Cino Nights Recalls Rise of Downtown Happening

Written by Doug Strassler on . Posted in NY Press Exclusive.


This Thursday at 6pm, midtown’s Drama Book Shop will host a reading and book signing of : Rep, in honor of the publication of the first anthology of plays performed over the course of the last two years at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village. The event, like all of the performances which it celebrates, is free and open to the public.

Cino Nights hearkens back to an era roughly half a century ago, when Off-Off-Broadway pioneers like , , , , and – the movement’s namesake – formed a collective that wrote, performed and produced no-frills theatre at the Caffe Cino. Cino Nights, founded by Rising Phoenix Repertory artistic director Daniel Talbott, honors that original scene by congregating an equally passionate group of creative types to write inventive, emotionally raw site-specific work for the Jimmy’s venue. All shows received only a week of rehearsal and then played for one night.

The current collection includes new plays by such vital New York writers as Mando Alvarado, Courtney Baron, Emily DeVoti, Jessica Dickey, Kristen Palmer, Gary Sunshine, Adam Szymkowicz, and Lucy Thurber; there will be readings from DeVoti’s, Palmer’s, Sunshine’s and Thurber’s plays. (, Inc. has published the work, which also includes a foreword by artistic director .)

At $19, this book is a steal. Having attended the majority of these Cino Nights performances, I can attest that as an artifact, this anthology is invaluable. These shows have been lightning in a bottle, featuring work by some of the finest and fiercest talent to be found in New York. Each performance has been a privilege to attend, and it’s safe to say that the actors share that sentiment with the audience. Performers have included Seth Numrich (of the Tony-sweeping War Horse) and (The Green Lantern, Rabbit Hole). Though the space is small and usually hot, and sometimes the odd insect or rodent can be spotted, Cino Nights is in many ways an oasis for all those called to the arts, a way of restoring the creative soul and working in a collaborative fashion uninfected by budgetary concerns or corporate stifling. Everyone works for free, doing it for love of the craft.

I hope there are more editions where Cino Nights came from, as there have been additional plays by exceedingly talented playwrights that should be preserved. But in the meantime, it’s thrilling to have this first book available. In honoring the past, Cino Nights has given a great present to modern indie theatre.

Cino Nights can also be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Cino-Nights-Mano-Alvarado/dp/0979485266/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340723793&sr=8-1&keywords=cino+nights

 

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