This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

29Jul/20

LIBERTY OR JUST US: A CITY PARK STORY

Theatre for the New City hopes to take latest summer musical offscreen and into parks

Theater for the New City hopes to take latest summer musical offscreen and into parks

Who: Crystal Field, Matthew Angel, JC Augustin, Alexander Bartenieff, Celeste Bradsher, Celestina Bradsher, Cheryl Gadsen, Michael-David Gordon, Sam Gutierrez, Ben Harburg, Dan Kelley, Terry Lee King, T. Scott Lily, Mark Marcante, Jessy Ortiz, Allison Patrick, Emily Pezzella, Justin Rodriguez, Michael Sanders, Ebonaya Smallwood, Natasha Velez, Juan Villegas, Lei Zhou
What: New oratorio by Crystal Field and Joseph Vernon Banks
Where: Theater for the New City online and individual park websites
When: Saturdays and Sundays, August 1 - September 13, free, 2:00
Why: The original plan was for Theater for the New City to stage its latest Summer Street Theater work, Liberty or Just Us: A City Park Story, at outdoor sites across the five boroughs, from Tenth St. and First Ave. in front of the troupe’s home to St. Mary’s Park, Abe Lebewohl Park, the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, Fort Greene Park, Travers Park, Tappen Park, and other locations, but Covid-19 had something to say about that. In the show, a large cast of eighteen actors and a keyboardist (trimmed down from a six-piece band) follows a park manager as he navigates through the coronavirus pandemic while dealing with privatization, police brutality, land grabbing, and prejudice; the details were developed through workshops with park managers, a teacher, a protest organizer, a Black policeman, and even a clown. TNC cofounder and artistic director and Obie winner Crystal Field wrote the book and lyrics and directs; the music is by Joseph Vernon Banks. Liberty or Just Us: A City Park Story has been adapted both for online viewing and for socially distanced outdoor presentations, should New York City’s rules about performances and gatherings change. There will also be an opportunity to occasionally sing along, with words projected onscreen.

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