Brooklyn’s quaint Jack Theater prides itself on creating performances that reflect the city’s diversity, and involve its local residents. They aim to provide a wider access to the arts this way. The small 50 seat theater is unique in that it does not charge casts to rent the space, but simply split the cost of tickets with them. This provides an opportunity for smaller, lower budget shows to have a space to perform for an audience. Especially in a place like New York, where renting space is expensive, this makes a big difference in the acting community! Jack Theater is resistant to the capitalistic mindset of big Broadway shows. Their mission is to make a more direct difference in the community and its members through exposure to more performances.
Jack Theater also showed its resistance through the play, Bring the Beat Back. Bring the Beat Back was a futuristic theater performance focusing on a homosexual protagonist and his struggle to be accepted in his community in order to move ahead. This show was resistant towards traditional theater performances in its Afrocentric theme, by looking towards the future as a person of color, when usually the only future represented in popular media is shown with white protagonists. The theater itself was unusual and resistant in its futuristic, science fiction feel. When walking into the theater, all the walls were covered in crinkled aluminum foil. The DJ was dressed in all silver with silver face paint which matched the unique, futuristic ensembles of the rest of the cast. Though the show was strong in its futuristic costumes story line, and atmosphere, it was featured traditional disco music and hairstyles of people of color, along with familiar slang and language choice in the script. This balance of futuristic and traditional kept it interesting and unpredictable for the audience.
A big theme I took away from the play was acceptance of the LGBTQ community. The protagonist fought with his urges towards another character of the same sex. He was encouraged to be straight, and even sent to therapy, in order to be accepted by his family and society. He would be unable to get onto the space ship to leave Earth, which was ultimately the goal of his posse. The same-sex protagonists gave into their desires by the end, and opted to be themselves. This felt hopeful for the LGBTQ community, and hopeful in the message it spreads to accept ones self.
The characters were also rejected a couple times by the elders in outer space, which told the young posse that their beats had to be better. The story line was pushed forward by the use of music, which was resistant in and of itself. Many musicals use songs to express emotion, and though this was used here, the teens had to push to create better songs together, in order to prove they were worthy to get on the space ship. This was fun for the audience, as we listened to hear the soundtrack progress. Bring the Beat Back was a fun musical experience!