This October, The Blockheads partner with young artists to shed light on domestic violence with their world-premiere of James McCliondon’s new dark fairytale, Pooka.
Theater in the Now sits down with Lucio Nieto, Artistic Director of The Blockheads: Young Artists’ Collective, to talk about their first original play, partnering with students from United Nations International School, raising awareness on domestic violence, and their next step as a collective after receiving their non-profit status through Fractured Atlas.
When did you discover James McClindon’s Pooka?:
In November 2015 we placed a call on Playbill.com seeking undiscovered plays with a passion for social justice, the ability to engage with a 21st century audience, and challenge conventional ways of thinking. We received around 200 submissions and out of the lot, we presented three as a reading series in May of this year. With James’ blessing, we’ve continued working on his piece. This will be our first production of a new play.
Tell us about the partnership with UNIS and what inspired the creation of the costume pieces?
I was lucky enough to know Tim Hall, the middle school’s Theatre Arts teacher. He directed Lion King last year at UNIS and I was immediately awestruck when I saw the production design. I’d learned that the set was designed by the extraordinary Madalena Parreira with the construction of the pieces by the middle and high school students in the art department. When we approached Madalena about a possible partnership, she was just as thrilled as we were to introduce this project to her talented students. It’s been an unforgettable three weeks with Madalena and these incredible young artists. This partnership has been inspiring to the Blockheads and we are looking forward to the next opportunity we have to work with them.
As a collective, part of your mission is to increase awareness on social justice issues through your work. What can the audience take away from Pooka?
Well, we open our show in October, which happens to be the month raising awareness on domestic violence. Of course, as fate would have it, one of the central themes in Pooka is exactly that. With the unique creations from the team at UNIS, we are holding a silent auction at the end of the run selling the hand-crafted pieces designed by the students. All of the proceeds will benefit Safe Horizons–the nation’s leading victim assistance organization. Their mission is to provide support, prevent violence, and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.
What can we expect next from The Blockheads: Young Artists’ Collective?
As of right now, we are presenting Pooka as our work-in-progress. It’s been such a blast getting this play on its feet. With only two performances, we are presenting something that could potentially be re-mounted next Spring with a larger budget and an extended run. Hopefully, now that we are recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit status under Fractured Atlas, our next step is to fundraise for our upcoming productions. As a company, we are learning the mold of our business model. We will be accepting submissions from playwrights this Fall to hold our 2nd New Works Festival in early 2017. We are hungry to develop new text and explore fresh ideas with emerging playwrights.
Details on Pooka:
October 8th at 9:30pm
October 9th at 7:00pm
Tickets: $8 online | $12 at door
151 W 146th St. 8th Fl
New York, NY 10036
Written by James McClindon
Directed by Lucio Nieto
Produced by Michael Finnigan & Alicia G Lopez
Assistant Directed by Gisell Arismendi
Associate Produced by Louise Oliver
Music by Chris Gorman
Art Design by Madalena Parreira (UNIS)
Light and Sound by Michael Witherell
Alicia G Lopez
Visit www.weareblockheads.com to learn more about The Blockheads.
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“We are unapologetically not perfect, we’re Blockheads.”