After a historic year-and-a-half hiatus, New York is reopening. Social gatherings are permitted. Tourism is back. And as of September 14, Broadway has reopened at full capacity. Things seem to be returning to normal. But is “back to normal” the future we want for performance?

Covid-19 has exacerbated the economic precarity, wealth inequality, sexism, and racism that have characterized infrastructures of the performing arts in New York City for decades. During the pandemic, we have been inundated with statements of solidarity from theaters and performing arts organizations, collectives, and venues, vowing to change, to do better, to stand for anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. Are these promises palliative or structural? How do we hold organizations accountable to real transformation? And help them to think through just what ‘real’ transformation should look like? What is being “reopened”? How? And for whom? The city also finds itself in the middle of mayoral and city council elections. Where does each candidate stand on the arts and their infrastructure?

The Drama, Theater, and Performing Studies Working Group invites you to an open symposium about the future of our city, the role of the performing arts and their supporting infrastructures, as we move forward in the face of collective healing, remembrance, and transformation.

This event is hybrid. Online: free & open to the public. In person at NYU Skirball: free and open to members of the NYU community with current campus access, with reduced capacity to accommodate NYU safety protocols. Masks, valid NYU ID, NYU Vax Pass, and vaccination are required for all attendees. More information is available at the RSVP link below.

Presented by NYU’s Drama, Theater & Performance Studies Working Group with support from NYU Skirball, Program in Dramatic Literature, Tisch Drama, & NYU Center for the Humanities. 

Panel 1: Institutional Imagining

Melanie Joseph, Artistic Producer, The Foundry Theater
Eric Klinenberg, Professor and Director, Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU
April Matthis, Actor, AFROFEMONONOMY
Chris Myers, Founder, Anti-Capitalism for Artists

Respondent: Hillary Miller, Professor, Queens College

Panel 2: Labor / Equity

Shelley Attadgie, Attorney and Judicial Law Clerk, U.S. District Court Southern District of NY
Ximena Garnica, Choreographer and Organizer, Arts Workers Rally
Adam Krauthamer, President of Local 802, American Federation of Musicians
Ruth Milkman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and History, CUNY Graduate Center and Labor Studies Chair, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Respondent: Shonni Enelow, Professor, Fordham University

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Shelley Attadgie is Attorney and Judicial Law Clerk, U.S. District Court Southern District of NY.

Ximena Garnica is a Colombian born multidisciplinary artist, choreographer, artistic director, and artistic programmer. She works collaboratively with her partner, Japanese born artist Shige Moriya; with him, she is the co-founder and artistic co-director of the LEIMAY Ensemble and the LEIMAY arts organization. Through LEIMAY she has been spearheading a variety of artistic programs which include international and local performance festivals, presenting and exhibition series, residencies, fellowships, and educational projects. The LEIMAY Ensemble is a group of five dancers who work regularly throughout the year creating body-rooted works and developing the LEIMAY LUDUS practice.

Melanie Joseph is a theatre maker and the founding Artistic Producer of The Foundry Theatre which she led and co-led for 25 years.  For her work with The Foundry, she was twice honored with the Ross Wetzsteon OBIE for “creating cutting edge work” and “engaging artists in some of the thorniest issues of the world we inhabit.” She is a recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Prize, the Skirball Kennis T.I.M.E. Artist prize, a Lucille Lortel Award for Artistic Producing, and has twice been awarded the Duke/ Mellon Mentorship grant for mentoring “theatre leaders of tomorrow.” Joseph holds a BA in Literature from the University of Western Ontario and a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Pre-Medicine from the City University of New York.

Adam Krauthamer is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Musicians for Pension Security. He also founded the Jerome Ashby Scholarship at the Juilliard School. Adam studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and Yale University. Since 2006 he has performed a wide variety of music, including Broadway shows, chamber music, and subbing in major orchestras.

Eric Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. His books include Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (the Penguin Press), Fighting for Air (Metropolitan Books), Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press), and most recently, with Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance. In addition to his scholarly work, Klinenberg serves as the research director for the federal government’s Rebuild By Design competition, and he has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The London Review of Books, and This American Life.

April Matthis is a two-time OBIE Award winning actor and a member of the groundbreaking experimental theater company Elevator Repair Service, where she was mostly recently seen in the international revival tour of GATZ as Jordan Baker. Other theater credits include: Fairview at Soho Rep, Measure for Measure (The Public), Signature Plays/Funnyhouse of a Negro (The Signature), IOWA, Antlia Pneumatica (Playwrights Horizons), LEAR (Young Jean Lee), and On the Levee, directed by Lear DeBessonet (LCT3). Regional credits include Little Bunny Foo Foo (World Premiere, Music by Dave Malloy, Actors Theater of Louisville), and A Streetcar Named Desire (Yale Rep), for which the New York Times called her performance “splendid”. In the experimental performance world, Ms. Matthis premiered dance pioneer Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room at Walker Art Center with Macarthur Genius Okwui Okpokwasili.

Ruth Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements who has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the United States, past and present. Her most recent books are Immigrant Labor and the New Precariat (Polity, 2020) and On Gender, Labor and Inequality (Illinois, 2016).

Hillary Miller is Assistant Professor of English at Queens College, CUNY. Her book, Drop Dead: Performance in Crisis, 1970s New York, won the 2017 Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Performance Research, The Radical History Review, Theatre Survey, PAJ, and Research in Drama Education.

Shonni Enelow writes about drama, film, and performance across media. She is the author of Method Acting and Its Discontents: On American Psycho-drama, (Northwestern University Press, 2015), which won the 2015–2016 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. Her theater scholarship has appeared in Modern DramaTheaterTheatre Survey, and Theatre Topics, and her film writing has appeared in Film CommentCriterionReverse Shot. With Una Chaudhuri, she is the co-author of Research Theatre, Climate Change, and the Ecocide Project (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Her artist’s book with David Levine, Discourse on Method, is forthcoming from 53rd State Press.

Chris Myers is a New York City born and based artist. Working primarily as an actor, he trained at The Juilliard School after attending the British American Drama Academy, LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, and The Harlem School of the Arts. He also works as a writer, director, producer, and teaching artist. On screen, he appears in Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” (Netflix), “The Resident” (Fox), “Sneaky Pete” (Amazon), “The Breaks” (VH1), and “The Good Fight” (CBS) and the upcoming “Merry Happy Whatever” with Dennis Quaid on Netflix. In theater, he has worked primarily in new plays at leading cultural institutions. After winning an Obie Award for his performance in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon, he went on to perform in the critically appraised Whorl Inside A Loop.

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