Castillo Theater

543 West 42nd Street

Castillo Theatre was created by a collective of political activists and artists and led for more than two decades by its artistic director Fred Newman. Its goal has always been to do more than produce plays; Castillo has sought to redefine the form a... more

Castillo Theatre was created by a collective of political activists and artists and led for more than two decades by its artistic director Fred Newman. Its goal has always been to do more than produce plays; Castillo has sought to redefine the form and content of American political theater. On the occasion of its production of Martinican poet/playwright Aimé Césaire's play A Season in the Congo, Césaire wrote that Newman and Castillo’s work "is a new genre... it's not just artistic. It's philosophical — an attitude toward life, performed by people who transcend the differences of color, of race, and of language." Castillo has become known for theater that’s topical, entertaining and avant-garde; for being the foremost American producer of the works of Heiner Müller; for presenting the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre; and for being a multiracial home for Black theater. The Castillo Ensemble has worked with Newman for over a decade, most frequently performing in the 30 full-length plays and musicals he has written, and in the works of Müller he has often directed. Newman and Castillo have left their imprint on many areas of cultural and social significance, inclu... more

Castillo Theatre was created by a collective of political activists and artists and led for more than two decades by its artistic director Fred Newman. Its goal has always been to do more than produce plays; Castillo has sought to redefine the form and content of American political theater. On the occasion of its production of Martinican poet/playwright Aimé Césaire's play A Season in the Congo, Césaire wrote that Newman and Castillo’s work "is a new genre... it's not just artistic. It's philosophical — an attitude toward life, performed by people who transcend the differences of color, of race, and of language."

Castillo has become known for theater that’s topical, entertaining and avant-garde; for being the foremost American producer of the works of Heiner Müller; for presenting the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre; and for being a multiracial home for Black theater. The Castillo Ensemble has worked with Newman for over a decade, most frequently performing in the 30 full-length plays and musicals he has written, and in the works of Müller he has often directed.

Newman and Castillo have left their imprint on many areas of cultural and social significance, including the nature of performance on and off the stage; issues of identity and truth; the nature of American democracy; the rise of fascism and failure of communism in Europe; and the legacy of American slavery and racism.

In all Castillo has produced 115 productions, working in many different genres: the avant-garde, the American musical, vaudeville, choreo-poems, historical dramas, hip-hop and improvisational comedy. Castillo has produced the work of major black theatre/performing artists as diverse as Laurence Holder, Ed Bullins, Ntozake Shange (with Woodie King, Jr.), and contemporary modern dancer/choreographer Desmond Richardson.

Privately funded from the beginning, Castillo’s bold move from far west SoHo to West 42nd Street and the $12.5 million All Stars Project performing arts and education center in 2003 established it as part of New York’s theater district, and has brought thousands of diverse audience members — young and old, sophisticates and first-timers — to Castillo.

In 2004, Castillo dramaturg Dan Friedman founded Youth Onstage!, a performance school and youth theater that’s free to all who participate, as a place where young artists create theater that expresses their views about the world.

Celebrating more than a quarter century of producing, development, political activism and philosophy continues to resonate in all of Castillo's productions.


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Hell's Kitchen Description

Castillo Theater is located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. Known as "Clinton" by the municipal government and devotees of former mayor DeWitt Clinton and as "Hell's Kitchen" by Daredevil and everyone else, this area of Midtown West is currently experiencing rapid (re)development. Spanning roughly from West 34th to 59th Streets and from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River, it still has a rough-and-tumble character when compared with other more defined neighborhoods in Manhattan. Once a bastion of poor and working-class Irish Americans, over the last decade the neighborhood has undergone tremendous gentrification as a result of its proximity to Midtown's many office buildings. Long-time residents, many of whom enjoyed reasonable rents and decent-sized apartments, are finding that conversion of rent-controlled and -stabilized apartments, coupled with the general building boom and strong economy, brought quick change to this formerly sleepy area. Given the strange, even Byzantine zoning regulations in New York, it’s not unusual to see a tiny brownstone, a remnant of another era, adjacent to or near a brand-new high-rise rental or condominium building. While the wholesome new Theater District has resulted in lower crime rates and decreased the area’s quality-of-life problems such as prostitution, urban transformation for some means a loss of the gritty qualities of this neighborhood for others.

While you'll find thousands of new apartments in Hell's Kitchen west of Ninth Avenue, you'll also find dozens of eclectic and interesting restaurants to boot. Some of our favorites include the terrific Daisy May's BBQ on Eleventh Avenue; the German cuisine of Hallo Berlin and nearby Queen of Sheba featuring great Ethiopian cuisine on Tenth Avenue; French patisserie La Bergamote on West 42nd Street; Bali Nusa Indah on Ninth Avenue has intriguing Indonesian dishes; the Film Center Café for high-powered American diner-style dishes; and the many Thai places dotting Ninth Avenue too numerous to mention.

Hotels in Hell's Kitchen include a number of budget places the further west you go such as The 414 Hotel and the Skyline. While there are dozens of hotels on Eighth Avenue and throughout the Theater District on Eighth Avenue and Broadway, Hell's Kitchen enjoys a somewhat more relaxed pace than the frenetic hubbub you'll find just two avenues further east.

Check out the neighborhood's weekly Chelsea-Clinton News, a great local publication that’s been around longer than the former U.S. President’s daughter!

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Info

543 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 941-1234
Website

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