OCCUPY THE EMPTY SPACE:
Benjamin Shepard 917.586.7952
Kate Foster 973.752.8841
Creative Artists, Activists, and Playwrights Occupy and Educate Together
EVENT: Occupy the Empty Space
WHEN: September 8th, 2012 from 2:00 to 6:00 PM
WHERE: NEW YORK CITY -- El Jardin del Paraiso E 4th St b/t Ave C & Ave D (309 E 4th St) via the Broadway Lafayette stop (B/D/F/M), the Astor Place stop (6), or the 8th St- NYU stop (N/R).
NEW YORK, NY (September 2012) – Creative artists, activists, and playwrights will present an invited occupation of a community garden in the East Village on September 8, 2012. Together we will facilitate theater and outreach on the vital topic of immigration. Occupy the Empty Space believes migration is a human right. As a result, on Saturday, September 8th, 2012 New York artists and activists affiliated with Occupy Wall Street will stage a bilingual (Spanish/English) theater festival + direct action + immigrant/labor rights education/outreach in El Jardin del Paraiso.
This completely free event will include 9 new plays alongside performances by theater companies and solo artists such as Judith Sloan and Earsay, Dream Act Union and more. In addition, the Occupy Wall Street Immigrant Worker Justice Group will lead a General Assembly.
Sarah Duncan, a playwright and one of the co organizers of Occupy the Empty Space, explains the genesis of this event: "I became involved with Occupy Wall Street during late November 2011, and contacted another playwright involved- Kate Foster. We presented our first ten minute play event as a segment of Occupy Broadway’s programming after a Twitter call went viral –eliciting plays from grad students, Naomi Wallace and Adam Rapp. We decided we wanted to continue to combine protest with plays, hopefully answering questions we shared: what are human rights? Is art a human right? We committed to answering those questions via a free festival series throughout 2012, themed on human rights.”
“All the best activism is theater,” notes Benjamin Shepard, an organizer of Occupy Broadway and noted NYC activist. “This is a space where performers have long taken their theater to the streets, restaging what life could be like in New York City. We’ve had villains such as Robert Moses take on hero’s such as Jane Jacobs, the Freedom Riders, and ACT UP. Each preached about the need for a different kind of stage, in which everyone has a voice, not just those with the access to power and money. Occupy the Empty Space continues this tradition of engaged theater.”
“MayDay reminded me that a majority of the community outreach conducted by OWS should be linked in with immigrant rights and labor rights,” noted Kate Foster, playwright and co organizer of Occupy the Empty Space. “MayDay 2012 in Union Square was a potent combination of artists and activists. Musicians shared the stage with labor union organizers and community leaders. Sarah and I have taken that model--a model for an artistic assembly--and applied it to the theatrical process to celebrate occupiers, artists, organizers and individuals who have been creatively and effectively bringing immigrant stories to the forefront for years. We are proud to be bringing their stories, plays and speakers to El Jardin del Paraiso for a celebration—a celebration for a 99% immigrant and labor community that is well deserved.”
Duncan explained the idea behind the title. "The title, Occupy the Empty Space, came from the title of the Peter Brook book, The Empty Space. But really, it's fitting on more than a theatrical level. Space is so valuable these days, and is valuable to the 99% when it is occupied. In NYC, the occupation of one small park changed a nation... That anniversary is coming up (#S17) and we plan on celebrating it artistically all month, jumping off with our September 8 free festival!"