Nyack joins the roster of world-class arts events with the launch of Phoenix Festival: Live Arts in Nyack – a celebration of the performing arts slated for this fall 2022. The program kicks off on September 16 and runs for five weekends until October 16.
All performances will take place outdoors in Nyack against a backdrop of majestic views of the Hudson River. Programs will include live performances by the Phoenix Theater Ensemble and the Children’s Shakespeare Theater Company, as well as concerts by the Rockland Symphony Orchestra and a series of related special events – all in a setting apart from the traditional venues of the scenic arts.
The ticket office is now open at NyackArtsFestival.com. Early-bird ticket buyers receive special discounts. Ticket buyers must use code BIRD when ordering. More details about the Festival are available on the website.
About the Party. The Festival is organized and produced by the Phoenix Theater Ensemble, an internationally recognized leader in the world of creative contemporary theater and winner of several prestigious awards for excellence in theater arts. Founded in New York in 2004, the Ensemble calls Rockland County its second home.
Cornerstone of the Festival, the Ensemble will present three emblematic pieces from the repertoire: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder and The Harmfulness of Tobacco by Anton Chekov – classics revisited by Phoenix in the context of our present world.
The festival program will also include performances of Love’s Labour’s Lost by the Children’s Shakespeare Theater – a troupe of children aged 8 to 18 based in Rockland County who since 1999 have bravely and masterfully performed the bard’s plays for 23 consecutive seasons. The Rockland Symphony Orchestra is also featured and provides a live soundtrack for the Festival – a classical music institution that has been providing a haven for amateur musicians, professionals and budding young soloists to the delight of local audiences since over 65 years old.
All live entertainment will be presented in the afternoon to allow guests to enjoy the riverside, as well as Nyack’s great shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife. Outdoor settings include the Marydell Pastoral at the foot of the iconic Hook Mountain and the garden of the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center in the heart of Nyack Village.
“Our vision is to create an annual outdoor festival on the Hudson at the height of the beautiful fall season that will engage local talent and attract art lovers locally and globally,” said Craig. Smith, executive director of the Phoenix Festival.
Nyack is the scene. The “close to town” village of Nyack – with its restaurants, shopping, first-class hotels, vibrant nightlife and proximity to downtown New York – is ideally placed to support the annual arts event of Phoenix, particularly during the fall season when the leaves are turning and the beauty of the river is at its peak. augmented reality, documentary video and walking stories. The program, titled Nyack Digital Dreaming-AR Adventures, guides a journey through local history, lore and legends – from the early days of the seaport to the Industrial Revolution, the Underground Railroad, World Wars, Renewal urban 1960s and beyond – arriving in today’s bustling community.
The Adventures program is created and directed by Clara Francesca, member of the Phoenix Theater Ensemble and founder of XRE Extended Reality.
“Nyack is a treasure – the perfect anchor for this unique festival that blends classical theater and music with breathtaking natural beauty in a jazzy, upbeat river town setting,” Smith said.
About plays. The Festival’s theatrical productions are family-friendly, high-spirited – and downright funny.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – For over 125 years, considered by many to be the greatest comedy of all time. A formidable lady presides over her family, avoiding scandal while arranging courtship displays for her renegade nephew. A frothy prank of witty famous dialogue fueled by hearty supplies of cucumber sandwiches. Directed by critically acclaimed director, playwright and actor Jason O’Connell. (September 17, 23, 24, 25 at 2 p.m.)
The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder – A timeless, uplifting and visionary masterpiece chronicling one family’s triumph over thousands of years of natural disasters and other monumental challenges. As relevant and humorous today as it was when it premiered. Directed by Robert Hupp, artistic director of the Syracuse Stage in New York. (Oct. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 at 2 p.m.)
The Harmfulness of Tobacco by Anton Chekov – A classic and hilarious precursor to Chekov’s Uncle Vanya. A nervous middle-aged man attempts to appease his demanding wife with a lecture on the deleterious effects of tobacco, but in his speech wanders into reflections on the ridiculousness of life. Directed by Leo Lion, Associate Art Director of Phoenix. (September 16 and 30; October 7 at 5:30 p.m.) Love’s Labour’s Lost – One of the Bard’s first comedies presented by the Children’s Shakespeare Theatre. The plot follows a king and his companions as they attempt to forgo the company of women in order to focus on study and fasting. Crazes for French ladies dramatically derail their plans. Featuring the longest scene of all the Bard’s works and his longest single word – honorificabilitudinitatibus. Directed by Brady Amoonclark. (Oct. 8, 15 at 11:30 a.m.)
Festival bonuses. Festival-goers will have easy access and connections to pop-up events, such as rehearsal viewings and close encounters with cast, directors and designers, as well as screenings of Festival-related films, jazz performances , guided nature hikes, river trips, art exhibits and more.
One of many contributors, community leader ArtsRock will play a part in supporting the Festival. “Our mission is to provide increased access to professional performing arts and multicultural programming for diverse and underserved audiences in and around Rockland County,” said Elliott Forrest, Executive Artistic Director of ArtsRock. “This amazing festival is a great opportunity, and we plan to attend.”
“A big bonus for festival-goers is the village of Nyack itself,” added Smith. Covering just over a square mile, Nyack is home to an incredible array of arts organizations, restaurants, pubs, unique shops, spas and salons – as well as access to the Mario Cuomo Bridge Trail offering majestic views of the Hudson river.Combined with the Festival schedule, it’s a great place to spend a weekend — or more.
Tours combining theater performances, special arts programs, hotel stays, dining and shopping will be available on the Festival website. (Details to come.)
Benefit for the community. In addition to audience enjoyment, the Festival is expected to bring positive results to the local community in important ways – including jobs for local sound engineers, carpenters, caterers, backstage crews, graphic designers and a variety of trades people.
Local businesses are also expected to see significant increases in revenue over the five weekends of the Festival. According to market intelligence gathered by the Brockport Research Institute, the Festival could produce a net cash injection of over half a million dollars for local businesses collectively.
“The vast majority of businesses in Nyack are small sole proprietorships or family businesses,” said Roger Cohen, president of the Nyack Chamber of Commerce. “After difficult times during the pandemic, the Festival promises to bring a welcome wave of relief. Moreover, this exciting festival puts Nyack on the map as a destination where art lovers, foodies and tourists can return. again and again to enjoy all that Nyack has to offer.”
The future: youth participation. There’s no better way to build the future of the arts than by engaging children – in thought, creativity, hard work and the excitement of live performance. The Festival will offer exactly that – learning through hands-on experiences working with professionals and peers on key aspects of the Festival program.
“We are partnering with BOCES of Rockland County on a unique internship program,” Smith said. “Under the guidance of Festival set designer Chen-Wei Liao, a highly regarded designer and recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, students will help build sets for Phoenix Ensemble productions at BOCES’ state-of-the-art facility in West Nyack. “
In addition, BOCES students will be offered paid internships in Festival administration, public services, reception, parking and other activities.
Notably, the Festival will feature a special performance of The Skin of Our Teeth for over 100 students from the East Ramapo School District. The program will include both a performance and a talk-back session with the director and the actors.
Looking forward. “For the inaugural year of the Phoenix Festival, we are celebrating the arts as we emerge from 24 months of pandemic. We offer a full menu of food for the soul – great works of theater and music, with a taste of local culture and history, and opportunities for everyone to participate in. And that’s just the beginning,” Smith said.
“Nyack is privileged to host the Phoenix Festival in its first year,” added Don Hammond, Mayor of Nyack. “The Phoenix Festival brings together history, place and creative energy in a powerful way – a celebration of our special village and Rockland County as a home for the best in the performing arts. We look forward to many years to come.”
About the Phoenix Theater Ensemble. Founded in 2004 in New York City, the Phoenix Theater Ensemble is dedicated to the performance of the canon of classical theater, as well as the development and training of highly skilled, classically trained theater artists. The company has established its second home in Rockland County, where its artists have been creating and performing classics and original works since 2018.
Sponsors. The Festival organizers and the Villages of Nyack and Upper Nyack thank the generous contributions of the many individuals and sponsors who make this event possible, including: The National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities New York, New York State Council on the Arts, the Bureau of Rockland Economic Development and Tourism, the Zisson Foundation, Weld Realty and Orange and Rockland Utilities.