Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Afternoon in the East Village: Pride Meets the Street, with New York Neo-Futurists' Twitter Plays, on East 4th Street

From Tompkins Square Park we strolled over to East Fourth Street between Second Avenue and the Bowery for "Pride Meets the Street," a Gay Pride Week event that's part of this summer's weekly Meet the Street programs on this wonderfully block, home to various vibrant cultural venues.

Behind Meet the Street is FAB, Fourth Arts Block, leading the development of the East 4th Street Cultural District and looking to build a permanent home for cultural facilities.

Pride Meets the Street was also an event of Pride Goes East, this week's celebration of Gay Pride on the East Side. The Stonewall rebellion and much gay history, of course, took place in the West Village, but as someone who sometimes hung out on St. Marks Place in the summer of '69 (though we were mostly out West) and after, we know there's a lot of gay history here, too.

Coming to the traffic-free block, we heard "Beat It" coming loudly from the speakers when we approached the block. Next they played "Billie Jean," then a lot more Michael Jackson songs we all love now whether or not we hated them in the 70s or 80s.

In addition to no thru traffic, there was no free parking with pride.

This banner was on the Bowery side. There was a table of Cooper Square neighbors nearby.

Like every Saturday weekend in June, it was B.Y.O.L.C. (Bring Your Own Lawn Chair). But we had too much pride to schlep ours around.

Who would pay to get an ice cream cone from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck when a free one was available in the gutter, chalked by one of the big kids using the free chalk for all?

This family was figuring out how to play bocce. We'd never before seen it done in this kind of enclosed square.

There was also a volleyball net, but bocce was drawing more players.

This nice woman with the bullhorn was going up and down the block saying that the New York Neo-Futurists' Twitter plays would begin soon. She also said other stuff, like when two cute teenage boys holding hand walked by, she said, "They are gay. See how they walk with pride." They ignored her.

We didn't, though, and sat like all of the other lawn-chair-less audience, in the gutter (we're from Brooklyn, that's what we call it), in front of KGB, our old friend Denis Woychuk's cultural empire.

The Twitter plays all contained 140 characters. If you ask us, that is too many characters for a play. We couldn't keep them straight. Luckily the plays mostly had gay pride as a theme. Here two gay men, helpfully name-tagged "Papa" and "Daddy" adopt a child. Child hugs them. Short but tweet.

In 140 characters, what happens in this Twitter Twister play? "Right foot on yellow." Then one of the actors runs into the audience and kicks in the chest a young man fortuitously wearing a yellow T-shirt. He was surprised but unhurt.

There seems to a be fake itty-bitty bird (prop) in the little birdcage (another prop) the actor here is holding in her hand. Play: "If it's this size, get the hell out." There's still room for more characters, we guess, so maybe the climax should have been delayed.

When the audience came out of a real play (uh, we mean a non-Twitter production) in the Kraine Theatre inside, they got to be part of the show. Various innocent people were referred to as animals such as a snow leopard (man with white hair), a jackrabbit (man with ears), a field mouse (a middle-aged brownhaired lady), a swordfish (no, actually that was a swordfish coming out of the theater).

OK, we don't quite remember which Twitter play this was. We liked the one that was this exchange between two girls:
"Did you hear about that kid that got beat up for being different?"
"Neither did I."
The dénouement is a passionate kiss.

"I'm Henry the Eighth I am."
"No, you're jut a silly man who needs a shave and a new coat."
(Our only comment: Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown have a lovely daughter.)

We think this was the play - there were about two dozen of them, so we got our no-money's worth - where all antigay bigots have to come to the public square to be chastised or something.

The final play featured Marissa coming out and telling the audience she was giving out "poison cupcakes." We tasted ours and it was good and we didn't die. So we had a much better theater experience with the Twitter plays than Abe Lincoln did at "Our American Cousin."

New York Neo-Futurists rule. Here is a video about their benefit performances of "30 Gay Plays in 60 Gay Minutes" for a great group, Marriage Equality New York. You can still catch the last show if you hurry!

As we left, we saw more people coming to Meet the Street. By now some of them are old friends.

Pride Meets the Street was a fab event. Did we tell you we love East 4th Street? If you haven't met it yet, we hope this serves as an introduction.

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