LES 'Monologue Jam' Lets Artists Take the Stage to Test Out New Work

By Serena Solomon on February 21, 2013 3:54pm 

LOWER EAST SIDE — You've heard of jam sessions, freestyle battles and poetry slams — now add monologue jams to the list. 

The Alacrity Project's Monologue Jam is a monthly recital session that will showcase the new work of 15 artists ranging from comedians to actors to playwrights at Arlene's Grocery on Stanton Street this Sunday night.

The jam, now in its second month, is geared toward helping performers reach their theatrical goals. Each receives a professional video recording of their segment, along with a chance at prizes to improve their personal appearance, including a workshop worth $750 from a style and wardrobe consultant.

"When artists come with their work, I want to come and meet them halfway," said actress and producer Emily Niewendorp, who founded the Lower East Side theater group.

Niewendorp, 32, created the event to support performers with drive and initiative who want to expose their works-in-progress on a live stage.

The performances can include original pieces from plays or skits, or a part of a play that an actor is working on. Each performance ranges from about two to 10 minutes long.

The artists, who pay $15 to enter, can then critique their own shows using the recording.

"They can use the live recordings for their reels and their website, and add it to electronic portfolios for casting directors and agents," Niewendorp noted.

After the curtain closed on Rock Wilk's successful Off Broadway play "Broke Wide Open" last month, he planned to test out a new piece he is working on this Sunday about the 2006 police shooting of Sean Bell.

"I look at it as a great opportunity to share my work," he said. "That is why I perform — to share my work."

For Wilk, writing a play is a collaborative effort between himself and everyone else around him.

"People would see me working in the park and people would ask me what I was doing," he said. "It turned into a two-hour dialogue where I would share it with them."

Alacrity Project's Monologue Jam runs Sunday, Feb. 24, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Arlene's Grocery, 95 Stanton St. The lineup for Sunday is full, but those interested in participating in future events can contact the theater group here. The event is open to the public, with a $10 suggested donation.

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