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Production tours City streets, parks and playgrounds August 5 to September 17.

Photo from Biotech
Mark Marcante, Primi Rivera and Craig Meade examine a giant tomato that is crossed with a fish gene in "Biotech."

August 5 to September 17
Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm plus Friday, August 18 at 8:00 pm.
In NYC streets, parks, and playgrounds throughout the five boroughs.
See full schedule of locations & schedule below
Presented by Theater for the New City.
Free. Audience info (212) 254-1109.

Theater for the New City will mount its 22nd annual street theater production, "Biotech," written and directed by Crystal Field, August 5 to September 17. This brand-new, rip-roaring outdoor musical comedy will tour City streets, parks, and playgrounds throughout the five boroughs and is free to all New Yorkers. It's a sci-fi thrtiller in which the world's leading chemical companies conspire with its foremost trade and banking institutions to take over the world by seeding a Lower East Side community garden with a genetic composite of a man's penis and a potato (the domineering hybrid will be known as "Dick Tater.")

After injecting fish genes into tomatoes and insect genes into corn, the business world has finally gone too far. A monster Mr. Potato Head was secretly planted the Esperanza Garden (near Suffolk Street) because concealment of the conspiracy is assured: as soon as the development goes in, the community garden will disappear. The "human spuds" will procreate and take over the world and nobody will know their origin.

But the boodlers and mad scientists haven't counted on Alberto the gardner. He was born in Esperanza Garden because his mother was evicted from her tenement and her HMO coverage didn't kick in for two weeks after the baby was born. Alberto can talk to plants and he's a natural leader in the fight to keep the garden theirs and the food supply pure. Just as every plant can find a useful niche in the community, they all come to Alberto's aid to fight against "Dick Tater" and for their genetic integrity. There's even a place for Poison Ivy in the battle for a healthful breathing space in our great City, not to mention the World's struggle for light, air and a healthy diet for everyone.

The production is written and directed by Crystal Field and will be mounted by a company of 30 actors, ten crew and five live musicians. Music is composed and arranged by Joseph-Vernon Banks. Costume design is by Alessandra Nichols. (Schedule follows below.)

TNC's award-winning Street Theater always contains an elaborate assemblage of trap doors, giant puppets, smoke machines, masks, original choreography and a huge (9' x 12') running screen or "cranky" providing continuous movement behind the actors. The cast shares the challenge of performing outside and holding a large, non-captive audience.

Author/director Crystal Field began writing street theater in 1968 as a member of Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia. She wrote and performed her own outdoor theater pieces against the Vietnam war and also curated and performed many poetry programs for the Philadelphia Public Schools. There she found tremendous enthusiasm and comprehension on the part of poor and minority students for both modern and classical poetry when presented in a context of relevancy to current issues. She realized that for poetry to find its true audience, the bonds of authoritarian criticism must and can be transcended. Her earliest New York street productions were playlets written in Philadelphia and performed on the flatbed truck of Bread and Puppet Theater in Central Park. Peter Schumann, director of that troupe, was her first NY artistic supporter.

In 1971, Ms. Field became a protege of Robert Nichols, founder of the Judson Poets Theater in Manhattan. Nichols wrote street theater plays for TNC in its early years, but as time went on, wrote scenarios and only the first lines of songs, leaving Field to "fill in the blanks." When Nichols announced his retirement to Vermont in 1975, he urged Field to "write your own." The undertaking, while stressful at first, became impetus for her to express her own topical political philosophy and to immerse her plays in that special brand of humor referred to often as "that brainy slapstick." Her first complete work was "Mama Liberty's Bicentennial Party" (1976), in honor of the 100th anniversary of the American Revolution.

Field has written and directed a completely new opera for the TNC Street Theater company each successive year. She collaborated for eleven years with composer Mark Hardwick, whose "Pump Boys and Dinettes" and "Oil City Symphony" were inspired by his street theater work with Ms. Field. At the time of his death from AIDS in 1994, he was writing a clown musical with Field called "On the Road," which was not finished. One long-running actor in TNC street theater was Tim Robbins, who was a member of the company for six years in the 1980s, from age twelve to 18.

The Village Halloween Parade, which TNC produced single-handedly for the Parade's first two years, grew out of the procession which preceded each Street Theater production. Ralph Lee, who created the Parade with Ms. Field, was chief designer for TNC's Street Theater for four years before the Village Halloween Parade began.

Field has also written playlets for TNC's annual Halloween Ball and for an annual Yuletime pageant that is performed outdoors for 2,000 children on the Saturday before Christmas. She has also written two full-length indoor plays, "Upstate" and "One Director Against His Cast." She is executive director of TNC.


Sat Aug 5 2:00 pm Manhattan E. 10th St. and 1st Ave.

Sun Aug 6 2:00 pm Manhattan Peace Place Park, 124th St. (2nd & 3rd.)

Sat Aug 12 2:00 pm Manhattan St. Mark's Park/Abe Lebewohl Pk, E. 10th St. & 2nd Ave.

Sun Aug 13 2:00 pm Brooklyn Herbert Von King Park (Bedford/Stuyvesant)

Thu Aug 17 8:00 pm Brooklyn Dino's Wonderwheel Park, Coney Island

Sat Aug 19 2:00 pm Bronx St. Mary's Park, 147th St. & St. Ann's Ave.

Sun Aug 20 2:00pm Queens St. Albans Park, Sayers Bl. betw. 173rd St. & Merrick

Sat Aug 26 2:00 pm Brooklyn Prospect Park, Concert Grove near Wollman Rink

Sun Aug 27 2:00 pm Staten Island Sobel Court & Bowen Street

Sat Sept 9 2:00 pm Manhattan Wise Towers, 89th St. & Amsterdam Ave.

Sun Sept 10 2:00 pm Manhattan Central Park Bandshell

Sat Sept 16 2:00 pm Manhattan Tompkins Square Park, E. 7th St. & Ave. A

Sun Sept 17 2:00 pm Manhattan Washington Square Park


Related article: About Theater for the New City.

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