The Downtown Urban Arts Festival
The 2023 DOWNTOWN URBAN ARTS FESTIVAL features new works by playwrights from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, North Carolina, and California – all presenting issues that have either woven (or in some cases insidiously penetrated) their way into the daily lives of Americans and our collective American experience. These short plays tackle subject matter that a vast majority of the people around us are currently confronted by or grappling with:
- arguing or “digital debates” with strangers on the internet
- the impact of unexpected deaths and reflection on human existence
- deeper conversations on religion and colonization
- mental health as it pertains to the perception of weakness and depression amongst young black and brown men
- neo-fascist takeover of public-school boards and resulting book bans
- a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and how many believe they must behave in order to be the model minority
- a conjunction of police brutality, systematic racism, moderate politics, and overt ignorance and the conversations we need to have around them.
- an untrusting and uncomfortable interaction between an ICE officer and a detained immigrant separated from her young son – all of whom are Latino
- a dementia diagnosis that leads one man’s boyfriend to dump him
- a young couple’s third date forces them to consider what their role is in another person’s mental health
- a rooftop conversation between two young black housemates bonding over their urban trials and tribulations morphs into a modern retelling of the story of the Buddha and his connection to their struggles. The seed of the conversation is hope for freedom from the cyclical constrictions of their environment
- one woman’s exploration of self as comes to terms with her past traumas growing up in a patriarchal strict Puerto Rican household.
- An HIV diagnosis that leads to a severe meth addiction – a new play about self love and acceptance by baring it all.
- subtle and passive racism that exists in the workplace – and how many don’t speak up amidst micro aggressions, offensive moments, or when they feel outright slighted so that they can stay in good graces with their colleagues or keep their job
Over the past 20 years, DUAF has presented nearly 300 new plays by over 200 emerging and established playwrights including Dominique Morisseau, Martyna Majok, Nelson Diaz-Marcano, Carl Hancock Rux, Craig MuMs Grant, and Ming Peiffer.