Though it’s easy to get distressed about how white and male-dominated the artistic landscape still is today (because it really, truly is), it’s important to acknowledge and seek out the exciting and prevalent work being made by artists of color in spaces that are perhaps not as commercial as, say, network television. Some of it has been in comedy: recently, we’ve written about black comedian and activist Elsa Waithe and an all-Muslim comedy showcase.
It’s been a long time coming, and even though House of Yes officially opened on New Year’s Eve, the Bushwick performance collective’s brand new (and impressive) space is finally complete, with all the the licenses and permits it ever dreamed of, and it appears to be running on schedule, no less. Kae Burke– the co-founder of House of Yes along with Anya Sapozhnikova– played host last night and, strutting across the stage in impossible heels and sequined bikini number, reminded the audience, “This is our first variety show in two-and-a-half years.” Proof that even a fire, raids by the cops, and a colossal construction project couldn’t keep House of Yes down.
While you still have a staggering amount of Manhattan performance festival shows going on this week, don’t be afraid to take a break from sifting through show schedules in order to check out some of these other options.
Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, the poet Staceyann Chin spent her teenage years terrified of getting pregnant. “Every Bible lesson, biology lesson, and casual reference to the future was marked with the warning: if you get pregnant, your life is over,” she wrote later.
When Chin began dating women, she was relieved, thinking that this panic would no longer be a part of her life. But at 35, after yet another debilitating breakup, Chin woke up from her solitary life in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, haunted by a wholly different inconvenient truth: despite the fact that she had no partner, no stable income and no medical benefits, she wanted to have a baby.
Would you rather spend a short evening watching stuff in a bar or dedicate your whole day to the wildest and most visceral of performance art? This week, you can do both.
Where The Wild Things Are 8
At Bizarre Bushwick, 12 Jefferson Street, Bushwick. 9pm; $7-20 suggested donation. More info here.
Party moguls Brooklyn Wildlife present the eighth edition of their evening variety show at Bizarre Bar, home to all shapes and sizes of variety show. At any given moment, you can catch “aggro” raps by Stonehenge Parnhashnakovsky, beats by Star Falcon and Rob Interface, performance art poetry by Terminal Intrusion (Nyssa Frank, owner of The Living Gallery), burlesque, and more. The event asks attendees to wear a costume from a childhood story, a mascot outfit, or just to come half naked. So, suit up. Or down.
Tonight, a unique production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth opens in Williamsburg. Where’s the theater, you ask? Nowhere to be found, actually: This production will be taking place inside of a distillery. The three-year-old New York Distilling Company will act as the stage for this re-imagined play, which features an original live musical score and physically-charged action that happens all around the audience. Of course, an open bar of custom Macbeth-themed cocktails will be served at the adjoining bar, The Shanty— reportedly home to one of the city’s “booziest cocktails.”
It’s December. Instead of thinking about how time is quickly passing you by, take a pause from reality and step into one of the many intriguing performances available this week. Some of them are even free.
Not all fancy benefit performances open with a casually-dressed Eric Bogosian nursing a Brooklyn Lager and proclaiming in a deep drawl to the cocktail-clutching audience, “I’ve got a long, thick, well-shaped prick,” but Performance Space 122 isn’t your typical theater.
It’s raining when I head to Greenpoint to meet writer Sean Edward Lewis and actress Claire Campbell, theater artists making experimental work under the name Lilac Co. They’re a unique pair, reminiscent of the muse and the artist: Campbell, fresh-faced and young, is from Brighton, England (“Lots of hippie mums by the sea”), fresh out of drama school overseas. Lewis, older and gruffer, grew up north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, attended CalArts for graduate school, and has been in New York writing and showing his own experimental work as an auteur of sorts for ten years now.