The 52nd Street Project is described as a not-for-profit theater organization that "pairs children from Hell's Kitchen with theater professionals to create original theater. The Project also offers the kids a place to belong, opportunities to experience success on-stage, and positive, one-on-one mentoring relationships with caring adults from age nine all the way through high school. The final stage in the Project's curriculum, offered to its oldest members, is the Teen Ensemble: a two-year program in which teenagers undertake advanced theater study with adult professionals before ultimately adapting and performing a full work of Shakespeare."
Now approaching the end of their first year in the program, the current ensemble will present Bringing Down the House, an evening of six one-acts written for the kids by theater professionals tonight June 1 and tomorrow June 2 at the Project's Five Angels Theater (789 Tenth Avenue, NYC).
During their first year in the Teen Ensemble, the teens have participated in workshops on movement, improvisation, singing, mask and scene study. The plays comprising Bringing Down the House explore themes of heroism, gender identity, tattoos... and Barbie Dolls.
Bringing Down the House will be presented tonight, June 1 at 7:30 P.M. and Saturday, June 2 at 3:00 P.M. Admission is free, but reservations should be made in advance by calling 212.642.5052 or visiting the Project website: www.52project.org.
The 52nd Street Project Teen Ensemble is: Doris Alcantara, Samantha Caldona, Lily Capstick, Armando Cosme, Alvin Garcia, Jason Gil, Emmett Goodman-Boyd, Kiana Hernandez, Zakiya Jacob, Maximo Jimenez, Tino Paduani, Melissa Rebolledo, Ashley Smith, Luisa Santiago, Viviana Vazquez, Francis Williams, and Kimberly Zenteno.
The adult playwrights are: Alexandra Gersten-Vasillaros, David Lindsay-Abaire (Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Rabbit Hole), Jerome Hairston (writer for the TV show "Smash"), Cynthia Kaplan, Matthew Paul Olmos and Erin Quinn Purcell.
The adult directors are: Eliza Baldi, Andrew Grosso, Jordan Mahome, Nikiya Mathis, Alexandra O'Daly and Stephen Ruddy.
In the second year of the Teen Ensemble, the teens will continue their studies, working in voice and clown workshops as well as writing scenes for themselves based upon Shakespearian characters. Finally, the Ensemble will adapt a full-length Shakespeare play and perform it next summer in New York City before taking it on tour out of town (location TBD). Previous Teen Ensembles have been performed in Lorgues, France; London and Debenham, England; Marfa, Texas; as well as the University of Calgary and the Banff Arts Centre in Canada.