Tuesday, February 01, 2011

An Evening of Short Plays and Music at Death by Audio

The year was 2003. America was about to engage in another war abroad, and still grappling with the paranoia of terrorism. It was a time when white people were still president, it was a time of fear, a time of uncertainty. And somewhere in upstate New York, in the alley between a strip mall and a McDonalds, an adolescent was vomiting from malt liquor at a rock show.

Club Culture. The crescent jewel of the Orange County, NY rock scene. Kids from all around the county would pile out of dad's jeep, or out of their friend's red volvo after smoking their first joint to come together to perform and listen to music, both good, and in hindsight, well, not so good. It was what most kids did on the weekends, climbing the abandoned movie theater next door or looking bad ass smoking a cigarette between bands. An older man, we''ll call him Bernie, he seemed like a Bernie, watched over the enterprise with a grizzled smile of satisfaction. Like a papa bear, watching over his under age cubs while they made out and got glitter and black eyeliner all over each other. Bernie, a creepy, papa bear ran this place where both 40 year-olds in black leather pants with spikes playing death metal and 13 year-olds playing Blink 182 covers could come together and have some fun.

It was around this time I had a band of my own where I was the singer, or well, screamer. We played raucous hardcore songs, whom some of our influences I'm less than proud to admit today. At the same time, I was taking acting classes, writing plays, and in the high school drama club. The same month my band formed I had my first leading role- Wilbur the Pig in Charlotte's Web. That adorable little piglet who befriends that spider was out on the weekends screaming out all his angsty teenage woes. There was a certain contradiction between my life in theater and my life in music that was bothersome. Something about those nights at Club Culture I wished were present when I was dressed as a pig on stage (Okay, maybe not that time specifically).

If you're reading this, chances are you don't think twice about seeing a play. But you probably have some close friends who maybe see 1-2 plays a year, if that. I recently found out a close friend of mine had never seen a play in his entire life (you just got called out, James Meehan). I bet those same friends go to concerts on a regular basis though, and would totally see a play if they knew where to go, what to see, and had the money to do it. It's a sad fact, which I have to assume the theatre world knows. That there is a huge untapped audience in this city that for whatever reason they aren't reaching.

Well why not just go to them?

The past few years the Brooklyn music scene has exploded with underground, do-it-yourself venues run out of lofts, old grocery stores, a fucking party supply store, whatever. While there are theatre artists who do plenty of similar work, for whatever reason it hasn't caught on at the national level so many of these venues and the artists who play at them have. These are often run by young people who are not making much from it, and promote an all ages, all inclusive feel that harkens back to those days growing up. It takes away the bullshit. I think we need to take away the bullshit.

I've put together a show at one of these spaces, Death by Audio in Williamsburg, that puts three short plays by Youngblood writers in front of four up and coming local bands. It's going to be an experiment for sure. We're stripping away some of the formalities of theatre, and asking something of both our theatre audience and our music audience. For all the concerns we've had about putting this together, at the end of the day we're all just people in a room getting together to have fun and forget about our lives for a few hours.

Of course, no art world is perfect. The Brooklyn music scene touts inclusiveness, yet can turn its back on artists after a bad blog review. There's also a culture associated with it that's made Williamsburg and hipsters the butt of more than a few jokes. And even considering the exclusiveness most Broadway and Off Broadway theatre has, there's something irreplaceable about being locked in a room to watch drama (even if it is with people only over the age of 55). It's time for both worlds to become more creative and more inclusive with who their audiences are what kind of work their doing, and this is a tiny step in that direction.

If you're free Thursday night, swing by Death by Audio for some plays, some bands, and some cheap booze all for 7 bucks. It'll be like how I imagine The Globe Theatre was back in the day when ol' Bill Shakespeare had all the drunks down in front standing and throwing beer bottles at the men in dresses. And unlike those days back at Club Culture, I don't think anyone will be vomiting.

An Evening of Short Plays and Music

By Mira Gibson

By Ryan Dowler

By Chris Sullivan


Death by Audio
49 S 2nd St Btwn Wythe and Kent
L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy

Plays at 8:00 sharp, bands to follow.

1 comment:

joshcon80 said...

I feel old. In 2003 I was already living in Williamsburg and going to shows. I was into "electroclash" then. Like Peaches, Gravy Train!!, Ima Robot, etc. It was fun.

People can say what they want about Williamsburg, but it really is the only cool neighborhood left. It's like the East Village, when the East Village was relevant.

Also, if people don't want to live amongst taste makers then they should just stfu and move to Omaha or Des Moines or wherever.