“Emotionally sensitive and sharply intelligent…The scenes are crystal clear and maintain an independent integrity even as they illuminate and comment on one another, creating a vast tapestry of the human experience.”—Zachary Stewart, Theatermania
PIRIRA just completed its Off-Broadway run…
If you missed the play, or if you want to experience it again (recommended), it has been published!
You can download it for just $1.29 here: Pirira on Indie Theater Now
At the West End Theatre, 263 W. 86th St., in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew. November 15-November 24, 2013.
July 20, 2011. As the African nation of Malawi erupts in riots around them, American aid workers Jack and Ericka take shelter in the storeroom of a struggling NGO. Half a world away, Malawian student Gilbert and his gay co-worker Chad begin their day in the back room of a Manhattan florist. By day’s end they discover their lives are inextricably linked across continents, language and time. With Adrian Baidoo*, J.Stephen Brantley*, Todd Flaherty, and Flor De Liz Perez*.
5 STARS! “A tight 70-minute production with equal weight devoted to the humor and the serious … The actors are individually excellent and work together as a unified whole.”
—Michael Jackson, The Examiner
“Pirira is extremely accurate and probably one of the most important pieces I’ve seen. I wish audiences everywhere could see this.”
—Philippe van den Bossche, former Executive Director of Raising Malawi
“Please see Pirira… It will open your mind and heart, not just to the circumstances of people halfway around the world whose particular situations almost certainly don’t find their way into our (American) field of awareness very much; but also to remember important ideas of our shared humanity.“
—Martin Denton, NY Theater Now
“Pirira is marvelously constructed, with themes and emotions and pieces of dialogue from the two stories intertwining as they play out at the same time, only fully revealing their connections at the end… Pirira makes a strong case for the most innovative and moving new shows coming from beyond the established haunts of Off-Broadway.”
—John Peacock, Flavorpill.com
“I enjoyed this play so much! I was home!”
—Professor Yusuf Juwayeyi, former ambassador from Malawi to the United Nations
Past featured guests:
Colin Shepard, MD, Director of HIV Epidemiology and Field Services at the New York City Department of Health
Drucilla Cornell, founder the Ubuntu Project
Yusuf Juwayeyi, former ambassador from Malawi to the United Nations
Philippe van den Bossche, former executive director, Raising Malawi
Frequently Asked Questions!
The play is partly set during actual riots in an economically ravaged country?
Is this going to be depressing?
No. It’s going to be beautiful.
If you’re not sure where Malawi is, or even if you are, check out this 2-minute video that the playwright made!
Um, how is it that the stage is one room that is two rooms in Africa and the U.S. at the same time?
Hard to explain. Come find out!
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About the Actors
Audiences who saw The Jackson Heights Trilogy will fondly remember J.Stephen Brantley doing double duty, both as one of the authors of Jackson Heights 3AM and as the actor playing both Leo the violent meth-head and Jim the closeted cop.
They will also remember Flor De Liz Perez, who appeared in all three plays in the trilogy — as an immigrant teen, a young mother who once fell in love with a catfish, a victim of sex trafficking, and a 13-year-old tomboy, among other roles.
We’re delighted to welcome them back to our stages and to introduce newcomers Todd Flaherty — seen this summer in Sleep No More — and Adrian Baidoo. Adrian just graduated from the University of Michigan so we are also thrilled to welcome him to New York.
For more about what we’ve been up to creating affordable community-building theatre, please scroll down…
Just get in touch with us at theatre167 at gmail dot com.
Ari Laura Kreith, Artistic Director
Jenny Lyn Bader, Artistic Producer
In 2013, Theatre 167 presented its world premiere of THE JACKSON HEIGHTS TRILOGY at 777 Theatre in midtown Manhattan. If you missed it, you can still catch an experiential version of it at the Queens Museum of Art biennial in 2014
Meanwhile, you can watch the official trilogy video here:
The trilogy, which ran in rotating repertory for over 30 performances in a 4 week limited engagement, featured 37 actors in 93 multicultural roles–and was #1 on NYTheatre.com’s Hot List the week it opened.
The Jackson Heights Trilogy is:
167 Tongues (Queens premiere 2010, 2nd production 2011)
by Jenny Lyn Bader, Meny Beriro, Alvin Eng, Steven Fechter, Jennifer Gibbs, Les Hunter, Anna Kushner, Rehana Mirza, Suzanne Sheptock, and Stefanie Zadravec. Conceived and directed by Ari Laura Kreith.
An Irish ghost befriends a troubled Latina girl, a Dominican manicurist wonders whether her Jewish-Chinese boyfriend will propose before she is deported by the INS, and a Rwandan night nurse attempts to understand the 167 distinct languages spoken in the local Emergency Room.
You Are Now the Owner of ThIs Suitcase (Queens premiere 2011)
by Mando Alvarado, Jenny Lyn Bader, Barbara Cassidy, Les Hunter, Joy Tomasko, Gary Winter, and Stefanie Zadravec. Conceived and directed by Ari Laura Kreith.
A contemporary magic realist story for all ages. Inspired by folk tales collected on the streets of Jackson Heights — tales hailing from Burma, China, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Korea, Latin America, Mexico, Pakistan, Persia, Thailand, and beyond.
Jackson Heights 3AM (Queens premiere 2012, transferred/played 2 venues)
by Jenny Lyn Bader, J.Stephen Brantley, Ed Cardona Jr., Les Hunter, Tom Miller, Melisa Tien, and Joy Tomasko. Conceived and directed by Ari Laura Kreith.
A Bangladeshi cab driver working the night shift yearns for a woman who rises at dawn to bake bread but does not speak her language. A closeted policeman from Long Island comes into town for a date. Car dispatchers, sex workers, drag queens, gamblers, and insomniacs collide in the colorful world of Jackson Heights after hours.
The Jackson Heights Trilogy starred Varin Ayala, Farah Bala, Cynthia Bastidas, Denise Bessette, J.Stephen Brantley, Arlene Chico-Lugo, Ross DeGraw, Jyotsna du Ciel, Nick Fehlinger, Marcelino Feliciano, Samuel T. Gaines, Nicholas Gorham, Andrew Guilarte, Israel Gutierrez, Taylor Hess, Kevin Hoffman, Scott Janes, Brandon Johnson, Russell Jordan, Maribel Martinez, Neal Mayer, Kenneth Maharaj, Nina Mehta, Sorely Muentes-Méndez Jenny Mercein, Anthony Merchant, Dashiell Morss, Elodie Morss, Sergey Nagorny, Flor De Liz Perez, Orlando Rios, Alicia Sable, Claudia Schneider, Indika Senanayake, Lipica Shah, Gen Parton Shin, Fulvia Vergel, Moses Villarama, and Nela Wagman; dramaturgy and dialect coaching by Angie Sohlberg; with a production team that includes Abbey Bay (stage manager), Ross DeGraw (technical director), James McSweeney (set design), Michelle Leibrock (costumes), Diana Duecker (lighting) Katie Hong (sound), Max Ward (projection design) Zooey Barry (props), and Michael Wilson Morgan (puppets).
Scroll down more to read about past projects, including the individual premieres of the plays in the trilogy in Queens…
How We Are Connected: Caribbean
A theatrical adventure fusing family lore, cultural mythology, human migrations and scientific revelations… A group of actors, musicians, and dancers ask and answer questions about their heritage as they explore our collective journey from the fertile crescent to the Caribbean Basin.
How We Are Connected
The Theatre 167 creative team was commissioned to invent a show inspired by National Geographic’s Genographic Project, mapping 50,000 years of human migration history. National Geographic donated a number of ancestral DNA testing kits. Ari Laura Kreith, Jenny Lyn Bader, and J.Stephen Brantley worked with a cast of 13 extraordinary actors, dancers and musicians of Caribbean descent that explored the artists’ personal histories and DNA results. The resulting piece, commissioned and produced by the New International Coalition for Diverse Artists, spans over 50,000 years of human history and fused theatre, music and dance in a moving exploration of human identity.
“a skillful interweaving of dramatic performance, song and dance to show very intimately how these men and women, their families, and even a few historical figures, have struggled over the years with questions of identity and belonging…cast members transport us to their ancestral homes through remembrance and song, and they allow us to experience some of the political and personal back story of the region. We get to sample its music, its food, its spiritual traditions, its bloody history of struggle and oppression, as well as the uplifting narrative of the generations who persevered and overcame those struggles, whether while remaining there, or by finding a new home here in the US.” — Carib News
The development of this piece was supported by a space grant from the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. It featured and was developed with Goussy Celestin, Marie Davis, Marcelino Feliciano, Lena-Marie Gilbert, Maribel Martinez, Greer Morrison, Sorely Muentes-Mendez, Luis Paulino, Vanessa Rodriguez, Edney Romeo, Stephanie Shipp, Ricarrdo Valentine, Petol Weekes.
How We Are Connected: Caribbean premiered in October 2012 at the Museo del Barrio and at the Brooklyn Museum. See glimpses of it on NY1 here:
Theatre 167 did developmental work on plays including a new work by Robert Landy.
A sheer delight from beginning to end. This unusual work adroitly captures the frenetic energy of a neighborhood often called the crossroads of the world… Jackson Heights 3AM proves to be a quintessentially American story.
Jan 13-Feb 5: JACKSON HEIGHTS, 3AM
A world premiere inspired by interviews, fantasies and late-night adventures in the most culturally diverse neighborhood in the world.
JACKSON HEIGHTS shows Jan 13-22! At PS 69, 77-02 37th Ave.
For QUEENS THEATRE in Flushing Meadows Park Jan 28-Feb 5,
Conceived and directed by Ari Laura Kreith
Written by Jenny Lyn Bader, J. Stephen Brantley, Ed Cardona Jr., Les Hunter, Tom Miller, Melisa Tien and Joy Tomasko
A Bangladeshi cab driver working the midnight shift yearns for an Ecuadorian woman who rises at dawn to bake bread, but does not speak her language. A closeted policeman from Long Island comes to Jackson Heights for a date. At Club Atlantis, a drag pageant contestant has a run-in with one of her fans, while farther down Roosevelt Avenue a Russian immigrant discovers that redemption comes in the strangest ways. A rookie cop tries his best to do right by everyone, a beloved dog mysteriously disappears, and in Elmhurst Hospital a heartbroken ER doctor helps her patients fulfill their deepest dreams. Car dispatchers, sex workers, drag queens, E.R. doctors, gamblers, and insomniacs collide in the colorful world of Jackson Heights after hours.
Starring Roberto Araujo, Varin Ayala*, Farah Bala*, Cynthia Bastidas, Rajesh Bose*, J. Stephen Brantley*, Arlene Chico-Lugo, Ross DeGraw*, Nick Fehlinger, Marcelino Feliciano, Andrew Guilarte*, Kevin Hoffman, John P. Keller*, Alex Kip*, Ephraim Lopez*, Neal Mayer*, Nina Mehta*, Sergey Nagorny, Flor De Liz Perez*, Indika Senanayake* and Josie Whittlesey*!
Stage Manager–Sean McCain*; Lighting Design–Kimberly Dowd; Costume Design–Georgie Landy; Projection Design–Andrew Lazarow; Sound Design–Ben Rodman; Set Design–Michael Wilson Morgan
IN JACKSON HEIGHTS at PS 69, 77-02 37th Ave (E, F, M, R or 7 to
Roosevelt Ave/Jackson Heights)
January 13-January 22
At QUEENS THEATRE in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
January 27-February 5
Seven playwrights explored the most culturally diverse neighborhood in the world from 10pm-4am — its brightest lights and loneliest corners — in dance clubs, all-night bakeries, sex shops, laundromats, side streets, and alleyways. They ate arepas prepared by the “sainted arepa lady” and, two blocks away, saw the homeless fed by the local hero a.k.a. “Angel of Queens” under the elevated trains. They interviewed numbers-players, sex trafficking experts, bartenders, cops, and cross dressers. They were invited to dance, to gamble, and to watch an undercover police operation. And they were invited to let their imaginations run dark, funny, sexy, and very very late…
This event is made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Queens Council on the Arts.
Why do you fight for the things you believe in?
Photo by Joel Webber
June 20, 2011
The first public reading of How I Was Radicalized
a new pop/rock musical
book by Les Hunter (167 Tongues)
story by Les Hunter, Ben Morss, and Ari Laura Kreith
You Are Now The Owner Of This Suitcase
March 11 – April 3, 2011
Conceived and directed by Ari Laura Kreith
Dramaturgy by Angie Balsamo
Starring Patricia Becker, Rajesh Bose*, Kim Carlson*, Arlene Chico-Lugo, Kathleen Choe*, Bernardo Cubria*, Ross DeGraw*, Oscar Fabela, Samuel T. Gaines*, John P. Keller*, Stephanie LaVardera, Waldo Mayo*, Emma Ramos (*member AEA)
Production Stage Manager: Sean McCain
Line Producer: Antonia Fairchild
Production Designer: Michael Wilson Morgan
Lighting Design by Nicole Pearce
Read about 167 Tongues in the New York Times and American Theatre Magazine
by Fernanda Santos, New York Times, May 4, 2010
What made Jackson Heights unique, in Ms. Kreith’s view, was that it had none of the ethnic dividers she had encountered elsewhere, “no bubbles isolating one community from the next,” she said.