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9 Under the Radar Arts & Performance Venues


Brooklyn residents are spoiled when it comes to great performance venues; you can't turn a corner in this town without running into one award-winning production or another. We're not saying that the Brooklyn Academy of Music doesn't deserve the critical acclaim and press it receives, but what about the lesser-known venues creating thought-provoking performances and events? Here's a list of some of the places that may not always get the attention that they deserve.

Irondale Theater Ensemble 
The Irondale Theater (85 S. Oxford Street, Fort Greene) prides itself on using the ensemble process, where artists working together over an extended period of time create original works and radical reinterpretations of classics. Upcoming productions include All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Being a Zombie, presented by the Irondale Play Project, an on-going series of new plays. The theater is actively seeking new work, and accepts submissions for the Play Project on a rolling basis.

Fort Useless
There's a lot going on at Fort Useless (36 Ditmars Street, Bushwick). Aside from bimonthly music shows curated by StereoactiveNYC, art and photo exhibitions, and a recurring showcase called the Songwriter Salon (where artists are encouraged to discuss the songwriting process), Fort Useless hosts a monthly comedy show called Spit-Take Fridays. They also host film screenings, participate in Bushwick Open Studios, and yes, there's even karaoke.

Brooklyn Lyceum
Formerly a bathing facility in the early 1900's, the Brooklyn Lyceum (227 4th Avenue, Park Slope) now hosts hundreds of events, including a huge flea market, film screenings, and music by up-and-coming Brooklyn artists as well as established bands like Yo La Tengo. Upcoming events include a theatrical drinking game presented by Tiny Rhino, roller-skating nights, and a monthly series of Sea Shanties. This historic Gowanus venue boasts that "as the largest stage in Brooklyn, anything is possible."

Puppetworks, Inc.
Since 1980, Puppetworks (338 6th Avenue, Park Slope) has been presenting classic puppet shows like The Magic Flute and Peter and the Wolf. The performances combine marionettes, hand puppets and live actors, creating vibrant and imaginative productions for both children and adults. They also host parties in case you're looking for an offbeat venue for your next gathering.

Secret Project Robot 
A nonprofit gallery and performance space, Secret Project Robot (389 Melrose Street, Bushwick) prides itself on its "clubhouse atmosphere." The venue hosts a variety of music shows that happen in tandem with the art shows, so you may very well be standing in the middle of an art installation during a performance. There's also a large outdoor area with a homemade bar and a friendly cat.

Piper Theater 
The Piper Theater (Washington Park, Park Slope) is known for presenting some of the best youth theater performances in New York. Each year, kids aged twelve to fifteen take an intensive summer course, which concludes with a full-scale production of a Shakespeare play in the park. Summer 2013 also includes an ongoing series of new works by emerging artists, performed by children and young adults.

Spectacle Theater 
Showcasing overlooked works, offbeat gems, contemporary art, radical polemics and live performances, the Spectacle Theater (124 S. 3rd Street) is the best place in Williamsburg for underground art and cinema – where else can you see a double-feature of "Nunsploitation" films? Spectacle also has a BYOB policy, and all shows are $5 unless noted as free, so keep it in mind if you're looking for a fun, cheap night out.

Regina Opera Company
When you think of opera in Brooklyn, the conversation must include this small, scrappy company performing a repertoire of Italian classics. Once housed in a tiny space in Borough Park, Regina moved to the larger Our Lady of Perpetual Help (5902 6th Avenue, Sunset Park) in 2012 and is now celebrating its 43rd season.

Dubbed "a hotbed of contemporary-music programming," by The New York Times, Roulette (509 Atlantic Avenue, Downtown Brooklyn) is a 400-seat theater located minutes from Atlantic Terminal. Roulette presents hundreds of events a year, including jazz, dance, experimental music, as well as performances by local organizations like the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Until November 2011, Roulette was situated in a 74-seat loft, so if you haven't gone to check out the new venue, we highly recommend it.

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October 25, 2014

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