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11 Summer Theatre Festivals to Try in NYC

Date: Jul 12, 2019

For adventurous theatregoers, summer is the most exciting season in New York. Throughout July and August, the city hosts an array of festivals featuring new shows in various stages of development. Ambitions are usually high while prices are typically low. In fact, TDF members can snag $11 tickets to many offerings at these 11 eclectic fests, so you can afford to take a chance.



Ice Factory
New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets

Runs June 26-August 10.

Attention avant-garde theatre lovers: This 26th 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. Highlights include a sex play about queer women by Charly Evon Simpson, who recently made a splash with Behind the Sheet; a satire about toxic masculinity, and a musical about class conflict and Nancy Reagan.

See the full Ice Factory lineup.


HOT! Festival
Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street between Rivington and Delancey Streets

Runs July 2-31. At press time, several HOT! Festival shows were available. Log in and search HOT!.

Pride Month may be over but the celebration continues at this 28th annual queer culture fest. Theatre, dance, music, readings, puppetry and comedy are all on tap as more than 100 LGBTQ artists take over the venue's multiple stages. While HOT! is a great place to catch the next big queer thing, it also showcases new work from veterans such as solo artist Marga Gomez, Obie-winning multidisciplinary performer John Kelly and Unitard founding member Nora Burns, who's workshopping a play evocatively titled The Village, or A Fag, a Hag, a Drag, a Hustler, a Junkie, a John and Jew Walk into a Bar.

See the full HOT! Festival lineup.


Fresh Fruit Festival
The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street between Avenues A and B

Runs July 8-21. At press time, several Fresh Fruit Festival shows were available. Log in and search Fresh Fruit.

Another queer performance fest, this one's only 17 years old but it's just as eclectic as HOT!. The lineup includes a stage memoir by Broadway actor and mime Bill Bowers, a showcase for queer choreographers, a 10-minute LGBTQ play contest and a world-premiere musical about Harvey Milk.

See the full Fresh Fruit Festival lineup.



New York Musical Festival
Multiple Midtown Manhattan venues

Runs July 8-August 4. At press time, several NYMF shows were available. Log in and search NYMF.

Since its founding in 2004, NYMF has helped launch more than 400 new musicals, many of which have gone on to bigger stages, including Broadway's Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal. This year's edition features 10 shows along with concerts, staged readings and special events. Whether you're into comedy (Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space), real-life tales (TILL), tearjerkers (My Real Mother) or family fare (Flying Lessons), NYMF has a tuner for you.

See the full NYMF lineup.



Corkscrew Theatre Festival
Paradise Factory, 64 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue

Runs July 10-August 3.

Four is the magic number for this three-year-old fest, which features four world premieres, four workshop productions and four readings of new shows performed in repertory over four weeks. While the fully staged productions tackle hot-button issues such as health care and gender fluidity, the works in progress sound a bit more offbeat, especially the new opera inspired by A Doll's House and Walt Whitman BodyJoltâ„¢, an inventive romp about the famed poet leading a 21st-century exercise class. Participation is encouraged!

See the full Corkscrew Theatre Festival lineup.


Midsummer Nights
The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue

Runs July 18-August 4. At press time, several Midsummer Nights shows were available. Log in and search Midsummer Nights.

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is reimagined six different irreverent ways, including Go Puck Yourself: A Shakesqueer Comedy and That Ass Is Magical. Puck yeah!

See the full Midsummer Nights lineup.


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

Runs July 30-August 25.

Founded in 2017, this fest's name is still aspirational as none of its alumnae have made it to Broadway... yet. Exclusively focused on new plays, BBTF doesn't just present new shows, it helps playwrights develop them while learning how to self-produce. There are 18 productions at this edition, plus a trio of FREE readings. A good bet for those interested in sampling a range of traditional dramas and comedies with commercial ambitions.

See the full Broadway Bound Theatre Festival lineup.


The Trans Theatre Festival
The Brick, 579 Metropolitan Avenue near Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Runs August 6-11.

The lineup is still being finalized for this fourth annual fest curated by trans theatre artists. Expect compelling stories from playwrights and performers who defy traditional gender norms, whether they identify as trans, fluid, nonbinary, genderqueer or gender nonconforming.

Read more about The Trans Theatre Festival.


The Tank, 312 West 36th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues

Runs August 6-28.

Let's hear it for the ladies! This fourth annual event celebrates new work by women-identified artists. Like HOT!, it's a hodgepodge of offerings, including comedy, puppetry, plays, dance, solo shows and even a one-day film fest.

See the full LadyFest lineup.


Rave Theater Festival
Teatro SEA and Teatro LaTea Theatres at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street between Rivington and Delancey Streets

Runs August 9-25. At press time, several Rave Theater Festival shows were available. Log in and search Rave.

Tony-winning Broadway producer Ken Davenport is behind this brand-new fest, which is filling up the slot left empty when FringeNYC moved to the fall. There are 20 production for this inaugural edition, a mix of plays and musicals, which range from wacky (a rom-com about Pilgrims, a comedic adaptation of Moby Dick) to heartfelt (a dramatization of the final conversation between BFFs Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin, a WWII-era interracial romance in Harlem) to interactive (immersive film noir mystery).

See the full Rave Theater Festival lineup.


Dream Up Festival
Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets

Runs August 25-September 15.

After focusing primarily on local artists, this fest solicited submissions from theatre-makers across the country for its tenth edition. The 27 productions are performed on the venue's multiple stages and include two musicals, four plays about being black in America, two plays about parenthood, two solo shows and other eclectic fare.

See the full Dream Up Festival lineup.


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

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