Volume 81, Number 2 | June 9 - 15, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Ann Bettison Enzminger

Dozens of briefs: Surf Reality presents “64 Paintings, 64 Plays.”

Plays by Timothy Braun
Paintings by Jennilie Brewster
Produced by Robert Prichard
Directed by Faceboy
Soundscapes by Tom Tenney
Video Animations by Ashleigh Nankivell
Featuring performances by A Brief View of the Hudson (Ann Enzminger & Nick Nace)
The cast: Diane O’Debra, Jeff Grow, Sean T. Hanratty, Milton Katz, Jim Melloan and Stephanie Sabelli
Sat., June 11 at 8pm; Sat., June 18 at 6pm; Tues., June 21 at 7pm
At The Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery)
Tickets: $8
Visit bowerypoetry.com, timothybraun.com, jenniliebrewster.com and surfreality.com/about

They did it in a minute
Surf Reality lives, again, on the Bowery


About a million miles from the hip-to-hack line of demarcation that is 14th Street, Broadway shows like “Million Dollar Quartet” pack in the crowds and rake in the millions — as their run times defy physics by making minutes seem like hours and hours seem like decades.

It’s fitting, then, that one of this month’s most timely (and time-centric) Downtown happenings is brought to you by the still-prolific minds behind the decades-old Allen Street space Surf Reality (1993-2003). Founded by Robert Prichard, Surf was marketed to producers, writers and performing artists as a place to develop new work. It was also, famously, home to Faceboyz Open Mic — one of the city’s most nurturing, freak-friendly weekly happenings. Full disclosure: Surf was an incubator for the talents of this article’s author and this paper’s Downtown theater columnist (Trav S.D.). Other notable Surf denizens (chief among them Saint Reverend Jen Miller) are still spreading their beautiful message of humor and love and everlasting damage throughout the Lower East Side. Today, Surf Reality is an independent production company dedicated to the downtown performance vanguard (with a long-running reoccurring show called “Radical Vaudeville”).

Their latest project: Surf Reality (with Prichard producing) will present “64 Paintings, 64 Plays.” Don’t believe the title. Faceboy will direct only 36 of Timothy Braun’s miniature plays, each written in response to one of Brooklyn artist Jennilie Brewster’s paintings (the full gamut will be presented this fall at the RE/Mixed Media Festival in Brooklyn).

Last year, Brewster finished a series of 64 16” x 20” paintings called “The Newspaper Series” — using photographs from The New York Times as starting points. While at the Djerrasi Resident Artists Program in California, Brewster met Braun (a former artist-in-residence at the HERE Arts Center). He was inspired to write 64 one-page plays: one for each painting. Helped along by the altitude and buckets of coffee, Braun wrote these plays at the Santa Fe Art Institute non-stop — sometimes five plays in one day.

As for Surf’s role in the evolution of this print, visual art and theater project, Prichard says, “Our production seeks to explore these connections. The plays are a response to the paintings — and in this production the actors, musicians and media artists further explore and contribute to the ongoing conversation. Like fireflies, ideas blaze, wink out and reappear somewhere else in a new context. Life is just as complex and nonlinear. Everything haunts every other thing. It’s all interconnected; the harsh, brutal and cruel, with the sad, funny, loving and absurd. So nothing stands alone.”

Sounds like an appropriate way to, as they did from ’93-’03, surf reality.


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