By Michael Cohen
When I got an offer of tickets to see an Off-Off-Broadway play called A Brooklyn Boy, I couldn’t resist. Born in Brooklyn and now the Editorial Director of BK Nation, I jumped at the chance. I learned that the one-man show tells Steven Prescod’s coming-of-age story as a child in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The East Village Playhouse, a tiny venue on East 6th Street in the East Village, provides a level of intimacy that makes for a compelling artistic experience.
Through music, dance, hip-hop, and the spoken word, Steven recounts an all-too-familiar story of a young man raised in a single-parent household who falls prey to the lure of the streets. In his case, at a critical juncture in his life, he chose to pursue artistic endeavors as an alternative to a seven-year jail sentence. Through the use of rear projection slides and videos, we walk the streets he walked and visit the places that shaped his youth. Along the way, we meet his mother, grandparents, friends, and acquaintances—all masterfully portrayed by Steven as he demonstrates the full range of his acting talents.
Over dinner after the show at a local vegan spot, Steven shared elements of his life that I didn’t learn from watching the play. His quiet, humble persona belied the youthful bravado of so much of his stage presence. He described the creative process—seven years of development—that went into the one-hour show that I saw and told me that he is now “totally different” from the young person he portrays on stage. A recent vegetarian, he practices yoga and meditation. He expressed his long-term hope to take his show on the road to schools and to prisons so that he can engage in a dialogue with audiences at the completion of the show. In addition to his mother, he expressed his gratitude to Moises Belizario, his mentor, who co-wrote A Brooklyn Boy and directed the production.
Go see A Brooklyn Boy to be entertained, enlightened, and to renew your faith in the redemptive power of the arts.
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