New Home of the FLEA THEATER to OPEN THIS FALL

CaptureNEW HOME OF THE FLEA THEATER TO OPEN THIS FALL
Features 3 Theaters – Named After A.R. Gurney, Sigourney Weaver & Sam Cohn
1st Production begins August 21
Official Grand Opening of full complex on Thursday, September 28

The Flea Theater proudly announces the long-awaited opening of their performing arts complex at 20 Thomas Street in TriBeCa and their 2017 season of productions.  The new theater marks the first theater complex to open in downtown Manhattan in 11 years.

The new Flea features three distinctive and singularly named theaters: The Sam, a large black box named for legendary deal maker Sam Cohn; The Pete, an intimate one-of-a-kind indoor/outdoor performance space named for seminal and late playwright A.R. Gurney; and The Siggy, a below-ground theater that uses arches dating back to the building’s origins in the 1700’s, named for Flea founder and continuing inspiration Sigourney Weaver.

The Flea was designed by Architecture Research Office (ARO), the New York City firm led by Stephen Cassell, Kim Yao, and Adam Yarinsky. Founded in 1993, Architecture Research Office has earned a reputation for earnest exploration and engagement that yields architecture that is original, innovative and imaginative. Architecture Research Office is as much a laboratory as a design practice and fit perfectly into The Flea’s aesthetic.  The theater was built by Westerman Construction, Lloyd G. Westerman, Principal and Dan Wrzesinski, Sr. Project Manager.  Westerman is known for specializing in the management of complex construction and focuses on many of New York City’s most treasured designated landmarks, including The Public Theater.

Under Artistic Director Niegel Smith and Producing Director, Carol Ostrow, The Flea is delighted to announce the slate for the theater’s inaugural season in its new home.  The fall season features a world premiere, a New York premiere, the return of its late-night series, SERIALS and the launch of two new programs, CEREALS, plays for younger audiences and FLEA FRIDAYS, an alternative community based happy hour.

The first production in the new space will begin performances on August 21 in The Siggy. All three theaters will be open and operational in time for an official Grand Opening on Thursday, September 28.

August 21 – September 24
INANIMATE by Nick Robideau
Directed by Courtney Ulrich in The Siggy Theater.
Erica, shy and more than a little socially awkward, is in love with Dee. The problem is that her family, her only and equally awkward new friend, and the nosy residents of their small town in Massachusetts don’t understand at all, because Dee… well, Dee is a letter in the Dairy Queen sign. Inanimate is a play that explores objectum sexuality, feeling like an outsider, listening to your heart and finally, finding your tribe. This world premiere production will be directed by Flea Associate Artist Courtney Ulrich and will feature The Bats, the resident acting company at The Flea. Performances are Thursday–Monday at 7pm, with weekend matinees at 3pm. Tickets start at $15 with the lowest priced tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. Opening night is slated for August 30.

September 7 – December 9
SERIALS @ THE FLEA
Produced by Rachel Lin and Matt Stango in The Siggy Theater.
Late night at The Flea continues with Serials @ The Flea. Monthly cycles kick off for the year on September 7. Now counting 39 sold-out cycles, this raucous late night play competition featuring The Bats and some of NYC’s hottest young playwrights runs through December 9. Two members of The Flea’s resident acting company, Rachel Lin and Matt Stango, will produce.  Serials @ The Flea plays 10PM Thursday-Saturday. Cycle 40 plays September 7-16, Cycle 41 plays October 19-28, and Cycle 42 plays November 30 – December 9. Tickets are $12.

September 25 – October 29
SYNCING INK by NSangou Njikam
Directed by Niegel Smith in The Sam Theater.
NSangou Njikam’s Syncing Ink is a semi-autobiographical coming of age story. High school student Gordon pursues freestyle rap as a way to garner clout but soon discovers a deeper artistic passion. Through honing his craft, Gordon finds his voice as well as a community rich with history. The play is told largely in freestyle, working off of prompts rather than scripted text, which means that each evening will be slightly different, based on the audience’s suggestions and interactions. The New York Premiere of Syncing Ink will be directed by Flea Artistic Director Niegel Smith and features a cast of six Equity actors, including Njikam in the leading role. Performances are Wednesday–Monday at 7pm, with weekend matinees at 2pm. Tickets start at $15 with the lowest priced tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. Opening night is slated for October 8.

September 16 – November 19
CEREALS
Produced by Isabelle Pierre and Ben Schrager in The Pete Theater.
The Flea brings our signature serialized theater madness to young audiences ages 5-9 with a new series, Cereals @ The Flea. Flea Resident Directors, working with a cadre of up and coming writers, created ethnically and culturally specific interpretations of folk tales written in 10 minute installments, including The Lorikeet, Fatima and Her Pigeon, Not My Monster, The Girl With No Hands and Cosmicomics. Two members of The Flea’s resident acting company, Ben Schrager and Isabelle Pierre, will produce the inaugural cycles. Cereals @ The Flea plays at 11AM and 1PM Saturday-Sunday; Cycle 1 plays September 16-24, Cycle 2 plays November 11-19. Tickets are $20 for both a parent and child ($10 for each additional child) and include a free mini-box of cereal.

Throughout The Fall:
FLEA FRIDAYS
Curated by Lilleth Glimcher in The Pete Theater.
Also new @ The Flea is Flea Fridays, a series of happy hours featuring lobby performances before our 7pm curtain on select Fridays throughout the fall.  Look for musicians and solo performers, alternative theater and more as you sip a drink at our lobby bar. Tickets are $15.

The award-winning Flea was created in 1996 by three downtown artists – Founding Artistic Director Jim Simpson, writer Mac Wellman and designer Kyle Chepulis.  Their mission was simple yet bold: “to raise a joyful hell in a small space” by representing the best and brightest of what Off-Off-Broadway can be. True to this day, The Flea produces over 250 cutting-edge performances each year, giving voice and opportunity to diverse and innovative writers, directors, actors and designers who have something urgent to say about our world.  Current Artistic Director Niegel Smith says regarding the season, “2017 is asking a lot of us as artists. I’m proud that our new home at 20 Thomas Street will open with projects that bring stories that are not in the dominant culture to the forefront. From a young man mastering his inner voice, a young Syrian girl escaping war, a bird caged in communist China, a monster stuck in an inhospitable swamp, a dinosaur trying to decide how to evolve, to a young woman in love with a Dairy Queen sign, our fall season examines how we define ourselves in a world that attempts to oppress and limit us.”  Adds Ostrow, “It’s The Flea’s 21st season.  We have come of age and for the first season in our new home we have a lot to say.”

With three performance spaces, music and dance will be back at The Flea and even more theater will be a part of the season.  This fall, The Flea welcomes New Georges, the theatrically adventurous company dedicated to female artists, LAVA, the feminist acrobatic dance collective and The Bang Group, the dance company devoted to craftsmanship, creative liberty and aesthetic diversity, into the fold and into the mix.

BIOGRAPHIES:

NSangou Njikam is an actor and playwright originally from Baltimore, MD. He is the author of Syncing Ink, Re:Definition, I.D., When We Left, Search For The Crystal Stairs, and one of the authors of Hands Up: 6 Plays, 6 Testimonials. His work has been developed by The Public Theater, Penn State University, The Flea Theater, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, UNIVERSES theatre company, New Black Fest, and the Alley Theatre. Mr. Njikam’s play I.D. recently made its world premiere at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa before coming to the U.S. at Penn State Centre Stage. His playwriting residencies and fellowships include 2015 Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater, 2013 New Black Fest fellow, and Penn State University commissioned playwright. As an arts educator, Mr. Njikam has worked for Brooklyn Academy of Music, CUNY Creative Arts Team, Harlem School of the Arts, and is cofounder of The Continuum Project, Inc., an organization using African Ancestry DNA testing and the Arts to promote healing and empowerment for communities. Mr. Njikam’s work focuses mainly on Identity stories and the empowerment of the human spirit by recognizing and embracing one’s personal gifts, utilizing Hip Hop theatre, poetry, and West African performance aesthetics. He also aims to develop new, diverse and younger audiences by creating “theatre of the now and for tomorrow.” He received his BFA in acting from Howard University. After tracing his roots to the Tikar people in Cameroon, West Africa, he was named NSangou by Sultan Ibrahim MBombo Njoya, 19th king of the Bamoun kingdom in Cameroon. He currently resides in New York.

Niegel Smith is a theater director and performance artist who sculpts social spaces into unique communal environments where we make new rituals, excavate our pasts and imagine future narratives. Directing credits include Hir (Magic Theatre, 2014; Mixed Blood, 2015; Playwrights Horizons, 2015), A 24 Decade History of Popular Music… (New York Live Arts, et al., 2015), The Perils of Obedience (Abrons Arts Center, 2013–ongoing), and Neighbors (The Public Theater, 2010). His participatory performances have been produced by American Realness, Dartmouth College, The New Museum, Prelude Festival, PS 122, and the Van Alen Institute, among others. . In addition to being the Artistic Director of The Flea Theater, he is also Associate Artistic Director of Elastic City, and ringleader of Willing Participant, an artistic activist organization. http://www.niegelsmith.com

Nick Robideau is a Brooklyn-based playwright, originally from Massachusetts. Some of his plays include The Sampo (Title:Point), Prophet in Pink (FringeNYC), Robot Heaven (Pipeline Theatre Company), and Everything (HB Studio). Nick recently received his MFA in playwriting from Hunter College, where he studied under John Baker, Tina Howe, Sam Hunter, and Arthur Kopit.

Courtney Ulrich is a New York based director. Directing credits include, The Feast by Cory Finley (The Flea) and Time Out Critic’s Pick White Hot by Tommy Smith (The Flea), Sousepaw: A Baseball Story (Shelby Company, FringeNYC 2015 Award for Overall Excellence in Directing), The Mysteries (The Flea, Assoc. Director). She has directed and developed work at New Dramatists, Ensemble Studio Theater, Ma-Yi, Samuel French Festival (Finalist), Pipeline Theater, Shelby Company, The Tank, 24 Hour Plays, Old Vic New Voices. Courtney is a recipient of the 2015 SDC Observership Fellowship and is an Associate Artist at The Flea Theater.

The Bats are the resident acting company members of The Flea Theater. Each season, over a thousand actors audition for a place in this unique company. The Bats perform in extended runs of challenging classics, as well world premieres of new plays. They are the lifeblood of The Flea.

The Flea Theater, under Artistic Director Niegel Smith and Producing Director Carol Ostrow, is one of New York’s leading Off-Off-Broadway companies. Winner of several Obie Awards, a Special Drama Desk Award for outstanding achievement and an Otto Award for political theater, The Flea has presented over 100 theatrical, musical and dance performances since its inception in 1996. Past productions include premieres by Steven Banks, Thomas Bradshaw, Erin Courtney, Bathsheba Doran, Will Eno, Karen Finley, Amy Freed, Sarah Gancher, Sean Graney, A.R. Gurney, Jennifer Haley, Hamish Linklater, Enrique Gutiérrez Ortiz Monasterio, Itamar Moses, Anne Nelson, Qui Nguyen, Adam Rapp, Jonathan Reynolds, Kate Robbins, Roger Rosenblatt, Elizabeth Swados, and Mac Wellman.  Successes include Drama Desk nominated She Kills Monsters, These Seven Sicknesses, Restoration Comedy, The Mysteries and ten World Premiere productions by A.R. Gurney, including the WSJ Best New Play of 2013, Family Furniture.

The Flea Theater is located at 20 Thomas Street between Church and Broadway, three blocks north of Chambers, close to the A/C/E, N/Q/R/W, 4/5/6, J/M/Z and 1/2/3 subway lines. Purchase tickets by calling 212-352-3101 or online at http://www.theflea.org.

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