Gentrification has long been a hot topic for Brooklyn residents. “Stoopdreamer,” a new play, created through the collaboration of a filmmaker, a playwright and a director explores the displacement in Windsor Terrace of over 1,000 families following a big road project begun in 1945 by Robert Moses and focuses on characters looking back at the old days at a legendary local bar, Farrell’s Bar & Grill.
After making its debut in Manhattan, the drama, written by Pat Fenton, will be performed in Windsor Terrace, the scene of the play’s narrative.
Local filmmaker Jay Cusato had been in the early stages of directing a documentary on Farrell’s, a bar dating back to 1933 and the setting for “Stoopdreamer,” when he met Fenton.
“The play is about when Robert Moses put in the Prospect Expressway,” said Cusato, who is serving as producer for this adaptation. “Over 1,000 families were displaced and a lot of people feel it ruined the Windsor Terrace neighborhood by splitting it right down the middle. Pat wrote a play about two people that hadn’t seen each other since that moment and they both travel back to Farrell’s for a drink and reminisce about the neighborhood of Windsor Terrace back in the day.”
The show focuses on a bartender and two patrons, a man who is a regular and a woman he hasn’t seen since the neighborhood changed. Throughout, they look back on their relationship, Brooklyn itself and changes that have taken place since that time.
“It talks about gentrification and what that can do to a neighborhood but it has a positive message at the end of it,” Cusato added.
Cusato noted that it was Fenton who suggested putting the play on in the neighborhood it’s about.
“He was excited about this process and started thinking about how many people from the neighborhood would come out,” said Cusato. “A lot of people would come out for a play like this and that’s how the ball got rolling in doing the play in the neighborhood. It all fit together and the response has been amazing up to this point. We are hoping for a great turnout.”
Following talks, Cusato brought director Aimee Todoroff to helm the play.
Cusato and company believe the show’s nostalgic element will engage audiences.
“I think it’s kind of a time capsule of this neighborhood back in the day. Even if you didn’t grow up in that time, you can still recognize some of the references made in the play like the local bars, the local restaurants, even the people,” he explained. “Anyone that grew up in the Windsor Terrace area, they’ll know a lot of things mentioned as well as things like riding the F train to Coney Island. Anyone who grew up in Brooklyn, the play will resonate with them and bring them back to that nostalgia they have for their own neighborhood. Those same themes play out throughout.”
The cast and crew have been hard at work as premiere date approaches.
“From the rehearsals I’ve seen so far, they’ve really captured these characters,” Cusato said. “They’ve done an amazing job and the director has been brilliant in bringing it to life in a different way. It was put together differently the last time in Manhattan and what Amy has come up with for this play and space is brilliant. It’s about nostalgia and memories and she did a great job with setting that up on stage.”
“Stoopdreamer” will be performed on Saturday, January 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 14 at 3 p.m. at Shepherd’s Hall, 245 Prospect Park West. Tickets are $30. For more information, visit www.eventbrite.com and search Stoopdreamers. The performance is sponsored by the Holy Name Fundraising Committee.