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This month, CityParks Theater brings a provocative mix of productions influenced by hip-hop, prisons and yes, even Shakespeare, in its line-up of free performances in Brooklyn’s parks.

Three original works - including a "hip-hop commedia," a musical story of fallen New York club kids, and one-woman’s raw insider look at the nation’s penal system - will be shown in select parks.

Director Paul McIsaac’s play, "What You Say, White Boy?," which boasts elements of freestyle hip-hop and improvisation, will be performed at Von King Park on July 26 at 8 pm.

McIsaac’s work is a modern version of "commedia dell’arte," the Italian style of comedic, improvised drama that was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. McIsaac says the classic characters of "a braggart soldier and a young lover become a bling-bling, noisy, humorous rapper and a sweet DJ."

McIsaac told GO Brooklyn that race, gender, class and politics are issues that all come into play when a black rapper who tries to recruit people to join the army through hip-hop is challenged by an anti-war white rapper. The men are doubly challenged by female rappers who are sick of being called "bitches and ho’s" in rap songs.

While these are all hot topics, McIsaac promises the show is "not too heavy and political. It’s done through playful comedy."

McIsaac says he expects the parks audience to enjoy the performance, because "it has serious content and also makes fun of some aspects of the hip-hop scene. People should expect a very funny, exciting and unique program.

"It’s true theatre," says McIsaac. "And while it has recognizable forms you’d see on MTV, it’s a much deeper theatrical experience."


Down and out

Two lost souls reminisce about their glory days in the New York club scene in triple-threat (writer-director-composer) Franco’s original musical "Bricolage."

Franco, originally from Queens, described his show as " ’Moulin Rouge’ meets ’Romeo and Juliet.’ "

"Bricolage" follows two characters who worked at the fictional Club Bricolage and years later have become a prostitute and homeless man.

"It’s honest, but very tasteful," Franco said. "It’s a musical about people who have had a bad break, reminisce about their past and are given a second chance to create a good life."

Franco is excited to be presenting "Bricolage" in Bedford-Stuyvesant through CityParks.

"I think it’s fantastic," he said. "There’s not enough exposure of theater to the minority community. This is a great opportunity to show that you can relate to [theater] and appreciate it. I’m very happy to express my idea of theater and my style to the Brooklyn audiences."

"Bricolage," produced by Franco’s not-for-profit theater company Creative Stages Entertainment, will be at Von King Park on July 25 and 30 at 8 pm.


’Peculiar’ fascination

"Theater is about reaching the people, all people, not just those who can afford a ticket," said Liza Jessie Peterson, who is performing her one-woman show, "The Peculiar Patriot," in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Von King Park on July 27 at 8 pm.

Peterson has already been performing this piece, which she describes on her Web site as "a funny, dark, socially relevant satire that examines America’s penitentiary system through the voice of a Prison Industry Pin-Up Supermodel," in prisons around the country.

"I created this show because I have been working in the penal system since 1998, teaching creative writing and poetry to teens," Peterson told GO Brooklyn. "My personal and professional life was inundated with prison, and as an artist, this had to be released. That’s when ’The Peculiar Patriot’ was conceived."

In addition to these original works, park visitors will also have two chances to brush up on their Shakespeare: The Classical Theatre of Harlem will stage "Macbeth" on July 28 and 29 at 8 pm at Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Von King Park and The Communicable Arts will present "As You Like It" on July 15 at 3 pm in East Williamsburg’s Maria Hernandez Park; on July 16 at 2 pm in Sunset Park; and July 22 at 2 pm in Von King Park.

All CityParks Theater performances are free.

 

The Communicable Arts presents "As You Like It" on July 15 at 3 pm in Maria Hernandez Park (Knickerbocker Avenue and Starr Street in East Williamsburg); on July 16 at 2 pm in Sunset Park (44th Street and Sixth Avenue); and at Von King Park on Greene Street and Marcy Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant on July 22 at 2 pm. For more information, visit their Web site at www.communicablearts.org.

The Classical Theatre of Harlem presents "Macbeth" at Von King Park on July 28 and 29 at 8 pm. For more information, visit their Web site at www.classicaltheatreofharlem.org.

Playback NYC and Hip Hop Commedia present "What You Say, White Boy?" on July 26 at 8 pm in Von King Park. For more information, visit their Web site at www.hiphopcommedia.com.

"Bricolage," by Creative Stages Entertainment, will be at Von King Park on July 25 and 30 at 8 pm. For more information, visit their Web site at www.csenyc.com.

Liza Jessie Peterson’s "The Peculiar Patriot" will be performed on July 27 at 8 pm in Von King Park. For more information, visit her Web site at www.lizajessiepeterson.com.

For more information on these performances, visit www.cityparksfoundation.org or call (212) 360-8290.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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