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10 Summer Theatre Festivals to Try in NYC

Date: Jun 17, 2022

After a two-year hiatus due to you-know-what, many of NYC's most exciting summer theatre festivals are set to return. Admittedly, we lost a few along the way: RIP New York Musical Festival and FringeNYC. However, many innovative favorites are back, including the LGBTQ-focused Queerly and HOT! Festivals, The Fire This Time Festival, which showcases up-and-coming Black playwrights, and New Ohio's eclectic Ice Factory. At these events, ambitions are high while prices are low. In fact, TDF members can snag $11 tickets to some offerings, so you can afford to take a chance. Not a TDF member? Consider joining our Go Off-Off and Beyond program, which gives you access to discount tickets to indie theatre for a one-time fee of five bucks.

In terms of COVID-19 safety protocols, all of these productions require audiences to provide proof of full vaccination and wear masks unless otherwise indicated. Note that health and safety rules vary by venue, so double-check the protocols before purchasing tickets so you arrive prepared.


FRIGID New York: Queerly Festival

The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue in the East Village

Runs June 15-July 3. At press time, several Queerly shows were available. Log in and search for Queerly.

Put on your lavender-colored glasses for FRIGID New York's eighth annual Queerly Festival, a grab bag of solo shows, stand-up, improv, drag, even a ditty called Big Gay Love Story, the Musical. A broad spectrum of queer artists, including Last Comic Standing finalist Michele Balan, performance artist Jackson Sturkey and a Sylvia Rivera bio-play, are part of this diverse celebration of all things LGBTQIA2S+. Can't make it in person? Most performances are also being live-streamed.

See the full Queerly Festival lineup.


Broadway Bound Theatre Festival

Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues

Runs June 24-26.

Founded in 2017, this fest is still aspirational as none of its alumnae have made it to Broadway... yet. Usually a four-week affair, this truncated edition highlights six plays/playwrights from past editions, including Stephanie Salazar-Amaro's dramedy about reproductive challenges Basic Glitch, Michael Hagins' Black history play S.U.N. in the U.S.A. and Erin Moughon's mental health meditation Snow White Padded Room.

See the full Broadway Bound lineup.


Pan Asian Repertory Theatre: NuWorks 2022

Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues in Midtown West

Runs June 28-July 3.

One of NYC's leading Asian-American theatre companies, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, presents this annual showcase of experimental works by AAPI artists. Highlights include the rom-com Five Star First Date, the unlikely superhero story Highlighter Girl and the identity meditation Expect-Asian.

See the full NuWorks lineup.


New Ohio Theatre: Ice Factory

New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets in the West Village

Runs July 6-August 20. At press time, several Ice Factory shows were available. Log in and search for Ice Factory.

Attention avant-garde theatre lovers: New Ohio Theatre's 29th annual, Obie-winning fest is all about emerging artists taking risks. Ice Factory invites cutting-edge NYC companies to present their latest works in progress over four days. The subjects are timely and the offerings diverse, and the second performance of each show will also be available to live-stream at home, with a recording available through the last day of the festival. Highlights include ISLA, a devised piece using actors and shadow puppetry to tell the true story of one family's escape from Cuba, the surreal, Spanish-language immigration meditation Acheron: The River of Tragedy and the operatic monologue Salt about one woman's dead-end life.

See the full Ice Factory lineup.


The Fire This Time Festival

The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue in the East Village

Runs July 7-10. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets to The Fire This Time Festival.

Since TFTT's founding in 2010, this event has helped launch the careers of a slew of talented Black playwrights, including Dominique Morisseau, Jocelyn Bioh, Antoinette Nwandu, Roger Q. Mason, C.A. Johnson, Charly Evon Simpson and Marcus Gardley. The fest's name is a nod to James Baldwin's seminal book The Fire Next Time, and its goal is to support the next generation of Black playwrights as they explore their ever-evolving culture. TFTT is usually presented in January, but the omicron surge pushed the event to July, with four days of 10-minute plays, the fest's signature genre. Broadway director Zhailon Levingston (Chicken & Biscuits, Tina - The Tina Turner Musical) and Tracey Conyer Lee helm the half dozen works, which will also be live-streamed to at-home audiences.

See the full The Fire This Time Festival lineup.


Red Bull Theater: Short New Play Festival

Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker Street between Mott and Elizabeth Streets in Noho

Runs Monday, July 11.

Off Broadway's Red Bull Theater is known for revitalizing classic plays. But on July 11, it will present eight brand-new, classically inspired shorts around the theme of alchemy in honor of the troupe's hit production of The Alchemist. Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis and Larissa FastHorse, whose The Thanksgiving Play is heading to Broadway in the fall, penned two of the playlets, alongside six works by up-and-coming dramatists.

See the full Short New Play Festival lineup.


59E59 Theaters: East to Edinburgh

59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues in Midtown East

Runs July 12-31.

The largest performance festival in the world, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, takes place in August. But the month before, 59E59 Theaters' East to Edinburgh fest gives NYC audiences a sneak peek at some of the participating shows. The offerings include Fringe master Brian Parks' The Golfer, Joey Rinaldi's hilarious and harrowing solo show about his near-death penis injury, Mary Goggins' intriguingly titled Runaway Princess: A Hopeful Tale of Heroin, Hooking and Happiness and a supernatural play about the first woman who ran for US President more than a century before Hillary.

See the full East to Edinburgh lineup.


SheNYC Arts Summer Theater Festival

The Connelly Theater, 220 East Fourth Street between Avenues A and B in the East Village

Runs July 25-August 7.

Despite its binary title, SheNYC has expanded its mission to showcase work by gender-marginalized creators, essentially anyone who doesn't identify as a cisgender man. This edition features seven new plays and two new musicals, including Jordyn Stoessel's Hack about our nation's fixation on diet culture, Kristy Thomas' Gray, a Rashomon-like examination of how a crime impacts folks of different backgrounds, and Alara Magritte and Daniel Rosen's folk-rock musical Safe Hands about reproductive rights pre-Roe v. Wade.

See the full SheNYC lineup.


Dixon Place: HOT! Festival

Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street between Rivington and Delancey Streets on the Lower East Side

Runs July 7-July 30.

June may be Pride Month, but the celebration continues in July at Dixon Place's annual queer culture fest, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Theatre, dance, music, readings, puppetry and comedy are all on tap as more than 100 LGBTQ+ artists take over the venue's multiple stages. This year's edition is being co-curated by The Illustrious Blacks, aka multidisciplinary artists Manchildblack and Monstah Black, a pair of self-described NeoAfroFuturisticPsychedelicSurrealisticHippys, so there's a diverse array of cutting-edge queer creativity, including beloved performance artist Marga Gomez, Jay Délise and conscious Club Kid J’royce Jata.

See the full Hot! lineup.


Theater for the New City: Dream Up Festival

Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets in the East Village

Runs August 28-September 18.

Founded by indie performance mecca Theater for the New City in 2010, this annual fest showcases work by artists from across the country. Two dozen or so productions will be performed on the venue's multiple stages. A great way to check out the breadth of programming at this downtown landmark, which feels like stepping into the East Village's funky past.

See the full Hot! lineup.


Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

Top image: ISLA, one of the seven shows performing at New Ohio Theatre's Ice Factory festival. Photo by Marzio Fulfaro.

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