Immigrant artists and scholars in New York tell their tales of struggle, woe and inspiration

NEW YORK CITY: Full disclosure: I was invited to read/perform an immigrant-themed work (my own) at “New York With an Accent,” the second annual Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) event. It will be a short piece, about 5 to 10 minutes.

I am part of a huge line-up of performers committed to multicultural understanding. I list everyone participating below.

The IASNY event will be held 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Saturday April 14 at Nuyorican Poets Café, located at 236 East 3rd Street Between Ave B & C in the East Village.

CUNY TV is filming the event!

For more details, or to RSVP, e-mail IASNY at

Also, I’ve got a profile page on the social conference directory Lanyrd, which lists my upcoming conference lectures and presentations gigs in April (as well as a few past gigs). Please visit at

Back to the story: I agreed to do participate in this event because of the high quality of the people involved in IASNY. It is a new organization, barely two years old. It was founded by a Romanian-American playwright, Saviana Stanescu, to whom I owe a great deal, because she introduced me to Romania and to the incredible Romanian and Romanian-American friends I have made over the past five to six years. It may seem odd that a new group comprised of immigrants would re-appear in a city thriving with immigrants; after all, New York is a bedrock of immigration from the moment it was founded. But I think what the emergence of this new group means is the capacity of New York to renew and reinvent itself with the vibrancy and intelligence and smarts of new people who come from all over the world.

In the performing arts, we tend to be sick and tired of the immigration discussion. We would like to move on with our lives: to enter new horizons. Intriguingly, being an immigrant continues to be politicized. Take Arizona, for example, where new laws allow the border patrol to detain anyone, Mexican immigrants and American Mexicans included. In New York City, as recently as two days ago, a group of young people set out on a march from here to the state capital of Albany to demand the enactment before June 2012 of the DREAM Act, a bill that would grant economic aid to undocumented college students. Since 2011 the state legislature has been debating the New York DREAM Act, which seeks to eliminate the requirement of having resident status to benefit from state-funded financial aid.

The sheer variety of artists and scholars in “New York with an Accent” offers a stream of fresh new faces. In addition to playwright Stanescu, the event has attracted “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” correspondent Aasif Mandvi, Turkish-born director Zishan Ugurlu, flamenco singer/dancer/comedienne Inma Heredia, actress Ondina Frate, playwright Jessica Litwak, dancer/choreographer Natasa Trifan, playwright Pia Wilson, and world-renowned singing sensation Sanda Weigl. That’s an incredible list of talents.

Another case in point is Jennifer Lim.

IASNY trophy: "Victory Nests in the Immigrant's Shoe" by Stavri Karamfilov

IASNY trophy: "Victory Nests in the Immigrant's Shoe" by Stavri Karamfilov

The group will bestow an IASNY Trophy for Excellence to Jennifer Lim for her starring role in CHINGLISH, the Broadway play by David Henry Hwang. The IASNY Trophy is a sculpture called “Victory Nests in the Immigrant’s Shoe” made especially by Bulgarian artist Stavri Karamfilov, who is based in Queens.

A native of Hong Kong, Lim now resides, works and dreams out of New York City. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from Bristol University in the U.K., she was accepted to the prestigious Yale School of Drama, where she received her MFA in Acting. She is a “half & half” (half Chinese, half Korean) who speaks Cantonese and Mandarin fluently and, when the need arises, enough Korean to warm a plate of japchae. To qualify for a US Artist green card, which she has now received, Lim has taken many opportunities to work abroad over the last few years. In addition to starring in CHINGLISH, she has helped develop new works at Lark Play Development Center, Pan Asian Rep, East Coast Artists, Mabou Mines, Reverie Productions, New Dramatists, Ensemble Studio Theater, New Georges, Cherry Lane Theater, Second Generation and Ma-Yi Theater Company.

That record makes Lim an invaluable member of our community.

Featured artists in “New York With an Accent” include:
Saviana Stanescu - President/Founder of IASNY
playwright, poet, scholar, on faculty at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts

Aasif Mandvi -
is best known as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart but he is also the recipient of an Obie Award for his one-man-play Sakina’s Restaurant.

Bogar Alonso
hails from the Midwest and Mid-Mexico. As a mosaic writer he writes screenplays, poetry, ad copy, articles, music journalism, and clever put-downs on social media sites.

Zishan Ugurlu

Turkish-born director, actress, artistic director of Actors Without Borders - ITONY
scholar, assistant professor at Eugene Lang College The New School University

Jelena Stupljanin –
Serbian-born actress, starring in the recently released movie Circus Columbia

R. E. Toledo
writer, New York University/University of Tennessee, co-editor of I’man-hattan, NYU Spanish Creative Writing Program’s online publication

Inma Heredia
flamenco singer/dancer/comedienne

Pamela Jackson
storyteller, writer; she has performed on the stages of The Kennedy Center, La Mama Theatre, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the A.I.R Gallery.

Ondina Frate
Actress, Atlantic Theatre Company

Christina Quintana
MFA playwright at Columbia University

Blagovesta Momchedjikova
writer, scholar, PhD, on faculty at New York University

Stavri Karamfilov
independent artist and scholar, theater director and sculptor

Jessica Litwak
playwright, drama therapist, actor, activist, teacher, Theatre Without Borders, founding member of Dream Act Union, artistic director of New Generation Theatre Ensemble.

Natasa Trifan -
dancer/choreographer, The Natasa Trifan Performance Group,

Pia Wilson
African-American playwright, Passage Theater Play Lab, member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group

Sanda Weigl
is a world-renowned singing sensation, blending Gypsy and folk music, cabaret and jazz.

IASNY encourages the participation of all artists and scholars interested in the immigrant experience:

For more details e-mail us at:

IASNY, founded by Romanian-born playwright and NYU professor Saviana Stanescu, is an alliance of outstanding people working in the arts and academia who are committed to support, nurture and advocate for immigrant voices as a vital and vibrant part of the New York City community.

IASNY’s Advisory Board consists of Elizabeth Bradley, John Clinton Eisner, David Henry Hwang, Carol Martin, Joyce Maio, Jose Rivera, Richard Schechner, Zishan Ugurlu and Lisa Vogel.

IASNY’s Leadership Committee consist of May Adrales, Amanda Feldman, Ana Martinez, Jelena Stupljanin, Tamilla Woodard, Graciela Berger Wegsman, Aaron Schroeder (PR).

As part of its efforts to expand its involvement in the New York community and advocate for the brilliant and diverse voices of immigrant artists as an integral part of that fabric, IASNY had its official launch in 2010 at the storied Nuyorican Poets Café (executive director: Dan Gallant) in the East Village. Featuring performances by many prominent members, this launch event embodied the vision of IASNY as a forum for the exchange of ideas, the fostering of an immigrant voice, and a showcase of the breadth of talents in New York City’s immigrant community.

New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

Immigrant Heritage Week, established by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2004, celebrates the experiences and contributions of immigrants to New York City.

Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can safely DONATE HERE:

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3 thoughts on “Immigrant artists and scholars in New York tell their tales of struggle, woe and inspiration

  1. Pingback: NewPlay TV live-streams NoPassport’s “Dreaming the Americas” conference in Arizona starting April 14 « in the theater of One World

  2. Pingback: “How the 99% Keeps the 1% in Business” occupies MayDay events at Bryant Park « in the theater of One World

  3. Pingback: YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST | Play excerpt | Saviana Stanescu’s “4 Alice,” part 2 of “The Window” at Romanian Cultural Institute in New York « in the theater of One World

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