“Fish Men” Set at Washington Square Park Chess Plaza in its “Hey Day” Begins Off-Broadway Run

Fish Men Chicago Run
Fish Men Chicago Run

Fish Men, a play set at Washington Square Park, specifically the Chess Plaza in its “hey day,” will start a long-awaited New York City Off-Broadway run on February 10th. The play, written by New York-based Cándido Tirado, a regular player and observer at the park Chess Plaza some decades back, debuted in Chicago in 2012.

WSP Blog interviewed Tirado during the play’s Chicago run. He said then, “New Yorkers are going to relate to it [Fish Men] in so many ways. You don’t know how badly I want this in New York. I wrote this play for New York.

Chicago-based writer Linda Zises reviewed the play for WSP Blog in 2012, writing:

Fish Men, the latest play by Cándido Tirado at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, is an ambitious venture inspired by New York City’s Washington Square Park Chess area in the aftermath of the tragic 9/11 attack on the City.

Using eight characters, each one drawn from New York City’s ethnically rich melting pot, the play moves from one moment to another, one group to another, their allegiances ever changing, with an ease that only a veteran playwright can achieve. Clearly, Tirado is a master of the art.

Each character is a chess hustler — that’s why they are in the park, to make a living or a killing by playing chess. What unites them is their historical roots as holocaust survivors. The rage and revenge that plagues each character looks for relief in the “fish men.” The “fish” is the weak player, the one the others hope to make their prey. But the fish is ever changing.

As the intensity of the play heightens, the physical space designated for chess in Washington Square Park seems to contract, making a dramatic statement about the park, the City, and a game where there is always a loser, a fish.

When we spoke, Tirado discussed the way the audience becomes aware that the setting for the play is Washington Square Park:

“The characters say it; there are huge panels [surrounding the stage] that have iconic images of the park – the Arch, the top of the buildings -NYU, above the tree line showing the Church [Judson]. During the play, people hear dogs barking in the background from the dog run.”

Fish Men will begin previews at INTAR Theatre February 10th; opening night is February 21st. The play runs through March 18th.

INTAR is located at 500 West 52nd Street at 10th Avenue.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online or by calling #212/352-3101.

“New Yorkers are going to relate to it [Fish Men] in so many ways. You don’t know how badly I want this in New York. I wrote this play for New York.”
-Cándido Tirado

From Broadway World, New York Premiere of FISH MEN to Begin at INTAR Next Month:

INTAR has announced that the 2016-’17 Season will continue with the New York premiere of FISH MEN by Cándido Tirado.

Fish Men had its World Premiere at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre (in collaboration with Teatro Vista) where it received four Jeff Award nominations and won the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award and New York Foundation for the Arts Award for playwriting as well as being nominated for the Steinberg ATCA Award.

On a hot summer’s day Rey Reyes, a computer programmer for a large bank, walks into Washington Square Park to pay off a debt his uncle incurred the night before to chess hustlers. The hustlers, who are in dire needs of money, talk Rey into playing a few games. “Ninety-Two,” a Holocaust survivor, who is always interfering with the hustlers’ trade, tries to pry Rey away from them. The struggle for Rey‘s soul between the hustlers and “Ninety-Two” gets more and more heated until the game becomes a life and death struggle.

Candido Tirado has been a part of the INTAR community since I came here in 1989. I could not be more thrilled to bring him back to our mainstage. As a director Fish Men links the ancient game of chess to humanity’s darkest corners. An important play for this time in our country as well as the world,” said Mr. Moreno.

INTAR brings to the public vital and energetic voices of emerging and accomplished Latino theater professionals, giving expression to the diversity and depth of today’s Latino-American community.

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Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

Guest Theatre Review: “Fish Men,” at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Features Washington Square Park Chess Area as Backdrop To “Riveting” Story  – April 30, 2012

Interview with “Fish Men” Playwright and New Yorker Cándido Tirado, Play Features Chess Plaza “Hey Day,” Healing After 9/11 & More – May 4, 2012

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