ANNOUNCES 2ND SEASON
UNDER NEW MISSION, VISION & MOVEMENT, CENTERING BLACK, BROWN & QUEER ARTISTS
THE FLEA PARTNERS WITH PLAYWRIGHT + PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
& WACO (WHERE ART CAN OCCUR) THEATER TO PRODUCE
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF
HANG TIME, WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY ZORA HOWARD
THE FLEA PARTNERS WITH
5 BLACK PERFORMANCE ARTISTS
TO BRING DISTINCT, ENGAGING, AND FREE
JUNETEENTH PERFORMANCES INTO THE STREETS OF NYC
THE FLEA PARTNERS WITH PLAYWRIGHT NKENNA AKUNNA TO PRODUCE
THE WORLD PREMIERE OF
CHEEKY LITTLE BROWN WRITTEN & STARRING NKENNA AKUNNA
THE FLEA HOSTS ITS 3RD ANNUAL HOUSE PARTY
CELEBRATING ITS MISSION TO SUPPORT
EXPERIMENTAL ART BY BLACK, BROWN AND QUEER ARTISTS
THE FLED AND EMERGE125
RETURN AS RESIDENT COMPANIES
New York, NY (November 17, 2022) The Flea announced today its 2023 season featuring the world-premiere new play HANG TIME, by Zora Howard in her directorial debut, its annual Juneteenth Performance Commissions featuring new works and a symposium by five Black artists, the world premiere play with original music cheeky little brown, written and starring Nkenna Akunna in her New York City debut, and closing it all out with a shebang with their 3rd Annual House Party celebrating experimental art by Black, brown and queer artists at The Flea’s home at 20 Thomas St. Throughout the season, The Flea also welcomes back missioned aligned companies in theater and dance, The Fled and Emerge125 who are Resident Companies at The Flea receiving space and producing support for their seasons.
In line with The Flea’s radical new operating model, all of these works have been developed in partnership with the lead artists as co-producer on all elements of their productions, including budget partnership.
“This season showcases the bold, wide ranging works of Black, brown and queer artists who are taking impressive leaps in their disciplines. They uniquely capture the joy, concerns and an expansive vision of intersectional identities. Their artistry is why The Flea exists, why the community and staff show up every day, and I am thrilled to invite everyone to experience these works at our theater and throughout our great city,” said Niegel Smith, The Flea’s Artistic Director.
2023 World Premieres
Three men chew the fat under an old, wide tree. In HANG TIME, we peek into the interiority – the great loves and bitter blues – of Black men in America. Setting the romantic and the macabre in sharp relief, HANG TIME invites the viewer to envisage the living Black body triumphant over the legacy of violence that it holds.
“HANG TIME has been haunting me for years. When I first shared the work and my intention to direct with Niegel and Martin at the Flea, I was met with not only enthusiasm but also a commitment to center my vision for its production. In the months following our initial conversation, that commitment has only deepened. I am thrilled to be embarking on this journey with the Flea to finally bring HANG TIME to life.” – Zora Howard, writer & director
HANG TIME is produced in partnership with WACO (Where Art Can Occur) Theater Center and will have its world-premiere at The Flea in Spring 2023, followed by a 2024 west coast premiere in Los Angeles.
cheeky little brown
In cheeky little brown audiences stumble upon Lady, an equal parts messy and determined charmer in the midst of crashing (and lowkey ruining) her best friend Gemma’s birthday party in London. Nothing goes as planned and audiences get a front-row seat to Lady’s desperate antics. Pain, distress, introspection, pigeons, and a whole lot of Doner meat — this coming of age story with original songs by playwright and star Nkenna Akunna, examines the complicated devastation of a friendship break up between two queer Black women with diverging journeys toward self-love and acceptance.
Fresh out of Brown’s MFA in Playwriting program, this work will mark Akunna’s NYC debut. The world-premiere is slated for The Flea in Fall 2023.
“This will be my first full production so I’m excited, nervous, and grateful for the massive opportunity. Niegel and Martin have been welcoming and deliberate in championing my work so far. I want to work with collaborators who listen to and respect my voice, and I believe I’ve found that in The Flea. I’m looking forward to this journey and to us building an environment for the work and all its collaborators to thrive.” –Nkenna Akunna, writer and star, cheeky little brown
The Flea will commission five artists to devise and stage public performances in celebration of Juneteenth. These artists all have full autonomy over artistic vision and their budgets. These works will occur simultaneously across NYC and Fire Island from June 12-19. 2022’s artists included Ebony Noelle Golden, James Scruggs, Paris L’Hommie, Chanon Judson, and acclaimed artist, scholar, and ritual-maker Nia O. Witherspoon.
“The Flea Juneteenth Commission provided invaluable time for me to make with creative freedom and communal accountability. The breadth and support of this commission made space for my artistic rigor, risk, ambition, and embraced my vulnerability and desire to discover.
Additionally, the commissioning support allowed me to deepen my partnership with the Haiti Cultural Exchange, my neighbors at the Rogers Tilden Community Garden, and to build new relationships with Artist / Production collaborators and with equitable financial support of artists.” said Chanon Judson, choreographer, dancer and Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women.
Annual House Party
The Flea Theater is proud to host its 3rd Annual House Party, a dance til you death drop party taking over all three floors of their Tribeca home and celebrating The Flea’s vision for the future of experimental art created by Black, Brown and queer artists. Guests will be greeted with immersive performances all over our three story performing arts complex with dance, music, drag, theater, visual arts and DJing from incredible Black brown and queer artists in The Flea community. This is a party like no other – a get down affair true to the aesthetic highs of all Flea events.
“Out of the ashes of the pandemic and racial reckoning the Flea is definitely ‘Blooming’, seeking out, uncovering and nourishing new artists and works. Another ‘only at the Flea‘ accomplishment was putting fun back into ‘fun(d)raising’ with our non-stop House Party filled with performances on every floor! ” said Nona Hendryx, Rock Goddess and Flea Board Chair.
Resident Companies Program
The Flea is also proud to welcome back its resident companies for another year of compelling new art.
The Fled Collective will return for its second year as the Key Resident Company beginning, marking the continuation of partnership and further restoration of this relationship with the newly formed collective. The inaugural residency is a reparative grant and partnership offered to a nascent company that centers Black, brown and queer artists. The artist collective will function as an autonomous company and receives $10,000 unrestricted cash support each year, $50,000 space rental credits each year, in addition to production and marketing support and resources to develop their new projects.
The renowned modern dance troupe EMERGE125 a Black woman-led organization, returns as a resident company a multi-year residency offering itinerant and mission-aligned artistic companies the ability to leverage The Flea’s in-house support system—creative, technical, and producing—to further their artistic reach.
“The Flea has been my artistic home in the city with Niegel [Smith] and his team supporting me, both personally and professionally. When I think of what presenter/artist relationships should look like, The Flea immediately comes to mind,” said EMERGE125 Artistic Director, Tiffany Rea-Fisher. “To have the added security to know that we will be a resident company at The Flea for the next two years is an absolute gift. Having another arts organization trust and invest in you in that way, especially now, will definitely change my artistic trajectory for the better, and I am truly grateful.”
To view photos of all lead artists (headshots and performance photos) as well as Flea logo, please click here.
The Flea was refounded in 2021 with the mission to support and invest in experimental art by Black, brown, and queer artists. The Flea provides space, financial support, producing partnership and other resources so that they may develop and share their vision in community with audiences.
About the Flea
The Flea Theater is a prolific NYC-based company founded in 1996 by three downtown artists. In 2021, The Flea refounded itself with a new mission and core values through collaborative efforts with CJAM. Our new operational model exemplifies our investment in artists and social equity and embraces our experimental, downtown NYC artistic heritage.
Our work with CJAM included a restorative partnership design process with 13 of The Flea’s former resident artists; DEI training for our Board of Directors, Executive Leadership and Board development; and a visioning process that helped to collaboratively design The Flea’s new organizational model and mission. The Flea’s new mission is: To invest in experimental art by Black, Brown, and queer folks. We provide space, financial support and producing partnership so that they may develop and share their vision in community with audiences.
The Flea is committed to programs and and operations that are Human centered; Anti-Racist & Anti-oppressive; Collaborative; Innovative; Sustainable; and Transparent.
The Flea has produced more than 160 world premieres in its 25-year history, earning many awards including two Obies and a Special Drama Desk. Previous Flea productions that have become part of the theatrical canon include Ellen McLaughlin’s The Trojan Women, Will Eno’s Oh, the Humanity, Thomas Bradshaw’s Fulfillment, Edward Iskandar’s The Mysteries and NSangou Njikam’s Syncing Ink.