Brooklyn’s Brave New World Repertory Theatre (BNW) announces A Haitian Spring Celebration, a mix of dance, song and spoken word, set to take place on Earth Day, April 22, in the heart Little Haiti on an historic landmark block in Brooklyn.
The free outdoor celebration will feature performances of “Mister Wa,” a traditional Afro-Haitian folk tale, and will take place in the middle of the East 25th Street Historic District throughout the afternoon at 3:30, 4, and 4:30pm.
Brave New World’s mission is to bring site-specific theatre to the doorstep of Brooklyn communities, says BNW’s producing artistic director Claire Beckman, “so the natural next step is bringing the work of BNW company member Sheila Anozier to our neighbors in Little Haiti. Sheila has choreographed dance for BNW Rep since 2007; starting 2019, she oversaw the addition of traditional Haitian dance and song to our Shakespeare on Stratford spring festival. We’re pleased now to grow that into a Haitian Spring Celebration, set on East 25th Street between Clarendon and Avenue D, a block with the same tree-lined charm as Stratford Road.”
Folktales are one of the most important aspects of Haitian culture, says Anozier, who conceived, choreographed and directed BNW’s Haitian Spring Celebration. “‘Mister Wa'” is my adaptation of the Haitian Folktale, ‘Misye Wa’. It tells the story of a princess who attempts to find love with a debonaire stranger she meets one day while strolling among her subjects. Steeped in the beauty of their oral tradition, family and friends still gather at night to tell stories, and trade riddles and proverbs. The storyteller will yell out ‘Krik?’, and if one is willing to partake, they respond ‘Krak!’ These intergenerational gatherings are a source of distraction and entertainment, inspiring conversation, and education, passing knowledge from generation to generation. They also provide a safe place for children to confront their fears.”
She says, “In true Haitian fashion, the Haitian Spring Celebration ends with drums and dance with the audience in remembrance of our time spent together in communion.”
The setting for the Haitian Spring Celebration is perfect, says Beckman. The block of pristine, century-old row houses on East 25th Street in East Flatbush is the neighborhood’s first-ever historic district; the designation by the city’s Landmarks Preservation celebrates both the “unusually intact and cohesive” strand of 56 Renaissance Revival row houses along the stretch. The houses’ ownership reflects Flatbush’s increasing diversity, especially the growth of its African-American and Afro-Caribbean communities. Many homeowners on the block also maintain superb front yard gardens, which has led the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to name it the “greenest block in Brooklyn” four times, more than any other block in the borough.
Next up on Brave New World’s calendar is the American premiere of Arthur Miller‘s 1947 screenplay, “The Hook,” a site-specific production performed on the Waterfront Museum Barge in Red Hook. The first preview is June 8, with the opening June 9. It will run for three weekends through June 25. More details on BNW’s website.