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A literal public soapbox and stage is hosting parties and live music at Astor Place

Artists, makers and passerby will be able to hop on stage.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

A big, red metallic stage that anyone can use has been installed at Astor Place.

Measuring 30-feet-wide and 13-feet-tall, the "alarm red" powder-coated metallic stage, dubbed "Red Stage," is holding open hours for artists and organizations to perform, rehearse, convene, or utilize the space however they see fit on "The People's Platform." Anyone can take the stage and create so long as they reserve a time slot here.

Red Stage, which was designed by artist Rashid Johnson, is "an emergency call for artists and individuals to ask, 'What new ways of togetherness and experimentation can form in times of crisis? What becomes possible when makers have open access to improvise, experiment, and play together, free from barriers between artist and stage?'"

Of course, there will be Creative Time-organized programs and artist-curated takeovers, including "Resurgence," a series of opening performances, walks, and interactive events, "Assembly", a day of intimate conversations between poets and activists on the public commons post-pandemic, "Remedy," a series of workshops, reading groups, performances, and sound baths with herbalists, apothecaries, and artists, "Call and Response + Civic Action," a day of civic joy, music, and political education with For Freedoms to mark Flag Day, along with civic interventions leading up to a historic New York City primary election, and "Play," a festive day of games like double dutch, dance classes, drum lines, mimes, chess and artist-led play.

Creative Time Papi Juice’s  Rashid Johnson’s Red Stage
Photograph: Matteo Prandoni/

Legendary QTPOC nightlife collective Papi Juice has taken the stage and award-winning theater director Charlotte Brathwaite as well as performance artist and activist performer Morgan Bassichis will also take over the stage. You can see the full schedule here.

Johnson is known for using a slew of different mediums in his work, from wax and wood to steel and ceramic tile as well as books, records and even live plants. Usually, his work references aspects of African American intellectual history and cultural identity.
Creative Time Resurgence on Rashid Johnson’s Red Stage
Photograph: Matteo Prandoni/
Red Stage references a state of chronic anxiety (which we can all related to this year), a theme the artist has been exploring in his recent Untitled Anxious Red Drawings and Untitled Anxious Red Paintings, according to Creative Time, the public arts organization bringing the stage to Astor Place.

Astor Place actually has an interesting history of public discourse and even insurgency. Yes, it is surrounded by historical theaters, meeting halls, and schools, but it was the site of the 1849 Astor Place Riot and the 1863 site of Frederick Douglas' "The Proclamation and a Negro Army" address at Cooper Union. The Chinese Students Alliance’s dissent against China’s actions in the Sino-Soviet war also happened here as well as the recent 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

Placing Red Stage here seems right, knowing the space's history. It will stay up at Astor Place until July 4.

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