PM: MANHATTAN -- Outside Theater for the New City at E. 10th Street & 1st Ave.
Saturday, September 11 @ 2:00 PM: STATEN ISLAND -- Tappen Park at Canal, Bay and Water Streets
Sunday, September 12 @ 2:00 PM: MANHATTAN -- Tompkins Square Park at E. 7th St. & Ave A

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REVIEWERS ARE INVITED to all performances.
B-roll of past TNC street theater productions is available upon request.