Bigger and better: Experimental theater festival returns

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“Slow Sound of Snow” tells the story of a Turkish village threatened by destruction by an avalanche.
The Exponential Festival

Expand your horizons!

A month-long experimental theater festival returns to Brooklyn next week for a fifth year of avant-garde performances. The Exponential Festival, starting on Jan. 3, will feature more than 40 shows at nine Kings County venues. The productions include a wide variety of genres and  formats, but they are sure to stick with the audience long after the curtains fall, said the fest’s founder and lead curator.

“I want to have something that I think about later, hours later and years later. It should raise questions,” said Theresa Buchheister. “They’re going for something that’s inherently complicated and challenging.”

The organizer said that she put the focus on Brooklyn venues because the art in this borough is more experimental but gets less attention than productions on the island across the river. 

“The January festivals are always in Manhattan,” she said. “That’s not where I see art.”

Over the last four years, the festival has — true to its name — grown from nine productions to more than 40.

Bucheister also prides herself on selecting plays that show the perspectives of people rarely presented in mainstream theater.

“We’ve seen the story of two straight white New Yorkers fall in love a million times — I don’t need to see that again,” she said.

One such play is the English-language premiere of “Slow Sound of Snow,” translated by Iranian-American director Shadi Ghaheri. The show is set in a Turkish mountain village that spends its winters in near-silence to avoid triggering an avalanche. As the play starts, the town’s survival rests on the shoulders of a pregnant villager whose impending due date threatens all of their safety. The play, presented by an all-Iranian and Iranian-American cast, tells a Middle Eastern story without the misrepresentations of an American point of view, said Buchheister.

Another eye-catching titles in the festival is “Bernie Sanders wants to take away my Fire Island time share” by Xalvador Tin-Bradbury. It shows a hyper-capitalist, dystopian future in which a corporate gay man explains why he spent nine years in hiding after Bernie Sanders announced his 2020 presidential run.

The pulpy mystery “Bloodshot” shows a a brutal tale of murder in a sleep-deprived city.Courtesy of The Exponential Festival

Another highlight is “Bloodshot,” a pulp-inspired mystery by the Underlords theater group, set in an insomnia-plagued city where the protagonist investigates the murder of a sleep medicine inventor.

And those in the mood for a lighthearted laugh should check out “Catches No Flies,” a comedic dance performance by Lisa Fagan, featuring bad ventriloquism, a dolphin trainer living her dream, inclement weather, and a sardine escaped from the can.

“The Exponential Festival” at various locations [www.theexponentialfestival.org, (917) 520–5912]. Jan 3 through Feb. 2. Prices vary.