“The First Twenty” includes three new specials. Premiering on Sept. 7 is “Afterwards” by playwright Enda Walsh. Jeremy Dennis’ “Ma’s House” premieres on Oct. 11 in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. “Twenty Years of Asian American Playwriting” by Ralph Peña and the Ma-Yi Theater Company will air in November. All three will stream on the All Arts app and website, and premiere in the New York Metro area on the All Arts TV channel.
“Our mission with ‘The First Twenty’ initiative is to contemplate and investigate contemporary society and its challenges through alternative lenses,” said James King, artistic director of All Arts. “We are inviting artists from traditionally underserved communities to create exciting new content that illuminates their unique cultures and perspectives. This, in turn, breaks down barriers many members of those communities have with the arts by offering entry points for engagement that feel personal and reflect their perspective on American culture.”
Written and directed by Walsh and performed by Sarah Street, “The First Twenty: Afterwards” is a 15-minute monologue produced in partnership with the Irish Arts Center in New York City. The piece focuses on how memories of the past live through the present and future. Jack Phelan serves as editor, sound designer and post-producer, while Tom Rowley is the director of photography. Rachael Gilkey produces and Aidan Connolly executive directs, both on behalf of the Irish Arts Center.
Dennis is a photographer and member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation who studies Indigenous identity, assimilation and tradition through his work, and “The First Twenty: Ma’s House” presents the evolution of Native American from his perspective. The special is a short documentary created in the style of cinema verité and focuses on the building of Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio, an artist retreat on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, N.Y. Dennis serves as writer, director and director of photography. Darren Peister is the editor.
Peña wrote and directed “The First Twenty: Twenty Years of Asian American Playwriting,” a 30-minute documentary that examines the perception of Asian American plays at large and notes how those works have shifted in scope and subject over time. It features interviews with Tony winner David Henry Hwang, playwright, director and filmmaker Young Jean Lee and others. Francisco Aliwalas is the director of photography and editor, with original music by Fabian Obispo. Jakob Carter serves as associate producer.
“The First Twenty” first launched on All Arts in May with “Michael Mwenso Honors George Floyd,” a concert film including several prominent Black artists that aired on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s killing. Curated by James King, the initiative aims to invite artists from diverse and traditionally underrepresented communities to create original content about their experiences and hopes. The initiative will continue into 2022.
On behalf of All Arts, Anna Campbell serves as multimedia producer with Kristy Geslain and Joe Harrell as executive producers, James King as artistic director and Diane Masciale and Neal Shapiro as executives in charge.
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