Downtown Urban Arts Festival Features Mel Nieves & Cost of Exposure

CapturePlaywright’s NameMel Nieves

Tell us about your latest project:

It’s a two character one act between a husband, who is a writer, and his wife, a former dancer. The play explores the fine line of “writing what you know” and “exploitation” when the husband decides to write a fictional account of a tragic moment in their relationship that has haunted both of them in different ways.

What excites you about being a part of the Downtown Urban Arts Festival?

T. Marc Newell has been such a supporter of my work over the years going back to when the festival was at the Cherry Lane Theatre that I truly feel that the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival along with the LAByrinth Theatre Company, Barefoot Theatre company and The Actors Studio Playwright-Director Unit/Workshop is one of my true artistic homes.

What’s your upcoming project after the Festival?

I will be shooting a film as an actor in April and I’m also currently working on a screenplay that I was hired to write which will be filmed in September in West palm Beach Florida.


Wednesday, March 23 at 7pm
HERE (145 Sixth Avenue – enter on Dominick Street)
Tickets are $18 at or by calling 212-352-3101

Downtown Urban Arts Festival

CaptureI just recently learned about this Festival which a bit shocking. Only because it has been in existence since 2001 and it completely slipped pass me. Quell damage! Anyway, I know about it now and if you didn’t know about it, you are so welcome.

The crux of their mission is an “wavering commitment to promote diversity in the arts by showcasing urban expression”.  The festival runs to April 10th and covers artists expressing through theatre, film and poetry.

Visit for more info and follow me on Twitter @malinism and on Theatre Beyond Broadway Facebook Page to learn more about the artists.



Now in its 14th year, the Downtown Urban Arts Festival (DUTF) is becoming New York’s premiere winter/spring theatre event showcasing independent theatre artists. The month-long festival, produced by Creative Ammo, Inc., provides writers and performance artists from America’s burgeoning multicultural landscape the opportunity to share their stories that interpret our history and our times.

The 2016 Downtown Urban Arts Festival will run March 4-April 2 with performances at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street), Nuyorican Poets Café (236 East 3rd Street), HERE (145 Sixth Avenue – enter on Dominick Street), and the Tribeca Film Center (375 Greenwich Street). Tickets ($10-$30) may be purchased in advance at

All shows are at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street)
Tickets are $30 at or by calling 212-967-7555

Friday, March 4 at 7:30pm
Corey Glover & Friends
Two-time Grammy Award lead singer of the legendary band Living Colour Corey Glover performs a special one-night only intimate concert with friends Dennis Diamond, who co-wrote the powerful anthem Silence with Glover from his first solo album Hymns, and others.

All shows are at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street)
Tickets are $20 at or by calling 212-967-7555

Tuesday, March 8 at 7:30pm
The Bronx Queen by Joe Gulla
Anchors aweigh! Playwright/Actor Joe Gulla (bait and!) tackles the issue of growing up as a gay Italian boy… in the Bronx! Smart, fun, funny and poignant, The Bronx Queen reveals why some people are destined to be nervous (ship)wrecks… while others cling to the greatest life preserver of all: Art! (Dramamine not included!)

Tuesday, March 15 at 7:30pm
Love, Locs, & Liberation by Ella Turenne
Blending poetry, song and humor, Ella Turenne unlocks “hairstories” experienced by Black women. Through 21 different characters, she exposes the hair connection to politics and culture. Love, Locs & Liberation weaves together stories of struggles with issues of identity and beauty using rituals Black women hold sacred and Ella’s experience as an American woman with strong ties to her Haitian culture.

All shows are at Nuyorican Poets Café (236 East 3rd Street)
Tickets are $12 at

Saturday, March 19 @ 7pm
Words Matter Poetry Slam
#FlintWaterCrisis, #RoevWade, #RefugeesWelcome, #BlackLivesMatter … a poetry slam for writers to share what matters to them (in a poetic way) with a $200 prize for best poem. Special guests include Nuyorican founder Miguel Algarin, two-time Tony nominee Reg E. Gaines and others.

All shows are at HERE (145 Sixth Avenue – enter on Dominick Street)
Tickets are $18 at or by calling 212-352-3101

Tuesday, March 22 at 7pm
Homo Americanus by Paul Cosma-Cimpoieru
Using music and dance, Paul Cosma-Cimpoieru fervently explores a Romanian immigrant’s experiences in the Big Apple. From the subways, bodegas, tourists, Uptown, Downtown, he reveals through this interpretive dance work what it feels like to wake up in the city that never sleeps and strive to be a part of it.

Twist & A Bridge by Jennifer Cendana Armas
Twists & A Bridge weaves theatre, song, and poetry in English, Tagalog, and Spanish to tell the story of immigration and family.

Wednesday, March 23 at 7pm
Recess by Una Aya Osato
Focusing on a group of 7-year-olds, this multi-media, nonlinear play takes audiences’ on a field trip into the hearts and minds of children navigating their way through life and the NYC public school system.

Thursday, March 24 at 7pm
Cost of Exposure by Mel Nieves
“I’m feeling that this is a complete and utter violation of the most intimate part of my life, MY LIFE! This is nothing less than a RAPE!” – Cynthia Vargas to her husband Hector. What price are you willing to pay and what are you willing to lose for writing what you know? What is the cost of exposure?

trash by Alyssa Krompier & Justice Hehir
When two young women are stationed to pick up trash for court-mandated community service, they find common ground as they sift through things left behind, discarded, or misplaced.

Friday, March 25 at 7pm
No Cowards In Our Band by Anthony B. Knight, Jr.
Set against the backdrop of post-Reconstruction America, self-emancipated slave-turned- statesman Frederick Douglass uses the healing balm of the Negro spiritual as the framework within which he reflects on his life and the social, economic and political ramifications of slavery and the Civil War.

Saturday, March 26 at 7pm
Radical by Nelson Diaz-Marcano
It is September 11, 1973 in Santiago, Chile and the government has been brutally overtaken by the military. In the midst, three strangers battle it out in a basement while chaos and paranoia drown a dying promise. Radical shows what happens to people who are left with nothing but hope.

In the Library by Clyve Lagerquist
In the Library is a meditation on suspicion, guilt, intent and the roles adopted in the midst of a tragedy.

Tuesday, March 29 at 7pm
Strange Fruit Redux by Afrika Brown
No one truly knows what the day holds as they prepare to step out their front door. Burgeoning Bed-Stuy artist Nathan Strange is poised to be the latest phenomenon of the NYC art scene, but a common trend plaguing our society may prevent him from doing that.

Stop and Frisk by Matthew Widman
Two young men are stopped and frisked by two undercover cops as they walk across an urban park.

Wednesday, March 30 at 7pm
Canned Laughter by Dean Preston
“Ever since his children’s television show ended, Milligan has remained a shut in. But when Howard, a TV producer from his past, arrives at his door determined to make a revival of the show, old tensions arise and the seams that bound their once strong friendship unravel all over again.”

Thursday, Marc 31 at 7pm
Flip-in by John Foster
What happens when down south, back woods, magic hits a young NYC couple? In this urban Hip-Hop comedy lovers caught in a spell must take on the themes of love, sex, and, “what it is like for a woman to live in a world designed specifically for men.”

Dine & Dash by Anghus Houvouras
Some dates are a disaster. Others are murder. Two lost souls meet for a blind date with wildly different agendas: She wants to get inside his head. He wants to get up her skirt. Unfortunately, only one of them will walk away from this encounter alive.

Friday, April 1 at 7pm
Rags To Bitches by Tommy Jamerson
“Lock down those lashes and lace-fronts, ladies, because a battle of wits and wigs is about to ensue. When two Queens accuse each other of sabotage, shade will be thrown, T spilled, and acrylics sharpened; all culminating in an epic dance-off guaranteed to go down in drag “herstory.”

One Size Fits All by Irene Hernandez
In One Size Fits All, watch four women get undressed and confide their deepest secrets… while shopping and trying on clothes in a fitting room at a department store. Each woman, of various shapes and sizes, shares her frustration with body shaming, insecurity and finding the right outfit with humor and brutal honesty.

Saturday, April 2 at 7pm
Ferry Limbo by Chip Bolcik
The story of John Duvall, a man who thinks he is on his way to work, but who meets Larry, a man who can’t remember anything about himself until he tells John that John has died.

When the Bell Rings You Shut the F*ck Up by Jim Bulluck
An unhappy couple has an unusual encounter during a therapy session.

April 7, 8 & 9 @ Tribeca Film Center (375 Greenwich Street)
Tickets are $10
Details TBA!

DOWNTOWN URBAN ARTS FESTIVAL In 2001, DUTF was founded with the purpose to build a repertoire of new American theatre that echoes the true spirit of urban life and speaks to a whole new generation whose lives defy categorizing along conventional lines. That purpose has been realized many times over, as more than 100 writers have created and refined their work for the stage and thousands of inspired audience members have applauded their performances. DUTF inaugurated the festival in 2002 at HERE in SoHo to help revitalize the NYC downtown arts scene, which, at the time, was experiencing a severe downturn due to the WTC disaster. It has been recognized as “one of the world’s best festivals for new works” and described as “not only prestigious, but a slice of heaven for playwrights who want the chance to freely express themselves.” (Lisa Mulcahy, Theater Festivals, Allworth Press, 2005)

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

DUTF is part of SubletSeries@HERE: Co-op, HERE’s curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical support.