With outdoor performances still on hold in New York City due to COVID-19 restrictions, Theater for the New City has adapted its 2020 Street Theater tour to the virtual space. The company will live stream its new production, the oratorio Liberty or Just Us: A City Park Story, with each performance paying tribute to the park, playground, or neighborhood street it was originally scheduled for.
Liberty or Just Us: A City Park Story will stream August 1–September 13 on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM, plus August 14 at 6:30 PM on the theatre's website and its Facebook page. The cast will perform live by Zoom from their individual residences, with virtual backgrounds replacing the painted banners of the outdoor version.
The piece is an oratorio written and directed by Crystal Field and composed by Joseph Vernon Banks.
Liberty or Just Us: A City Park Story honors New York City parks as sites of activism, from the Triangle Shirtwaist protests to Occupy Wall Street. The show revisits these movements through the eyes of a contemporary parks manager, in songs that feature him and a diverse ensemble. It also celebrates the idea that the U.S. can be a country of all its people; at times the audience is invited to sing along, and words will be projected on the screen.
The cast features Field, Matthew Angel, JC Augustin, Alexander Bartenieff, Celeste Bradsher, Celestina Bradsher, Cheryl Gadsen, Michael-David Gordon, Sam Gutierrez, Ben Harburg, Dan Kelley, Terry Lee King, T. Scott Lily, Mark Marcante, Jessy Ortiz, Allison Patrick, Emily Pezzella, Justin Rodriguez, Michael Sanders, Ebonaya Smallwood, Natasha Velez, Juan Villegas, and Lei Zhou.
If NYC's coronavirus Phase 4 regulations change, the production is prepared to shift to live outdoor performances on the same schedule, with social distancing and occupancy limits strictly enforced.