Sunday, April 10, 2011

Downtown Urban Theater Festival Features LGBT Writers

Downtown Urban Theater Festival (DUTF) returns for a much anticipated 9th season with four world-premiere theatrical works by LGBT playwrights Dominic Colon, Andreʼ Jermaine Ford, Indio Melendez and Marsha Sheiness, April 13 to April 23 at the new MMAC Theater on West 60th Street in Manhattan. Reg E. Gaines, the Tony and Grammy-nominated writer of Bring in da Noise Bring in da Funk, is returning as the Artistic Director and Nilo Cruz, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play, Anna in the Tropics, will be the recipient of the first-ever DUTF Playwright Masters Award.

DUTF 2011 will feature 12 theatrical works by a cross-section of playwrights. This yearʼs LGBT works include:

By Dominic Colon
Michael is in for an evening of horror, hilarity and hope at his High School Senior Prom. Inspired by 1980s coming-of-age films, Crush adds a Bronx/Latino/gay twist to the universal themes of unrequited love, loss and the ultimate life lesson of having to face your demons.

By Indio Melendez
Indiosyncrasy is the coming-out story of "Nene" and the emotional journey of leaving his wife and two sons, falling into addiction and finding redemption. The story is told in vignettes using monologue, spoken word and traditional Afro-Cuban song and dance.

Lost and Found
By Marsha Sheiness
A comedy-drama. Eight teenagers laugh and cry as they tell their personal stories about growing up gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in a world largely intolerant of sexual differences.

I Scream Out Loud
By Andre' Jermaine Ford
Told in poetry and prose, I Scream Out Loud is the redemptive story of one man's journey to self-revelation and spiritual freedom as set against the backdrop of life in the inner city.

DUTF has been described as “not only prestigious, but a slice of heaven for playwrights who want the chance to express themselves” by Theater Festivals. From an inclusive, multicultural perspective, it presents works that echo the true spirit of urban life and speak to a whole new generation whose lives defy categorizing along conventional lines. DUTF has presented 88 original theatrical works since its inception with 23 of these works by LGBT playwrights. This year. DUTF will reach an important milestone by producing its 100th play on closing night of the festival.

DUTF is made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York Stateʼs 62 counties. DUTFʼs LGBT Media Sponsor is Next Magazine.

Tickets for DUTF 2011 are on sale at and Ovation Tix at and (866) 811-4111.

The festival will run from April 13 to April 23, 2011 at MMAC (Manhattan Movement & Arts Center)
248 West 60th Street, Manhattan (

Visit DUTF online at:


MARSHA SHEINESS has been produced on television, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, regional, community, university, and high school theatres across the US as well as in Japan, Canada and England. Mirror Repertory produced her 2009 adaptation of John Coltonʼs Shanghai Gesture at the Julia Miles Theatre. As a playwright-inresidence at Playwrights Horizons in NYC, she participated in eleven productions of her work. Best All ʻRound was produced at the Perry Street in NYC, Professor George and The Spelling Bee were first presented by the Eugene OʼNeill National Playwrights Conference in Connecticut, and her play, Monkey, Monkey Bottle Of Beer, How Many Monkeys Have We Here? (Available on DVD) aired on “Theater in America” produced by PBS. Her musical adaptation of Great Expectations was a 1997 finalist for the Richard Rodgers Award and the Festival of Contemporary Musical Theatre.

DOMINIC COLON is a true native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx and began acting at eight years old at The Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club. He went on to receive his BFA in Acting from New York Universityʼs Tisch School of the Arts. Colónʼs recent guest appearances include: Blue Bloods, Running Wilde, and Nurse Jackie. Other TV credits include guest appearances on Ugly Betty, Damages, Law and Order, and Law and Order: SVU. Colon also appeared in the HBO original film Taking Chance and recently wrapped up production on Mr. Popperʼs Penguinʼs opposite Jim Carrey and Angela Lansbury. Currently, Colón is the Theater Director of Teatro El Puente; a youth theater company that tours NYC. As a playwright, his plays have been seen at the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Rebel Verses at Centerstage NY, Nuyorican Poets Café and at schools, hospitals and prisons throughout NYC.

ANDREʼ JERMAINE FORD is a new and emerging playwright who served as an emerging director in residence at Ensemble Studio Theatre in 2006-2007 and as a young emerging artist of color at Tectonic Theatre Project in the summer of 2009. In 2010, his play I Scream Out Loud received a reading at Serenbe Playhouse in Atlanta, GA as well as at the Urban Life Series Play Festival and the Manhattan Theatre Rep One Act Series.

INDIO MELENDEZ is an actor, writer and poet, born and raised in NYC. He is a Desert Storm Veteran, who quickly learned he is not made for war. In 1995, Melendez returned home to NY and discovered theater. His first one-man show Manchild Dilemma had a successful run at the 3rd Annual Hip Hop Theater Festival at PS. 122. Melendez is a member of the legendary “Spanish Repertory Theater Company” in NYC and the Pregones Theater Company. Recipient of the 2008 HOLA Award for “ensemble cast” in “Dona Flor y Sus Dos Maridos.” Melendez was also nominated for a 2001 Latin Ace Award, for supporting actor as “Miguel” in Vieques at Spanish Repertory Theater Company. Indio is committed to writing works that are liberating for the soul.

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