On April 14th, 1936 a production of Macbeth opened in Harlem’s American Negro Theater. The 20 year-old Orson Welles, hired by the Federal Theater Project to direct the production, shifted the setting from turn of the millennium Scotland to 19th century Haiti thus earning the production the nickname Voodoo Macbeth. Voodoo Macbeth opened to immediate acclaim later touring the nation and earning it landmark status in the history of African-American theater. This event, or maybe it was his radio play War of the Worlds, confirmed Welles’s status as an artistic prodigy.
On March 19th, 1935 a riot broke out in Harlem when rumors began circulating that a black youth had been beaten and killed by police after stealing a knife from a store on 125th Street. Three people died, 60 were injured, 75 were arrested, and there was $2,000,000 worth of property damage. This event, or maybe it was the Great Depression, confirmed the end of the Harlem Renaissance.
Bed-Stuy, BKLYN: The Bruce High Quality Foundation, the official arbiter of the estate of the late social sculptor, Bruce High Quality, is pleased to present Cats on Broadway, the first off-Broadway/ on Broadway (Brooklyn) pseudo-revival of the acclaimed Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, Cats.
Set on the border between Bed-Stuy and Bushwick (Broadway, Brooklyn) and performed in the newly renovated Bruce High Quality Foundation Theater (1100 Broadway, Brooklyn), Cats on Broadway brings together an all-volunteer cast of performers, musicians, stagehands, and designers to reflect the emotional conflicts of the gentrification of Brooklyn while satirizing both the utopian reform schemes and self-pitying nihilism often associated with the artists responsible for gentrification’s “first wave.”
Cats on Broadway consists of a series of vignettes progressing from late at night to early morning. Each vignette uses an original arrangement of a popular song performed by the Bruce High Quality Orchestra to situate a different character in the neighborhood (shopkeeper, minister, hoodlum, college student, prostitute, etc.) contextualizing their individual circumstances within themes of nostalgia, rage, sex, family, labor, redemption, etc.
And everyone is dressed like a cat.