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The COVID-19 pandemic has created crises throughout the world. In New York City, our vibrant and storied live entertainment scenes shut down suddenly and remain closed for the foreseeable future. Most people are aware of how Broadway and other large institutions have been affected, but what about NYC's diverse independent show business world? Join a discussion with performers and producers as they describe strategies for coping and how they envision the future of independent live arts in NYC, along with a historian who will offer perspective from pandemics past.

This event will take place online via Zoom. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link prior to the event. Registration will close 20 minutes before the event start time.

Kate Brehm is an accomplished international puppeteer and movement director. Her New York-based company, imnotlost, has devised original theater and interactive events in New York City since 2003.

Alegba Jahyile is the leader of Alegba and Friends, a small band playing music around Brooklyn and beyond for over 20 years. He works for the Department of Education as a Paraprofessional. "I am a community activist through the music because I create community and I am essential."

Hillary Miller is the author of Drop Dead: Performance in Crisis, 1970s New York (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and Playwrights on Television: Conversations with Dramatists (Routledge, 2020). She is an assistant professor of English at Queens College, CUNY.

Keith Nelson (moderator) is cofounder of Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, a 25-year-old national touring non-profit variety arts organization. Keith learned to juggle and eat fire at Hampshire College in 1989. Following college he moved to New York City, became a professional fire eater, and started a circus. Since then, his talents have been witnessed around the world.  Keith is often teaching people how to juggle and balance objects. He is currently the circus professor at SUNY Purchase University.

Perle Noire has performed her signature blend of sultry, athletic and captivating dance in numerous venues throughout the world including the Crowne Casino in Melbourne, The Waltz in Tokyo, Teatro Circo in Madrid and the Koko in London. She has also graced stages in the Bahamas, Milan, Helsinki, Auckland, Sydney, New York and Los Angeles. Drawing inspiration from the great Josephine Baker, Perle is also a multi-talented business woman who constantly challenges herself with new ventures including an upcoming pageant dedicated to Performers of Color and a series of transformative performances with The House of Noire.

Dick D. Zigun, founder/Artistic Director of Coney Island USA, holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and is Known to many as the Permanently UnElected Mayor of Coney Island. Dick is an authority on amusement parks, American popular theater, and the history and tradition of the American sideshow.  Dick not only produces the Sideshow, but the Mermaid Parade, America’s Largest Art Parade, and has produced Air Shows, Fireworks and other events on both large and small scales. Zigun is The Godfather Of Neo-Burlesque and the Circus Sideshow revival. He is a Funhouse Philosopher and author of 15 plays, the most recent of which, "Bloody Brains in a Jukebox," was in previews when the pandemic closed NYC theaters.

Image: The Fujii Trio performing at Steeplechase Park Circus in Coney Island, 1930s

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