2004_10_artstribeca.jpgGothamist is excited about the Tribeca Theater Festival, which is running now through the 31st. Yes, this is being put on by the same folks who bring us the Tribeca Film Festival. Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff are presenting, in association with the acclaimed Tribeca-based Off-Broadway theater company, Drama Dept.

The two-week Festival will present a breadth of entertainment downtown, including a short play series, Stage On Screen programs, and theater panel discussions and play readings. The main event seems to be the short play series, The Downtown Plays, which comprises nine short plays focusing on "the world below 14th Street" are by Douglas Carter Beane, Peter Hedges, David Henry Hwang, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Kenneth Lonergan, Frank Pugliese, Paul Rudnick and Wendy Wasserstein. They are being directed by Tony Award-winning director John Rando (Urinetown) and a starry-group of acting talent will perform, including Joel de la Fuente (David Henry Hwang’s Face Value); Ross Gibby (Paul Rudnick’s Mr. Charles); Josh Hamilton (Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery and This is Our Youth); Jackie Hoffman (Hairspray, Obie winner for Book of Liz); Peter Jacobson (June Moon, Picasso at the Lapin Agile), Chris Messina (Far Away, Faster); J. Smith-Cameron (Tony nominee for Our Country’s Good, Douglas Carter Beane’s As Bees in Honey Drown); Marilyn Torres (Maid in Manhattan), Maria Tucci (The Rose Tattoo and The Night of the Iguana on Broadway, Jon Robin Baitz’s The Substance of Fire), and Julie White (Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles on Broadway, Dinner with Friends). A diverse group of "A List" talent will take turns serving as host for each performance of The Downtown Plays, including Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Billy Crudup, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken, Isaac Mizrahi, and more.

Movie buffs will want to check out the "Stage On Screen" series being held at Tribeca Cinemas. Various celebrity guests will host screenings of an eclectic array of theater-related films, including All About Eve, Waiting For Guffman, and A Streetcar Named Desire. The festival will also have a lively panel series, including a talk with with the wonderful film and theater director/writer Neil LaBute. Other festival events include Tribeca All Access Open Stage, which will showcase new works by playwrights of color, and Downtown Theater Outreach, which encompasses free play readings of new works in development by such downtown theater companies as The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Naked Angels, The Flea Theater, The Culture Project, New Federal Theatre and the National Theater Workshop of the Handicapped. The impressive list of playwrights who are involved includes David Hare and Caryl Churchill, and many others.