Once upon a time in Brooklyn, the good people of Greenpoint gathered together inside the warm hearth of Greenpoint Loft, on Sunday, December 8th in the year 2019. As the darkness of a winter squall was fast approaching, the bright lights of the Nutcracker photo booth beckoned with promises of warm Holiday merriment in the Land of Sweets.
Winter in New York can be rough, but at least there’s the Exponential Festival to get us through. Each year, this pageant of the bold and experimental plays in venues big and small throughout north Brooklyn. One such show is worth checking out thanks to the title alone:Bernie Sanders Wants to Take Away my Fire Island Time Share: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. The mind behind the hilarity is comedian and performance artist Xalvador Tin-Bradbury, known as I’m Going to Marry Your Dad. A surrealist comedy that satirizes the influence of neoliberalism in gay culture, Xalvador’s play runs January 8 and 9 at Honey’s, the meadery in Bushwick (93 Scott Avenue). Read more about the play and its creator as part of our Thursday Spotlight series!
Greenpointers: Let’s cut right to it — can one be a Fire Island Gay and a Bernie supporter in the soon-to-be year of our lord, 2020? What if the gays want to have a home in the Pines and a socialist in the White House?
Xalvador Tin-Bradbury: The piece actually has less to do with the politics and more to do with the social conditioning that comes from taking about politics online. I try not to preach political views in my art cus everyone’s mind already seems to be made up…but to answer your question: maybe?
Your show seems to pitch vapid gay culture against the ethics of our neoliberal era. What made you want to write about this?
One day I was on the Facebook echo chamber and Bernie Sanders had posted a video about Medicare for All. Some corporate gay I was friends with had commented “go away” on the post. I laughed so hard and thought, Bernie Sanders wants to take away his Fire Island timeshare.
How does creating from a place of social critique or satire empower your work?
I am such a fan of political Facebook posts, they are so stupid and pointless because they don’t really accomplish anything. People confidently talking about things they actually know nothing about is so beautiful and these are the people who’s stories must be told.
How did you come to learn about/get involved with the Exponential Festival?
I caught a performance of Lily Chambers and Hannah Kallenbach’s show Two Girls One Hot Dog at the Glove (RIP) as part of the Exponential Festival a couple years ago and it was so gross and weird and beautiful — I thought to myself, this is probably something I should be a part of.
Important Q: will Robyn’s latest album be blasted at Honey’s?
I can’t promise any Robyn, but we will have a special rendition of the High High Hopes Pete Buttiegeg dance available on a never ending nightmarish loop.
Did Tony Kushner authorize the rights to your subtitle, and do you care?
We actually had to fight to keep the subtitle in. We thought corporate gays who are scared of socialism is the modern fantasia of national themes. Also, we don’t care.
You’ve been living and working in and around Brooklyn for a number of years as a performance artist. What has this community meant to you? What are you looking forward to in the new year?
Making art with your friends is definitely the secret to happiness. I have some fun projects coming up next year — a lot to do with memes.
Evening of Festive Fortunes Holiday Pop-In @ Francoise Olivas (135 Franklin St.):
The beautiful fairy goddess-mother @elisajimeneznyc is hosting an Evening of Festive Fortunes tonight at sustainable lifestyle shop,Francoise Olivas (135 Franklin St) from 7-9PM. There will be Heart Healing Reiki gifts and Tarot Card readings for CLARITY, PERSPECTIVE, and GUIDANCE. Pull up and start the holidays with a bit of fairy magic! $25 for 15 minute three-card pull readings. (Retail value $120/hour)
* Greenpoint School Meeting @ Dupont Senior Housing (80 Dupont St), 7pm, FREE, An update on the plans to construct an elementary school in Greenpoint hosted by Councilmember Stephen Levin, More Info ♫ Christmas Hymn Sing @ St. John’s Lutheran Church of Greenpoint (255 Milton St.), 6pm, FREE, Sing!!! Everyone is invited to come sing our favorite Christmas hymns. All levels of ability are welcome. Music and lyrics will be provided, More Info ☺ Smokes and Jokes @ Wythe Hotel (55 Wythe Ave) 7pm, $12 – $20, a floating comedy show, Buy Tix ♦ Hello My Name is thingNY @ Areté Venue and Gallery (67 West St #103), 7pm, $5, a night of audio-visual chamber music and sonic theaters. The program explores the sounds of language through its obscuration and translation, Buy Tix
♦ 35s & 45s Presents: Smilin’ Stylin’ & Profilin’ @ Ponyboy (632 Manhattan Ave), 8pm, FREE, portrait photography and tunes, More Info * Debate Watch Party @ Magazine Bar (130 Franklin St), 8pm, FREE, watch the next debate with the DSA! Merch for sale and free pizza and happy hour all night, More Info ♦ Triskelion Arts Presents: E/D @ Triskelion Arts (106 Calyer St), 8pm, $18, Utilizing ritual, repetition, and game, E/D dangles in obfuscatory oblivion. Aboard a hypnotic soundscore, Buy Tix ♫ Caged Animals, Turner Cody, Endless Eros, and more! @ The Park Church Co-op (129 Russell St), 8pm, $10 – $15 (suggested), Buy TixContinue reading →
This Sunday, December 15th (11AM-7PM) at The A/D/O Shop (29 Norman Ave) Super Market, stock up on gifts for the design lover in your life as well as a few things for yourself this Holiday season! The A/D/O Shop Supermarket features unique giftable objects, prints, as well as limited-edition apparel and artwork from Actual Source, The A/D/O Shop, and select vendors. There will be live screenprinting and Risograph printing throughout the day and complimentary refreshments at The Shop after 1:00 pm. RSVP! [Featured]
♦ Women’s Weekend Film Challenge Fund Raiser @ Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave), 730pm, $50 – $100, Celebrate the 2-year anniversary of Women’s Weekend Film Challenge with a fundraiser screening hosted by Stranger Things’ Catherine Curtin, Buy Tix ♦ THE LIGHTHOUSE @ Film Noir Cinema (122 Meserole Ave), 9pm, $15, two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s., Buy Tix ♦☺ Title:Point Presents: Sleeping Car Porters @ The Brick (579 Metropolitan Ave) 8pm, $20, a pitch black comedy that explores western masculine myth through a phantasmagoria of power, violence, and mystery, Buy Tix ☺ Funhouse Comedy @ Cantina Royal (58 N 3rd St), 8pm, $5, a collective of the best stand-up comics from around the world, Buy Tix
THURSDAY 12/12 –
♦ Green Series: Film Screening: Anthropocene: The Human Epoch @ Leonard Library (81 Devoe St), 630pm, FREE, A cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive re-engineering of the planet, RSVP * Outlaw Wrestling @ Our Lady of Mount Carmel Gym (275 N 8th St), 8pm, $25+,LAST PARTY OF THE YEAR! Buy Tix ♫ Dauwd and friends @ Magick City (37 Box St) 8pm, $10, Dauwd, Heathered Pearls, Sekou, w/ Live Visuals by Meshakai Wolf, More Info ♫ Omar Apollo @ Brooklyn Steel (319 Frost St), 8pm, $20, Buy Tix
The experimental theater group Title:Point has been bopping around Brooklyn (and beyond) for well over a decade, and Ryan William Downeyhas, in many ways, been at the center of its zany, beating heart. As co-Artistc Director of the company, Ryan is a consummate multi-hyphenate theater artist: an actor, playwright, and all-around theatermaker. Now, he prepares for the world premiere of his new play, Sleeping Car Porters, a “pitch black comedy that explores western masculine myth through a phantasmagoria of power, violence, and mystery.” The play comes to The Brick December 5–14, a venue helmed by Theresa Buchheister, a former Thursday Spotlight artist and an actor in the play. (She portrays Billy the Kid, which should be worth the price of admission alone.)
Here, we catch up with Ryan the week of the performances to learn about Title:Point, his playwriting path, and more.
Greenpointers: For those unfamiliar with Title:Point, could you describe that theater company a little? And how did you come to be involved?
Ryan William Downey: Title:Point is the type of theater company that frightens you into laughter. A Title:Point play should be equal parts slapstick comedy, abject horror, and pure existential dread.
I’ve been involved with Title:Point for about a decade, but its history precedes me. It was started by Theresa Buchheister and Samara Naeymi a few years before that. Theresa and I met while working at The Strand bookstore. She invited me to join her writer’s group and from there I joined Title:Point as an actor/writer. Over the years we earned each other’s trust where now we run the company together and have expanded to many other creative endeavors (Exponential Festival, ?!: New Works, Vital Joint, and beginning in January 2020, The Brick).
What was the genesis of Sleeping Car Porters?
I began writing Sleeping Car Porters in 2015, though it took a long time for the ideas to crystallize into something resembling where the play is now. I originally conceived it to be an intimate two-person show that would be easy for us to tour and present in any space. Which is hilarious given where we have ended up. Our production at The Brick has as big a creative team and as ambitious a technical design as any show Title:Point has ever produced.
This piece plays on American myths and Western masculinity, incorporating Billy the Kid. Why use that figure, and is the other main role, Zodiac, an original character?
Billy the Kid and Zodiac are both based, rather loosely, on their historical counterpoints. In this case, Zodiac is some version of the Zodiac Killer who terrorized Northern California in the 60s and 70s. History is a tricky thing with both of them. Folks can’t seem to settle on where Billy the Kid was born or buried, for instance (he has two graves!), and the Zodiac remains un-apprehended or definitively identified so he has become a kind of black hole in the damaged American psyche for the last 50 years. They both provided a jumping off point to delve into the themes I was interested in exploring with this script, how killers become folk heroes or confounding mysteries, how they change in our collective memory over time. Sometimes the more you read on the subject the further you get away from the truth of the thing. Our take on both characters is prismatic and kaleidoscopic in nature. They are at times unrecognizable.
Talk a little about your work and trajectory: we get a lot of creatives in our Thursday Spotlight series, but it’s rare we get to speak with a playwright!
I’ve been writing drama in one form or another since I was a teenager but most of the work we have produced in the last decade has been collaboratively written. A typical Title:Point show may have two to ten writers on it, depending on the development process. I wanted to write Sleeping Car Porters all by my lonesome to get back in the practice of climbing the mountain and telling the story. I am working on a play that operates like a slasher film and have several screenplays in development, mostly working in the horror genre for the foreseeable future.
What has your partnership been like with Theresa?
Theresa drags me into every bad idea she’s ever had and I just keep hopping in the hand basket headed straight to hell. We can out-argue any creative team in the American theater. Don’t believe a single word Theresa says about me.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to say that the creative team behind this production have been invaluable to its coming into existence. In most cases the parts were written with the actors in mind and the technical team has exceeded all of my expectations profoundly. I am so proud of the strange thing we have built together. If it’s a failure it’s my fault because they have given the production everything it needs to be successful. I love them all to death.
☺Hey! It’s a Comedy Show @ Silver Light Tavern (689 Lorimer St), 730pm, $5, a stand-up comedy show bringing you some of New York’s best comedians, More Info ♫♦ Set Me Free – The Musical @ Muriel Schulman Theater (106 Calyer St), 8pm, $40, a story of finding a way to accept your past while planning for the future. Love heals all wounds, Buy Tix * 94 Precinct Community Council Meeting @ St. John’s Lutheran Church (155 Milton St) 7pm, FREE, More Info ♫ Dervisi @ TROOST (1011 Manhattan Ave), 8pm, FREE, More Info
THURSDAY 12/5 –
^ East/West Noodleways @ Archestratus Books & Foods (160 Huron St), 630pm, $20, an arancine happy hour, panel discussion, Q + A, and book signing, Buy Tix ♫♦ Dobbin St 3rd Anniversary Party @ Dobbin St (64 Dobbin St), 730pm, FREE, speciality cocktails, bites by vendor friends, and a special choreography compilation, RSVP ♦ Opening Party @ Miriam Gallery (319 Bedford Ave) 6pm, FREE, welcome Miriam to the neighborhood along with a site-specific sound and movement performance and a risograph printing station, More Info ♫ Puce Mary, JFK, Wetware, 51717, Hive Mind @ Saint Vitus Bar (1120 Manhattan Ave), 8pm, $15, Buy Tix
Dance with the sugar plum fairies inside our dreamy Nutcracker-themed Holiday Market on Sunday, Dec 8th, 1-7 pm. Located inside the gorgeous Greenpoint Loft (67 West St, 5th Flr.), our highly-curated selection of indie makers will be selling irresistible handcrafted gifts and tasty treats. Warm your cockles with FREE fun activities including Acupuncture Treatments, Tarot Readings, Face Painting, Nail Art, Holiday Ornament Making and more!
A ragtag crew of formertheatermajors will convene and carol around the neighborhood on Friday, December 20. Soprano Sharon Gladstone has dubbed the crew the “Evergreenpoint Carolers,” and their evolving songbook features a smattering of yuletide tunes from timeless classics (“Silent Night”) to secular goodies (“Deck the Halls”).
Singing in SATB choir arrangement, the a capella ensemble will don scarves and shake sleigh bells starting at 7 PM. The troupe of self-described “vocally trained, but formally lax” singers will perform in three locations over the course of the evening: first at the Greenpoint Avenue subway station (off of India Street — don’t accidentally go to Greenpoint Ave’s entrance and miss the magic), followed by outside WORD bookstore (126 Franklin Street), and ending at The Springs (224 Franklin Street) at about 8:30 PM. The carolers say they may go door to door if they’re feeling frisky.
Community-oriented and organized by Greenpointers Art Editor Billy McEntee, the carolers hope to spread holiday cheer in one of Brooklyn’s most spirited and decorated neighborhoods. To donate or learn more, please email Billy at [email protected].