st. john’s

A Fiery, Absurdist “Chamber Music” Now Playing at St. John’s

Members of the “Chamber Music” cast at St. John’s

“The chair recognizes Joan of Arc.”

It’s hard not to recognize her, in the theatrical sense — like the Joans we’ve seen, this one’s armor-clad, cross-bearing, and all-powerful. But is this Joan? Well, of course not; it’s merely a depiction.

But is the performer (a marvelously focused Bre Northrup) playing Joan, or a character who believes they are Joan? This is one of the central questions in Arthur Kopit’s Chamber Music, now playing through September 16 in the basement of St. John’s Lutheran Church (155 Milton Street).

Director Emily Moler makes dynamic use of her staging Kopit’s absurdist play, setting it in the round and utilizing the subterranean locale’s low-budget though ample space. In fact a church basement may be the unlikely, appropriate setting for Chamber Music: the play actually takes place in a mental institution, so a church (with its rigid mores) lends itself winningly to this story’s strict asylum. The “Joan of Arc” and other lady icons, from Osa Johnson to Pearl White, inhabit this jail, and their meeting of the minds feels echoed in the opening of Top Girls, Caryl Churchill’s feminist anthem. Continue reading

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Theobald Engelhardt: Iconic North Brooklyn Architect

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St. John’s Lutheran Church on Milton Street is one of Engelhardt’s most recognizable buildings in Greenpoint.

You certainly know his buildings, but probably do not know his name. Theobald Engelhardt played a huge role in shaping our local architectural heritage. His buildings are local landmarks and some of our most gorgeous buildings are his handiwork, yet few people today realize his important local legacy.

Timing can mean the difference between success and failure, and Engelhardt began his career just as a local building boom was hitting Greeenpoint. Born in Williamsburg in 1851, Engelhardt—a German-American—came of age just as German influence in this area was at its peak. Engelhardt became one of Brooklyn’s most prolific architects, designing hundreds of structures that include a range of buildings from factories and churches to stores and homes. Continue reading

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