Theater for the New City presents a powerful production of LEAVES by Victor Vauban Jr.


NEW YORK CITY – Theater for the New City ends the summer with a remarkable presentation of Leaves, a powerful drama written and directed by Victor Vauban Jr. on assimilation, colorism, the importance of family, love and mental health.

Vauban, whose 2019 play won the award for Best Drama at the Riant Theater’s 32nd Strawberry One-Act Festival, has written a moving drama that tells the story of a family, complex relationships and the many issues they face. faced.

He finds inspiration for his stories from artists such as August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen as well as the late Nina Simone, who once said: “The artist’s duty is to reflect the times. ”

Life itself nurtures, nurtures, and inspires Vauban’s thirst for truth, drama, memorable characters, and well-written dialogues.

In this domestic drama that runs through August 29, Vauban introduces us to Muriel (Dierdra McDowell), a devoted housewife living happily with her beloved husband Curtis (Ben Rowe) and their two children, James (Riyadh Rollins). and Rhonda (Cassandra Borgella).

The play earlier won the Riant Theater 32nd Strawberry One-Act Festival’s Best Play award out of more than 30 presented.

Van Fisher, artistic director and founder of the Riant Theater, described “Leaves” as a play where Vauban “captured a family that everyone can relate to and the joy and love that family has for one another. others”.

“It’s a relationship that we can all admire and desire for ourselves. This piece needs to be seen by more audiences, ”said Fisher. “The spectators who saw ‘Leaves’ were stunned when they realized what was going on in the room. People were very moved by the play and shared their comments with me after the show. “

A former circus artist, Vauban fell in love with the art of writing and had his works featured by the Writer’s Guild in The Guild magazine and had his plays read in the studio of the Classical Theater in Harlem. He is a constant presence at theater festivals in New York City.

Vauban participated in “Writers in Performance” at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center under the tutelage of Mario Giacalone, program director of the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, in 2012.

His works pay attention to the inevitable dilemmas that society has faced from the beginning of the story, featuring memorable characters and relationships set against a backdrop of dramatic intrigue.

It tells the story of individuals and families, as well as of society itself, while highlighting the issues and human strengths and weaknesses woven into the fabric of life.

If Vauban seems to have an eye for the balance of human life, he has a long history of teaching related to social and social issues.

He has taught in the social program of Cirque du Soleil, Cirque du Monde and has performed with a number of international circus companies such as UniverSoul Circus, Gran Circus Norte-Americano, Beto Carrero Show, Gran Bartholo Circus and Circus Amok.

Vauban is an eternal admirer of the arts, always ready to share his passion for the arts with his students, friends and community. His work has been recognized for its engaging and mindful approach to delicate themes still taboo in African American circles, such as assimilation, colorism, mental health and the mass incarceration of people of color.

“My main goal as a writer / director is to advance social change by fostering a safer, better informed and more cohesive community,” Vauban said. “Through theater, I seek to facilitate a better understanding of oneself and of others, and a greater acceptance of different cultures and ways of being, so that we cannot oppose each other so easily. “

Dierdra McDowell (Muriel) leads the cast of ten in this well-crafted production. She was born in Brooklyn, New York with Panamanian roots. As the first American born to her family, other family members often joked about her “celebrity status.” McDowell surrounded herself in the arts early on, attended the High School of Art and Design, then graduated from the Art Institute in Pittsburgh and FIT in New York. She studied acting at the Susan Batson Studio (formerly Black Nexxus). , T. Schreiber Studio, and Marishka Phillips Theatrical Preparatory (MPTP).

Ben Rowe plays Curtis the patriarch of the family. He’s a New York-born actor who has enjoyed working on productions large and small and on stages of all sizes for the past two decades. He is delighted to be part of this latest production of “Leaves”.

Costume Design: Carolyn Adams.

Scenography: Matteo Esposito, Lytza R. Colon, VVJ

DISTRIBUTORS: Dierdra McDowell, Ben Rowe, Patricia Fields, Cassandra Borgella, Riyad Rollins, Soyini Crenshaw, Khalfani Louis, Lianne Awah, Matthew Harling and Alton Ray.

“Leaves”, Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave, August 12-29, 2021, Thursday through Saturday. at 8 p.m. and Sun at 3 p.m. $ 18, students and seniors $ 15. (212) 254-1109,

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