Taxilandia, created and written by Oye Group’s Modesto Flako Jimenez, immerses its audience in the flavors, sounds, sights and dynamic history of a neighborhood confronting social stigmas and the realities of gentrification. Weaving a dramatic, performative ‘tapestry’ that interconnects generations, social classes, races and cultures, Taxilandia complicates our notion of what it means to be a local, an immigrant or a resident of a place, challenging us to answer: “What is my personal roadmap of home?”
Originally developed in Jimenez’s own neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, the piece was inspired and drawn from his nine years driving a taxicab and his documentation of conversations with passengers, residents, locals, and immigrants to the neighborhood. The Oye Group now works with companies all over the country to develop local versions of the piece specific to each city.
Taxilandia offers four experiences for the New York City run:
VIRTUAL SALONS: From March 8-20, 2021, Flako hosted four salons with local artists from each borough whose work intersects with gentrification.
TAXILANDIA GALLERY: An opportunity to experience the past and present of Bushwick. While walking the neighborhood, guests will take in the sights, sounds and history of the barrio—the part Vogue wasn’t talking about. Each installation features original poetry, video and sound design work, and is based at a local business that is an important patch in the fabric of an ever-changing neighborhood. For more information, visit www.taxilandia.com/gallery. EXTENDED THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2021.
TEXTILANDIA: Come walk the streets of Bushwick with Flako! Co-created by Modesto Flako Jimenez and Andrew Kircher, Textilandia is a new text message experience that invites you to traverse these blocks haunted with a deep history of conflict, perseverance and joy. And to recognize how you inscribe yourself wherever you go. All you need is your phone, your body and a comfortable pair of shoes. Flako will be your guide, teaching you to peep the traces of gentrification. EXTENDED THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2021.
TAXI RIDES WITH FLAKO: Become passengers in Flako’s cab for a personal experience of Bushwick, Brooklyn! Taxilandia taxi rides will be available to the general public via a ticket lottery; winners may purchase up to three $25 tickets. Taxilandia taxi rides run through May 30, 2021.
MODESTO FLAKO JIMENEZ is a Dominican-born, Bushwick-raised theater maker, producer and educator. HOLA Best Ensemble Award Winner for 2015. ATI Best Actor Award Winner for 2016. HOLA Outstanding Solo Performer for 2017, New York Times and Wall Street Journal profiled. Flako is best known for original productions and three signature festivals – Ghetto Hors D’Oeuvres, One Catches Light, and Oye! Avant Garde Night! – produced with his company Oye Group. Flako has appeared on TEDxBushwick, Early Shaker Spirituals (Wooster Group), Last Night at The Palladium (Bushwick Starr/3LD), Yoleros (Bushwick Starr/IATI theater), Conversations Pt.1: How To Make It Black In
America (JACK). Take Me Home (3LD/ Incubator Arts Project), Richard Maxwell’s Samara (Soho Rep.), Kaneza Schaal’s Jack &. (BAM/On The Boards). Modesto received the 2016 Princess Grace Award Honorarium in Theater. In 2018 he became the first Dominican-American Lead Artist in The Public Theater Under the Radar Festival with his show Oye For My Dear Brooklyn.
Ben Gassman is a playwright from Queens. His plays include Botte di Ferro (coming al fresco to an Astoria pizzeria soon as safe), Independent Study (The Tank), 40s & Chestnuts (Brooklyn College) and The Downtown Loop (3LD). With Sam Soghor, Ben co-created the performance piece Sam’s Tea Shack (The Tank, NYC; Barker Room Rep, LA). Culinary Theater, his collaboration with director Brandon Woolf, builds performances that taste and smell (Prelude Festival; Bowery Ballroom). Ben’s work has been supported by Yaddo, LMCC, The Yiddish Book Center, & Casa Zia Lina. He teaches writing at NYU. bengassman.com
Sandie Luna is an Afro-Latinx immigrant artist, educator, mother and arts administrator. In addition to devising and producing original works, Sandie is executive director at ID Studio Theater and lectures at SUNY New Paltz’ Theater Arts department. A self-described “non-solo artist,” Sandie’s artistic and professional endeavors are impacted by her experiences straddling identities and her background in sociology. She currently lives, works and dreams in the Bronx.
Marisa Tornello (she/they) is a composer, vocalist, performance artist, and songwriter centering their practice around themes of mental health, and creating works that promote community action and elevate voices in a stigmatized society. With a focus on extended vocal technique, Marisa has performed with Pioneers Go East Collective and Yoshiko Chuma & The School of Hard Knocks. Her works have been shown at the Tank (Ladyfest), Jack, La MaMa ETC, Vital Joint (Exponential Festival), Invisible Dog Arts Center, and Judson Church. Marisa is from and based in Staten Island, and pursuing their Master of Music at the New School.
Merlixse Ventura is an Afro-Dominican artist born and raised in Washington Heights. She is an alumnus of SUNY Purchase, where she studied Theater & Performance and Philosophy. Ventura is currently pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Acting at Columbia University. Most recently, Merlixse Ventura served as a director and performer in the NYTW artistic instigator project “The Cooking Project”.
Oye Group is a Brooklyn-based Production Company that serves as an incubator for artists both local and immigrant to New York City. We present an eclectic mix of theater, dance, poetry, music, video installations and film, through festivals and productions. They curate work that sparks a dialogue over political and social issues critical to our community’s growth. They work with emerging artists to create, play, and grow in an environment that challenges and supports them. They also provide quality arts education programming that gives our Brooklyn Community the tools to generate forward-thinking art. www.oyegroup.org
The Bushwick Starr is an Obie Award winning non profit theater that presents an annual Season of new performance work. We are an organization defined by both our artists and our community, and since 2007, we have grown into a thriving theatrical venue, a vital neighborhood arts center, and a destination for exciting and engaging performance. We provide a springboard for emerging professional artists to make career-defining leaps, and we are a sanctuary where established performance companies come to experiment and innovate. We are also a neighborhood playhouse, serving our Bushwick, Brooklyn community’s diverse artistic needs and impulses. Our past Seasons have included new work from groundbreaking artists such as Jeremy O. Harris, Heather Christian, Diana Oh, The Mad Ones, Clare Barron, Phillip Howze, Dave Malloy, Daniel Fish, Haruna Lee, and the TEAM. www.thebushwickstarr.org
Founded in 2003, The Tank is an Obie Award-winning, multi-disciplinary non-profit arts presenter and producer, which provides a home to emerging artists working across all disciplines, including theater, comedy, dance, film, music, puppetry, and storytelling. Led by Artistic Director Meghan Finn, Managing Producer Danielle Monica Long King and Director of Artistic Development Johnny G. Lloyd, The Tank champions emerging artists engaged in the pursuit of new ideas and forms of expression. In doing so the company removes the economic barriers from the creation of new work for artists launching their careers and experimenting within their art form. From the company’s home with two theaters on 36th Street, The Tank serves over 2,500 artists every year, presents over 1,000 performances, and welcomes 36,000 audience members annually. The company fully produces a curated season of 13-18 theatrical World or New York premieres each season. During the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, The Tank has launched CyberTank, a virtual gathering space and programming platform for artists to share work. With weekly themed variety shows, ongoing series and evening-length shows made for the virtual frame, CyberTank has already presented the work of over 2,101 artists in over 270 performances to over 12,844 audience members across the country and the world.
Recent Tank-produced work includes The New York Times Critics’ Picks OPEN by Crystal Skillman, directed by Jessi D. Hill (2019); Red Emma & The Mad Monk by Alexis Roblan, directed by Katie Lindsay (2018); and The Offending Gesture by Mac Wellman, directed by Meghan Finn (2016), as well as Drama Desk Award-nominated productions The Hunger Artist (2018), The Paper Hat Game (2017), the ephemera trilogy (2017), Ada/Ava (2016) and youarenowhere (2016). www.thetanknyc.org