Rent Party Opens July 12th at The Tank

WRITTEN BY AMINA HENRY
DIRECTED BY GRETCHEN VAN LENTE 
 
WORLD PREMIERE
JULY 12-21 @ THE TANK
 
The Tank (Meghan Finn and Rosalind Grush, Artistic Directors) in association with Drama of Works will present the World Premiere of Rent Party by Amina Henry, directed by Gretchen Van Lente at The Tank (312 West 36th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues), July 12-21. Performances will be on Friday, July 12 at 7pm, Saturday, July 13 at 3pm, Saturday, July 13 at 7pm, Sunday, July 14 at 12pm, Sunday, July 14 at 3pm, Friday, July 19 at 7pm, Saturday, July 20 at 3pm, Saturday, July 20 at 7pm, Sunday, July 21 at 12pm, and Sunday, July 21 at 3pm. Tickets ($18 adults; $12 kids 18 and under) are available for advance purchase at www.thetanknyc.orgThe performance will run approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission.
 
In the early 1900s African-Americans began to migrate north in large numbers. Harlem was where their community was, so many moved there, despite the high rents. Rent parties became a popular way for families to raise the rent money they needed. They would hire a musician or band, get cheap refreshments and charge a small entry fee. 
 
An innovative toy theater fills the stage, a replica of a Harlem block from the 1920s. Lights flicker on as people awake. We see toy theater puppets, shadows come to life in windows, and at a certain point the whole set transforms. All the while actors frolic in 20s costumes, original saxophone music plays through the speakers and a cat does back alley beat poetry. We’re transported in time to an era poignant and pivotal to the African-American experience in this country and people of all ages should know these stories, hear these words and listen to this music. Come follow Rose, Jenny and Ricky as they help their mammas throw a RENT PARTY to save their home. All they need to do is get the ice, hand out some cards, oh – and get a real live musician to play. Shouldn’t be too hard…
 
The cast will include AnJu Hyppolite, Marlee Miller, Maya Posey, and Christian Roberson with Puppet and Set Design by Gretchen Van Lente, Costume Design by Taylor Harrison, Music Direction by Jessica Lurie, and Lighting Design by Jeannette Yew. 
 
RENT PARTY has been awarded the prestigious Henson Foundation family grant. The show is recommended for ages 10 and up. 
 
Amina Henry (Playwright) is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Productions include: Ducklings at JACK (Brooklyn, NY), The Animals at JACK, Happily Ever at Brooklyn College, Bully at Interrobang Theater (Baltimore, MD), An American Family Takes a Lover, produced by The Cell: a 21stCentury Salon and presented by Theatre for the New City (New York, NY), Water produced by Drama of Works (Brooklyn, NY), The Minstrel Show, produced as part of the 2013 Bring a Weasel and a Pint of Your Own Blood Festival. Her work has been developed by/presented at: The New Group, Clubbed Thumb, The Flea, National Black Theater, Little Theater at Dixon Place, The Brooklyn Generator, The Brick, Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the 2013 Black Swan Lab Series (Ashland, OR), Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas, TX), The Brick, HERE Arts Center, The Cell: a 21st Century Salon, HERO Theatre, the Hive Theater, the Bowery Poetry Club and Brooklyn College. She was a 2012-2013 Core Apprentice playwright at The Playwrights Center and a 2013 Finalist for the Leah Ryan FEWW Playwriting Prize for her play Bully. She was a featured playwright at the 2013 Black and Latino Playwrights Conference at Texas State University. Publications include Hello, My Name Is Joe in the compilation 24 Gun Control Plays, published by No Passport Press. Amina Henry is a graduate of Yale University; NYU’s Performance Studies MA program and Brooklyn College’s MFA Playwriting program lead by head weasels Mac Wellman and Erin Courtney. She has been a member of Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writers Group, Page73’s writers group, and is a 2017-2018 member of the Ars Nova writers group. She is a 2017-2018 recipient of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Space Residency and is a 2018 recipient of a space residency at Dixon Place.
 
Gretchen Van Lente (Director) is the Artistic Director of Drama of Works, a freelance theater director and a full-time theater teacher. She has been working in the field of puppetry and visual theater since 1995. Since this time, outside of the over a dozen award-winning shows she has created with DOW, she has directed for Polaris North Theater, Bond Street Theater, Theater for the New City, {your name here} a Queer Theater Company, New Georges, JACK Brooklyn; and at Brooklyn College, where she directed Gruesome Playground InjuriesThe Ferris Wheel and The Fairy Garden, as well as puppetry direction for She Kills Monsters. As a designer she has worked with TheatreWorks USA, Mannes Opera, The Brick Theater, and many others. She received her BFA in illustration from Parsons School of Design, her BA in theatre from Eugene Lang College, an MFA in directing from Brooklyn College, and an MS in Education from Pace University. She is currently a full-time elementary theater teacher for district 75 in New York City.
 
Drama of Works (DOW) “New York’s tightly organized satirists” (In Pittsburgh), are known for their innovative works “high on fantastic production value” (Village Voice) that cross the line between actors and puppeteers. “Whatever it is supposed to be, it isn’t boring.” (Puppetmaster). Led by Artistic Director Gretchen Van Lente (former president of UNIMA-USA), they have performed around New York City, plus all over the East Coast and abroad since 1999 with their unique brand of theatre: gaining members, fans and supporters along the way. Drama of Works has performed abroad at ten international festivals to date, garnering awards and accolades: The International Festival of Children’s Theater in Subotica, Serbia; The FOOT Festival of Original Theatre in Toronto, Canada; The Cooking Fire Theatre Festival, also in Toronto; The Barents Region International Puppet Festival in Oulu, Finland (twice); The Istanbul International Puppet Festival; The World Festival of Puppet Art, Prague (twice); The Prague Fringe Festival; and the World Festival of Puppet Art, Jakarta, Indonesia. They are the recipients of eight Henson Foundation grants, two grants from the Rhode Island Foundation, a grant from the Fund for US Artists at International Festivals, an ART/NY Creative Space and Nancy Quinn Fund grant, a Chashama/NEA Performance Development Award and an Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan Project Commission. They have participated in various festivals and developmental labs, including HERE’s Dream Music Puppetry Program, the O’Neil Puppetry Conference, the Arts at St. Ann’s Puppet Lab, and many others. Drama of Works prides themselves on including members from a variety of backgrounds, including puppetry, experimental theatre, clowning, classical theatre, folk dance and comedy. They are proud members of Puppeteers of America, UNIMA-USA, Network of Ensemble Theaters and ART/NY. They create work for all ages, including pieces geared toward small children, family audiences and more text-heavy adult-centered pieces exploring deeper themes. They specialize in adapting already-told stories in new and invigorated ways. www.dramaofworks.com 
 
The Tank is a non-profit arts presenter and producer. Our mission is to remove economic barriers from the creation of new work for artists launching their careers and experimenting within their art form, and to do so in an environment that is inclusive and accessible. We serve over 2,000 artists every year in over 800 performances, and work across all disciplines, including theater, comedy, dance, film, music, puppetry, and storytelling. The heart of our services is providing free performance space in our two-stage theater complex Manhattan, and we also offer a suite of other services such as free rehearsal space, promotional support, artist fees, and much more. We support work at all phases of development, from readings and residencies to fully-produced world premieres. We keep ticket prices affordable and view our work as democratic, opening up both the creation and attendance of the arts to all.

Recent Tank-produced work includes Drama Desk-nominated productions Ada/Ava (2016), youarenowhere (2016), The Paper Hat Game (2017), the ephemera trilogy (2017), and The Hunger Artist (2018), as well as New York Times Critics’ Picks The Offending Gesture by Mac Wellman, directed by Meghan Finn (2016) and Red Emma & The Mad Monk by Alexis Roblan, directed by Katie Lindsay (2018). www.thetanknyc.org