The Town Hall (www.thetownhall.org), in the heart of Times Square, has announced the conclusion of its current virtual season this July as well as unveiling its 2021-2022 centennial in-person season.
From music and comedy to politics and LGBTQIA+ events, The Town Hall‘s upcoming programming is as eclectic and diverse as the famed building itself. Having played an integral part in the cultural fabric of New York City for what is going on 100 years, the mission of The Town Hall remains the same: to educate, inspire and explore.
"Our upcoming in-person season as well as the conclusion of our virtual season really are as diverse as this great city," said Artistic Director Melay Araya. "We continue to be inspired by unique voices from around the world, new collaborations, and thought-provoking storytelling that have become synonymous with The Town Hall. With programming that includes Sondheim and Lapine, Darlene Love, Judy Collins, The Chieftans, and Anita Hill, to name a few, we couldn’t be more proud and excited to welcome audiences back in-person for our 100th Anniversary."
The Town Hall presents a special digital event
August 3, 2021 at 7pm
The Town Hall Presents
Putting It Together: An Evening With James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim
Join Tony Award-winning playwright and director James Lapine and composer Stephen Sondheim in a special livestream digital event celebrating the release of Lapine’s book Putting It Together. In the book, Lapine tells the story of Sunday in the Park with George, the first of his collaborations with Sondheim. On August 3, the two Broadway legends will come together to discuss Putting It Together and the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that commenced their decades-long working relationship.
Special guest moderator to be announced.
$45 ticket/book bundle for domestic audiences.
$60 ticket/book bundle for international audiences.
$25 ticket for livestream without book.
The Town Hall’s 2021-2022 In-Person Centennial Season
Tickets for all events are available by visiting: www.thetownhall.org
September 28, 2021 at 8pm
Believing with Anita Hill: An Evening with Anita Hill and Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Anita Hill will take The Town Hall stage to present and reflect on her latest book Believing. Thirty years after her landmark testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee committee, Hill has written a text that tells the story of gender based violence in the United States through her stories and the stories of others. A legal scholar, educator and advocate, Hill brings her specific analytical skill to create a manifesto and map forward for addressing the unrelenting history of sexual harassment and gender based violence. Scholar Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., author of 2020’s Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, will moderate.
In person: $45, $50. Each ticket comes with a book.
December 17 at 8pm
Judy Collins: Winter Stories
Judy Collins is bringing WINTER STORIES to the stage at The Town Hall, NYC with special guests: Chatham County Line, The Secret Sisters, and Lizz Wright. Judy will reunite with Chatham County Line to perform some of their songs from their acclaimed 2019 WINTER STORIES collection which includes classics like Joni Mitchell’s "The River" and other hits. Come celebrate the holidays with a night of storytelling, holiday music and winter classics with Ms. Collins and special guests.
Ticket Prices: $50, $65, $75, $85 VIP $150
December 18, 2021 at 8pm
Darlene Love: Home For The Holidays
LOVE is in the air! Over the past few decades, rock and roll legend DarleneLove has brought her booming voice and infectious cheer to New York with a series of concerts each holiday season. For the first time ever, Love is taking to The Town Hall stage for a ONE NIGHT ONLY performance. Don’t miss the "Queen of Christmas" in her only New York City holiday show.
Ticket Prices: $50, $70, $75, $85, VIP $100 meet and greet (LIMITED)
December 29-31, 2021 at 8pm
John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask Return to the Origin of Love: The Songs and Stories of Hedwig
Following a sold-out, now legendary three-night engagement in honor of last year’s PRIDE50 and capacity crowds across the US, Australia, Japan, and Korea, Hedwig and the Angry Inch co-creators John Cameron Mitchell & Stephen Trask are back with the rock spectacle RETURN TO THE ORIGIN OF LOVE at The Town Hall. Mitchell, Trask, and co-star Amber Martin will conjure a collective New Year’s catharsis with a holiday program celebrating all that we have loved and lost across this craziest of years, featuring as many special guests, songs and antics as they can fit. VIP level tickets on December 30th and 31st come with a gift bag of unique autographed items. All proceeds from VIP ticket sales will go to extraordinary organizations working across the LGBTQIA community, including The Chosen Family Law Center and Burritos Not Bombs. Produced by ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann.
(Rescheduled from June 25th, 2020) All tickets will be honored from postponed June 25-26, 2020 concerts.
Tickets: $50, $60, $70, $80. VIP $350. (LIMITED: 50)
VIP level tickets on December 29th include a post-concert wine reception with the artists. All proceeds from VIP ticket sales will go to extraordinary organizations working across the LGBTQIA community, including The Chosen Family Law Center and Burritos Not Bombs.
(Rescheduled from June 26th, 2020) All tickets will be honored from postponed June 25-26, 2020 concerts.
Tickets: $50, $60, $70, $80. VIP $500. (LIMITED: 50)
Tickets: $65, $75, $85, $125. VIP $500. (LIMITED: 50)
VIP level tickets on December 30th and 31st come with a gift bag of unique autographed items. All proceeds from VIP ticket sales will go to extraordinary organizations working across the LGBTQIA community, including The Chosen Family Law Center and Burritos Not Bombs.
March 5, 2022 at 8pm
Django A Go-Go 2022: French guitarist Stephane Wrembel and guests celebrate the music of Django Reinhardt
Now in its 13th edition, the festival started by Stephane Wrembel has grown into a major event that takes the music of Django Reinhardt as a starting point and celebrates the constant evolution of Gypsy Jazz. The concert’s repertoire follows the Django canon and veers into re-interpretation, improvisation and interplay between musicians from various backgrounds. Starring: Stéphane Wrembel, (artistic director, guitar), Raphael Faÿs (guitar), David Gastine (guitar), Laurent Hestin (guitar), Sebastien Felix (guitar), Russell Welsh (guitar), Josh Kaye (guitar/oud), Aurora Nealand (saxophone/vocals), Daisy Castro (violin), David Langlois (washboard), Ari Folman-Cohen (bass), and Nick Anderson (drums).
Tickets: $47, $57, $67, $77
March 12, 2022 at 8pm
The Chieftans: The Irish Goodbye
Performing their final NYC concert after a storied 57 year career, six-time Grammy Award winners The Chieftains have been highly recognized for reinventing traditional Irish music on a contemporary and International scale. Their ability to transcend musical boundaries to blend tradition with modern music has notably proven them to be one of the most renowned and revered musical groups to this day.
Tickets: $42, $64.50, $74.50, $89.50
September 20, 2021 at 7pm in Bryant Park – The Town Hall celebrates their 100th anniversary with
The Town Hall: Centennial Concert with Grammy-winning musician Chris Thile and More
MacArthur Fellow and Grammy Award-winning mandolinist, singer, songwriter Chris Thile, who The Guardian calls "that rare being: an all-round musician who can settle into any style, from bluegrass to classical," and NPR calls a "genre-defying musical genius," is a founding member of the critically acclaimed bands Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek. For four years, Thile hosted public radio favorite Live from Here with Chris Thile (formerly known as A Prairie Home Companion). With his broad outlook, Thile creates a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic for performers and audiences alike, giving the listener "one joyous arc, with the linear melody and vertical harmony blurring into a single web of gossamer beauty" (New York Times). Most recently, Chris recorded Laysongs, released June 4, 2021 on Nonesuch. The Town Hall’s centennial concert in Bryant Park, hosted by Chris Thile, will pay tribute to the great artists and art forms that the hall nurtured and introduced to New York City. Known for being at the vanguard, the Town Hall held the concert hall debuts of many great artists like Marian Anderson, Isaac Stern, Billie Holiday, Glenn Gould, Leontyne Price, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Coretta Scott King and João Gilberto, among others. From 1935- 1956, The Town Hall hosted America’s Town Meeting of the Air, one of the first of the radio "talk shows," a program which featured guests, scholars, and experts who discussed important issues of the day. Over its two decade run, the program’s guests included Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes, Earl Browder, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Carl Sandburg, Pearl Buck and Mary McLeod Bethune.
The event is free and open to the public and is the finale of the 2021 season of Bryant Park Picnic Performances. Advance ticket registration is no longer required and the Park opens at 5:30pm for in person attendance.
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About the Artists
James Lapine is a preeminent director, playwright, screenwriter, and librettist. He is the recipient of three Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Passion, Falsettos, Into the Woods), as well as nine Tony Award nominations, five Drama Desk Awards, a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and a Peabody Award, among other honors. He has also been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Mr. Abbott Award for lifetime achievement in theater.
Stephen Sondheim is a composer, lyricist, and Broadway icon. He is the recipient of eight Tony Awards (including a Tony for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre), a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, an Academy Award for Best Song, eight Grammy Awards, eight Drama Desk Awards, and many other honors. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015.
Anita Hill is University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis University. After the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Hill became a leading figure in the fight for women’s rights and against gender-based violence. She has written for The New York Times and Newsweek, and is a sought-after speaker.
Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the former president of the American Academy of Religion, the largest professional organization of scholars of religion in the world. Glaude is the author of several important books including Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, which has been described as "one of the most imaginative, daring books of the twenty-first century." His most recent book, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, was released on June 30, 2020. Imani Perry describes the book as "precisely the witness we need for our treacherous times. He is a columnist for Time Magazine and an MSNBC contributor on programs like Morning Joe, and Deadline Whitehouse with Nicolle Wallace. He also regularly appears on Meet the Press on Sundays.He hails from Moss Point, Mississippi, a small town on the Gulf Coast, and is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Judy Collins has long inspired audiences with sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs, and a firm commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic 55-album body of work, and heed inspiration from her spiritual discipline to thrive in the music industry for half a century. The award-winning singer-songwriter is esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. Her stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell’s "Both Sides Now" from her landmark 1967 album, Wildflowers, has been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Judy’s dreamy and sweetly intimate version of "Send in the Clowns," a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical A Little Night Music, won "Song of the Year" at the 1975 Grammy Awards. She’s garnered several top-ten hits gold- and platinum-selling albums. Recently, contemporary and classic artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins. Judy’s most recent collaboration with her as a singer-songwriter is the 2020 album PBS TV show and CD release Winter Stories, including critically-acclaimed Norwegian folk artist Jonas Fjeld, and masterful Americana band Chatham County Line.Winter Stories is a collection of classics, new tunes, and a few surprises, featuring spirited lead vocal turns, breathtaking duets, and Judy’s stunning harmony singing. Judy is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. She is a modern-day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished painter, filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor, and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. She continues to create music of hope and healing that lights up the world and speaks to the heart.
Darlene Love continues to captivate audiences worldwide with her warm, gracious stage presence and sensational performances. Since the early sixties, as part of Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ hit factory, this great lady has done it all…from major motion pictures like the highly successful Lethal Weapon series to Broadway hits like Hairspray and Grease. She even starred as herself in Leader Of The Pack, credited as Broadway’s first ‘jukebox musical.’ Darlene has appeared on numerous television programs, running the gamut from her weekly appearances on Shindig to a recent guest spot on the PBS special entitled "Women Who Rock". An autobiographical film is currently on the drawing board and another recent film Twenty Feet from Stardom that prominently features Darlene, just landed the Academy Award this March. When Darlene went on stage to be greeted with the Oscar on behalf of all the film participants, she burst into song and won a standing ovation from the Academy audience led by the wildly applauding Bill Murray. Soon after this, it was announced by Oprah Winfrey that a film on Darlene’s life was in production and will star Toni Braxton as a young Darlene Love. Darlene is currently working on a new CD being produced by Stevie Van Sandt. Steve wrote a special song for her, "All Alone on Christmas," which Darlene sang on screen in Home Alone 2 – a holiday TV favorite every year. Darlene’s background vocals as a lead member of The Blossoms for Tom Jones, The Righteous Brothers, Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, and Elvis Presley (to name but a few) set the stage for her emergence as a star in her own right. Her Billboard hits include: "He’s A Rebel," "The Boy I’m Gonna Marry," "Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home," "He’s Sure the Boy I Love" and the #1 holiday classic "Christmas Baby Please Come Home," a song that she performs annually with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Symphony Orchestra on The Late Show With David Letterman (December marked her 27th appearance). In 2011, Darlene Love received her industry’s highest award when Better Midler, a great fan of her work, inducted her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the celebration, the two ladies enjoyed performing "He’s A Rebel" together. As part of the festivities, Darlene also sang "He’s A Fine, Fine Boy" backed by another distinguished fan, Bruce Springsteen.
John Cameron Mitchell directed, starred in and wrote, with Stephen Trask, the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), for which he won Best Director at the Sundance Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor. His recent Broadway production of Hedwig garnered him Tony Awards for his performance and for Best Revival. He won an Obie Award for Hedwig Off-Broadway as well for as starring in Larry Kramer’s The Destiny of Me. He directed Tennessee Williams’ Kingdom of Earth Off-Broadway with Cynthia Nixon and Peter Sarsgaard. He directed the films Shortbus (2006), Rabbit Hole (2010) and How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2018) both starring Nicole Kidman who was nominated for Best Actress Oscar for the former. Recent TV roles include Hulu’s Shrill, HBO’s Girls and Vinyl, CBS’s The Good Fight, and Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle. He stars in, wrote (with Bryan Weller) and directed the musical podcast series Anthem: Homunculus featuring Cynthia Erivo, Glenn Close, Patti Lupone, Denis O’Hare, Laurie Anderson and Marion Cotillard.
Stephen Trask Stephen first achieved wide acclaim as the co-creator/composer/lyricist of the award-winning stage musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which was also developed into a feature film released by Fine Line Features and for which he won an Obie Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical, a 1998 New York Magazine Award, Drama Desk nominations for Outstanding Music, Lyrics and New Musical, a Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album, two GLAMA Awards, and Entertainment Weekly’s Best Soundtrack Award for 2001. The Broadway production of the show won four Tony Awards in 2014, and the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy. Since 2003 Trask has been scoring films at both the independent and studio levels for directors as diverse as Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, Miramax Films), Paul Weitz (In Good Company, American Dreamz, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, Little Fockers, Universal Pictures), Todd Graff (Camp, IFC Productions/Jersey Films/Killer Films), Tamara Jenkins, (The Savages, Fox Searchlight), Jon Kasdan (In the Land of Women, Warner Brothers), Robert Benton (Feast of Love, MGM/Lakeshore), John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Fine Line), Sean Anders (Sex Drive, Summit Entertainment), Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Dreamworks/Paramount), Alan Poul, (The Back-up Plan, CBS Films), Tom Vaughn (So Undercover, Exclusive Media), Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Lovelace). In addition to Hedwig, Trask’s work for the Broadway stage includes orchestrations for the recent production of Rocky, the musical based on the classic film. His latest show, This Ain’t No Disco, premiered at The Atlantic Theater last year. He is also at work on a new musical in collaboration with book writer Chris D’Arienzo (Rock of Ages) to bring the Martin Scorsese/New Regency film The King of Comedy to the stage. Known for his time fronting ’90s NYC punk band Cheater, Trask has also recorded and performed with artists such as Stone Temple Pilots, Bob Mould, Sleater-Kinney and Yoko Ono.
Amber Martin Amber is a celebrated NYC Vocalist, Cabaret Star and Comedic Monologist. Named one of the Top Performers of the Year by The New Yorker, Martin brings a combination of cabaret, belting vocals & no-holds-barred comedy to her live, raucous, genre-hopping musical performances. She previously made her Broadway debut in Tales of the City at The Music Box Theater. Some of her performances include appearing with Joan Rivers on Celebrity Apprentice and opening for Joan’s live NYC shows. You can hear her belting out featured vocals on The Scissor Sisters single "Inevitable" (co-produced with Pharrell). She was a featured vocalist with comedian, Sandra Bernhard at Town Hall in New York City and has twice been a featured guest on Sandra’s Sirius XM radio show, Sandyland. Amber has performed her own solo shows in New York City & New Orleans, as well as The TBA Festival, Treefort Festival, Outsider Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival in Altomonte, Italy, and has recurring NYC residencies at Alan Cumming’s Club Cumming, Joe’s Pub and The Cutting Room. Amber continues to evolve as writer, curator, choreographer and star of her own performances,The Days of My Lives & Three Women: Joplin, Midler & Nyro (Solo Artist Residency at Joe’s Pub, NYC), Hi!(Best Solo Performance Drammy Award), Wigshop, Stoned Soul: In Love with Laura Nyro (Residency at Feinstein’s/54 Below) and Janis: Undead (a continuing U.S./Int’l tour). She is also touring her original album, A.M. Gold, including 2 songs featured in John Cameron Mitchell’s recent film, How to Talk to Girls at Parties.
Stéphane Wrembel is a composer, teacher and one of the most highly regarded guitarists in the world specialized in the style of Django Reinhardt. Wrembel- who learned his craft among the Gypsies at campsites in the French countryside- has had a remarkable career and has toured around the world. He wrote music for 3 of Woody Allen’s movies including Vicki Cristina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris ("Bistro Fada") and the full score for Rifkin’s Festival. He has released 16 albums under his name and the nom de plume, The Django Experiment. He has received rave reviews for his recordings and his impeccable performances. In October of 2019, Wrembel released Django L’Impressionniste putting the spotlight on 17 little-known preludes for solo guitar that Reinhardt recorded between 1937 and 1950. Wrembel is the first interpreter who has performed all these solo pieces and collected them in one definitive masterwork. He spent the summer of 2020 painstakingly transcribing the songs and released them in tablature in a beautifully bound book in spring of 2021. Every year since 2002, Wrembel has organized the "Django a Gogo" festival and guitar camp in his charming hometown of Maplewood, New Jersey, and The Town Hall in New York City. This renowned festival includes master classes and music performances featuring some of the greatest Django masters on the planet. For more information, please visit www.stephanewrembel.com.
This year marks 58 years since The Chieftains began their illustrious journey. Since 1962 the six-time Grammy Award winners have been highly recognized for reinventing traditional Irish music on a contemporary and International scale. Their ability to transcend musical boundaries to blend tradition with modern music has notably hailed them as one of the most renowned and revered musical groups to this day. As cultural ambassadors, their performances have been linked with seminal historic events, such as being the first Western musicians to perform on the Great Wall of China, participating in Roger Water’s "The Wall" performance in Berlin in 1990, and being the first ensemble to perform a concert in the Capitol Building in Washington DC. In Ireland they have been involved in many major occasions, including Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979 when they performed to an audience of over 1.3 million, and in 2011 as part of the historic visit to Ireland of HRH Queen Elizabeth II. In 2010, their experimental collaborations extended to out of this world, when Paddy Moloney’s whistle and Matt Molloy’s flute travelled with NASA astronaut, Cady Coleman, to the international space station. More recently in Japan, The Chieftains were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the 2017 Ireland Japan Business Awards. And in 2018, Paddy was awarded the prestigious Encomienda de la Orden del Mérito Civil (Commander of the Order of Civil Merit) by the Ambassador of Spain. Although their early following was purely a folk audience, the range and variation of their music and accompanying musicians quickly captured a much broader audience, elevating their status to the likeness of fellow Irish band, U2. To celebrate their 50th Anniversary in 2012, The Chieftains once again invited friends from all musical styles to collaborate on their most recent album, Voice of Ages. Featuring some of modern music’s fastest rising artists (Bon Iver, The Decemberists and Paolo Nutini among them), this album is proof that their music transcends not only stylistic and traditional boundaries, but generational as well. This same year they were awarded the inaugural National Concert Hall Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala event in Philadelphia hosted by The American Ireland Fund "in recognition of their tremendous contribution to the music industry worldwide and the promotion of the best of Irish culture."
Chris Thile. Multiple Grammy Award-winner and MacArthur Fellow Chris Thile, a member of Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek, and now the host of the radio program, Live from Here, is a mandolin virtuoso, composer and vocalist. With his broad outlook that encompasses classical, rock, jazz, and bluegrass, Thile transcends the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres, creating a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic for performers and audiences alike. A child prodigy, Thile first rose to fame as a member of Grammy Award-winning trio Nickel Creek, with whom he released four albums and sold over two million records. In 2014, along with a national tour, the trio released a new album, A Dotted Line, their first since 2005. As a soloist, Thile has released several albums including his most recent, Thanks for Listening, a collection of recordings, produced by Thomas Bartlett, originally written as Songs of the Week for A Prairie Home Companion. In February 2013, Thile won a Grammy for his work on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan. In September 2014, Thile and Meyer released their latest album collaboration, Bass + Mandolin, which won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Punch Brothers released their latest album, The Phosphorescent Blues, in January 2015, and a follow up EP, The Wireless, in November of the same year. Most recently, Thile released a double-album with Brad Mehldau, titled Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau, in January 2017 and a collection of works from Bach with Yo-Yo Ma & Edgar Meyer in April 2017 called Bach Trios.
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From July 6-27, 2021, The Town Hall concludes its virtual season with The Town Hall Laughs: a series about the history of comedy, which is free to the public and presented digitally. Over the course of the last century, The Town Hall has been home to groundbreaking live events that have cemented the hall as a historical landmark. The Town Hall’s legacy as a comedy venue is buried under the legacy of America’s Town Meeting of the Air and the hall’s historic concerts such as the debuts of Isaac Stern and Nina Simone. During this special July series, Century of Story and Song will celebrate four important events in the hall’s comedy history. Join The Town Hall this July to learn about Redd Foxx, Will Rogers, Dick Gregory and Nichols and May.
July 6 at 7pm
Redd Foxx: King of the Party Records
On September 15, 1959 Redd Foxx opened for Nina Simone at our hall on a bill that also included the Horace Silver Quintet and J.J. Johnson’s Quintet. This concert was recorded and would become her first live album. According to a New York Herald Tribune review Foxx, then a nightclub comedian, "took a brief turn that would have startled the more typical Town Hall ticket buyer." Dr. Jalyah Burrell joins The Town Hall to discuss 1950s nightclub comedy and the pre-Sanford and Son oeuvre of the "King of the Party Records."
July 13 at 7pm
Dick Gregory: Kent State, Black Power and Comedy
On April 22, 1971 Dick Gregory spoke at The Town Hall as part of a Speakers Series that included Ralph Nader. Gregory took the stage to speak about the direction of the civil rights movement in the 70s, of which he would play a significant role as demonstrated in the 1972 National Black Political Convention the following year. Scholar and author Dr. Mark Anthony Neal will join The Town Hall to speak about Gregory’s legacy and 1971 as a pivotal year in history and in Gregory’s own life. Discussion to include Gregory’s fasts, his political speeches and his recordings, including his record Dick Gregory at Kent State (1971).
July 20 at 7pm
Will Rogers: A Biography
In 1922 and 1927, groundbreaking comedian Will Rogers took The Town Hall stage to lend his voice to political campaigns. Widely considered one of the most influential entertainers and humorists in American history, Rogers was a social critic, rancher, cowboy and Guinness World Record lasso roper. Professor and author of Will Rogers: A Biography, Ben Yagoda will join The Town Hall for a discussion of one of the United State’s most important humorists: the vaudevillian, film actor and writer Will Rogers.
July 27 at 7pm
Nichols and May: The Town Hall Debut
On May 1, 1959, after working clubs and opening for acts such as Eartha Kitt and Mort Sahl, legendary comedy duo Elaine May and Mike Nichols made their headlining theater debut at Town Hall. Nichols and May performed their witty skits and improvisational dialogues to rave reviews and two sold-out audiences. Within a few years, they were television regulars with best-selling comedy albums and a hit show at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway. In a conversation with May decades later, Nichols noted: "The best show we did was in Town Hall." Join Mark Harris, author of Mike Nichols: A Life, in a discussion about Nichols and May, their live act and Nichol’s stage career.
Tickets for The Town Hall Laughs: a series about the history of comedy are free to the public and available at www.thetownhall.org.
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About the Artists
Jalylah Burrell is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies at San José State University. She holds a PhD in American Studies and African American Studies from Yale University and her scholarship was previously supported by postdoctoral fellowships at DePaul University’s African and Black Diaspora Department and Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality as well as visiting research fellowships at the Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University Bloomington, the Vivian G. Harsh Society, and the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory University. Her research and teaching are focused on African Diasporic literature and popular culture and enhanced by experience as a pop culture critic, digital producer, oral historian, and deejay. Her current book project is titled "Capacity for Laughter: Black Women and the American Comedic Tradition."
Mark Anthony Neal is the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of African & African American Studies and Chair of the Department of African & African American Studies at Duke University where he offers courses on Black Masculinity, Popular Culture, and Digital Humanities, including signature courses on Michael Jackson & the Black Performance Tradition, and The History of Hip-Hop, which he co-teaches with Grammy Award Winning producer 9th Wonder (Patrick Douthit).He is the author of several books including What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1999), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002) and Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities (2013). The 10th Anniversary edition of Neal’s New Black Man was published in February of 2015 by Routledge. Neal is co-editor of That’s the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (Routledge), now in its second edition. Additionally Neal host of the video webcast Left of Black, which is produced in collaboration with the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke. You can follow him on Twitter at @NewBlackMan and IG at @BookerBBBrown
Besides Will Rogers: A Biography, Ben Yagoda’s books include About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made; Memoir: A History; and The B Side: The death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song. He is currently a Guggenheim Fellow, working on a book about O. Henry’s years in New York. Yagoda lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
Mark Harris is the author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, which was a New York Times notable book of the year, and Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. He is currently a writer for New York, where he often covers the intersection of culture and politics. A graduate of Yale University, Harris lives in New York City with his husband, Tony Kushner.
MORE ABOUT TOWN HALL
Town Hall has played an integral part in the electrifying cultural fabric of New York City for more than 100 years. A group of Suffragists’ fight for the 19th Amendment led them to build a meeting space to educate people on the important issues of the day. During its construction, the 19th Amendment was passed, and on January 12, 1921 The Town Hall opened its doors and took on a double meaning: as a symbol of the victory sought by its founders, and as a spark for a new, more optimistic climate. In 1921, German composer Richard Strauss performed a series of concerts that cemented the Hall’s reputation as an ideal venue for musical performances. Since, Town Hall has been home to countless musical milestones: The US debuts of Strauss, and Isaac Stern; Marian Anderson’s first New York recital; in 1945, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker introduced bebop to the world; Bob Dylan’s first major concert in ’63; and much, much more.