Dream Up Festival 2017

Buskers, the Musical title

– World Premiere


Written by: Mark Tjarks.

Directed by: Dennis Gleason.

Musical Direction by: Gabriel Aldort.

Stage Manager: Jayde Fuentes.

It features the subway performers whose stories are depicted in the play: The F Tones (Marcin Wisniewski and Dwayne Beach), Luke Ryan, Sakinah Iman, Anil Salem, Gabriel Aldort, Natalia ‘Saw Lady’® Paruz, Azusa SheShe Dance, G-Wyll, and Doctor Pure Silver More. Buskers, the Musical is a mashup of the highly stylized, fantasy-driven Broadway musical with an unvarnished documentary of subway musicians, weaving together the stories and performances of actual New York buskers to create a unique theatrical experience: a documentary musical, one part American dream, two parts New York grit.

It’s the day of the annual auditions at Grand Central Station for MTA’s Musicians Under New York program, where over 300 applicants will be whittled down to a final talented and lucky few. Getting into the program means being scheduled for the prime busking spots in the subway and security chasing away encroachers instead of you. It’s a chance to make a living, to build an audience, to be offered gigs, and above all a chance to be discovered.

Sakinah, a classically trained actress from the Brooklyn projects, is sick of “Waitin’ Tables and Shit” while others are fulfilling their dreams. SheShe, a Tennessee transplant with a voice that can blow out windows, pursues a career as a musical actress in the Big Apple in her second life after her kids have flown the coop. The “F Tones,” a guitar and violin duo fusing Classical, Pop and Gypsy music, step away from their university training and learn to work audiences and improvise on the streets. Anil Salem, an Indian American whose Hindustani-tinged, intricate string solos belie a love of Irish folk music and breakdancing, wonders whether he will be able to give up a medical career and, like his grandfather, make a living as a musician and music teacher? Dr. Pure Silver More, a rapper and Times Square CD hawker, is torn between trying to take rap back to its protest roots and trying to support his son.

Can their dreams survive the pessimism of veterans who have struggled in the man-made caverns of the MTA for decades and are only too eager to pass on their education of hard knocks. Luke, the godfather of buskers, bitches that everybody has ear buds jammed into their heads: “No one’s in the environment anymore, and that’s our canvas.” Natalia, the famed Saw Lady, adds “And who buys CDs today? People don’t even carry cash.” G-Wyll, which stands for God’s will, says success is 5% musical talent and 95% business – his own plan to become a millionaire relies on hawking a patented bicycle seat and religious music. Gabe has done “shit you wouldn’t believe,” but after having kids, gets into the subway at 7 every morning, determined to make a living as a musician and leave his kids a legacy they can be proud of.

The struggle between the hardened veterans and the hopeful ingenues, between dreams of stardom and the daily grind to make rent, leads to mutual respect and finally an Underground Cabaret, in which the audience chooses the best musical collaborations between the subway musicians. Together, they mourn the lost heyday of busking (the 1990s) but keep faith in a brave, new future.


Johnson Theater


Sunday - September 3 - 5pm
Monday - September 4 - 6:30pm
Tuesday - September 5 - 9pm
Wednesday - September 6 - 6:30pm
Thursday - September 7 - 9pm
Saturday - September 9 - 5pm

Running time: Buskers, the Musical is 2 Hours (10 minute intermission) $20.

Buskers, the Musical Image

MARK TJARKS (Playwright) is a professor of English at Hawaii Pacific University, where he teaches scriptwriting, film, and literature. In July 2016 his Family Googling was presented at the Off Broadway venue Theatre at St. Clement and in August 2016 his play Houseless in Paradise, which won a Po’okela Award for Best Overall Play in 2014 (Hawaii State Theatre Council), was selected as a festival Best Bet at the New York International Fringe Festival. Ran Xia’s Theatre is Easy review of the Fringe Festival production called Houseless in Paradise “one of the most powerful pieces of documentary theatre I’ve seen.” In September, 2016 the Tallahatchie River Players performed The Unsalable Thing in New Albany, Mississippi to honor its having won First Place in the William Faulkner Literary Competition Best Play Contest. Tjarks is also a recipient of Kumu Kahua Theatre Playwriting Competition’s Resident Award, two Women in Theatre Best Comedy Awards as well as a Producer Choice Award, Aloha Theatre’s Opie for Best Play in its Original Play Festival XXII, and judges’ and audience’s awards for Best Play at PlayBuilders 2015 Festival of New Plays (he is currently PlayBuilders Resident Playwright). He has had 32 productions and staged readings of 15 one act and feature-length plays since 2004.

DENNIS GLEASON (Director) has an MFA in Directing from Actors Studio Drama School, NYC and a 30-year directing career coast to coast; 150 credits Off Broadway (AN ADULT EVENING OF SHEL SILVERSTEIN), regional theatre, dinner theatre, community theatre, college theatre, high school theatre and children's theatre; 15 Outstanding Production" & "Outstanding Director" Awards including for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (twice winner), Deathtrap, Noises Off, Rumors, I Hate Hamlet, Don't Dress For Dinner, Sugar (twice winner) Beauty & The Beast, Charlie Brown, Nunsense. He has directed 60 NYC productions and 35 world premieres. His productions were finalists in the Strawberry Festival competition 5 times, an Audience Favorite at UnFringed Festival, Funniest Play at Village Playwrite Festival, and 2nd Place at Midtown International Theatre Festival. He was the producer for VA-NMMG concerts at The Kennedy Center, U.S. State Department, U.S. Capitol and concert tour of China. He was the director and creator of AIDS and Alzheimer's Benefits’ An Evening of Hope and An Evening to Remember. He also has an MFA in Speech Communication, College Instructor of Theatre & Speech courses. In the summer of 2016, he directed 3 of Mark Tjarks plays Houseless in Paradise and The UnsalableThing at the 2016 Fringe Festival and Family Googling at the Theatre of St. Clement as part of the Strawberry Festival.



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