The Fifth Night Series at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe may be no more. Tuesday marked the last officially skedded screenplay reading in the series, which launched in 1994.
According to Fifth Night senior director Alexandra Berger, series has always been dependent on grants and donations to help pay for overhead. After Sept. 11, org was the beneficiary of an emergency grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. Those monies will keep series afloat until the end of the season in May.
Organizers are hoping to have sporadic readings in the next two months. “People are unaware that we don’t have funding and might not come back,” said Berger. “We’re trying to find outreach — but if no source is found by May 31, the series will have to come to an end.”
Port of production
In the eight years of its existence, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe became a Tuesday night destination for the Gotham development community to scout works-in-progress. Over 212 scripts have been read at the downtown performance space, 39 of which found their way into production. “Girlfight,” “If Lucy Fell” and “Trees Lounge” are among the pics that developed out of the readings. More than 2,000 actors have participated, including Frances McDormand, Jennifer Connelly and Bob Balaban. Readings are prefaced by an indie short.
Tuesday’s reading was “Forever Wild,” by Katherine Burger, whose play “Morphic Resonance” received six Moliere noms in Paris. Tuesday’s Gotham-based cast included Anthony Ruivivar (“Third Watch”), Larry Pine (“The Seagull”) and Off Broadway vet Leslie Lyles.
The first regular weekly reading series of its kind, Fifth Night spawned similar events in cities from Seattle to London. With a house capacity of 125, each show sells out. (Money earned from the $8 admission tickets goes to the cafe and isn’t applicable against the series’ expenses.)
“It’s not a lack of people who love the series,” explained Berger. “It’s a matter of finding organizations that would be willing to align themselves with us and help keeps us going.”