How 3 Uptown Women Are Using the Stage to Empower the Community

By Carolina Pichardo | DNA Info


WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The members and founders of the People’s Theatre Project all have different backgrounds and careers, but they all share a common desire to use the stage as a springboard for social justice.

Mary Anderson, 69, is a retired psychiatric nurse; Maria Aristy, 67, is a retired home attendant while Carmen Barbosa, 75, provided child care before she retired. All three of them are activists, actresses and program coordinators and volunteer their time and their artistic skills performing live original shows as well as staging original plays submitted by people from the community as part of the nonprofit's mission.

Their work typically travels to the residents via different venues in the community including schools and after-school programs, to help create and perform unique vignettes on community-driven topics, such as domestic violence, housing displacement, immigration and aggressive landlords.

“It’s like therapy for me," said Aristy, who has been performing with the program for eight years.

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El Nuevo Plan de 'Storm the Palace' | Del 18 al 23 de mayo

The People Storm the Palace está a sólo un mes de distancia, y es hora de emocionarse! Estamos haciendo las cosas un poco diferente este año y queremos que sepas qué hay de nuevo.

Aquí está el plan:

  • Admisión GRATUITA - Gracias a la generosidad de nuestros patrocinadores, todos los boletos son gratuitos este año. ¡Traiga a su familia entera!
  • Todo Sobre Usted - No hay premios, No hay discursos grandes, No hay eventos VIP. Sólo nuestros actores de la comunidad en el escenario haciendo lo que mejor saben hacer. Puede haber algunas sorpresas, pero este año se trata de las artes, la comunidad y las historias.
  1. ¡Es un Festival! - El gran evento en el United Palace es sólo el toque final este año. Del 18 al 20 de mayo en el Centro Cultural Alianza Dominicana, los niños, adolescentes y adultos de los programas públicos gratuitos de PTP estrenarán 5 obras originales en su totalidad. Así que ven a ver los espectáculos completos en Alianza, luego echa un vistazo a los más destacados de nuestras escuelas y programas públicos en el United Palace el 23 de mayo.

¿Qué crees? Estamos preparándonos y deseando que llegue el dia y esperamos que tu también estés. Es GRATIS, pero lo mejor es reservar sus entradas con anticipación AQUÍ.


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The Scoop on Storm 2017

The People Storm the Palace is just about a month away, and it's time to get excited! We're doing things a bit differently this year and wanted you to know what's new.

Here's the scoop:

  1. FREE Admission - Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, all tickets are free of charge this year. So bring your whole family!
  2. All About You - No awards, No big speeches, No VIP events. Just our community actors on stage doing what they do best. There may be a few surprises, but this year it's all about the arts, the community, and the stories.
  3. It's a Festival! - The big event at the United Palace is just the icing on the cake this year. From May 18-20 at the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, the kids, teens, and adults in PTP's free public programs will premiere 5 original pieces in their entirety. So come see the full shows at Alianza, then check out the highlights from our school and public programs at the Palace on May 23.

What do you think? We're looking forward to it, and hope you are too. It's FREE, but it's best to Reserve your tickets in advance HERE.

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Apply to be a Teaching Artist with PTP

People's Theatre Project is currently seeking vibrant professional teaching artists of all interdisciplinary performance specialties to join our passionate and growing family of artist-activist-educators. PTP teaching artists are placed in residencies within our 30 school and community sites across four boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Our devising curriculum is designed around three rigorous Writing and Speaking Common Core Standards that together, demand self-assessment, critical thinking, clarity, revision, editing, collaboration and creativity. Each site-specific residency is uniquely tailored to the needs of our partner organizations. Residencies generally range in length from 15-20 weeks (with the bulk of residencies occurring in Spring) and culminate in a formal sharing of the participants' devised theatrical collage presented for their community.

Theatre-makers specializing in acting, devised theatre, movement, playwriting, poetry, or puppetry with professional experience and an investment in working with public and independent school students in grades PreK-12 are strongly encouraged to apply.

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Fall Registration Now Open

Become a community actor with People's Theatre Project! 

People's Theatre Project is now seeking children, teens, and adults to take part in a collaborative theatre-making experience from September - December 2016. All programs are offered free of charge and take place at the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center on 166th Street in Washington Heights. The youth meet on Saturdays and the adults meet on Wednesday evenings.

Please complete the registration form for one of the following programs.

  • CIRCLE UP 1 - (ages 6-8)
  • CIRCLE UP 2 - (ages 9-12)
  • TO BE HEARD - (ages 13 - 17)
  • UPTOWN ACTION - (ages 18 +)

You will be notified of your enrollment status approximately one week before the program begins. See below for program details.

If you have any questions, please contact Erika Dickerson at 646-398-9062 or


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The Future Is Ours – A Q&A With Junot Díaz

The Uptown Collective | Interview by Led Black


(Photo: Esquire)

Read the Original Interview Here

Junot Díaz is a Dominican superhero. A mild-mannered M.I.T. professor by day, he is a criollo caped crusader with the escudo emblazoned on his chest by night. For the last couple of decades, Junot has lovingly rendered the truths, trials and tribulations of the Dominican Diaspora. With mighty strokes from his pen, Junot has eternally etched the pain, power and profoundness of the Dominican experience onto the annals of literature. He literally put Dominican identity on the map.

Beyond the well-deserved awards and accolades, Junot Díaz is, ultimately, a man of the people. Someone who has not hesitated to speak truth to power – come what may. He is a shining example of the artist as activist. It is only fitting that the People’s Theatre Project (PTP) will be honoring this erstwhile man of the people at the United Palace right here in Washington Heights on June 21st.

Junot took some time to talk to us about the work of the PTP, racism, immigration, activism and the Trump phenomenon. Please read the Q&A below and purchase your tickets to join the People’s Theatre Project in honoring Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz and director of community pediatrics at the Columbia University Medical Center Dr. Dodi Meyer on what will be a very special night.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit or call 646-398-9062.

Q. Since it’s inception the People’s Theatre Project (PTP) has been about bringing theater to the community. Why do you believe that is important?

Communities like ours have historically been under-served by arts organizations and when we’re talking about the Heights there’s no question that not enough of our young people have access to the performing arts. Theater is one of our oldest and most important art practices and it has the ability to open up a person, to change them, to give them hope knowledge and wisdom. Theater is the closest many of us come to sitting around a fire and listening to a storyteller—it links us to a very old and very necessary human need for collective narratives. As a form theater is extraordinary in encouraging introspection, deliberation, compassion, for engaging the full spectrum of our emotional selves and most significantly of all theater has historically been an excellent way to educate us in being human.

You don’t have to look further than HAMILTON to understand the revolutionary impact theater can have. There are thousands of thousands of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s in our community but because they haven’t been given access to the tools we will never benefit from their genius. That’s why PTP is so important—it helps those geniuses we have in our community come into their own.

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by Zahira Perez, 17, PTP Community Actor

ZahiraMy name is Zahira and my dreams have come true! I just received an acceptance letter from Babson College, the top entrepreneurship school in the United States!!! I am writing to you to tell you why I owe so much of this success to People’s Theatre Project.

I was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic and moved to the United States at age 11. The change was absolutely radical. I didn't speak the language and knew no one except for my family. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time, and in all honesty, I was not a fan of the city initially. It was crowded, dirty, and there was no space to run around and be free. 

I was not sure I would be able to adjust to this new, limited life. That, however, changed as soon as I met Mino Lora, one of the founders of the People’s Theatre Project, at Harbor Heights Middle School.

It all began with a 6th grade production of Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For the first time since I arrived, People’s Theatre Project made learning English fun! It was such a new and refreshing experience that from that moment on I knew the stage would be a part of my life for a long time. I have participated in PTP programs for almost 7 years now and have grown so much as a person, an artist and an activist.

Will you join me in giving back to People’s Theatre Project by making a donation online today?

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Washington Heights community faces issues of racism through theater

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Uptown Theater Group Tackles Racism Facing Latinos in Latest Performance

By Carolina Pichardo | DNAInfo | November 3, 2015 7:29pm

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A new play created and performed by 13 "community actors" will put issues of racism facing Latinos Uptown at center stage this week.

The People's Theatre Project's new performance, "Better Than You," acts as a tool for participants to rehearse for real-life events and brainstorm solutions to certain problems, organizers said.

During the play, actors will portray different characters and scenes that highlight various aspects of racism, violence or concerns within the Latino communities of Washington Heights and Inwood.

The performance also counts on audience involvement, with the actors asking theatergoers to tell them what they thought of the stories, as well as come onstage to demonstrate how they would have reacted in those situations. 

“All of our plays come directly from the real-life experience of our community actors,” said Mino Lora, program director of the People's Theatre Project. “Our goal is to engage our community in creative dialogue."


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