The 52nd Street Project pairs kids living in Hell's Kitchen with theater professionals who mentor them through the creation of original theater. Running from April 4-7, the organization's Semi-Annual Playmaking Series will feature Reed Birney (Picnic), Billy Crudup (Arcadia), Peter Dinklage, and Myra Lucretia Taylor (Nine), along with other accomplished actors, in Stand by Me: The Reliable Plays, a collection of one-acts written by the Project's youngest Hell's Kitchen mentees, ten 10-year-old kids who have just begun their theatrical education.
The program begins with a nine-week playwriting course to introduce the kids to the playmaking process. At the end of the course, the children, accompanied by their volunteer adult dramaturge/director mentors, are taken to a "writer's retreat" in the countryside. After the writing process, each child is given a professional cast to perform their work at the public Playmaking series.
This year's young playwrights include Mussa Ahmed, Jayda Camacho, Kai Ceniza, Sasha Davis, Stephanie Macias, Matthew Orozco, David Ortiz, Chyanne Nicole Peña, Christin-Delaine Gavriella Tetteh and Damian Tineo.
Dramaturge/Directors George Babiak, Paul Coffey, Rachel Dart, Andy Donald, Tasha Gordon-Solomon, Chad Hoeppner, Charise Castro Smith, Awoye Timpo, Nicole A. Watson, and Kerry Whigham and performers Reed Birney, Molly Carden, Jackie Chung, Liza Colon-Zayas, Michael Crane, Billy Crudup, Peter Dinklage, Korey Jackson, Isaiah Johnson (Peter and the Starcatcher), Sue Jean Kim, Sekou Laidlow, Angela Lewis, Rachel Mewbron, Adrienne Moore, Scott Parkinson, Bhavesh Patel, Annie Purcell, Stephen O'Reilly, Jeanna Phillips and Myra Lucretia Taylor have volunteered their time to help these talented kids realize their potential. The production also features original music by Kim D. Sherman.
The 52nd Street Project was founded in 1981 by actor, playwright, and 1994 MacArthur Fellow Willie Reale in response to a growing need to improve the quality of life for New York's inner-city children. Reale, a company member of the Ensemble Studio Theater (EST), used his company privileges to create theatrical activities specifically for disadvantaged children. The Project is now an independent, not-for-profit organization that creates over 80 new plays and helps over 130 children every year. The project is about giving kids an experience of success and the opportunity to prove that he or she has something of value to offer from within that cannot be taken away.
Stand by Me: The Reliable Plays will run from April 4–7 at The 52nd Street Project's Five Angels Theater. Admission is free, but reservations must be made in advance. Visit here for more information on how you can support these future Tony Award winners.