Invites You to a Webinar

In Celebration of the Reopening of Broadway Theaters


Tuesday November 30, at 6:30PM via Zoom, Register Below

Now that Broadway theaters are reopening after a long and unwelcome hiatus, we're ready to celebrate:

Take a peek Behind the Curtain with downtown theater-maker Ralph Lewis for a unique look at New York City’s earliest theaters—where they were built, why they succeeded (or not), and what became of them. 

From Bowling Green to Astor Place, this virtual tour charts the birth of Broadway from the very first venue to the establishment of an entire Theater District—the important locations, the builders and managers, and the actors who made history on its stages. It’s an entertaining and informative accounting with diabolical anecdotes and over 100 images of NYC’s theatrical heritage. Behind the Curtain is the down-n-dirty story of how the Great White Way was born, and is tailor-made for lovers of American theater and its incredible NYC history.

The burning of the American Theater, 1836. NY Historical Society Collections.

The Astor Place Riot at the old Astor Place Opera House, May 10, 1849. Museum of the City of New York.

Ralph Lewis has lived in downtown Manhattan for over 40 years, and since 1993 has been the co-director of Peculiar Works Project, an Obie Award-winning producer of site-specific performance and recipient of NYIT’s 2018 Caffe Cino Award. He creates original theater as director, writer, and actor, as well as producing diverse, multi-disciplinary works in non-theater venues, including Merchant’s House Museum, Gershwin Hotel, Marble Cemetery, CHARAS, La MaMa’s basement, and all over Judson Church. Most recently on Zoom, he created Janes Calling for the 2021 Jane’s Walk (Municipal Art Society), directed Fengar Gael’s Smile Like A Knife (Ego Actus), and the Covid-created Language Games has been selected for 9 film festivals. Pre-pandemic productions include Afterparty: The Rothko Studio (222 Bowery); 2 Jane Jacobs (Cherry Lane Theater); Planet X (Black Mountain College, NC); 3 Robert Heide Plays (Howl! Happening); two Climate Change Theater Actions (Artichoke Arts); and America’s first play, Androboros (Frauncis Tavern Museum and Overthrow’s boxing ring); as well as terrific plays by William M. Hoffman, Megan Terry, Larry Gelbart, Paul Foster, Tom Murrin, Hallie Flanagan, Dostoevsky, Aristophanes, and Dr. Suess, among others. When not making theater, Ralph lives in a 200-year-old Federal-style row house on The Bowery and volunteers with the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, NYC Loft Tenants, and Henry St. Food Pantry.

The event is free, we at LESPI welcome donations to help us continue our free programming.


You are invited to a Zoom webinar. 
When: Nov 30, 2021 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 
Topic: Behind the Curtain: A History of 19th Century Theaters in the Lower East Side

Register in advance for this webinar: HERE.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Contact Richard at info@LESPI-nyc.org or 347-827-1846 with any questions. Thank you.


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Lower East Side Preservation Initiative
93 Fourth Avenue #1223
New York, New York 10003

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