“What is the city but the people?” – William Shakespeare, Coriolanus
Walk into this massive structure to mail a letter, buy stamps or send a package. Pick up from your PO Box or get a passport application.
I walked in and went to the 3rd floor. Obviously I had never set eyes on this space upper level floor.
It was a performance ready to begin titled MANNA-HATA, produced by The Peculiar Works Project.
The playwright Barry Rowell states his case like this!
“I wanted MANNA-HATA to offer a little taste of some of the more interesting stories I have found and to celebrate some of the less well-known (or in some cases unknown) people that have made contributions large and small to creating our home. Our goal was to make the production an experience rather than a story because I think that New York is an experience. You walk on the street and there is an amazing amount of sensory data coming at you from every direction, touching on all five of your senses simultaneously: first-time visitors often exclaim how overwhelming the City is. And yet most of us take it all for granted: it’s just home—and for those of us who grew up somewhere else, it’s the home we chose for ourselves.”
It was indeed ‘an experience’ like the one you encounter on the streets of NYC. But here you got a bit of New York’s history in the making during your walk.
Oscar Castillo greeting his tour group as Easanques.
(l-r in center) Everett Quinton and Kelly Salvadore as W. Parker Chase III and W. Parker Chase II
Cherrye J. Davis as Shirley Chisholm and Eric C. Bailey as W. Parker Chase I.
The Ensemble perform a pedestrian ballet: (left wall) Jimmy Brooks, Lorna Hampson, Cristi Castro, Kevin Drouillard, Jennae Alexa Ruiz Santos; (center) Precious Sipin, Ashleigh Awusie, Grace Phelan, Katey Parker; (right wall) Hank Lin, Dionisio Flores García
Catherine Porter as Jane Jacobs (seated on Dionisio Flores García).
(l-r) Precious Sipin and Cristi Castro; Cherrye J. Davis as Shirley Chisholm; Katey Parker and Grace Phelan
(l-r) Katey Parker; Cherrye J. Davis as Shirley Chisholm and Everett Quinton as W. Parker Chase III; Grace Phelan and Precious Sipin
Oscar Castillo as Easanques with video projection by Myrel Chernick
Audience entering the Big Room—Manna-Hata before the Europeans
Jenna Alexa Ruiz Santos; Kevin Drouillard (background)
The Big Room playing area (formerly a mail sorting room in the post office); lighting by David Castaneda
The audience takes the first walk across the newly completed Brooklyn Bridge
Bradley Wells (center) as Robert Moses flanked by Kelly Salvadore, Everett Quinton and Eric C. Bailey as the W. Parker Chases
Grace Phelan as Edna St. Vincent Millay at Chumley’s
The Algonquins: (l-r) Katey Parker as Dorothy Parker, Precious Sipin as Edna Ferber, Hank Lin as Alexander Woollcott and Oscar Castillo as New Yorker editor Harold Ross
Jimmy Brooks and Jennae Alexa Ruiz Santos at a Rent Party in Harlem
Cherrye J. Davis as Shirley Chisholm announcing her candidacy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1972
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was an amazing ‘experience’ walking through the James A Farley Post Office and finding myself at so many different times in NY’s history.
I especially liked revisiting Chumleys when it was a speakeasy and being part of the crowd that got ‘raided’ during the poetry reading by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Great fun! I hope Peculiar Works is developing another such delightful theatrical experience.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This project was performed from June 8th thru 23rd, 2013.
For information on this or other Peculiar Works Projects go here!