Beginning on September 12, and for the following two weeks, Brooklynites will have the opportunity to enjoy first-rate art and entertainment at cut-rate prices, in their very own backyard. Thanks to the efforts of Stephen Shelley, a theater director from South Slope, the Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater Festival, better known at the “BEAT” Festival will present a huge variety of performances for the unbelievable price of $20, and in some cases even less.
The home-grown performers have in many cases never performed for their hometown audience, one element of the festival that is quite appealing. For instance Lemon Andersen has performed throughout the world, but never in Brooklyn, his own hometown.
In order to make the productions even more enticing and accessible, not only are tickets $20, but the venues for the shows are off-the-beaten-track places where the reach is deep into Brooklyn’s neighborhoods. Some of those places include a barge in Red Hook, the Brooklyn Public Library, Flatbush Reformed Church and the Circus Sideshow building in Coney Island.
“I want Brooklynites from all walks of life to be able to come see us,” said Shelley, who is 40 years-old. “I want them to appreciate the talent that lives among us.”
Shelley is so concerned that all that want to come can, he is setting aside 20 percent of all the tickets for walk-in patrons, allowing them to pay whatever they feel they can afford, so that even those who $20 is a substantial chunk of their income can enjoy and participate in the festival.
Among some of the performers participating in BEAT are tap dancer Marshall Davis Jr. from Crown Heights and Radha Blank who created the one-woman play “HappyFlowerNail” which is about a nail studio in Bedfort-Stuyvesant and an opera company that sings about stop and frisk police tactics as well as texting.
Opening night will feature Lemon Andersen who is performing his searing but funny one-man memoir called “County of Kings” for the first time in Brooklyn.
“This is my homecoming,” Andersen said.
Shelley was inspired to create the BEAT festival after a show he was working on was rejected last year by the New York Fringe Festival.
“Most of us in Brooklyn don’t have our own theater,” he said. “It occurred to me there were so many artists like me, feeling a similar lack of visibility.”